The New York Times reported yesterday that in addition to significantly weakening Obama Administration policies and rules that would have cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, now the Trump Administration is working to “recalculate” the risks posed by climate change by ordering scientists to ignore long term impacts beyond 2040 and to omit analysis of the worst-case scenarios in the next national climate assessment report.

Why This Matters:  Here we go again.  The George W. Bush Administration also tried to squelch the science around climate change — their tactic was to have politicians redraft the scientific conclusions and to put greater emphasis on analysis of uncertainties surrounding climate science at the time. They were unable to succeed because government scientists were able to point to their results and vouch for them — they could object on the merits. The Trump Administration’s plan is more dangerous because by not performing these analyses the ability of outsiders and the government’s own scientists to critique the government’s actions will be diminished.  We won’t know what we don’t know.  And what we don’t know can and will hurt us.  

What This Will Mean For Climate Science:  This will lead to incomplete data and analysis on which to base government decisions and plans.

  • Scientists claim that this will warp the picture of the business as usual scenario because the worst impacts of climate change do not begin until after 2050.
  • Until now, scientists have used computer models to analyze several different scenarios through the end of the century including as much as an 8-degree temperature rise.
  • “Nobody in the world does climate science like that,” said Michael Oppenheimer, a professor of geosciences and international affairs at Princeton. “It would be like designing cars without seatbelts or airbags.”

The Climate Change Strippers:  The list of Trump political appointees who have stripped climate change information from official documents is growing.

  • The Times reported that the “White House-appointed director of the United States Geological Survey, James Reilly, a former astronaut and petroleum geologist, has ordered that scientific assessments produced by that office use only computer-generated climate models that project the impact of climate change through 2040 rather than through the end of the century.”
  • In addition to Secretary of State Pompeo, another prominent climate denier is National Security Advisor John Bolton who officials say instructed them to strip references to global warming from speeches and other formal statements.

Some Agencies Are Resisting:  Not all government science agencies are planning such changes. A spokesman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, asked if its scientists would limit the use of climate models, wrote in an email, “No changes are being considered at this time.”

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