President Donald Trump and his administration's assault on the climate science community has continued, the Washington Post reported, with the elimination of a 15-person advisory committee which helps translate federal scientific research into policy.
According to the Post, acting National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration chief Ben Friedman informed the Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment its charter would not be renewed after its expiration on August 20th, effectively disbanding the panel. The review committee helps take scientific findings from the National Climate Assessment — a series of federal summaries of climate data which is supposed to come out every four years — and turn that information into "concrete guidance for both public and private-sector officials."
Trump and his team, however, seem to already have something concrete for the National Climate Assessment: Shoes.
The report confirms yet again what the entire scientific community already knows — that humans are responsible for climate change, and incontestable amounts of evidence suggest the outcome will be dire without collective action to lower greenhouse gas emissions. That isn't sitting well with Trump, who believes global warming is a Chinese hoax.
One of the key scientific sections of the draft report was pushed by the New York Times this month after researchers involved in its creation became concerned Trump was planning on either cooking the books or suppressing it entirely.
Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt fired about half of his agency's scientific advisory review board. Per Nature, Pruitt appears to be preparing to consult with coal, gas and oil lobbying group the Heartland Institute on which industry flacks and climate denialists to replace the scientists with.
The final 2018 National Climate Assessment requires sign-off from 13 federal agencies, most of which are now headed by Trump-appointed climate sceptics, as well as the White House. Though it's legally mandated every four years, as Nature noted, George W. Bush's administration ignored the first report in 2000 and had to be sued to compel the release of the 2004 report. So unfortunately, there's ample precedent for the president to try and defy what the law says.
According to the Post, one immediate impact of the committee being disbanded was that organisations such as the American Society of Civil Engineers would no longer get detailed data they need to do things like update building codes.
Richard Moss, the chair of the committee, told the paper its members will continue their work in private, but the decision to disband it as a formal entity was "short-sighted" and could end up "running huge risks here and possibly end up hurting the next generation's economic prospects."
"It won't have the same weight as if we were issuing it as a federal advisory committee," he added.