The Trump administration will not be renewing the charter for the advisory panel for the Sustained National Climate Assessment, if you can believe it. The 15-person board is set to expire today, and that’s the end of that.
The group’s mission was to help policymakers and private-sector officials incorporate climate analysis into its future planning, the Washington Post reports, with National Climate Assessments due to come out every four years. The next one was supposed to come out in 2018, though it’s become a predictable point of contention for the Trump administration. From the Post:
Administration officials are currently reviewing a scientific report that is key to the final document. Known as the Climate Science Special Report, it was produced by scientists from 13 different federal agencies and estimates that human activities were responsible for an increase in global temperatures of 1.1 to 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit from 1951 to 2010.
The committee was established in 2015 by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and while its dissolution isn’t great news, NOAA communications director Julie Roberts insisted that “this action does not impact the completion of the Fourth National Climate Assessment, which remains a key priority.”
That’s a relief, but it doesn’t mean Trump and his cronies aren’t taking proactive steps to dismantle climate change protections. Just last week, Trump signed an executive order reversing an Obama-era requirement that government agencies take into account sea-level rise when building federal infrastructure. Experts have said this will only result in more federal spending after said infrastructure is inevitably damaged in increasingly violent weather.
Michael Gerrard, director of Columbia University’s Sabin Center for Climate Change Law, told Quartz that “I think they will meet a lot of resistance from agencies that will have to live with these facilities for decades to come,” citing specifically the Navy, which has 128 military bases predicted to be totally submerged by 2100.
“The administration can revoke federal orders but they can’t revoke the laws of physics,” he said.
As for the National Climate Assessment, the committee’s members will continue to push ahead with their report, though it will no longer be associated with the government and therefore lack a certain amount of weight. Maybe. At the rate Trump is censoring federal agencies, maybe the freedom from government pressure will end up being a good thing.