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Here’s another example of the Trump administration naming people to political posts in federal agencies in order to damage and destroy public trust in those agencies. This time it’s the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which, among other responsibilities, runs the National Weather Service and produces all sorts of information and data on climate to “help people understand and prepare for climate variability and change.” The administration just named David Legates, a University of Delaware professor of climatology and long-time climate change denier affiliated with the conservative astroturf Heartland Institute, as deputy assistant secretary of commerce for observation and prediction. It’s going to take many years for executive agencies across the federal government to come back from the damage created by this administration.
David Legates, a University of Delaware professor of climatology who has spent much of his career questioning basic tenets of climate science, has been hired for a top position at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Legates confirmed to NPR that he was recently hired as NOAA’s deputy assistant secretary of commerce for observation and prediction. The position suggests that he reports directly to Neil Jacobs, the acting head of the agency that is in charge of the federal government’s sprawling weather and climate prediction work.
Neither Legates nor NOAA representatives responded to questions about Legates’ specific responsibilities or why he was hired. The White House also declined to comment.
Legates has a long history of using his position as an academic scientist to publicly cast doubt on climate science. His appointment to NOAA comes as Americans face profound threats stoked by climate change, from the vast, deadly wildfires in the West to an unusually active hurricane season in the South and East.
Global temperatures have already risen nearly 2 degrees Fahrenheit since the late 19th century as a result of greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels. Warming is happening the fastest at the Earth’s poles, where sea ice is melting, permafrost is thawing and ocean temperatures are heating up, with devastating effects on animals and humans alike.
Are Frequent Flier Miles Killing the Planet? By Seth Kugel. March 5, 2020
“In October, a two-line recommendation buried on Page 35 of a report commissioned by the United Kingdom’s Committee on Climate Change garnered disproportionate attention in the world of frequent fliers.” https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/05/travel/loyalty-programs-climate-change.html
The report, “Behaviour change, public engagement and Net Zero” (Imperial College London), is available at the Committee on Climate Change’s website.
“The Committee on Climate Change (the CCC) is an independent, statutory body established under the Climate Change Act 2008. Our purpose is to advise the UK Government and Devolved Administrations on emissions targets and report to Parliament on progress made in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and preparing for climate change.” http://www.theccc.org.uk
One can find all of their publications (reports and letters) at https://www.theccc.org.uk/publications/
co-published on govdoc-l and freegovinfo.info.
“An official at the Interior Department embarked on a campaign that has inserted misleading language about climate change – including debunked claims that increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is beneficial – into the agency’s scientific reports, according to documents reviewed by The New York Times…The Interior Department’s emails, dating from 2017 through last year and obtained under public-records laws by the watchdog group Energy and Policy Institute, provide the latest evidence of the Trump administration’s widespread attacks on government scientific work. The administration has halted or scaled back numerous research projects since taking office, including an Obama-era initiative to fight disease outbreaks around the world – a decision that has drawn criticism in recent weeks as a deadly coronavirus has spread globally…The misleading language appears in environmental studies and impact statements affecting major watersheds including the Klamath and Upper Deschutes river basins in California and Oregon, which provide critical habitat for spawning salmon and other wildlife. In addition, millions of acres of farms in California’s agriculturally important Central Valley are supplied, in part, by the Klamath, which is California’s second-largest river by volume and is only slightly smaller than the Colorado River. Thirsty farms there have used increasing amounts of water at a rate that scientists say hurts wildlife and imperils the salmon industry.”
It would be useful to know which reports contain the language and if they are in the Federal Depository Library Program. Neither the New York Times article nor the Energy and Policy Institute mention the titles. I’ll inquire at the Institute in case they can provide.
co-published on govdoc-l and freegovinfo.info.
Last night, Rachel Maddow did her opening piece on the history of scientific excellence and global leadership by the USDA its decimation at the hands of the Trump administration and USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue – and in particular the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), the principal in-house research agency of the USDA. She highlighted this Politico story:
Agriculture Department buries studies showing dangers of climate change The Trump administration has stopped promoting government-funded research into how higher temperatures can damage crops and pose health risks. By Helena Bottemiller Evich. 06/23/2019.
The Trump administration has refused to publicize dozens of government-funded studies that carry warnings about the effects of climate change, defying a longstanding practice of touting such findings by the Agriculture Department’s acclaimed in-house scientists.
Beyond the willful obfuscation and burying of important research findings about climate change, Maddow also highlighted a Washington Post article published yesterday that noted that USDA scientists were also recently given a choice: move to Kansas City by July 15 or be fired – somehow it sounds even worse when using the administration’s term: “be separated by adverse action procedures.” This forced move could cause a massive brain drain and decimate the scientific staff at the ARS, the Economic Research Service, and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (Maddow stated that perhaps 90% of scientists would leave the USDA!).
Talk about information loss!
Mashable reports that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has eliminated more than 80 climate change web pages. This according to a new report from the Environmental Data Governance Initiative (EDGI). The EDGI report notes that while NASA maintains a number of informative and frequently updated climate change websites, the EPA’s sites have been gradually obscured, and now eliminated. It certainly would be a public service if Congress would investigate why the EPA, supposedly charged with protecting the environment (it’s in its name!), would obfuscate and delete critical environmental information and data.
Sometime during the night of Oct. 16, 2018, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) eliminated more than 80 climate change web pages — many of the last vestiges to the agency’s online recognition of climate change.
…”There’s no indication now that there was even a climate change website,” Eric Nost, the EDGI report’s lead author, said in an interview.
…The EPA did not respond to multiple attempts for comment about why the public webpages were deleted and if they might return.
…Of note, both the EPA and NASA are sprawling federal agencies directly answerable to the office of the president. Yet, while NASA maintains a slew of informative, diligently updated, and visually-rich climate change websites, the EPA’s sites have been gradually obscured, and now eliminated.
…NASA is a research agency, emphasized Stan Meiburg, the former Acting Deputy Administrator of the EPA, in an interview. It largely exists to perform science. Conversely, he noted that the EPA — which is responsible for protecting human health and the environment — is primarily a regulatory agency, writing and enforcing environmental rules.
… Right now, the environmental agency hopes to enforce a slew of new rules that would, among a variety of things, significantly roll back fuel-efficiency standards for new vehicles and replace Obama’s Clean Power Plan.