It sure looked like the EPA administrator Scott Pruitt was doing everything in his power to attack the independence of environmental scientists within his Department, when he refuse to allow 3 scientists to make presentations at the Narragansett Bay Estuary Program in Rhode Island.
Then came a breath of fresh air. In November 3, the first part of the National Assessment on Climate Change Effects, was published. See links at the end of this blog for the report. They don’t call it Global Warming anymore, but that still a big part of the overall problems associated with the 5 billion metric tons of carbon emissions the US sends into the atmosphere. With 5% of the world’s population, we are responsible for nearly 30% of all carbon emissions. The weather patterns are changing around the planet causing more severe storms and droughts. The poorer African nations will suffer the most, as there are more famines.
Why didn’t Scott Pruitt block this one? It was because it did not come directly from the EPA, but rather a multi-agency scientific group as described in their report below. Second, the National Assessment had to be done, as a matter of law, and the report provided to Congress and the President. Trump couldn’t really block it, without creating more publicity for the report.
The U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) was established by Presidential initiative in 1989 and mandated by Congress in the Global Change Research Act (GCRA) of 1990. Its mandate is to develop and coordinate “a comprehensive and integrated United States research program which will assist the Nation and the world to understand, assess, predict, and respond to human-induced and natural processes of global change.”
USGCRP comprises 13 Federal agencies that conduct or use research on global change and its impacts on society. It functions under the direction of the Subcommittee on Global Change Research of the National Science and Technology Council’s Committee on Environment, Natural Resources, and Sustainability.
USGCRP has three major sets of responsibilities: (a) coordinating global change research across the Federal government, (b) developing and distributing mandated products, and (c) helping to inform decisions.
One of the products mandated by the GCRA is a quadrennial assessment that USGCRP is to prepare and submit to the President and the Congress. This assessment, referred to as the National Climate Assessment (NCA), is directed by the GCRA to:
-Integrate, evaluate, and interpret the findings of the Program and discuss the scientific uncertainties associated with such findings
– Analyze the effects of global change on the natural environment, agriculture, energy production and use, land and water resources, transportation, human health and welfare, human social systems, and biological diversity
– Analyze current trends in global change, both human-induced and natural, and project major trends for the subsequent 25 to 100 years
Environmental scientists from the EPA participated in the study. The report is limited to the effects of climate change within the US. The United Nations studies climate change on a worldwide basis.
This lead agency in preparation of this report is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA), operating under the Department of Commerce. Hopefully, it stays there as if it is moved to the DOE or EPA, it would be immediately filled with political appointees. Particularly bad if the EPA someday takes over NOAA.
The last assessment was done in 2014. The opening lines from this report were very powerful:
Climate change is happening now. The United States and the world are warming, global sea level is rising, and some types of extreme weather events are becoming more frequent and more severe. These changes have already resulted in a wide range of impacts across every region of the country and many sectors of the economy.
The new assessment is similar to the 2014 report in reporting the consequences of climate change. It wasn’t blocked by the Trump administration because really they couldn’t block a report that was the result of 13 governmental agencies. This is where our country excels, in collaborative efforts of experts in the complex area of climate change. The warming of our seas is a likely contributing factor in causing more intense hurricanes, on the 4 to 5 level scale. A little bit of information that Scott Pruitt felt was inappropriate to discuss two months ago. Maybe now is the time.