Trump White House Declares War on Climate Science
Political Intervention to Change Climate Modelling and Water Down Projections
Washington, DC — Stung by its spectacularly counterproductive attempt to bury the latest national climate assessment, the Trump White House has directed its Cabinet to trash the report and prevent similar reports from issuing, according to talking points posted today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). Rather than continuing to ignore climate science, Trump officials are under orders to change scientific models and projections to avoid future such embarrassments.
Despite the ham-handed attempt to mute its impact by releasing it on Black Friday afternoon, the Fourth National Climate Assessment hit like a bombshell. The report outlines how adverse effects from climate change are already occurring and will get much worse, bringing devastating wildfires, extreme weather, water insecurity, agricultural declines and infectious disease outbreaks, among other adverse effects.
The White House drawer statement outlining its media posture dismisses the assessment as a product of the Obama Administration, although most of it was drafted after the Trump inauguration. This statement falsely claims that the 1,700-page report “is largely based on the most extreme scenario.” Following that cue, officials such as Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and acting U.S. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler are making skeptical statements about the assessment and promising to alter its foundations.
“The Trump White House mistakenly thought it could simply ignore climate science but now has decided it must throttle it,” stated Dr. Tamara Dickinson, PEER’s Director of Climate Policy, who served in Obama’s Office of Science Technology Policy and had previous stints at the National Science Foundation, NASA, and the U.S. Geological Survey. “This quadrennial climate assessment is required by law, making it difficult for Trump to block it altogether.”
Significantly, the White House statement calls for steps to correct the “accuracy of our modeling and projections” and “for a more transparent and data-driven process that includes fuller information on the range of potential scenarios and outcomes” in the Fifth National Climate Assessment.
Yet, the Fourth National Assessment was compiled by some 300 scientists from academia, industry and career government scientists at 13 federal agencies, including NASA, NOAA, USDA, the National Science Foundation, and the Smithsonian. The draft was available for public comment and reviewed by the National Academies of Science.
“In order to make good on this threat, Trump appointees must undertake a massive political manipulation of public science,” added PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, noting that Trump appointees, such as Scott Pruitt, have been unable to produce alternative climate science even under court order. “Climate change is not a hoax but this latest campaign to cast doubt on the science is based on pure hucksterism.”
PEER is assembling an effort to expose and push back against this new Trump anti-climate science effort and to provide free legal assistance to the scientists who authored the assessment.
Meanwhile, other federal reports at odds with the Trump agenda keep appearing. For example, also on Black Friday, the USGS issued a report estimating that extraction and consumption of fossil fuels from federal lands count for more than quarter of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.