Troubled and opaque Administration review process is a harbinger of problems for the Fourth National Climate Assessment
By Nicky Sundt
CSPW Senior Fellow
A final draft of a key federal report on the science behind climate change has been leaked to the New York Times and made public. The “Climate Science Special Report” (CSSR), produced by the US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), is a cornerstone of the Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4), a periodic study of climate change impacts across US regions. Many wonder how the Trump-Pence White House will deal with this first major US government report on climate change to come across its desk; a report warning that Americans are feeling the harmful impacts of climate change in real time, and therefore “directly contradicts claims by President Trump and members of his cabinet” as noted by the Times. Initially released for public review and comment during the last days of the Obama Administration, the final draft was submitted to the White House for final approval on June 28.
The same Times piece reports that “[s]cientists say they fear that the Trump administration could change or suppress the report.” Those fears are well founded. As a candidate and as President, Donald Trump has rejected clear scientific evidence that climate change poses a serious global threat, and has populated his cabinet with those who deny that fossil fuel emissions currently are the primary driver of climate change, and reject imperatives to cut carbon emissions and prepare for dangerous climate change impacts happening now. Instead, the Trump White House is actively dismantling the government’s capacity to address climate change, and thus to deal meaningfully with a problem the nation’s defense apparatus has labeled a major threat to national security.