Climate Science Watch submitted comments on communications and stakeholder interaction issues in the development of U.S. Climate Change Science Program Synthesis and Assessment Product 4.1, Coastal Elevations and Sensitivity to Sea Level Rise.
See our previous posts:
March 13: “Stealth release of major federal study of Gulf Coast climate change transportation impacts”
March 14: “GAP press release on stealth release of climate change transportation impacts report”
For more detailed information on the status, details, and milestones of the Coastal Elevations and Sensitivity to Sea Level Rise report, see here.
Public Review Draft for Synthesis and Assessment Product 4.1:
Coastal Elevations and Sensitivity to Sea Level Rise
Comments submitted for the record by Climate Science Watch:
Chapter: PREFACE, Page 8, Lines 326-328
The preface states: “The SAPs are intended to support informed discussion and decisions by policymakers, resource managers, stakeholders, the media, and the general public.”
The Prospectus (dated December 12, 2006, see http://www.climatescience.gov/Library/sap/sap4-1/SAP4-1prospectus-final.pdf, states:
“The draft report, prior to the CCSP Interagency Committee and NSTC clearance, and its revised version after said clearance, will both be posted on the CCSP web site and made available to the public.”
A much more proactive method for communicating the results of SAP 4.1 will be needed to meet the stated goal in the preface. Simply posting it on the CCSP website and making it publicly available will not ensure that this information reaches its intended audiences. At a minimum, there should be a press release and press conference with media outreach efforts to release the report, briefings for Congressional staff, outreach to state and local decisionmakers, and announcements that the lead authors are available for media interviews and to answer questions. These are the minimum essential elements for decision support; an active and ongoing process for working with coastal zone managers and other decisionmakers is also needed.
The “stealth release” of SAP 4.7, “Impacts of Climate Variability and Change on Transportation Systems and Infrastructure—Gulf Coast Study” must not be permitted to be repeated with the remaining SAPs slated for completion. The suppression of this report was documented by Climate Science Watch: the report was released several months after completion, it coincided too closely with another highly similar report issued by the National Academy of Sciences, it was accompanied by a weak and misleading press release with no press conference or roll-out whatsoever, and, most egregiously, reporters were blocked from interviewing the lead author at the Department of Transportation until critical public scrutiny was directed at this problem. Mechanisms should be put in place to ensure that the public and policymakers have the benefit of these valuable efforts and reports, and are able to interact freely with the authors.
Chapter: PREFACE, Page 12, Lines 408-412
The preface states:
408 “During the preparation
409 of this report, three regional stakeholder meetings were held between the author team and
410 representatives from local, county, and state agencies, other federal agencies and non
411 governmental organizations. Many of the prospectus questions were discussed in detail
412 with the audience and the feedback was incorporated into the report.”
Our efforts to locate any evidence or documentation on the internet of these stakeholder interactions did not yield any results. We could not find any public comments, reports or minutes of meetings, such as those held by the Coastal Elevations and Sea Level Rise Advisory Committee (CESLAC), stakeholder reports, or other stakeholder input. We do note the large number of authors from stakeholder communities, and support relying on nonfederal entities to participate in the preparation of the SAPs. Stakeholder input should be not only documented but made available on the CCSP website (and other federal websites as appropriate) throughout the process, not just after the final report is released.