On the government shutdown and climate research

Facebooktwittergoogle_plus

“Every day, this shutdown is having adverse effects on a wide range of climate research across the federal agencies,” we said to Climate Wire. “Rick Piltz, director of the Climate Science Watch program at the Government Accountability Project, added that furloughing what he called the ‘intelligence community of climate science’ sends a ‘terrible’ message to both the researchers and the American people: ‘What a slap in the face it is to the science community, to just shut them down.'”

In “Washington’s climate — hot rhetoric, cold comfort as a few good employees struggle on,” Elizabeth Harball at Climate Wire (subscription required) scanned the federal science landscape on the first day of the U.S. Government shutdown. Every federal agency involved in climate research is affected by the shutdown.

At the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Weather Service will continue to provide weather forecasts but climate research will essentially be halted. For example, Climate Wire notes:

“The vast majority of other climate research under the federal government has stopped. NOAA’s research vessels will all be ordered to return to port, scientific staff will be sent home, and research efforts will be wound down,” said Jeff Watters, associate director of government relations for ocean conservancy, in a blog post Monday. “There’s no doubt that a government shutdown would be a blow to ongoing federal ocean research efforts.”

The shutdown comes at an especially inconvenient time for climate research; a number of scientists with NOAA were co-authors of the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, which was released in full Monday.

Since the shutdown, these experts are no longer available to help interpret the 2,000-page document for journalists or policymakers. …

At NASA, 97 percent of the employees are furloughed. Climate Wire:

NASA builds and launches many of the satellites NOAA depends on for critical climate and weather data. The shutdown could cause further delay to planned satellite programs like GOES-R, which are already struggling due to budget and management shortfalls.

The NASA website was offline yesterday morning, but in a statement reported by Space.com yesterday, the agency said that “if a satellite mission has not yet been launched, work will generally cease on that project.” …

Climate Wire let me have the last word for the day:

“Every day, this shutdown is having adverse effects on a wide range of climate research across the federal agencies,” said Rick Piltz, director of the Climate Science Watch program at the Government Accountability Project.

Piltz served in senior positions in the coordination office of the U.S. Global Change Research Program from 1995 to 2005 and had just started there during the last shutdown in 1995. Then, he said, “in terms of global change research, no fatal damage [was] done. People were able to pick back up.”

But Piltz added that furloughing what he called the “intelligence community of climate science” sends a “terrible” message to both the researchers and the American people: “What a slap in the face it is to the science community, to just shut them down.”

We’ll be taking a closer look in subsequent posts at the effects of the shutdown, if it lasts more than a few days, climate research.

This entry was posted in Climate Science Watch, Congress: Legislation and Oversight, U.S. Global Change Research Program. Bookmark the permalink.