Guest opinion by Dr. Patrick J. Michaels
The Global Change Research Act of 1990 requires the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP; also established in the Act) to provide quadrennial reports to Congress on the effects of climate change on our country. This hasn’t been explicitly followed (with such reports published in 2000, 2009, and 2014), and I have written extensive criticisms of each of them showing they are one-sided, incomplete, unscientific and highly misleading (see here, here and here).
Now the USGCRP wants to churn out a steady stream of similar quality work. The Trump Administration cannot possibly want this climate hype machine to proceed, but so far nothing has been done to stop it from becoming the perpetual national climate scare.
One reason for the lack of intervention is there is no one to stop it. Technically, the USGCRP reports to the head of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, the President’s science advisor. This position remains unfilled, and there’s no strong evidence it’s ever going to be filled in this administration.
The code name for USGCRP’s latest proposal is “Sustained Assessment.” It began about a year ago when the USGCRP convened a Sustained National Climate Assessment Advisory Committee (SNCAAC). This is a standard practice when cooking up a new federal activity–create a committee to recommend it.
The SNCAAC has now published the outline strategy document for its vision, which was subject to public comment—sort of. Verbal comments were relegated to a measly two hours. The thrust of the strategy is that the National Climate Assessment should continually produce “products” for “decision-support,” which is code for making things happen politically by scaring the hell out of people. In climate change, everything will be typically “worse than we thought.” It is also normal in government for intermittent study offices to want to become permanent operations.
In the most recent National Assessment Report (2014) the climate change impacts are almost all bad and projected to get much worse. Actual climate change in the United States is small. There is no increase in weather-related damages after adjusting for population and property values. Satellite data show virtually all landmasses are becoming greener. Bad weather is not climate change, but you would never know this from reading the 2014 report. Extreme weather in the U.S. was much worse in the 1930’s and 1950’s than in recent decades.
Rather than becoming continuous, the assessment process should either be terminated or “red teamed” by a broad collection of non-USGCRP people (i.e. those not in on the USGCRP’s $2+ billion a year), and in no case should it become permanent. Unfortunately, the USGCRP is semi-autonomous because it is an interagency office funded by 13 different federal Departments and Agencies. None of the member agencies has the power or the inclination to rein it in.
To remedy this, President Trump needs to name a science advisor who will have the authority to tone down this machine, which by law is merely required to produce the quadrennial reports to Congress.
It is ironic that a Trump Administration that has expressed considerable skepticism about humans causing dangerous climate change, has shown no control over the USGCRP’s climate apparatchicks from the previous Administration. Their “sustained assessment” proposal means more scary stories more all the time, the last thing we need in climate science.
Note: about 5 minutes after publication, some editing notes that were inadvertently published with the document were removed.