May 28, 2019 - Energy & Environment

NYT: Trump weighs major climate science shift

President trump

President Trump. Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP/Getty Images

The Trump administration may sharply curtail the scope of federal reports about the future effects of climate change, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: The U.S. government produces closely watched analyses that add to scientific and popular understanding.

  • They include a late 2018 report warning of "hundreds of billions of dollars" in annual losses to some economic sectors without scaled up emissions-cutting and adaptation.

Where it stands: The NYT report looks at 2 major changes.

  • One of them would jettison what the NYT calls "worst case scenario" projections of unchecked emissions and the steep temperature rises that would result.
  • The paper also reports that one agency, the U.S. Geological Survey, will only use climate models that project effects through 2040, rather than 2100.

The big question: How will these changes affect the next version of the National Climate Assessment (NCA), a sweeping report that many agencies and outside scientists create that is issued roughly every 4 years.

  • Going forward, projections of unchecked emissions and their impact "will not automatically be included in the National Climate Assessment or in some other scientific reports produced by the government," they report.

Our thought bubble, via Axios' Andrew Freedman:

"It's one thing to ignore the science, but quite another to try to dictate what goes into them. It risks making the administration look heavy-handed and Orwellian."
"At the end of the day, this approach would not succeed in stifling the main message, as there are more than a dozen agencies involved in the NCA process, plus outside researchers who can publish independently."
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