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Joe Biden. Photo: Anna Moneymaker-Pool/Getty Images

The White House said this morning that veteran climate scientist Mike Kuperberg is returning as head of the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) following his removal from the position under President Trump.

Why it matters: The USGCRP coordinates climate research at 13 federal agencies and produces deeply researched, granular reports every four years that help inform policymakers, corporations and others about the causes and consequences of climate change on the United States.

What to watch: He'll oversee the creation of the fifth version of the congressionally-mandated National Climate Assessment that's slated for release by the end of 2023, though that release date may slip.

Catch up fast: Kuperberg, who has been a climate scientist with the Energy Department for nearly two decades, led USGCRP for five years until last year.

  • Trump had replaced him with David Legates, a meteorologist who disputes the scientific consensus on human-induced warming. In addition, NOAA chief scientist Ryan Maue was moved to a senior position within OSTP in the waning days of the Trump administration, in order to exert influence over the next edition of the NCA.
  • The most recent NCA, published in 2018, angered the White House since it found that the effects of climate change would be extremely costly for the U.S.
  • Both Legates and Maue were fired shortly before President Biden's inauguration, after they published unauthorized climate science pamphlets with the White House seal on them. These documents, which were not reviewed by any OSTP officials beforehand, contesting mainstream scientific findings.

What they're saying: "There is no doubt that the climate crisis is accelerating — and if we’re serious about tackling this crisis, we need proven scientific leadership that transcends politics," said Jane Lubchenco, the top climate official at OSTP, in a statement.

  • In an interview with the Washington Post, Kuperberg said he's "really excited to be back."
  • "I think [the program] is a critical component for advancing the climate agenda of this administration."

What's next: Kuperberg needs to find a new scientist to run the report process itself, since the White House removed climate researcher Betsy Weatherhead in April. She too was appointed during the Trump administration, though she holds mainstream views on the causes and consequences of climate change.

Oriana Gonzalez contributed reporting.

Go deeper

Aug 23, 2021 - Science

Science Moms launches $4 million ad campaign

Screengrab from a new Science Moms ad. Courtesy: Sciencemoms.com

Science Moms, a nonpartisan group of climate scientists and mothers, is launching a $4 million digital ad campaign targeting suburban moms in several key swing states.

Why it matters: The three ads, which focus on how this summer's extreme weather events are affecting families around the country, will target suburban moms in metro areas that proved pivotal in the 2020 election.

Mayors feel powerless to reduce homelessness

Expand chart
Recreated from 2021 Menino Survey of Mayors; Chart: Jacque Schrag/Axios

America's mayors know their constituents hold them accountable for homelessness, but many don't feel they have the tools or power to fix things, a brand new survey says.

Why it matters: While homelessness has become more acute during the pandemic, city leaders say they lack the money, staff or political support needed to make a meaningful difference.

Ina Fried, author of Login
1 hour ago - Technology

Microsoft to buy Activision Blizzard

Photo: Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Microsoft announced Tuesday it plans to acquire video game giant Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion in cash.

Why it matters: The move comes as Activision Blizzard has faced a wave of accusations of workplace harassment.