How to make climate change go away

Donald Trump and his administration has a novel way of making something they don’t like go away – stop funding any research on it.

They propose to slash funding of climate research. That will either make everyone forget there could be any problems, or it will put the US way out of the world scientific loop.

VOX: Trump’s budget would hammer climate programs at EPA, NASA, NOAA, and Energy

President Donald Trump’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2018 can be read as a political document, a statement of his administration’s policy priorities. Many of these proposed cuts won’t get passed by Congress, but it’s a look at what Trump values.

And what’s clear is that Trump wants the US government to pull back sharply from any effort to stop global warming, adapt to its impacts — or even study it further. Under the proposal, a wide variety of Obama-era climate programs across multiple agencies would be scaled back or slashed entirely.

That includes eliminating much of the work the Environmental Protection Agency is doing to research climate impacts and limit emissions. It includes scaling back the Department of Energy’s efforts to accelerate low-carbon energy. It includes cuts to NASA’s Earth-monitoring programs. The proposal would also eliminate the Sea Grant program at NOAA, which helps coastal communities adapt to a warmer world. The document dubs this a “lower priority.”

This anti-science approach will please some people, but it is likely to isolate the US even more from the rest of the world, which is moving away from high energy production and products.

1) Many of the EPA’s climate programs would be terminated. Trump is proposing a sweeping 31 percent cut to the EPA’s budget — from $8.2 billion down to $5.7 billion — shrinking funding to the lowest levels in 40 years. That includes zeroing out funding for many of the agency’s climate programs. Currently, the EPA is the main US entity working to monitor and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

So there’s no more money for work on the Clean Power Plan, an Obama-era regulation to control CO2 emissions from power plants, which Trump aims to repeal.

2) The Department of Energy’s R&D programs would be reoriented and scaled back. Trump is proposing a 5.6 percent cut to the Department of Energy. And, to do that, he would impose a steep 17.9 percent cut — roughly $2 billion — from core energy/science programs intended to accelerate the transition to new (and cleaner) energy technologies.

Clean energy and emissions controls and limiting pollution will be good for the world regardless of the effect on the climate and any effect changing climate may have on the world, but the US seems to prefer to go back to greater disregard for the environment and bugger the consequences.

3) State Department funding for climate change is axed. As part of the Paris climate deal in 2015, the United States pledged not just to cut emissions, but also to offer $3 billion in aid to poorer countries to help them adapt to climate change and build clean energy. So far, the Obama administration has chipped in $1 billion. This was seen as crucial for bringing these countries into the deal.

Trump would end all that. In his budget, he’s proposing to “cease payments to the United Nations’ (UN) climate change programs by eliminating U.S. funding related to the Green Climate Fund and its two precursor Climate Investment Funds.”

4) NASA’s Earth-monitoring programs are cut. One reason we know so much about climate change is that NASA has deployed a fleet of Earth-observing satellites since 1999. They collect data on everything from temperature and precipitation to underground aquifers and ocean currents to wildfires, soil moisture, and storms.

But NASA’s Earth Science Division has come under attack from conservatives who don’t appreciate the agency’s forays into climate science and think NASA should focus on space exploration instead. As such, Trump’s budget would trim the agency’s Earth science budget to $1.8 billion — a $102 million cut. That’d include terminating “four Earth science missions (PACE, OCO-3, DSCOVR Earth-viewing instruments, and CLARREO Pathfinder) and reduc[ing] funding for Earth science research grants.”

The proposal derides these programs as too “Earth-centric.”

The aim seems to be to make America great again – on a different planet to the rest of the world.

5) A key NOAA program to help coastal communities adapt to climate change would be gone. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Sea Grant program provides grants for research efforts intended to help coastal communities deal with a wide variety of challenges. Lately, that has included climate change

The rest of the world will carry ion doing what research it can. Perhaps Trump will order wiretaps of scientists in other countries to keep in touch with what research is finding out.

Alternately he could just turn his back on science and rely on Breitbart for all his guidance.

There will be a few scientists and bureaucrats out of jobs (3,200 from EPA alone) but they could be retrained into digging and shovelling coal.

If Congress plays ball with White House budget proposals it will mean massive changes, which will end up being a massive experiment. If they get it wrong it could be an expensive mistake.

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8 Comments

  1. David

     /  March 18, 2017

    The US seems to have 5 departments duplicating the same thing which is wasteful in itself. The EPA is supposed to be a regulatory organisation that has hugely over reached and the US taxpayer has lost 100s and 100s of millions backing clean energy comapnies that have gone bankrupt. NASA should be doing cool space stuff.
    Ironically the biggest cause of greenhouse gas reductions has been the result of fracking and the drop in natural gas prices making coal redundant in power generation.

    Reply
    • PDB

       /  March 18, 2017

      Reply
      • Griff

         /  March 18, 2017

        PDB
        There has been a totally independent,Privately funded by a true skeptic, look into the temperature data after repeated claims it is dodgy
        Privately funded .
        Berkley earth science developed their own data set and they use their own methods.to insure it was accurate.
        Unsurprising the found exactly what ever one else has found..

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  March 18, 2017

          I am sceptical about global warming/climate change being man-made, but anything that cuts pollution has to be a good thing anyway. The London smogs were dreadful, by all accounts. I wonder what the climate/temperatures were like at the height of the smogs. There were fogs, of course, but I don’t know just how much of the extreme winter weather-rivers freezing and such things-was at the time of smogs. If the two were at the same time, what would that imply ? Of course, in icy winters people burned more coal if they could afford it.

          One real problem is going to be China and cars-they will say, rightly, that the rest of the world has them and doesn’t expect to walk everywhere.

          Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods is a wonderful book-but it makes some sad reading when he talks about the damage that pollution is doing.

          Reply
  2. Griff

     /  March 18, 2017

    Reply
  3. Alan Wilkinson

     /  March 18, 2017

    There’s plenty of gravy in that train to drain before you get to any meat.

    Reply

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