In the latest sign that the Trump administration is disregarding years of progress on the study of climate change, a federal advisory panel on climate action was disbanded on Friday.
The panel was supposed to advise public officials and businesses on the National Climate Assessment — a multiyear analysis of climate change by 13 federal agencies. Ultimately, the panel would have offered guidance on energy and infrastructure projects, among other issues.
For the Trump administration, however, facilitating climate science does not seem to be a priority.
The 15-person Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment was made up of academics, corporate representatives, and local officials. Former members of the panel say that intelligently incorporating climate science into public and private projects will now be more challenging.
“It doesn’t seem to be the best course of action,” the former chair Richard Moss, an adjunct professor in the University of Maryland’s Department of Geographical Sciences, told The Washington Post. “We’re going to be running huge risks here and possibly end up hurting the next generation’s economic prospects.”
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The National Climate Assessment is expected to be released in 2017 and one of its central documents is under review by federal administrators. The document warns that parts of the US will see temperature rises of up to 7.5 degrees Fahrenheit (4.8 degrees Celsius) which would go far beyond the goal set by the Paris climate agreement of keeping temperatures under a 2 degrees Celsius rise.
The federal advisory panel would have helped local and state officials, businesses, and the public better understand the report.
All throughout the country, officials are stepping up their efforts to cope with climate change as the federal government recedes in its capacity to lead.
For example, a coalition of more than 300 mayors have vowed to uphold the Paris climate agreement after the Trump administration announced his plan to withdraw from the 195-country pledge.
The federal government has pulled back from studying climate change in other ways as well.
The director of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, has embarked on a far-ranging campaign to unravel environmental regulations, silence climate scientists, and weaken the agency’s overall capacity for decades to come.
The head of the Department of Interior, Ryan Zinke, has ordered a review of dozens of national monuments to potentially open them up to private extraction and has rearranged departments to allegedly silence climate scientists.
Disbanding the federal advisory panel is the latest attempt to seemingly obstruct action on climate change.
But with growing consensus across the political spectrum that climate change is a real and escalating threat, it seems that action will be taken with or without federal involvement.