Trump Breaks Up Advisory Group That Helps People Understand Climate Change

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The Washington Post reported Sunday that President Trump has disbanded an advisory panel on climate change. The group was founded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in 2015 to help disseminate government research into the effects of climate change, but its charter expired on Sunday, and acting NOAA administrator Ben Friedman told the committee's chair that it would not be renewed.

The panel in question is the Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment. It's a supplement to the National Climate Estimate, which was created by Congress in 1990 to assess and project the long-term effects of climate change. The advisory panel was formed to help disseminate the larger group's findings to public and private policymakers, so that they could integrate government research into climate change into their decision-making.

The National Climate Assessment is supposed to issue a report every four years; however, it's only done so three times since the 1990 law was passed. It's now an open question whether or not the next report — which is completed and scheduled for 2018 — will ultimately be released; the Washington Post reports that this has been a source of tension within the Trump administration, but the NOAA communications director told the Post that the disbanding of the panel "does not impact the completion of the Fourth National Climate Assessment, which remains a key priority."

The New York Times obtained a copy of the upcoming report. It concludes that "evidence for a changing climate abounds, from the top of the atmosphere to the depths of the oceans," and that the available evidence shows that "human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse (heat-trapping) gases, are primarily responsible for recent observed climate change." It was jointly prepared by 13 federal agencies but, although completed, has not yet been approved for release by the Trump administration.

Trump, who withdrew from the Paris climate accords earlier in the year, has said that climate change is a hoax created by China intended to make the U.S. less competitive.

The 15 members of the now-disbanded panel included academics, local officials and business representatives. The chair of the group, University of Maryland adjunct professor Richard Moss, told the Post that its members will finish and release their next advisory report, even though it won't, at that point, be an official government document. He acknowledges that "it won’t have the same weight as if we were issuing it as a federal advisory committee."