Washington (June 4, 2019) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Chair of the Senate Climate Change Task Force, hosted this week’s meeting with major scientific organizations to discuss recent reports about the Trump administration’s intention to restrict use of climate science in future federal reports. Experts from the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and the American Geophysical Union (AGU) joined Senator Markey and the Climate Change Task Force today to detail the potential implications of proposed restrictions and the importance of upholding scientific integrity.
Last week, Senator Markey sent a letter to the White House office responsible for overseeing preparation of the National Climate Assessment, asking the White House to explain why it is interfering with the climate science activities of the federal agencies. The most recent National Climate Assessment, released in November 2018, outlined that in the worst case scenarios climate change could cause up to nine degrees of warming globally and eleven feet of sea rise in the northeastern United States.
“The Trump administration has shown a complete commitment to undermining and censoring science, especially climate science,” said Senator Markey. “By hosting some of the world’s leading scientific organizations here at the Task Force, Senate Democrats are saying that we are equally committed to standing up for the scientific facts on climate change and for the responsibility of scientists throughout this country to conduct their science free of political interference. We will not allow President Trump and his fossil fuel henchmen throughout government to stifle the science surrounding climate change and its impacts.”
Last week, the New York Times reported that officials in the Trump administration are considering excluding high-emissions scenarios that would detail the worst impacts of climate change from the Congressionally-mandated National Climate Assessment. The news story reported that the U.S. Geologic Survey (USGS) director James Reilly has ordered scientific assessments produced in the office to exclude impacts beyond 2040, a time horizon experts say would vastly understate future risk.
“Restricting climate models to analyzing the impacts of climate change that we face in the next 20 years will not change the impacts that we may face beyond 2040,” said Rush Holt, Chief Executive Officer of AAAS. “This would only serve to provide less evidence-based information to communities that need to make decisions about their opportunities and challenges now and in the future.”
“In 1990, Congress passed and President Bush signed into law the Global Change Research Act, which requires research to project major climate trends for the following 25 to 100 years,” said Dr. Brenda Ekwurzel, Director of Climate Science, Climate & Energy at UCS. “Failing to look beyond 2040 for projections of climate impacts as USGS Director James Reilly reportedly recently instructed staff scientists would not only be against the law, but would also be like pretending a baby born today won’t live past the age of 21.”
“More and more we are seeing the Trump administration go after science produced at federal agencies, to try to dampen the threat climate change poses and the political will to address it,” said Gretchen Goldman, Research Director, Center for Science & Democracy at UCS. “It is crucial that public policy decisions be informed by expert science advice that is free from political interference.”