Trump’s Attack on the Government’s Climate Program
Everyone relies on knowing the climate, and the weather that it controls. Even Trump, who just attacked the funding of the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), in the EPA. It coordinates the climate research, knowledge, and dependence on climate of 13 executive departments and agencies. It has 12 interagency working groups. The agencies are AID, Agriculture, NOAA, DOD, DOE, NIH, State, Transportation, USGS, EPA, NASA, NSF, and the Smithsonian.
The USGCRP is funded by these various agencies to a total of $2.6 billion in FY 2016. The amount that comes through the EPA is only $19 million. At this time it is not clear whether Trump has only cut the EPA share, or will follow through and reduce or cut its funding in other Departments and agencies. The largest fund share comes from NASA $1.55 billion, NSF $0.339 billion, Dept. of Commerce $0.283 billion, DOE $0.238 billion, and USDA $0.098 billion.
Congress and agencies have recently started asking not just for short term weather forecasting, but for longer times, starting with two weeks, and longer. The weather service is now using the newest, more detailed in space and time, climate models for that. This is under NOAA.
The obvious agencies needing climate knowledge start with Agriculture for rain, temperature, and drought forecasts. Then transportation needs temperature and storm forecasts. Computers were developed to forecast weather for the Normandy invasion of WWII, so the Defense Department needs climate knowledge, as well as sea level rise forecasts to prepare its naval facilities. Interior and state agencies need climate and drought knowledge for forest fire preparedness. EPA and state and local clean air agencies need knowledge of inversion layers to prepare for smog alerts. State and local agencies need knowledge to prepare for heavy rains and to adjust reservoir levels. Tourism, under Transportation, depends heavily on weather and long range forecasting.
There are national interest groups, NGOs, and lobbyists for all of the above areas, that can weigh in on their needs for climate research and knowledge. The USGCRP is the center for publishing about our climate.
NASA needs long range forecasts to prepare launch schedules, and avoid leaving launch vehicles exposed in hurricanes. It also so far runs earth observing satellites, and needs to know how to maximize current and future usages of them. There are so many climate relevant research projects involved in the Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation that it would be impossible to list them all.
UC Irvine research into climate in the Department of Earth System Science includes studying how the ice shelfs in Greenland and the Antarctic melt, to forecast sea level rise, so important to our coastal communities. We are also involved in the GRACE satellite program, which measures aquifer water resources that are so important in California, and in many countries around the world. We also study forest fire potential, and forest fire occurrences. There are many other ESS projects, and they are among the best departments in the country.
UC Irvine also has an interdisciplinary Water UCI collaboration that studies California, Western, and world water resources and projects.
President Trump relies on long range weather forecasts to schedule events so that there will be a large turnout, especially if they are outdoors. He schedules his weekend Mar-a-Lago retreats on the weather, as we will notice more during hurricane season. His hotels and golf courses rely on locations and climate for tourism and recreation success. One of them is also in conflict over sea level rise and storm surges. Even the conditions of the greens that he plays on determines how he plays.
It’s time to get real about our daily needs for climate knowledge, and not just worry about fossil fuel billionaires’ fear of being shorted out by long range climate change.