Two years ago, the Trump administration dismantled a panel tasked with studying climate change. But that didn’t stop members from completing their research.
The former federal advisory committee began meeting under the Obama administration in 2016. Members were supposed to give the federal government recommendations on how to help communities make informed decisions related to climate change.
They were tasked with reviewing the National Climate Assessment, a report Congress requires every four years that assesses where the nation stands on the issue.
Members of the 15-person panel were selected by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the White House Office of Science and Technology.
In August 2017, the acting head of NOAA emailed the committee saying its charter would expire later that month.
After the panel’s dismissal, 12 of the original members and several additional experts formed the Independent Advisory Committee on Applied Climate Assessment with the support of Columbia University’s Earth Institute, New York State and the American Meteorological Society.
Cartoons on Climate Change
“It was not an easy thing to restart this,” said Richard Moss, a visiting senior research scientist at the Earth Institute and chairman of the independent advisory committee.
What they came up with is a “much more interesting report,” according to Moss.
“It is better suited for the situation we collectively have put ourselves in with climate change,” Moss said.
The report, published Thursday in the journal Weather, Climate and Society, found that the U.S. lacks a comprehensive national climate information system. So members of the panel decided to launch a network to provide non-federal entities guidance on climate science.
The Science for Climate Action Network is not meant to replace the National Climate Assessment or similar federal reports. Instead, it goes “the last mile in helping people to understand how to use the data in reports like that to solve their own problems,” Moss said.
Communities can use the network to determine what climate datasets they should use for specific decisions, according to the committee.
“The point is to take what we know, make it usable for the communities, and increase their confidence in weighing the tradeoffs and opportunities that come with different strategies for adaptation and mitigation,” Moss said.