Stupid, evil, or both? GOP kills NOAA Climate Service
A deep ideological objection to science has caused House Republicans to block a restructuring effort within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that would have provided a valuable climate service to industry and the military. Ironically, it would have made this vital government agency more efficient. This is an extraordinarily sad casualty in the War on Science. Read on to understand the absurdity in this obstruction
“Obstruction?” Given consequences like this, I would call this destruction. Not to mention something that directly endangers the life of any American potentially in the path of a natural disaster. I wish this kind of deranged nihilism could be a criminal offense:
Republicans led by Rep. Ralph Hall (TX) successfully killed the budget-neutral provision to create a Climate Service within NOAA that would have consolidated the agency’s existing, widely dispersed, climate monitoring capabilities under a single management structure to meet American’s rising demand for timely climate information. Here are the top 10 reasons why the Republican war on NOAA’s Climate Service, or NCS, is inherently indefensible and will be particularly damaging to small businesses, industry, the economy, and the American people.
1. Axing it didn’t save any money. … In fact, NOAA didn’t ask for one additional penny of spending to create the service. Now, instead of enabling the agency to use taxpayer dollars more efficiently, those funds will be spread throughout multiple departments. Same investment, less return.
2. Missing a chance to increase government efficiency. … The proposed strategic reorganization would have allowed NOAA to advance science and deliver services more efficiently and effectively with the funding it receives.
3. Basing opposition on nothing more than climate denial. ‘Our hesitation,’ Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) told Lubchenco at a hearing in June, ‘is that the climate services could become little propaganda sources instead of a science source.’ And Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX), chair of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, launched an investigation of NOAA in September, claiming the agency was running a ‘shadow climate service operation.’ These allegations are absurd, as the only thing the NCS would provide is data. Just like NOAA’s current climate operations, it would not be regulatory or political – it would simply provide accurate information to governments, industry, and individuals to enable informed decision-making.
4. Current services are already falling behind demand. Climate data help the public make informed decisions to prepare for and become more resilient to a changing world … As NOAA Administrator Dr. Jane Lubchenco told Congress, the amount of climate data taken from the agency’s websites jumped 86 percent from 2009-2010. The rapidly-increasing user demand has outpaced NOAA’s capacity to effectively deliver requested products and information and exceeded its ability to meet or be responsive to future needs.
5. Keeping benefits from accruing to large industries, small businesses, and farmers. According to NOAA, up to one-third of the U.S. gross domestic product depends on accurate weather and climate information. Insurance companies rely on climate data such as mean temperatures, precipitation, mean height above sea level, and storm frequency to calculate insurance premiums. The U.S. home building industry estimates it provides savings of over $300 million per year in construction costs. Farmers depend on NOAA’s climate data to determine what crops to plant and when, and to plan their irrigation needs.
6. Preventing stimulation of investment and economic growth. The NCS would have allowed NOAA to support the development of the private sector climate industry that is emerging, in much the same way that NOAA’s National Weather Service has spawned a roughly $1 billion weather industry.
7. Impeding development of climate change adaptation plans. Climate change will occur whether we track it or not. Without an NCS, states, cities, and tribes will lack an authoritative, single source of information on the likelihood of extreme weather, sea level rise, and temperature shits, to help address long-term vulnerabilities, plan infrastructure development, and establish adaptation plans.
8. Impeding ability to predict extreme fire seasons. NOAA’s climate forecasts…help firefighters in multiple states prepare for and respond to wildfire season. The record-breaking extreme fire season in Texas this year highlights the increased demand for NOAA’s climate data and the importance of delivering accurate and timely information.
9. Compromising our national security. Testifying before Congress in June, US Navy representative Robert Winkour emphasized efficient access to climate information is integral to the U.S. Navy’s mission to anticipate future threats to national security and the proposed service would help with ‘resource allocation and management’ while also ‘facilitating data that we would need for national security.’
10. Allowing a few extremists to derail a proposal with widespread support. The concept of a consolidated NCS was first proposed back in the 1970s and gained traction in the Bush administration. The latest effort gained the support of Conrad C. Lautenbacher, NOAA administrator under George W. Bush.
Republicans are simply beyond redemption at this point. If you live in a district with Democratic reps or a state with Democratic senators, please contact them and demand they make this direct threat to American national security a campaign issue.