One of the missions of not-really-departed White House chief strategist Steve Bannon was “dismantling the administrative state;” code for taking apart the government that Trump’s special interests will not tolerate. The Trump administration has been busy issuing executive orders eradicating any part of government their special interests oppose, and it doesn’t take a genius to work out that the special interests directing Trump’s cabinet are the Koch brothers and big oil. Remember, Trump did not personally vet or select any of his cabinet appointees. That task was assigned to the Heritage Foundation as surrogates for the Kochs who have wanted the federal government “dismantled” since the 1980s, Now they have a rubber stamp in the Oval Office and their Big Oil cohorts have unlimited funds and influence over Trump.
It is no surprise that reports indicate that Trump and his anti-environment Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Scott Pruitt “are taking directions from Big Oil.” It is why the agency is purging scientists and actively eliminating regulations and environmental protections that even remotely impact the fossil fuel industry, not just big oil.
By now, only a moron is unaware that despite overwhelming scientific data and decades of research to the contrary, the fossil fuel industry denies climate change exists, or that manmade emissions cause and are exacerbating the condition. Trump claims the whole climate change ‘thing’ is a Chinese hoax. He has also claimed over 50 times that climate change has been thoroughly debunked because there is cold weather someplace on Earth, and he’s seen it.
Over the weekend, the Trump administration, in its devoted service to Big Oil, took another step toward dismantling the administrative state by dissolving a critical, congressionally-mandated, agency because its climate assessment didn’t comport with Trump’s climate denial.
Less than two weeks ago the draft version of the 2018 scientific section of the National Climate Assessment was leaked out of a real fear the Trump and his EPA head would attempt to bury it. Now the Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment members will not have to worry about their report being buried; Trump disbanded the “committee.”
The committee’s purpose in the upcoming 2018 report was translating the findings of 13 different federal agencies, over three decades of climate data, and studies conducted by tens-of-thousands of the world’s scientists into the effects of carbon emissions on the warming climate. Those findings were intended to be used to aid policymakers and private-sector officials incorporate the federal government’s climate analysis into their long-term infrastructure planning for a broad range of projects from building roads and bridges to maintaining adequate hydroelectric supplies.
Now those public and private officials will have to look elsewhere for guidance because Trump doesn’t believe the National Climate Assessment’s 2018 conclusion that,
“There are no alternative explanations to human industrial activity being the cause and no natural cycles are found in the observational record that can explain the observed changes in climate.”
According to the passage of the 1990 law calling for the National Climate Assessment, the “committee’s report” is supposed to be issued on a quadrennial basis, but it has only been released three times since the law was passed. The 2018 version was certain to be a “contentious issue” based on the Trump administration’s animosity toward anything related to science, but especially so because it is climate science.
It is not clear if the already released “draft” will be punished in a finalized form, but there is already nervous concern among officials about the fate of the report at the news the committee is disbanded. However, the communications director for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Julie Roberts, said on Saturday that “this action does not impact the completion of the Fourth National Climate Assessment, which remains a key priority.”
The chair of the 15-member “committee,” Richard Moss, said during an interview on Saturday that ending the group’s work was shortsighted. Moss is a professor in the University of Maryland’s Department of Geographical Sciences and warned of consequences for the decisions state and local authorities tasked with making planning decisions. Mr. Moss said:
“It doesn’t seem to be the best course of action. We’re going to be running huge risks here and possibly end up hurting the next generation’s economic prospects.”
Seattle’s mayor Ed Murray said that the move to dissolve the committee represents “an example of the president not leading, and the president stepping away from reality.” Murray shared that from a public utilities standpoint, it is going to be “more difficult” for cities to participate in the climate assessment. On climate change, Trump “has left us all individually to figure it out.”
The past chair of the American Society of Civil Engineers’ Committee on Adaptation to a Changing Climate, Richard Wright, has been busy “working with the committee to convey the importance of detailed climate projections” in the 2018 assessment. The Civil Engineers’ society is the agency that establishes “guidelines that form the basis of building codes across the country,” and those guidelines are founded on a historical record that may no longer be an accurate predictor of future weather extremes due to the rapid change in Earth’s climate. Mr. Wright said:
“We need to work on updating our standards with good estimates on what future weather and climate extremes will be. I think it’s going to be a serious handicap for us that the advisory committee is not functional.”
This latest “dismantling” at Trump’s hands is more than just an assault on science or taking apart the government, although it is certainly both of those. And it is much more than just Trump “stepping away from reality or not leading.” It is a well-planned and well-funded effort by Republicans’ special interest donors that will have deleterious effects on the nation, the economy, and the American people for generations. And while it may not be the immediate existential threat of a thermonuclear war, it is a threat that scientists have been warning was coming for several decades. Sadly, now that the the world, and Americans, are seeing and feeling the changing climate’s effects and calling on the government to take action, Trump is going in the opposite direction and disbanded the one agency that may have prevented the worst effects of an impending disaster.