Commentary

Trump Just Made Another Irrational and Short-Sighted Decision

Aug 23, 2017

While recent media attention was focused on the dissolution of President Donald Trump’s business councils, the administration quietly dissolved another key advisory body—an expert committee that helps guide the development and implementation of the country’s National Climate Assessment. This move to suppress science is incredibly irresponsible—even from an administration known for its aversion to science and facts—and undermines a crucial tool that shapes how decision makers approach climate policies.

This report is more than just an academic exercise. The advisory committee works directly with stakeholders to ensure that the National Climate Assessment—produced by the government every four years—provides relevant, targeted, and useful information that can be immediately put into action.

Removing input from this diverse and multidisciplinary group of experts will not only jeopardize the translation of science into meaningful climate action from the upcoming Fourth National Climate Assessment, which is due to be released early next year, but also cripple subsequent reports.

Dissolving the committee is short-sighed and irrational—all the more so given the pace at which the climate is changing and the urgency with which action is needed. A portion of the forthcoming National Climate Assessment, the Climate Science Special Report, was recently leaked to the media and highlights the urgency of the issue. Many speculate the report was leaked out of concern that the administration might tamper with the final content before making it public. It is unequivocal in its findings that climate change is happening, humans are the primary cause, and action is urgently needed to avoid the worst impacts and keep global temperature rise to less than 2 degrees Celsius—the target of the Paris climate agreement.

Perhaps we should no longer be surprised: The dissolution of this expert committee is yet another in a series of moves that indicate the Trump administration is not merely dismissive of the dangers posed by the climate crisis—it is hiding its head in the sand so it doesn't hear the facts.

Not only has Trump announced his intent to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris agreement—an unprecedented accord by more than 195 countries to address climate change—but he has also initiated regulatory rollbacks on everything from national monument protections to fuel efficiency standards. Just this month, Trump issued an executive order that overturns requirements for builders to consider flood dangers and the effects of the climate crisis on new infrastructure like roads, bridges, and buildings.

The good news is that regardless of whether the Trump administration acknowledges the climate crisis, the clean energy revolution is already underway—and from city mayors to the CEOs of major corporations, everyone is taking note.

For instance, mayors in more than 100 cities around the country have committed to 100% renewable electricity. The cost of renewable energy, like wind and solar, is falling rapidly, and in many places these technologies are comparable to or cheaper than fossil fuels. Renewable energy is also driving the country’s economy: Solar electricity generation employs more people in the U.S. than oil, coal, and gas electricity generation combined.

The solutions to the climate crisis exist today, and although the Trump administration insists on impeding climate action at every turn, the American people are taking action into their own hands. Activists and concerned citizens can make their voices heard when the comment period on the National Climate Assessment opens in the fall. We can educate ourselves about the climate crisis and its solutions. We can choose to power our homes and businesses with 100% renewable energy. And we can call on our leaders at all levels of government to take climate action. Our future depends on it.

Ken Berlin is president and CEO of The Climate Reality Project.

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