Local Business and the Federal Climate Research Leaks
By Tim Cronin, Policy Fellow
- Leaked USDA emails direct employees to avoid saying “climate change”
- The same day, concerned federal employees leaked a draft of a climate report
- The report expects national temperatures to rise by as much as 2 degrees this century
- Federal climate research is used directly and indirectly by a variety of local businesses
What You Need to Know
On Monday two separate information leaks stroked fears of suppression of federal climate research by the Trump administration.
Leaked emails sent from senior USDA officials urged employees to avoid referencing “climate change,” and instead to use terms like “weather extremes.” Sent only 4 days after the inauguration of President Trump, the emails elicited pushback from USDA employees. In the emails, some staff spoke against what they see as censorship that undermines the “scientific integrity of the work” they do.
A few hours after the emails leaked, a draft of the 2017 National Climate Assessment was also leaked by federal employees. The report is a legal requirement every four years, and includes input from over 13 federal agencies. The report showed that recent decades ranked amongst the warmest in the past 1,500 years. It also predicts that even with current carbon reduction policies, national temperatures will increase by 2 degrees this century. Employees feared that the Trump administration would suppress these facts in this year’s report, which was the ultimate impetus for leaking it.
How this Affects Local Business
The federal government plays an important role in guiding and funding national climate research like that done by the EPA, USDA, NASA, the U.S. Global Change Research Program, and others. Some research projects, like the National Climate Assessment, can be massive and require resources and scope not available to academia or the private sector.
Federal climate research provides an important public service that is utilized by local business in a number of ways. Reports from the USDA help New England fishermen get a sense of how climate change will affect annual fish stock. NOAA research aid Massachusetts farmers and regulators identify areas of increased water stress. And FEMA flood maps help coastal businesses prepare for ever more dangerous storms. Climate research also allows companies providing financial and mitigation services a better handle on its destructive potential on the entire economy.
The concern isn’t that that federal research will no longer be publicly available, but that the scientific integrity of the work will be undermined. Being unable to rely on the accuracy and non-biased nature of national climate research calls into question its conclusions. This leaves local companies without information that, in some cases, is vital to their success.
Like with the Paris Climate Accord, states and cities can fill the void left on the federal level on climate change policy. They can pool resource to fund national climate studies, increase investment in local research and development of new technologies, and work with businesses to ensure they have the information they need to remain resilient.
Are you interested in doing more to support statewide policies like these? Discover how CABA can help your business take targeted action on climate change.
About the author: Tim is an economics and politics student at Stonehill College. This past year he had the opportunity to study at Oxford University, exploring global governance, human rights law, and int’l economics. As a senior, Tim will serve as student-body president and continue to fight for sustainable initiatives such as fossil fuel divestment and expanding the college’s solar farm. He has interned at the State House and serves on the board of his local civic association. Tim enjoys reading The Economist, listening to podcasts, and exploring state parks in his free time.