White House officials last year weighed whether to simply “ignore” climate studies produced by government scientists or to instead develop “a coherent, fact-based message about climate science,” according to a memo obtained by The Washington Post.
The document, drafted Sept. 18 by Michael Catanzaro, President Trump’s special assistant for domestic energy and environmental policy at the time, highlights the dilemma the administration has faced over climate change since Trump took office. Even as Trump’s deputies have worked methodically to uproot policies aimed at curbing the nation’s carbon output, the administration’s agencies continue to produce reports showing that climate change is happening, is human-driven and is a threat to the United States.
Catanzaro, who prepared the memo for a meeting of senior White House and agency officials that took place a couple of days later, asked whether the Trump administration should “consider having a firm position on and a coherent, fact-based message about climate science — specifically, whether, and to what extent, anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases are affecting the climate system, and what level of concern that warrants.”
The memo presented three options without endorsing any of them: conducting a “red team/blue team” exercise to “highlight uncertainties in climate science”; more formally reviewing the science under the Administrative Procedure Act; or deciding to just “ignore, and not seek to characterize or question, the science being conducted by Federal agencies and outside entities.”
It did not consider touting federal scientists’ findings.
Although administration officials did not adopt a formal policy in the wake of these deliberations, in practice they have largely ignored the findings of U.S. government researchers. As a result, these scientists have continued to sound an alarm on climate effects such as sea-level rise and wildfires — even as top Trump officials emphasize that they can neither endorse nor repudiate these findings. [Continue reading…]