Jan 1 2021: Looking forward on climate assessment

The Fifth National Climate Assessment is underway and will be delivered in 2023. That is not news. What is news is that the Trump Administration failed to stop it or even apparently seriously diminish it.

According to globalchange. gov
“The U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) was established by Presidential initiative in 1989 and mandated by Congress in the Global Change Research Act (GCRA) of 1990. Its mandate is to develop and coordinate ‘a comprehensive and integrated United States research program which will assist the Nation and the world to understand, assess, predict, and respond to human-induced and natural processes of global change.’ ”

This report uses scientists from across the Federal Government and a new one is mandated every four years. It is serious work. Note that the Trump Administration’s delays have lead to a 2023 instead of 2022 release.

Before looking at that, let’s consider some of the things we learned in the Fourth Assessment from 2018, notably greater attribution of human influence for individual climate and extreme weather events; both oxygen loss and acidification may be magnified in some U.S. coastal waters relative to the global average, raising the risk of serious ecological and economic consequences; ice loss is continuing and even accelerating in some places; and extreme events are increasing (wildfires, floods, storms). There also a number of new and expanding reporting tools that improved the understanding of climate science.

As reported in the New York Times, the assessment has been able to continue partially due to incompetence. The Trump Administration has used its usual method of replacing authors with loyalists and delaying actions. All said, it looks like the Biden Administration will be able to keep this important scientific program on track. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/01/climate/trump-national-climate-assessment.html