GOP ‘Climate Disconnect’ Would Sacrifice Climate Research for Weather Forecasting

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"GOP ‘Climate Disconnect’ Would Sacrifice Climate Research for Weather Forecasting"

Amid a growing “climate disconnect” among House GOP members, as cited in a new report released yesterday by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), the Environment Subcommittee of the House of Representatives Committee of Science, Space, and Technology proved true to form earlier this week. On Tuesday, in yet another example of partisan split on climate issues, the body passed the Weather Forecasting Improvement Act of 2013.

The innocuous-sounding legislation would improve weather forecasting research, but do so by cutting NOAA’s spending on climate change research. The bill eventually passed out of the subcommittee by a voice vote along partisan lines.

Both sides agree that increased funding for weather forecasting research is critical, but Democrats criticized Republican plans to take money away from climate change research, which already contributes to weather prediction capabilities. Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD) pinned the blame squarely on her GOP colleagues, in pointing out the folly of robbing one forecasting program to pay for another.

There is a deep animus to anything related to climate research on the side of the majority… But the fact is, climate impacts weather. Our experts need to have full knowledge and expertise about this impact so there can be better forecasting.

This logic failed to resonate with Republicans, as Vice Chairman Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) explained his opinion that NOAA is spending too much money on “ineffective research on climate,” and suggested weather forecasting should be a higher priority than climate change research.

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), took his cue from the Vice Chairman in representing the views of the anti-science, climate denier caucus:

We have seen grant after grant being given to anyone who can come up with something that will excite the public about global climate change in a way that would suggest that mankind is responsible in order to justify restrictions on human activity.

Such grants are, of course, perfectly rational in light of NASA’s recent finding that fully 97 percent of scientists believe climate change is “very likely due to human activities.”

The Science Subcommittee’s actions came the same day that the House Appropriations Committee decision later that same day passed its version of the 2014 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Bill. Their work also showed a greater affinity for weather forecasting over climate change research. Despite cutting NOAA’s funding by $89 million from the previous fiscal year, the committee boosted the Naitonal Weather Service funding while cutting other vital ocean and climate programs.

The cost of a warmer planet will be significant. Climate change induced extreme weather events have become increasingly frequent and we are all paying for it.

In 2011-2012, the United States experienced 25 floods, storms, droughts, heat waves and wildfires that caused at least $1 billion in damages each. An analysis by the Center for American Progress found that the federal government, or taxpayers, spent $136 billion from 2011 to 2013 in disaster relief – equivalent to almost $400 per household per year. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) estimates that “a dollar spent on [pre-disaster] mitigation saves society an average of $4” in damage-recovery costs. Climate change modeling helps identify areas most vulnerable to future extreme weather events and rising sea levels that can benefit the from mitigation efforts.

As Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) said, “Weather should not be, cannot responsibly be, a partisan issue…. I’m disappointed we don’t have a bipartisan bill that entire committee can rally behind.

Rep. Johnson isn’t the only one should be disappointed that climate change has become such a partisan issue that has in turn affected legislation about weather. According to a recent poll from The Yale Project on Climate Change Communication and George Mason University, 70% of Americans agree that global warming should be a priority for the President and Congress. As Republicans continue to politicize climate change, they distance themselves from the priorities that most Americans share. Anyone who makes climate change a partisan issue must be held accountable when the bill comes due.

Judy Li is an intern and Michael Conathan is the Director of Ocean Policy at the Center for American Progress.

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18 Responses to GOP ‘Climate Disconnect’ Would Sacrifice Climate Research for Weather Forecasting

  1. Dennis Tomlinson says:

    This logic failed to resonate with Republicans, as Vice Chairman Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) explained his opinion that NOAA is spending too much money on “ineffective research on climate,”

    A portion of the funding for the tornado research done at Oklahoma State U. comes through NOAA. This I have been told by a relative involved in said research. I wonder if Congressman “Frankenstine” (R-OIL) is aware of that.

    • Dennis Tomlinson says:

      I wonder if posting a reply to a comment that’s been in the penalty box for nearly 24 hours might not serve the same purpose as drawing a “Get Out of Jail Free” card?

  2. Joan Savage says:

    Is weather not connected to climate?

    Earlier this week, The Drovers Cattle Network (hardly a liberal publication) ran a Reuters article on what improved El Niño forecasting means for farmers. It further mentions an article in the journal Nature Climate Change.

    http://www.cattlenetwork.com/e-newsletters/drovers-daily/El-Nino-warnings-to-help-farmers-adapt-213882351.html

    When will the political dinosaurs remember to ask the farmers and ranchers, and urban emergency management teams, how much they value long-range forecasting?

  3. M Tucker says:

    “70% of Americans agree that global warming should be a priority for the President and Congress.”

    Yeah, but they won’t show up to protest like the women in Texas. Our representatives will not vilify the deniers in congress like they did yesterday when they stripped nutritional subsidies from the farm bill. We will not see voters in the halls of congress calling out deniers for their inaction like we did with gun safety. When climate change actually becomes just as important to Americans we will see a change.

    Of course House Republicans are all for “cutting other vital ocean and climate programs.” They don’t want to talk about it, they don’t want to hear about it and they don’t want to see any more scientific studies about it. Hmmm, I seem to remember a photo that involves monkeys or chimps. The deniers want us to not only head toward the cliff with our foot down on the accelerator they also want us blindfolded.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      Perhaps they think it will be more humane that way, like the blindfold you get when the firing squad is readied.

  4. Mark E says:

    Since we’ve known that the various satellites would go silent since they were launched, there has been plenty of time to budgetary planning…..

    and this is what they came up with! I wonder how long this black ace has been up the GOP sleeve, and with how much the strategists rubbed their hands when the card was finally played?

  5. Mark E says:

    Since we’ve known that the various satellites would go silent since they were launched, there has been plenty of time to do budgetary planning…..

    and this is what they came up with! I wonder how long this black ace has been up the GOP sleeve, and with how much glee the strategists rubbed their hands when the card was finally played?

  6. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    As was easy to predict, as the evidence of rapid climate change, caused by human activities, grows ever stronger, the Right, true to type, resort to bluster, bullying and intimidation. As in Canada, when the science tells you that your greed is pushing us to disaster, then ‘disappear’ the science and monster the scientists. The Right know no other way to act in life. This is the essence of their being. To dominate, terrorise and suppress that which does not accord with the few axioms that their tiny minds can encompass. That I am a big, important man, that my word goes and that you’d better not get between me and the feeding trough.

  7. Rabid Doomsayer says:

    Unfortunately what we don’t know can hurt us.

    • Superman1 says:

      And, one of the things we don’t know is what the intel world is doing in this area. Is the climate research being reduced (proposed or actual), or is it being shifted from unclassified to classified? There are many interests who would prefer the public not know what’s happening to the climate or how serious the situation is, and conversion of the research to the Dark world would accomplish this purpose.

  8. Merrelyn Emery says:

    3% of scientists agree that there is no relationship between climate and weather, ME

  9. BillD says:

    From my experience on grant panels and as a reviewer, federal grants are extremely competitive and made more so by the sequester. At NSF and NIH funding rates are around 10-15% and nearly all applicants and projects are well-qualified. Although I only occasionally review climate projects, it’s not an easy area for funding, nor do scientists rank grants by how they are likely to appeal to the public and media. The main criterion is “scientific merit” which means “potential for advancing science.” It’s unfortunate that Rep Rohrabacker and his ilk are so misinformed and/or misleading on topics that they chose to speak about and vote on.

    • Superman1 says:

      BillD, actually, the NSF uses two evaluation criteria: Intellectual Merit (the potential to advance knowledge); and
      Broader Impacts (the potential to
      benefit society and contribute to the achievement of specific, desired societal
      outcomes). Potential applications play some role.

  10. Linda Miilu says:

    Gee, why would a representative from an oil state, OK, and a representative from SoCal with oil pumping on land and offshore, not want to hear anything about climate change research? Go figure.

  11. Oh, they are such valiant contrarians, aren’t they? So brave, so self-important, so fatuous, so in the pocket of the monied interests.

  12. bratisla says:

    Glad to see Rohrabacker still didn’t understand what Richard Alley told him.
    Maybe because he was too busy throwing every nonsense he got from his “advisors” instead of listening.