The Obama administration is fighting anti-science Republicans to create a Climate Service within the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration. The NOAA Climate Service would consolidate NOAA’s existing, widely dispersed, climate capabilities under a single management structure to meet America’s rising demand for authoritative and timely climate information. Tea Party Republicans successfully included a rider preventing its establishment in the FY 2011 continuing resolution, but now the fight is over the FY 2012 budget, which includes a budget-neutral provision for the new climate division.
On Wednesday, the House science committee is holding a hearing on the proposed climate service, with NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco and Robert S. Winokur, Deputy and Technical Director, Office of the Oceanographer of the Navy, Chief of Naval Operations, scheduled to testify.
NOAA’s climate information provides long-range forecasting ranging from two weeks, to seasons, to decades out. Climate services help the public to make informed decisions to prepare for and become more resilient to the new reality of our changing world. Individuals, businesses, and local governments rely heavily on this information — the rapid increase in climate disasters and extreme weather has only increased the demand for these forecasts. Even without a coordinated approach, NOAA’s climate information directly benefits the American people:
— NOAA’s climate forecasts, from seasonal precipitation outlooks to weekly on-the-ground U.S. Drought Monitor assessments, are helping firefighters in Texas to prepare for and respond to a record extreme wildfire season.
— NOAA’s climate information is being used by the U.S. home building industry, which estimates savings of over $300 million per year in construction costs alone from using just one of NOAA’s climate tools.
— Insurance companies rely on climate data such as the normal (mean) temperature, precipitation, height above sea level, and storm frequency to calculate insurance premiums and coverage based on catastrophe models.
NOAA’s climate services are currently distributed across five line offices. As carbon pollution destabilizes the climate, demand has outpaced NOAA’s capacity to effectively deliver requested products and information and exceeded its ability to meet or be responsive to future needs. The reorganization would significantly boost the agency’s efficiency, strengthen science across NOAA, and improve delivery of vital weather and climate forecasts — at no additional cost to the taxpayer.
Nothing less than the full mobilization of the nation’s resources will allow us to survive the changing threats of our polluted climate. However, the Tea Party has a policy of science denial. The formation of this service threatens the know-nothings within the Republican Party who deny that the fossil fuel industry is creating a dangerous world — so they are preventing the government from protecting the American people.