Trump wants a climate change panel that can do its work in secret and be stuffed full of anti-science zealots.
Last week, there were reports that William Happer, a senior director in Trump's National Security Council, was putting together a panel that would attack research on whether climate change was a security threat. Like many things with this administration, the idea has already gotten much worse than when it was first proposed.
Initially, it appeared that Trump would, by executive order, create a Presidential Committee on Climate Security. Such a group would have been an official independent federal advisory committee.
However, those committees have specific rules they must follow thanks to the Federal Advisory Committee Act. They have to meet in public, they are subject to FOIA, and, perhaps most relevant here, they have to maintain a membership that is balanced "in terms of the points of view represented and the functions to be performed by the advisory committee." In other words, a climate change advisory committee would have to contain not merely people like Happer, a crackpot who thinks climate scientists are like Nazis, but also experts who believe in climate change.
Rather than follow those sorts of pesky rules, the new plan is to create an ad hoc working group that wouldn't be subject to disclosure rules and doesn't have to be fair or balanced. There's no reason the group couldn't just be stacked with fossil fuel industry insiders, climate denialists, or federal scientists who have no background in climate science.
This all stems from the fact that Trump is still unhappy that his administration issued the National Climate Assessment late last year, which it was required by law to do. It was a comprehensive 1600-page report detailing, with scientific certainty, both how devastating climate change has already been and how much worse it will get.
But Trump refused to accept the findings of the report.
"I don't believe it," he said when the report was released.
Since he doesn't believe in climate change, Trump and others in his administration think of a report confirming climate change as a political product of Obama-era scientists. He's ignoring the fact that much of the report was written and reviewed during this current administration. He's also ignoring the fact that climate change science is settled science.
Retired Rear Adm. David Titley, who used to be the Navy's oceanographer, calls Trump's goal of a faux-neutral body that will attack climate science a "truly bad idea that just refuses to die."
He's not wrong.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.