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Climate Panel Disbanded by Trump Launches Independent Network to Tackle Crisis at Local Level

"This new approach will make it easier to develop science-based pathways to address climate threats to local economic growth, infrastructure, and public health."

Sidney, Iowa

Floodwater covers Highway 2 on March 23, 2019 near Sidney, Iowa. Midwest states are battling some of the worst flooding they have experienced in decades as rain and snow melt from the recent 'bomb cyclone' has inundated rivers and streams. At least three deaths have been linked to the flooding. (Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Members of a climate advisory panel disbanded by President Donald Trump in 2017 launched an independent network on Thursday to help communities across the country with science-based guidance to tackle the challenges of a rapidly warming world.

"We live in an era of climate change, and yet many of our systems, codes, and standards have not caught up."
—Daniel Zarrilli, NYC's chief climate policy adviser

The new Science for Climate Action Network (SCAN) "will convene teams of scientists, climate experts, and state, and local officials to identify best practices in an ongoing process," according to a press release from the group. "The network will work with the latest science and technology, including the use of artificial intelligence to process city data and citizen science to collect missing data on impacts."

As the Trump administration continues to rolls back federal climate policies, communities throughout the United States are working to curb greenhouse gas emissions and respond to threats posed by the worsening global climate crisis—from risings seas and catastrophic flooding to more frequent and powerful extreme weather events.

By establishing SCAN, the group hopes to help federal agencies; state, local, and tribal governments; researchers; non-governmental organizations; and businesses better understand climate science so it "can be integrated into existing decision frameworks and used in adaptation and mitigation."

"Integrating climate science into everyday decisions is not just smart planning, it is an urgent necessity," Daniel Zarrilli, New York City's chief climate policy adviser, said in a statement.

Zarrilli pointed out that, unlike many other municipalities, New York City has its own climate science panel. "We live in an era of climate change," he said, "and yet many of our systems, codes, and standards have not caught up."

SCAN, which aims to assist with that process, comes in response to a key recommendation in new a report released Thursday by members of the disbanded federal panel and other experts.

"Local governments and communities need help to use climate science to evaluate how mitigation and adaptation opportunities interact with their broader goals," said Richard Moss, the report's lead author. ​"This new approach will make it easier to develop science-based pathways to address climate threats to local economic growth, infrastructure, and public health."

Beyond its central recommendation of creating a civil-society-based climate assessment consortium, the report—published in Weather, Climate, and Society, a journal of the American Meteorological—"recommends a new framework that applies climate reports like the U.S. National Climate Assessment in a sustained, user-oriented process instead of a one-off release."

"We were concerned that the federal government is missing an opportunity to get better information into the hands of those who prepare for what we have already unleashed."
—Robert Moss, lead author

"We were concerned that the federal government is missing an opportunity to get better information into the hands of those who prepare for what we have already unleashed," Moss told the Guardian.

Moss previously chaired the Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment, commissioned by former President Barack Obama to help translate findings from federal climate reports into action to increase preparedness and resilience. Trump disbanded the 15-person committee in 2017, shortly after he ditched the Paris climate agreement.

In January of 2018, New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo—on behalf of the United States Climate Alliance, a coalition of governors—revived the group as the Independent Advisory Committee on Applied Climate Assessment, which has continued its work with support from New York state, Columbia University's Earth Institute, the American Meteorological Society, and other partners.

"We're only just starting to see the effects of climate change, it's only going to get much worse," Moss said. "But we haven't yet rearranged our daily affairs to adapt to science we have."

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