Climate Misinformation from the Biden Administration
The draft U.S. National Climate Assessment is about political promotion not scientific assessment
The Biden Administration has just released its draft report of the fifth U.S. National Climate Assessment. The draft report is intended to be for comment only, and the Biden Administration requests that it not be cited or shared publicly.
That request didn’t stop The Washington Post from writing a major story on it today. Nor did that request stop many of the report’s authors and Biden Administration officials from commenting on the record about the report for the Post story, just as COP27 kicks off in Egypt.
Surely this cannot be a coordinated political rollout, timed exquisitely to coincide with this year’s major climate conference?
As the Washington Post notes, the report emphasizes policy advocacy:
[T]he report’s authors write, it is long-term planning and transformational investments that offer “the opportunity to create a healthier, more just, and more resilient nation.”
What sorts of long-term planning and transformational investments? Well, as the draft report notes, the Biden Administration’s Inflation Reduction Act is key and the “scientific assessment” cites multiple White House press releases and fact sheets to support those claims. Policy advocacy by an administration is of course absolutely normal and expected. However, we don’t expect to see such advocacy in support of administration policies in an effort characterized as a “scientific assessment.”
Imagine if the Administration’s of George Bush or Donald Trump used the NCA for policy advocacy. Oh, wait. They did. And journalists and scientists rightfully complained.
The NCA is a political football because of an institutional design flaw. I know a lot about this because I wrote my PhD dissertation on the law that established it almost 30 years ago. The design flaw is that the NCA is supposed to be a scientific assessment, but it is housed in the White House and overseen by presidential political appointees. The temptation to use the report for political ends, rather than implement it as an independent scientific assessment, has proven too much for both Democrats and Republicans.
The Biden administration’s NCA is — like its predecessors — a political document intend to support the administration’s climate policy agenda. It has the veneer of science, but no one should mistake it for a scientific assessment. For this reason I won’t be providing formal comments to the USGCRP on the draft. I refuse to legitimize the charade.
In this post, following the jump, I respect the formal request not to discuss the draft report in public. Below I point out several major errors, omissions and outright false claims in the report that earn it the designation “climate misinformation.”
I also share five figures not found in the report that tell a dramatically different story than what the report states. Please feel free to share those figures around. I’ll share this post publicly after the public comment period is over, early next year.
You can sign up to read and comment on the report at the USGCRP website here. I welcome your comments and questions on the report on this thread. I’d also appreciate you sharing this post.
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