The Trump administration’s record on climate change is about to go from bad to worse, thanks to new policies designed to attack the science behind our warming planet.
This is not the first time that Trump has failed to acknowledge the dangers of climate change and uphold the environmental protections his predecessors put in place. The President has appointed a climate change denialist to his climate panel, pledged to withdraw from the Paris climate accord that 195 countries are part of, refused to sign an important agreement designed to protect the Arctic unless it didn’t mention climate change and has called climate change a hoax.
Not depressing enough for you? Don’t worry. There’s more.
The administration’s latest move is to bring climate change denial to entirely new levels. Speaking at a recent environmental gathering, an Environmental Protection Agency administrator suggested that the U.S. might change the way it evaluates the science behind climate change and the way it models the effects climate change is having on the environment.
Why Is Climate Modeling So Important Anyway?
Climate modeling is a complex process that happens when data scientists simulate the way energy moves throughout our entire climate system. By using equations to model different scenarios, such as rising temperatures or melting ice, those scientists can predict the consequences of those changing weather patterns.
Those models are important for two reasons. First, they can help people who will be affected by climate change to better prepare. For instance, many climate models show a future with more frequent flooding in certain areas, so some farmers and biologists are working on producing crops that are more resistant to extreme rain.
But models are also important for testing more large-scale solutions to climate change, such as global efforts to drastically reduce the human carbon footprint. Climate scientists can then use their models to simulate different solutions based on science rather than blind speculation.
Not Just Worst-Case Scenarios
Sounds great, right? Unfortunately (but not so shockingly), Trump can’t see the importance of such modeling.
Every four years or so for the past two decades, the White House has released a National Climate Assessment. It contains climate models, data and suggestions from several government agencies on the current state of the climate. A new one should launch in 2021 or 2022, and scientists are already working on it.
Typically, the climate models included in a report would extend to the end of the century. This is important for a few reasons. For one, part of climate change policy is restoring our planet for the generations to come, not just for ourselves.
It’s also important from a scientific perspective – many scientists believe that it’s not until after 2050 that some of the most harmful effects of emissions will really start to escalate. In other words, we’ve done all the damage to significantly harm the planet until about 2050. But modeling is important to show the changes that would happen if emissions were to continue to increase, or the possibilities of a more stable planet if we were able to scale back.
But the current administration has said that such mapping “focuses on worst-case emissions scenarios that do not reflect real-world conditions,” and that they would re-examine that kind of mapping going forward.
What Happens Now?
Now would be a good time to call your representatives and encourage them to speak up about the importance of climate modeling. Speaking up against Trump’s environmental policies has worked in the past – Congress is trying to stop his pledge to withdraw from the Paris accord, and a judge recently blocked his efforts to roll back on environmental protections that President Barack Obama put in place. If enough voices get together, perhaps we can get a model of climate change that will inform and help protect us for longer than the next 20 years.
About the Author
Rachelle Dragani is a freelance writer based in Brooklyn with extensive experience covering the latest innovation and development in the world of science. Her pieces on topics including DNA sequencing, tissue engineering and stem cell advances have been featured in publications including BioTechniques: the International Journal of Life Science Methods, Popular Mechanics, Futurism and Gizmodo.