If you don’t like what an expert is saying, fire them and hire somebody else. This has been a theme throughout the Trump presidency, and now, in the administration’s last months, President Trump is taking some last wild swings at climate change policy. The latest is firing Michael Kuperberg from heading the National Climate Assessment. Instead, this position is likely to go to climate change skeptic David Legates.
“Even in their final days, they are continuing to attempt to bury the overwhelming scientific consensus on climate change,” said Rachel Licker, a senior climate scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists.
Related: Trump administration appoints climate change deniers to NOAA
According to The New York Times’ sources, David Legates, currently a deputy assistant secretary at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, will likely be named the new head of the National Climate Assessment. Legates has worked closely with climate change denial groups in the past. Kuperberg is leaving his job as executive director of the U.S. Global Change Research Program, which produces the National Climate Assessment, and plans to return to his previous job at the Department of Energy.
The National Climate Assessment is the government’s official position on climate change in the U.S., as vetted by 13 federal agencies and outside scientists. Published every four years, it’s used to provide input on federal science priorities. While Biden could easily appoint a new head of the National Climate Assessment, many people feel the urgency of climate change and don’t want to wait for two more months. The last report, published in 2018, concluded that the climate change threat to the U.S. is imminent and dire. The next edition of the National Climate Assessment was supposed to be published in 2022. Instead, it’s already been delayed until 2023.
If the next report wrongly diminishes the dangers of climate change, the findings could loosen regulations on emissions and help fossil fuel companies escape being held accountable for contributing to global warming.
Legates is not overly concerned with climate change. He once said carbon dioxide “is plant food and not a pollutant,” according to The New York Times.
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