USGS can only use climate models that project the impact of climate change through 2040, rather than through the end of the century.
What happened: The New York Times reported that the Director of the US Geological Survey (USGS), James Reilly, has ordered that scientific assessments produced by USGS can only use climate models that project the impact of climate change through 2040, rather than through the end of the century as has been done previously. As a result, the administration is planning on omitting the worst-case climate change scenarios from the National Climate Assessment, a federal interagency report that examines the impact of climate change.
Why it matters: This is a case of a political official ordering federal scientists to not use the best available science when analyzing the impacts of climate change. The science shows that when greenhouse gases accumulate in the atmosphere, the effects of the gases on climate change compound and accelerate, meaning that the worst repercussions from climate change will not be captured in a scientific study that stops at 2040. This could provide a misleading picture of the consequences of anthropomorphic climate change. The science conducted at the USGS is important and is used by scientists, decisionmakers, and the public at the local, state, federal, and international levels. Forcing federal scientists to adopt inadequate methodologies for non-scientific reasons undermines the USGS’ scientific contribution to the world and will hamper the ability of decisionmakers to enact evidence-based policies that mitigates the effects of climate change.
Learn more about how the USGS Director undermined climate change science and why scientists say that climate projections past 2040 are absolutely vital for combating the worst effects of climate change.