The Trump administration just disbanded a federal advisory committee on climate change

By Juliet Eilperin

The Trump administration has decided to disband the federal advisory panel for the National Climate Assessment, a group aimed at helping policymakers and private-sector officials incorporate the government’s climate analysis into long-term planning.

The charter for the 15-person Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment — which includes academics as well as local officials and corporate representatives — expires Sunday. On Friday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s acting administrator, Ben Friedman, informed the committee’s chair that the agency would not renew the panel.

The National Climate Assessment is supposed to be issued every four years but has come out only three times since passage of the 1990 law calling for such analysis. The next one, due for release in 2018, already has become a contentious issue for the Trump administration.

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9 COMMENTS

  1. @>OP- The next one, due for release in 2018, already has become a contentious issue for the Trump administration.

    Any government body which produces “inconvenient facts”, rather than “alternative facts”, is “a contentious issue with the Trump administration”!

  2. It seems like the reckless Trump will try to disband or close down anything which does not go along with delusional Trump objectives!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-41020779

    Donald Trump says he will close down the US government if necessary to build his wall along the Mexico border.

    The president told supporters at a “Make America Great Again” rally in Phoenix, Arizona, that the opposition Democrats were being “obstructionist”.

    During the 80-minute speech, he also took aim at the media, blaming them for giving far right groups “a platform”.

    But he selectively quoted his initial response to violence at a far-right rally that left one woman dead.

    He omitted the much-criticised claim that “many sides” had to shoulder the blame for violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.
    What did he say about the wall?

    President Trump wants Congress to finance his controversial plan to build a “big, beautiful” wall along the United States’ border with Mexico to keep out illegal immigrants.

    But Republicans will need the support of Democrats to secure funding for the wall in a government spending bill, which they are unlikely to get.

    In his speech, Mr Trump said the Democrats were “putting all of America’s safety at risk” by opposing the wall. He said immigration officers who worked in the area said it was “vital” to stem the flow of illegal immigrants.

    He said that, if it came to it, he would risk a government shutdown – which is what happens when legislation funding the federal government cannot be passed by Congress and non-essential services stop.

    “Now the obstructionist Democrats would like us not to do it, but believe me if we have to close down our government, we are building that wall,” Mr Trump said, adding that “the American people voted for immigration control”.

    If President Trump wants a government shutdown all he has to do is refuse to sign a funding bill sent to him by Congress.

    Capitol Hill is set to debate a new budget measure this autumn, and unless it is passed federal operations will be in limbo by 1 October.

    But it turns out that governing is harder than campaigning.

    Construction of prototypes near San Diego in California – which had been scheduled for this summer – has been delayed until at least December by a legal challenge from one rejected bidder.

    Ranchers, environmentalists and some businesses on the border have raised objections to the plan, while one Republican congressman in Texas, Will Hurd, has even described the wall as the most expensive and least effective way to secure the border.

    Mexico, needless to say, is not keen to write a cheque.

    Faced with the need to win over doubters on the detail, and explain why this would be a lot of money well spent, Mr Trump has instead chosen to raise the stakes with an “all or nothing” approach.

    This should not come as a surprise.

  3. Of course Trump has not thought this through or produced any sort of coherent plan!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/resources/idt-d60acebe-2076-4bab-90b4-0e9a5f62ab12

    6 things that could topple Donald Trump’s border wall

    .1. The geography is pretty unfriendly – The border is really twisty and some of it is in a river

    In fact, the actual border is, in many places, defined as the deepest channel of the river.

    Building a wall in the middle of the Rio Grande would be challenging for obvious reasons, but there are also legal issues. A treaty signed by Mexico and the US in 1889 prevents any disruption to the flow of the river, meaning any border wall would probably have to be built on its banks. This, again, presents obvious problems.

    There are sand dunes and mountains

    In eastern California, there are the Algodones – or Imperial Sand Dunes – the largest sand dune ecosystem in the US. There is already a section of “floating fence” here, specifically engineered to work with the shifting sands, installed by the George W Bush administration.

    There’s a lot of wildlife

    The US-Mexico border has a delicate ecosystem that could be disrupted by any new barrier.

    .2. The price tag will be rather huge

    Mr Trump’s initial price tag of between $8bn and $12bn (£6.4bn and £9.7bn) has been widely disputed.

    The 650 miles of fencing built under President George W Bush cost an estimated $7bn, and it could not be described as fulfilling Mr Trump’s promises of a “tall, powerful, beautiful” barrier.

    A number of very different estimates have been put forward by other official bodies.

    Mitch McConnell, the Republican majority leader in the Senate, stated the cost would be between $12bn and $15bn, while a report by the US Department for Homeland Security estimated the wall would cost between $21.6bn and $25bn.

    Meanwhile, a report by Senate Democrats, said the wall could cost nearly $70bn to build and $150m a year to maintain.

    Other, unofficial, estimates have varied.

    Wall Street research and brokerage firm Bernstein Research said the price tag could be between $15bn and $25bn, while construction consultants Gleeds believe it would be in the region of $31bn.

    Meanwhile, Konstantin Kakaes, an international security fellow with the New America Foundation writing in the MIT Technology Review, said the total could reach $40bn.

    .3. Actually building it is really difficult

    .4. Trying to get hold of the land could be a nightmare

    But, while some private property-owners may not object, the proprietors of Tribal lands have already voiced firm opposition. The Tohono O’odham Nation owns much of such land, including a reservation that extends along 75 miles of the border in Arizona.

    Tribe members still live on both sides of the border, considering the territory their ancestral lands, and have indicated they will attempt to block construction if the wall goes ahead.

    Should that happen, Mr Trump would need a bill from Congress to acquire the land, which is currently protected under law.

    .5. It needs regular patrols to make it work

    .6. US and Mexican border towns rely on each other

    See the link for further details!

  4. Meanwhile – as Trump blunders on – with no perception of a need for expert advice, it seems the Russians are adapting to the new climatic conditions – albeit on risky ventures!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-41037071

    A commercial LNG tanker has sailed across the colder, northern route from Europe to Asia without the protection of an ice-breaker for the first time.

    The specially-built ship completed the crossing in just six-and-a-half days setting a new record, according to tanker’s Russian owners.

    The 300-metre-long Sovcomflot ship, the Christophe de Margerie, was carrying gas from Norway to South Korea.

    Rising Arctic temperatures are boosting commercial shipping across this route.

    The Christophe de Margerie is the world’s first and, at present, only ice-breaking LNG carrier.

    The ship, which features a lightweight steel reinforced hull, is the largest commercial ship to receive Arc7 certification, which means it is capable of travelling through ice up to 2.1m thick.

    On this trip it was able to keep up an average speed of 14 knots despite sailing through ice that was over one-metre-thick in places.

    On its maiden voyage earlier this year, the Christophe de Margerie docked in the Russian port of Sabetta. Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated the crew and energy company officials gathered on the ship’s bridge, saying: “This is a big event in the opening up of the Arctic.”

    The Russian owners, Sovcomflot, will use this ice-breaking tanker to export gas from the Yamal peninsula to Asian markets later this year.

    It will be the first of a planned fleet of 15 that will transport gas from these ice bound fields all year round.

    “Previously there was only a window of navigation from our summer to autumn, but this ship will be able to sail westwards from Sabetta which is the Yamal energy port, all year round and eastwards from July to December,” said Sovcomflot spokesman Bill Spears.

    “Before the northern sea route was only open for four months and you had to have ice-breakers – so it’s a significant development.”

    In 2016, the northern sea route saw 19 full transits from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

    “If there was a material change in the ice thickness it would change the period of the year that the ship could move through the Northern Sea Route,” said Bill Spears from Sovcomflot.

    “There is an assumption that the ice is not going to thicken dramatically for the economic life of these vessels, which could be over 30 years.”

    Environmental campaigners, though, are worried that increased traffic in this inhospitable region could have potentially significant effects.

    “We’re concerned that this is a commercial opportunity that has only opened up because of global warming, and we’re especially concerned that having taken advantage of the thinning of the ice, shipping operations are now expanding in that part of the world,” said John Maggs from Seas at Risk.

    “It is not like sailing in open water, even if you have an ice classed ship, the risks are dramatically increased.”

    As well as the risk of accident or spillage, there are worries that some of the ships that will sail along this route will be powering their engines with heavier, dirtier marine fuels. The black carbon that they produce could be very damaging to snow and ice in the region, increasing the melting.

    “The environmental risks are enormous,” said John Maggs.

  5. I posted this on an older thread. Better here, perhaps. A nice, comprehensive list of undone regulations – including all the undone environmental regulations thus far:

    The economy

    Withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The trade deal would have established a trade partnership between the United States and countries on the Pacific Rim.

    Revoked a rule that expanded the number of people who could earn overtime pay.

    Reversal of a rule that would mandate that oil and gas companies report payments to foreign governments. The Securities and Exchange Commission will no longer receive this information.

    Ended limits on the ability of states to drug test those seeking unemployment benefits.

    Revoked an executive order that mandated compliance by contractors with laws protecting women in the workplace. Prior to the 2014 order, a report found that companies with federal contracts worth millions of dollars had scores of violations of labor and civil rights laws.

    Repeal of a rule allowing states to create retirement savings plans for private-sector workers.

    Cancelled a rule mandating that financial advisers act in the best interests of their clients.

    Repeal of a bill that mandated that employers maintain records of workplace injuries.

    Killed a rule mandating that government contractors disclose past violations of labor law.

    The justice system

    Rescinded an Obama effort to reduce mandatory sentences. Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered that prosecutors seek the most stringent penalties possible in criminal cases.

    Cancelled a phase-out of the use of private prisons.

    Reversed the government’s position on a voter ID law in Texas. Under the Obama administration, the Justice Department argued that the law had discriminatory intent. Under Sessions, Justice withdrew that complaint. On Wednesday, a federal court threw out the law.

    Reviewed Justice Department efforts to address problematic police departments. An effort to address concerns in the Baltimore Police Department was delayed.

    The environment

    On Friday, Politico reported that some representatives of oil and gas companies are worried that Trump’s moving too quickly to reverse regulations on their industry. “[Y]ou don’t need to roll things back so far that it opens an opportunity for outsiders to criticize, or something bad happens,” one analyst said.

    Withdrew from the Paris climate agreement.

    Blocked the Clean Power Plan. The plan implemented under Obama focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.

    Ended a study on the health effects of mountaintop-removal mining. The process involves blasting away the tops of hills and mountains to get at coal seams under the surface.

    Rescinded a rule mandating that rising sea levels be considered when building public infrastructure in flood-prone areas.

    Reversed an Obama ban on drilling for oil in the Arctic.

    Reviewed the status of national monuments for possible reversal. In April, Trump signed an executive order ordering a review of monuments added in the past 20 years, opening up the possibility that some areas previously set aside would have that status revoked.

    Withdrew a rule regulating fracking on public land.

    Rejected a proposed ban on the pesticide chlorpyrifos. The month after this decision, a group of farmworkers were sickened by exposure to the chemical.

    Reversed a ban on plastic bottles at national parks.

    Repealed a ban on lead bullets. The bullets were banned under Obama because the lead can poison wildlife.

    Rescinded a limit on the number of sea animals that can be trapped or killed in fishing nets.

    Delayed and potentially rolled back automotive fuel efficiency standards.

    Repealed the Waters of the United States rule. This rule expanded the definition of water bodies that were protected by the Environmental Protection Agency.

    Ended a rule banning dumping waste from mining into streams.

    Reversed a rule banning hunting bears and wolves. The ban applied to federal refuges in Alaska and prohibited hunting predators using certain methods.

    Repealed a rule that would have centralized federal land management.

    Removed a bike-sharing station at the White House.

    Foreign policy and immigration

    Cut the number of migrants and refugees allowed from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

    Repealed a rule allowing transgender individuals to serve in the military.

    Rolled back of Obama’s outreach to the Cuban government.

    Ended the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents program. DAPA extended protections for some immigrant parents whose children were citizens of or residents in the United States.

    Education

    Rolled back school lunch standards championed by Michelle Obama.

    Withdrew federal protections for transgender students in schools. Under the rule approved by Obama, transgender students could use school bathrooms that corresponded to their gender identities.

    Reversed a rule that mandated how achievement is measured in schools.

    Repealed a rule mandating certain requirements for teacher-preparation programs.

    Other areas

    Halted or cancelled hundreds of other minor regulatory actions.

    Revoked a ban on denying funding for Planned Parenthood at the state level.

    Repealed a rule mandating that Internet service providers seek permission before selling personal information.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/politics/wp/2017/08/24/what-trump-has-undone/?tid=pm_politics_pop&utm_term=.8d8414cbe5b7

  6. London has just had the hottest bank holiday on record and Texas is having the biggest tropical storm on record, but hey! Who needs committees to plan for the increasing incidences of severe weather????

    Let’s just ignore climate change, concentrate of coal and oil industry short term profits, and pretend that massive losses from increasingly severe climate disasters are just “alarmist talk” – about things which are not going to happen! 🙂
    We don’t want to “ruin the economy”, by investing in renewable energy, and climate research, when there will be an urgent need for money for states of emergency and disaster relief!!! (at least according to the wish-thinking delusionist ultra right propagandists!)

  7. @OP – The Trump administration just disbanded a federal advisory committee on climate change

    Well they would only send out “alarmist” plans and scare people with warnings about needs for advance planning for increasingly intense and frequent events like these:

    https://www.richarddawkins.net/2017/08/hurricane-harvey-why-is-it-so-extreme/

    Quick!!! – Heads back in the sand, while the fat-cat polluters live a life of luxury on mining and oily profits!

    They would rush to help, and wouldn’t dream of putting up fuel prices to exploit a disaster! Would they?? 🙂

  8. Meanwhile:- Further to comment #3:

    Alan4discussion #3
    Aug 23, 2017 at 1:53 pm

    6 things that could topple Donald Trump’s border wall

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-41118992

    Four companies have been chosen to build prototypes for Donald Trump’s planned border wall, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said.

    The four concrete prototypes will be 30ft (9m) long and up to 30ft tall, and will be built in the coming months.

    So then there are another 1900 miles or so to go!

    Officials will then spend up to two months testing the walls for tampering and penetration resistance using small hand tools, CBP said.

    The four contracts are worth up to $500,000 (£387,000) each.

    The prototypes “will help us refine the design standards” of the eventual wall, acting CBP deputy commissioner Ronald Vitiello said.

    “Testing will look at things like the aesthetics of it, how penetrable they are, how resistant they are to tampering, and scaling or anti-climb features.”

    But he said the officials would stick to small hand tools rather than testing “ballistic kind of things”.

    The walls will also need to feature cable conduits and other design features for sensors and cameras.

    Once the order to start building is given in the next few weeks, the prototypes are expected to be finished within 30 days.

    The four companies to which the contracts were awarded are:

    Caddell Construction, in Montgomery, Alabama

    Fisher Industries in Tempe, Arizona

    Texas Sterling Construction in Houston, Texas

    WG Yates & Sons Construction in Philadelphia, Mississippi

    Mr Vitiello said he did not know if any of the firms had had prior experience in border wall construction.

    Four more contracts for prototypes made from materials other than concrete will be announced next week.

    https://www.quora.com/Is-it-feasible-to-build-a-wall-between-the-US-and-Mexico-as-Donald-Trump-claims-he-would-do

    There are two major types of concrete construction: cast-in-place, where wet, plastic concrete is brought in trucks to a job site, cast into formwork, and then cured; and pre-cast concrete, where the concrete is cast in a controlled indoor environment, cured, and then shipped to the construction site for assembly.

    The hot, dry climate in the border regions would complicate cast-in-place construction because high heat tends to screw up the chemical reactions that cause concrete to harden. (See the link on curing concrete below!)

    If we assume a border wall length of 1,954 miles (there are 600 or so miles of existing border barrier, but much of this would not qualify for Trump’s wall), then we can make some estimates as to the volume of concrete needed for the project:

    Foundation: [author provides underlying calculations] yielding:

    Twelve million, six hundred thousand cubic yards. In other words, this wall would contain over three times times the amount of concrete used to build the Hoover Dam — a project that, unlike Trump’s wall, has qualitative, verifiable economic benefits. amount of concrete used to build the Hoover Dam — a project that, unlike Trump’s wall, has qualitative, verifiable economic benefits.

    Concrete, of course, requires reinforcing steel (or rebar). A reasonable estimate for the amount of rebar would be about 3 percent of the total wall size, resulting in a steel volume of 10,190,000 cubic feet, or about 5 billion pounds. We could melt down 4 of our Nimitz-class aircraft carriers and would probably be a few cruisers short of having enough steel.

    All of these hundreds of miles of wall would need to be cast in concrete facilities, probably project-specific ones that have been custom built near the border.

    Then, the pre-cast wall pieces would need to be shipped by truck through the inhospitable, often roadless desert.

    The men and women doing the work of actually installing the wall would have to be provided with food, water, shelter, lavatory facilities, safety equipment, transportation, and medical care, and would sometimes be miles away from a population center of any size. Sure, some people would be willing to to do the work, but at what price? Would Trump hire Mexicans?

    This analysis also ignores the less sexy aspects of large-scale
    engineering projects: surveying, land acquisition, environmental review, geological studies, maintenance, excavating for foundations, and so on.

    OOOOOH! all that sciency stuff that Trump loses patience with!

    http://www.cement.org/learn/concrete-technology/concrete-construction/curing-in-construction

    Curing plays an important role on strength development and durability of concrete. Curing takes place immediately after concrete placing and finishing, and involves maintenance of desired moisture and temperature conditions, both at depth and near the surface, for extended periods of time.
    Properly cured concrete has an adequate amount of moisture for continued hydration and development of strength, volume stability, resistance to freezing and thawing, and abrasion and scaling resistance.

    Slabs on ground (e.g. pavements, sidewalks, parking lots, driveways, floors, canal linings) and structural concrete (e.g. bridge decks, piers, columns, beams, slabs, small footings, cast-in-place walls, retaining walls) require a minimum curing period of seven days for ambient temperatures above 40 degrees Fahrenheit

    Higher curing temperatures promote an early strength gain in concrete but may decrease its 28-day strength. Effect of curing temperature on compressive strength development is presented in Figure 2.

    Control of temperature and moisture content during the concrete setting and curing process, should provide interesting challenges in a desert and mountainous climate!

  9. The climate is totally unimpressed by Trump and just keeps breaking weather records!

    It remains to be seen how the costs of clearing up after the storms affect the Trumponomic budgeting which has “saved tax money” and “enhanced coal and oil profits” by cutting science!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-41178191

    Hurricane Irma is making headlines as the most powerful Atlantic storm in a decade.

    It took that title once its wind speeds matched those of Hurricane Felix (September 2007), but it has since strengthened to match Hurricane Wilma (October 2005).

    The Saffir-Simpson scale is used to judge the power of a hurricane. Hurricane Irma has reached category five, the highest possible classification.

    The huge storm is carrying wind speeds of 295km/h (185mph).

    It is moving relatively slowly, at about 26km/h, towards the southern US coast from the Atlantic.

    There are two other storms of concern at the moment – tropical storms Jose and Katia. Storms are named in alphabetical order as they happen, so after Irma come names beginning with J and K.

    Tropical storm Jose is “close to hurricane strength”, the NHC says, but it is about 1,825km (1,134 miles) east of the lesser Antilles, and so there are no warnings in effect.

    Katia, another tropical storm, is about 280km north of Veracruz in Mexico.

    It is forecast to become a hurricane, and the NHC said a hurricane watch “could be required for portions of the Mexican state of Veracruz later today”.

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