The Boulder Daily Camera’s Charlie Brennan reports on growing unease in Boulder, home to numerous important federal environmental research facilities including the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, as the Trump administration prepares to take a hacksaw to parts of the government that don’t comport with the new president’s vision–like climate science:
Little more than a month ago, Boulder scientists were publicly counseling a cautious, wait-and-see approach to feared budget cuts by the administration of a president who has called climate change a hoax perpetrated by China.
They waited, and late last week, they saw.
A report appeared Friday from the Washington Post, which had obtained a four-page memo outlining a 17 percent budget cut for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which the newspaper called one of the nation’s premier agencies for climate science.
One critic of those proposed cuts pointed out that the $990 million savings would fund the Department of Defense for 12 hours…
It’s not a surprise that President Donald Trump intends to make large cuts to climate research given his statements on the campaign trail. But as those consequences of Trump’s victory move from hypothetical to reality, the manifold implications are setting in:
A widely circulated posting Saturday for Forbes by Marshall Shepherd, a leading international expert in weather and climate, and 2013 president of the American Meteorological Society, explored the far-reaching ways in which NOAA affects everyday life…
Shepherd, who is also director of the University of Georgia’s Atmospheric Sciences Program, said it was “beyond the scope” of his intentions to “get into the politics.”
He sticks instead to the simple facts of what a 22 percent slashing of the satellite division, or a 5 percent cut to the National Marine Services Service or 5 percent reduction to the National Weather Service — which are also both under NOAA — could mean.
Although the goal of these cuts would be to strike a blow against climate change “alarmism,” the effects may be felt in areas of the economy that have little to do with that one admittedly significant aspect of NOAA’s job. Neglect of NOAA’s coastal erosion programs, for example, could undermine hurricane recovery efforts. A reduction of weather forecasting information hurts the ability of Americans to prepare and respond to all kinds of events.
And yes, this is likely to cost Boulder some very good jobs. Republicans don’t like to factor the value of government employment into the strength of the larger economy, but the fact is, these are high-paying jobs that drive secondary economic growth just like good jobs in the private sector do. For their impact on the economy alone, these are not jobs that Coloradans of any political persuasion should want to go away.
All told, Trump’s plans for neutering climate science are bad news locally, in ways that won’t take decades to come to fruition. The long-term damage these cuts could result in is of course the more important story, but our local economy will feel the pain first.