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National Park Service Releases Climate Report That Officials Tried to Censor
The report, published Friday without a press release or any social media activity from the parks department or Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, shows estimates of sea level change for 118 coastal national park sites and estimates of storm surge for 79 of the sites.
The 87-page study, led by University of Colorado Boulder scientist Maria Caffrey, has been held up for at least 10 months, according to the Center for Investigative Reporting's Reveal project.
Reveal obtained and analyzed 18 versions of the scientific report and found that on Feb. 6, a park service official removed the word "anthropogenic," or mankind's influence on nature, in five places. Three references to "human activities" causing climate change were also scrubbed.
Caffrey told Reveal that National Park Service officials pressured her to accept the changes or the report might be released in an edited form without her name on it.
However, following Reveal's reporting and a call from Democrats for an investigation on the attempts at censorship, park service officials agreed to re-insert the terms.
"The fight probably destroyed my career with the [National Park Service] but it will be worth it if we can uphold the truth and ensure that scientific integrity of other scientists won't be challenged so easily in the future," Caffrey told Reveal.
The final version shows that all coastal parks will need to contend with both changing sea levels and the intensification of storms and associated storm surge, especially along the southeast coast, where it is facing more tropical storms and hurricanes. The Outer Banks of North Carolina is poised to experience the greatest amount of sea level rise over the next century, with the shoreline near Wright Brothers National Memorial projected to rise 2.7 feet by 2100.
An NPS spokesman told ABC News that the department was confident about the report's accuracy and the final language of the document was a result of authors resolving conflicting edits.
"During multiple rounds of review, recommendations and suggested edits that focused the report on issues specific to national park units were offered for consideration by the author team. As often occurs, the author team experienced disagreements regarding the relative merits of incorporating some of the recommendations received before the report was finalized," the spokesman said. "The scientists preparing this report were doing just that when working drafts of the report were published in the news media before the authors had completed their deliberations."
As EcoWatch mentioned previously, the Interior Department, along with many other departments, are headed by Trump appointees who are hostile to climate science. Not long after Trump's inauguration, references to climate change were removed from the White House website, among other alterations. The Environmental Data & Governance Initiative published a report in January detailing how "language about climate change has been systematically changed across multiple agencies and program websites," the report found.
That same month, nearly all members of the National Park Service advisory panel abruptly quit in protest of the Trump administration's policies, which they say have neglected science, climate change and environmental protections.
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By Julia Conley
Scientists at the United Nations' intergovernmental body focusing on biodiversity sounded alarms earlier this month with its report on the looming potential extinction of one million species — but few heard their calls, according to a German newspaper report.
The climate crisis is a major concern for American voters with nearly 40 percent reporting the issue will help determine how they cast their ballots in the upcoming 2020 presidential election, according to a report compiled by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.
Of more than 1,000 registered voters surveyed on global warming, climate and energy policies, as well as personal and collective action, 38 percent said that a candidate's position on climate change is "very important" when it comes to determining who will win their vote. Overall, democratic candidates are under more pressure to provide green solutions as part of their campaign promises with 64 percent of Democrat voters saying they prioritize the issue compared with just 34 percent of Independents and 12 percent of Republicans.
The climate crisis has become a driving and dividing factor in the political arena in recent years. According to the survey, almost three-quarters of respondents think global warming is happening (though that number varies across party lines) with more than half of registered voters agreeing that it is driven by human activities. As such, six-in-ten voters are worried about the current state of the climate — a marked increase from the last survey conducted in March 2018.
When asked how much they would support different strategies the government could use to reduce air pollution, more than three-quarters agreed that investing in renewable energy research and infrastructure and regulating pollution was a priority, as well as taxing pollution (requiring companies to pay a tax on pollution they emit to encourage a reduction in emissions). A majority of respondents also support more specific policies to reduce carbon pollution and promote clean energy, including a revenue-neutral carbon tax and a fee on carbon pollution that distributes money to U.S. citizens through monthly dividend checks. Furthermore, many support a Clean Power Plan that implements strict carbon dioxide emission limits on existing coal-fired power plants. A majority of voters also say they want policies that address the pollution that causes global warming and reduces pollution investments, regulations and taxes.
Climate change ranks as the 17th most important voting issue and is a more polarizing topic than abortion. So much so, that almost half of registered voters say they would support a president who declared global warming a national emergency if Congress does not act.
A handful of 2020 presidential candidates have put climate change at the forefront of their campaign platform as part of ongoing pressure to combat the effects of climate change. The Green New Deal, unveiled in part by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) earlier this year is a decade-long plan that will "mobilize every aspect of American society ... to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions and create economic prosperity for all," according to a section of the resolution from her office posted by NPR.
Colorado Senator Michael Bennet, who introduced a plan just a few days ago to combat climate change. In it, Bennet calls for the establishment of a "Climate Bank" to use federal spending to incentivize the private sector to transition to net-zero emissions by 2050. His opponent, Governor Jay Inslee of Washington State, similarly announced a clean energy plan earlier this month dubbed the "100 Percent Clean Energy for America Plan" that would aim to phase out coal over the next decade and require all power production to be emissions-free by 2035.
Former Vice President Joe Biden also threw his name into the running hat but didn't mention climate change in his announcement. His overall stand on the Green New Deal and fossil fuel infrastructure is hazy. His campaign website promises environmental action but does not go into further detail. If elected president, Senator Elizabeth Warren has promised an executive order to ban new fossil fuel extraction leases in federal lands and waters.
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President Donald Trump has agreed to sign a $19.1 billion disaster relief bill that will help Americans still recovering from the flooding, hurricanes and wildfires that have devastated parts of the country in the past two years. Senate Republicans said they struck a deal with the president to approve the measure, despite the fact that it did not include the funding he wanted for the U.S.-Mexican border, CNN reported.
"The U.S. Senate has just approved a 19 Billion Dollar Disaster Relief Bill, with my total approval. Great!" the president tweeted Thursday.
"There was a lot of devastation throughout the state," Governor Mike Parson said at a Thursday morning press conference, as NPR reported. "We were very fortunate last night that we didn't have more injuries than what we had, and we didn't have more fatalities across the state. But three is too many."
georgeclerk / E+ / Getty Images
By Jennifer Molidor
One million species are at risk of extinction from human activity, warns a recent study by scientists with the United Nations. We need to cut greenhouse gas pollution across all sectors to avoid catastrophic climate change — and we need to do it fast, said the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
This research should serve as a rallying cry for polluting industries to make major changes now. Yet the agriculture industry continues to lag behind.
"The Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism wishes to inform the public that following extensive consultations with all stakeholders, the Government of Botswana has taken a decision to lift the hunting suspension," the government announced in a press release shared on social media.