Scientists Trying to Study Extreme Weather Events Hampered by Funding and Politics

Tuesday, December 27, 2011
(photo: Mike Hollingsworth,
For two years in a row, the United States has been subjected to an abnormal amount of extreme weather events, raising the question of global warming’s impact on the earth. But government scientists have struggled to gain approval from Congress for expanding their research into weather-related disasters.
This year the U.S. was hit with a dozen weather events that caused at least $1 billion in damages each—far above the usual number of three to four that occur. The large-scale fires, floods and tornadoes that impacted 2011 will wind up costing the country about $50 billion total.
In an attempt to better respond to the deluge of climate-change questions it’s been receiving from farmers, insurance companies and others, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) sought to reorganize some of its offices into a National Climate Service.
Modeled after the National Weather Service, the new climate service would have provided better climate forecasts to businesses, citizens and local governments. The idea was first developed under the George W. Bush administration. But this year House Republicans saw it as an Obama initiative designed to create climate “propaganda” to further endorse the theory that global warming is man-made, which many in the GOP refuse to accept.
So the National Climate Service idea died. The federal budget crisis was cited as reason for the decision, even though the NOAA said the reorganization would not have required any additional money.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Poles Apart: The International Reporting of Climate Skepticism (by James Painter, Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism) (pdf)
Congress Kills Request for National Climate Service (by Brian Vastag, Washington Post)

Defense Department Prepares for Climate Change as Security Issue (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov) 


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