Climate Change and Federal Government Funding

Last week I looked at four Republican senators’ efforts to terminate government funding for television meteorologists who mention climate change as part of the forecast. I also discussed the issue in light of the global heat wave and the havoc it is wreaking all around the world – namely, how exactly are meteorologists supposed to discuss the destructive and increasingly frequent manifestations of all these deadly extreme events without referencing climate change?

The NYT announced that the Trump administration has finally nominated a Science Adviser: “Kelvin Droegemeier, a well-regarded meteorologist, has a long research record. But his views on climate change are not well known.” Even so, he has made his reputation by investigating extreme weather events and studying computer simulations of weather systems. These are the same tools that most scientists are now using to figure out human attributions to extreme weather events.

The last article I linked to in my last post talked about work taking place in some of the best British universities, where they are using exactly these tools with the goal that, “Weather forecasters will soon provide instant assessments of global warming’s influence on extreme events.” These are the people that the abovementioned four distinguished senators want to deny access to any research on such topics.

It is obvious (at least to me) that the senators’ focus on TV meteorologists is arbitrary; they would prefer to terminate all government efforts to understand and find ways to mitigate and adapt to climate change. Considering this is (unfortunately) a likely possibility, it might help to get an idea about how the US Federal government is currently involved in activities related to climate change. Figures 1 and 2, taken from the Government Accountability Office site (GAO), summarize the efforts both in terms of involvement of agencies and $ values.

 Figure 1 – Reported Federal Climate Change Funding by Category, 1993-2014

Federal funding for climate change research, technology, international assistance, and adaptation has increased from $2.4 billion in 1993 to $11.6 billion in 2014, with an additional $26.1 billion for climate change programs and activities provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009. As shown in figure 1, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has reported federal climate change funding in three main categories since 1993:

  • technology to reduce emissions,

  • science to better understand climate change, and

  • international assistance for developing countries.

Figure 2 – Selected Coordination Mechanisms for Federal Climate Change Activities

As illustrated in figure 2, many federal entities manage programs and activities related to climate change. Each of these federal departments and agencies is operating under its own set of authorities and responsibilities and addresses climate change in ways relevant to its mission. In the context of providing climate-related information, the National Research Council observed that no single government agency or centralized unit could perform all the required functions, and that coordination of agency roles and regional activities is a necessity.

As a result of climate-related risks, fiscal exposure for the federal government has increased in many areas, including federal property and infrastructure, supply chains, disaster aid, and federal insurance programs. Consequently, Limiting the Federal Government’s Fiscal Exposure by Better Managing Climate Change Risks has been on GAO’s High Risk List since 2013.

Over the past several years, federal agencies have made progress toward better organizing across and within agencies and among the various levels of government. The U.S. Global Change Research Program, for example, is a confederation of the research arms of 13 federal departments and agencies that carry out research and develop the nation’s response to climate change. In 2014, it published the National Climate Assessment report, which reviews observed and projected changes in climate in the United States, the effects of these changes, and options for responding.

These extended efforts don’t even account for the government involvement in education. In a few weeks, my school’s academic year will start (along with most other schools in this country), at which point I will have close to 100 students (registration is still ongoing) in my course on climate change. This summer I dedicated most of my time to original research on some of the issues I’ve been mentioning. Next week I will try to describe my efforts to distinguish between indoctrination and teaching science.

About climatechangefork

Micha Tomkiewicz, Ph.D., is a professor of physics in the Department of Physics, Brooklyn College, the City University of New York. He is also a professor of physics and chemistry in the School for Graduate Studies of the City University of New York. In addition, he is the founding-director of the Environmental Studies Program at Brooklyn College as well as director of the Electrochemistry Institute at that same institution.
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16 Responses to Climate Change and Federal Government Funding

  1. Johanna Lora says:

    There is so much we can do as individuals to aim to live a sustainable life , so that we can improve our environment, but real significant change can happen from those in power. It’s time for the government to input laws, policies, etc.., so that we can prevent us from going to a place of no return.

  2. ioannis kakaris says:

    I believe a great change in action must be taken by the common man while being supported by the government as both parties have a role to play in the trajectory of climate change. Governments need to pass bipartisan laws that place restrictions on actions that further climate change while also changing the public’s knowledge on how each person has a stake in climate action and thus must do their part no matter how miniscule it is to the grand scheme of things.

  3. Markela Agolli says:

    Individual actions against climate change are not enough to cause significant change; governments need to get involved and make efforts to address climate change on a local, state, and federal scale. Not only do governments hold more power over issues like climate change, but they also influence the response on individual perceptions and actions towards climate change. When members of the government, like these 4 senators, don’t address climate change or take it seriously, a lot fewer people will take it seriously as well. On top of government actions against climate change being more effective, governments can also provide education and resources that will make individual efforts more effective as well.

  4. Vincent Tang says:

    Although we must do what we can to improve our climate, the government holds significantly more power in regards to making major changes for climate change. Despite our efforts, we won’t have any large-scale improvements unless better practises are mandated throughout the country.

  5. Jasmary Garcia says:

    I feel like our government needs more organized efforts in trying to prevent climate change. They can also work with other countries who are doing better than us. Many people ignore the issue, and sometimes the government tries to, but it’s about time that stopped.

  6. Cristian Amendano says:

    We can only go so far improving our climate without government interference. The government needs to step up and communicate with other nations to combat climate change. We need the government to start investing time in legislation, renewable energy, etc.

  7. Xu Wang says:

    I agree with what being said here, the government act as a big role in reducing climate change. It true that reducing climate change can be a big project and costly, however, what price is America willing to pay for not caring about climate change? It might be hard at first, taxing carbon and fossil fuel to supporting renewable energy sources will be an initiative to take on.

  8. Jennifer Dong says:

    I believe it doesn’t matter how much we try to avoid climate change if our government doesn’t help for example Trump saying he is going to try to save the fossil fuel industry. Although there are many jobs at stake, our planet, the place WE LIVE is at risk. Our future, our future children at stake and thats what people need to realize. Saving the jobs in the fossil fuel industry is a short term solution. Our government needs to think about how to find long term solutions, but they don’t seem to be concerned about global warming. Global warming has been more of a political debate than about our Earth. People are selfish. They want short term solutions but they are not thinking long term.

  9. Sydney Rodriguez says:

    The government controls a lot of aspects of our country. They have the ability to change the whole country’s future by a simple law being passed. In that case, the government needs to start effectively doing what it can to manage climate change. If there are no universal laws to keep people in check to help climate change, things will never get better. We will continue to be at a collective standstill while our planet worsens.

  10. Ielyzaveta Tarasova says:

    While good citizenry is a strong source of a lot of change, it is not enough for the kind if interference we need and the speed of that interference. That is where government, on all levels, comes in. From what it looks from this post, it is less practical and functioning and still in the research state. Not to say that research is not important, but along with research there are facts that there are certain steps that must be taken that involve action, and from government side this has to come in terms of financing/subsidizing the practical solutions and penalizing the once that have created and keep creating damage despite the knowledge about it.

  11. Lina Ou says:

    This panic is really unpredictable by anyone. Regrettably, our government failed to control this new coronavirus situation in time. Our government needs to take action to stop the deterioration of the new coronavirus.

  12. Dalziel Garcia Filpo says:

    I feel like in order to make a change against climate change everyone needs to work together especially the government. I feel like they aren’t putting as much effort into the issue since we’re still using nonrenewable energy sources. If the government actually put the time, money, and effort into making/using renewable sources, climate change would be less of a problem. Countries need to come together to stop the issue as well. It’s really not a one person job to control the issue it’s a whole group effort.

  13. Eric Ma says:

    I don’t like what I see in the three categories of what “federal climate change funding” is going to.
    With the first bullet point “technology to reduce emissions,” it doesn’t show the government is serious about SHIFTING our energy sources from nonrenewable to renewable.

    The second stating “science to better understand climate change,” shows in America, climate change is still a political stance rather than an environmental concern. Yes, this was their 3 categories in 1993, and I’m ignorant of any changes or lack of in America’s concern, but this still doesn’t look good for America, the nation who other countries look up to. (In American’s eyes)

    The third stating “international assistance for developing countries,” which is very important in stopping global climate change. Although, I have not seen or heard much America has done for other countries in terms of preventing or even reducing emissions for other countries.

  14. Kristina Wetterich says:

    It is saddening that our government fails to provide resources and people who wish to combat this issue. We need the help of the government to slow down the rate of climate change so we can fix this issue after all. It is important that the government takes this more seriously or else the world will be in deep trouble.

  15. Aaliyah Copeland says:

    The government holds prestigious authority when it comes to controlling the country’s carbon emission. They are our main source to avoid even more damage than currently.

  16. Roksana Jasiewicz says:

    Our planet will not be able to significantly alter or delay the course of climate change without help from the government. The government can put in place laws, policies, taxation, etc. that could help avoid such drastic consequences of climate change.

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