Oceanic agency head floats removing climate from mission

Oceanic agency head floats removing climate from mission
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The head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recently floated removing climate change from the agency’s mission.

Rear Adm. Timothy Gallaudet gave the idea in a presentation to a summit organized by the Commerce Department, NOAA’s parent agency.

In the presentation, revealed by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), Gallaudet suggested also adding “reducing the seafood trade deficit” to NOAA’s mission, as part of an effort to substantially boost the commercial fishing industry.

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NOAA’s current mission statement on its website is “to understand and predict changes in climate, weather, oceans, and coasts, to share that knowledge and information with others, and to conserve and manage coastal and marine ecosystems and resources.”

It is one of the federal government’s chief climate data agencies, releasing monthly and yearly reports about temperature, extreme weather and similar topics, often alongside NASA.

The full new mission, as proposed in Gallaudet’s presentation, would be “to observe, understand and predict atmospheric and ocean conditions, to share that knowledge and information with others, and to protect lives and property, empower the economy, and support homeland and national security.”

In a statement following the UCS’s release of the presentation, Gallaudet downplayed the idea.

“This presentation is a simplified draft for discussion,” he said in a statement.

“It was not intended to create change in NOAA mission or policy from what it was before. Any interpretation to the contrary is simply inaccurate.”

But the UCS said the proposal is alarming.

“This is a shocking change in the mission of one of the nation’s premier scientific agencies,” Andrew Rosenberg, director of the UCS’s Center for Science and Democracy

“Axing its focus on climate change and resource conservation is foolhardy,” he said. “Understanding the changing climate is becoming more critical by the day, as the effects of global warming mount, and it’s essential to protecting our economy and security, as the work of NOAA has shown time and again.”