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The Republican-led House has shot down a NOAA request to establish an online climate database, as well as Pres. Obama's proposal that NOAA establish a National Climate Service that would provide a centralized, user-friendly information resource for private and public sector decision makers better understand and incorporate climate data and information in their strategies and planning.

Clean Power

‘Keep ’em Barefoot and Ignorant’: House Republicans on Public Access to Climate Data, Science

The Republican-led House has shot down a NOAA request to establish an online climate database, as well as Pres. Obama’s proposal that NOAA establish a National Climate Service that would provide a centralized, user-friendly information resource for private and public sector decision makers better understand and incorporate climate data and information in their strategies and planning.

The Republican-led House of Representatives shot down a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) request to build and publicly offer a comprehensive online climate database on its website.

NOAA has “been overwhelmed with requests for information about climate data,” according to a Washington Post news report. Climate data downloads from NOAA Web sites surged 86 percent between 2009 and 2010, while climate-related phone calls and e-mails spiked up from 26,000 to 30,000, according to a Washington Post report.

The Republican-led House apparently believes that keeping the US public in a state of confusion and ignorance is the way to govern, at least when it comes to views that differ from their own. Certainly, it’s an effective way manipulate public attitudes and beliefs and keep hold of power, just not one we’re accustomed to in the USA.

National Climate Service Shot Down

Pres. Obama proposed establishing a separate NOAA National Climate Service in early 2010 that would serve as a centralized, user-friendly information resource to help governments, businesses, and the broad public better understand and adapt to climate change.

Carrying out the two projects would respond to increasing public demand for climate data and information, and they would cost essentially nothing, as NOAA requested no additional, new funding in its 2012 budget proposal to carry the projects out. The Democratic-led Senate approved most of the funding for the Climate Service in its budget. The Republican-led House rejected it whole.

There are numerous really good, valid economic reasons why establishing a national Climate Service and database would be of real value… besides the simple fact that public demand for such information has been surging. “Urban planners want to know whether groundwater will stop flowing under subdivisions. Insurance companies need climate data to help them set rates,” the Washington Post reporter Brian Vastag wrote, mentioning just two. (Think Progress has a good list of 10.)

Politicizing Climate

As NOAA states on its website, its products and services “support economic vitality and affect more than one-third of America’s gross domestic product. NOAA’s dedicated scientists use cutting-edge research and high-tech instrumentation to provide citizens, planners, emergency managers and other decision makers with reliable information they need when they need it.”

Republican House members don’t want a federal government agency legitimizing any science that legitimizes climate change. Two cited by Ashley Portero in her International Business Times article argued that the National Climate Service would “politicize” NOAA and make its website seem like “propaganda sources instead of science sources.” Rather ironic seeing as that’s exactly what House Republicans are doing.

Oddly enough, the federal funding earmarked for NOAA’s Climate Service was approved by the House, but it will be distributed across the agency instead of going directly into the project.

“We think it’s very unfortunate,” Chris McEntee, executive director of the 60,000-strong American Geophysical Union of scientists, told The Washington Post. “Limiting access to this kind of climate information won’t make climate change go away.”

 
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I've been reporting and writing on a wide range of topics at the nexus of economics, technology, ecology/environment and society for some five years now. Whether in Asia-Pacific, Europe, the Americas, Africa or the Middle East, issues related to these broad topical areas pose tremendous opportunities, as well as challenges, and define the quality of our lives, as well as our relationship to the natural environment.

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