Park Service Report on Climate Change Delayed (Forever?)

Park Service Report on Climate Change Delayed (Forever?)

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Amid all the weekly distractions/destructions in Trumpland, I have been patiently awaiting the release of the National Park Service’s report on how to protect park resources and visitors from climate change. I am afraid that the wait is far from over, so I’m posting snippets from Reveal, 4/2/2018, titled Wipeout: Human role in climate change removed from report. Reveal’s article, by Elizabeth Shogren, outlines alleged deletions and edits that look a lot like the type censorship Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke says don’t happen in his department. Snips:

National Park Service officials have deleted every mention of humans’ role in causing climate change in drafts of a long-awaited report on sea level rise and storm surge, contradicting Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s vow to Congress that his department is not censoring science.

The research for the first time projects the risks from rising seas and flooding at 118 coastal national park sites, including the National Mall, the original Jamestown settlement and the Wright Brothers National Memorial. Originally drafted in the summer of 2016 yet still not released to the public, the National Park Service report is intended to inform officials and the public about how to protect park resources and visitors from climate change.

Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting obtained and analyzed 18 versions of the scientific report. In changes dated Feb. 6, a park service official crossed out the word “anthropogenic,” the term for people’s impact on nature, in five places. Three references to “human activities” causing climate change also were removed.

The 87-page report, which was written by a University of Colorado Boulder scientist, has been held up for at least 10 months, according to documents obtained by Reveal. The delay has prevented park managers from having access to the best data in situations such as reacting to hurricane forecasts, safeguarding artifacts from floodwaters or deciding where to locate new buildings. …

Reveal obtained almost 2,000 pages of drafts of the report showing tracked changes and dating back to August 2016 – along with dozens of pages of other documents about the report and preparations to release it – in response to a public records request to the state of Colorado. …

The edited national parks report “is probably the biggest scientific integrity violation at the Department of Interior, by far … because this is an actual scientific report,” said Joel Clement, who was the Interior Department’s top climate change official in the Obama administration. …

Reveal obtained almost 2,000 pages of drafts of the report showing tracked changes and dating back to August 2016 – along with dozens of pages of other documents about the report and preparations to release it – in response to a public records request to the state of Colorado. …

The lead author, University of Colorado geological sciences research associate Maria Caffrey, worked full time on the report on contract with the park service from 2013 through 2017.

Caffrey declined to discuss the editing and long delay in releasing her report, instead referring questions to the park service. Asked whether she has been pressured to delete the terms “anthropogenic” and “human activities,” she replied, “I don’t really want to get into that today.”

“I would be very disappointed if there were words being attributed to me that I didn’t write,” she said. “I don’t think politics should come into this in any way.” …

Editing notes in a draft obtained by Reveal indicate that many of the deletions were made by Larry Perez, a career public information officer who coordinates the park service’s climate change response program.

Perez declined to comment on why the changes were made. …

The National Park Service’s scientific integrity policy prohibits managers from engaging in “dishonesty, fraud, misrepresentation, coercive manipulation, censorship, or other misconduct that alters the content, veracity, or meaning or that may affect the planning, conduct, reporting, or application of scientific and scholarly activities.” It also requires employees to differentiate between their opinions or assumptions and solid science.

Marcia McNutt, president of the National Academy of Sciences, said “the edits are glaringly in violation” of the science cited in the report and “such alterations violate” the policy.

The alleged censorship in the park service’s report is the most recent addition to Columbia University Law School’s Silencing Climate Science list of about a hundred Trump Administration problem areas.

Caffrey says that she finished writing the report in October, 2016. That sounds like a year and a half in the editorial queue.

Meanwhile, according to Reveal, Zinke said in a March 13 Senate committee hearing, “There is no incident, no incident at all that I know that we ever changed a comma on a document itself. Now we may have on a press release…” “And I challenge you, any member, to find a document that we’ve actually changed on a report.”

I guess that if departments don’t release controversial reports they can make claims like the one from Zinke. That is, they can make such claims unless one counts “sins of omission” alongside “sins of commission.”

Superforest

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