The Trump administration is steadily removing and revising climate change-related resources on government websites. But some vital portals remain online and are worth checking out — while you still can.
Climate Explorer, for instance, is a treasure trove of downloadable maps, graphs, and tables of climate projections for every county in the mainland U.S. Visitors can search observed and projected changes in temperature, precipitation, and other climate-related variables from 1950 to 2100.
The website is managed and hosted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a top U.S. climate agency that is facing the prospect of steep budget cuts under the new administration
The Trump administration hasn’t indicated whether Climate Explorer or other NOAA websites, like the Sea Level Rise Viewer, are at risk of disappearing. A spokesperson didn’t immediately return Mashable‘s request for comment.
But at the Environmental Protection Agency, several important pages have already vanished from public view.
In lieu of the EPA’s extensive climate change portal, visitors are instead directed to a page that explains the site is “being updated” to reflect the agency’s “new direction” under President Donald Trump and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. Both men reject the mainstream scientific consensus that human activity is the leading cause of global warming.
The EPA’s popular climate website for schoolchildren is no longer accessible. Detailed fact sheets on local greenhouse gas emissions and the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan are similarly gone from public view, at least for now.
Officials planned to halt EPA’s Open Data service, which contains decades’ worth of federal environmental data. But backlash on social media prompted the agency to maintain the site, according to the contractor managing the site. (The EPA disputes this account.)
NOAA’s Climate Explorer launched in 2014 alongside the Obama administration’s U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit. The resource is meant to help community leaders, business owners, city planners, and utility managers to understand how environmental conditions could change in the coming decades.
On Climate Explorer, visitors can look up any county, city, or zip code in the 48 mainland states. They can also search by variables — such as days with precipitation above 1 inch, or days with maximum temperatures above 95 degrees Fahrenheit — or by topics, including water, transportation, and coastal ecosystems.
The projections are based on global climate models using different visions of future greenhouse gas emissions. One assumes we dramatically reduce emissions in the future; the other assumes they will continue to climb.
“Projections of how much and how fast change is happening is crucial to help communities prepare and become more resilient,” David Herring, a communication and education program manager at NOAA’s Climate Program Office, said in July 2016, after Climate Explorer received a major upgrade.
Trump’s budget blueprint for fiscal year 2018 aims to slash $250 million from coastal research programs that assist communities in planning for rising seas and worsening storms. The proposal also calls for cutting 16 percent, or $1.5 billion, from NOAA’s parent agency, the U.S. Commerce Department.
According to the White House, climate change initiatives are merely “a waste of your money,” Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget, told reporters in March.
Congress has the final say on Trump’s budget proposal, and lawmakers aren’t likely to swallow the plan wholesale.
In late April, policymakers struck a deal to continue funding the federal government through September 30, and it bore little resemblance to Trump’s plan. This suggests Congress might not adopt all his targeted climate cuts in the final budget.
Even so, the last few weeks at the EPA make it clear that we can’t take any of these online resources for granted.