Today's post is by Bill Chameides, Ph.D., science adviser to Environmental Defense and member of the National Academy of Sciences.
In 2002, the Bush Administration set up the Climate Change Science Program (CCSP). Yesterday, an independent panel released a report through the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) evaluating how that program has done. The headline in the New York Times sums it up: "Panel Faults Emphasis of U.S. Climate Program."
When I look at the work of the CCSP over the last five years, here's what stands out.
CCSP has looked at a number of issues and arrived at some important conclusions. Most notably, it debunked a popular argument among climate skeptics. For years, skeptics pointed to the lack of a trend in upper atmospheric temperatures as evidence that global warming was not due to greenhouse gases. The CCSP report found that the apparent lack of a trend was due to an error in the data analysis. When the error was corrected, the inconsistency disappeared.
Nevertheless, many of us have been disappointed with how the CCSP has been way behind schedule in producing the reports they were tasked to produce. More importantly, the scope of the issues the CCSP was asked to address was too narrow, and not adequately focused on what is required to mitigate and adapt to global warming.
The NAS report echoes that sentiment.