A lot of the consequences of ignoring climate change research are long-term. This is somewhat unfortunate in the sense that when changes aren’t rapid enough for the general public to notice them, there is little public concern. The sea levels could rise to past 6 feet by 2100. Warming temperatures can thaw permafrost in the arctic circles, which doesn’t appear to have an immediate effect, but this will release more methane and carbon dioxide from the soil and create a positive feedback effect on the planet in the future. There are lots of good reasons we need to get ahead of the game now to prevent adverse effects decades or more in the future.
However, some actions have immediate consequences. The current administration is threatening to cut the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Regional Climate Centers. While I don’t have much supporting info, I believe I have good reason to believe these are under threat simply because they have the word “climate” in their name and they do research.
Marshall Shepherd writes at Forbes:
“There are several dangerous attacks on science in President Trump’s budget proposal, and I recently documented the associated dangers in a previous Forbes discussion. I recently learned that the proposed cuts virtually eliminate NOAA-supported Regional Climate Centers. What a ridiculous and irresponsible thing to do. Regional Climate Centers (RCCs) play a vital role for many sectors of our nation. If you eat food, consume energy, use transportation systems, or generally “live,” RCCs indirectly touch your life. And get this, they are not about climate change. I am always stunned by the ignorance and conflation of the terms ‘climate’ and ‘climate change.’”
I encourage everyone to look through this opinion piece, it’s fairly informative. To summarize, the Regional Climate Centers provide services like seasonal information vital to American farmers, predicting national disasters like tornadoes and hurricanes, drought information, and monitoring of other extreme weather anomalies. Yes, there is a difference between climate and weather, but these centers help bridge the gap and provide vital information on both.
Cuts to theses programs have immediate effects on our lives. Thanks to these climate centers, we are able to predict frightening threats to our infrastructure and livelihoods. We are able to plan ahead and make essential decisions that will allow farmers to succeed in producing crops to help feed our country.
There is a sad and genuinely non-funny irony that a lot of these services are at the expense of people in Donald Trump’s voting base. For example, look at the following map detailing Tornado Alley and where tornadoes are most likely to hit.
Or, we can look at where hurricanes tend to strike.
Or, we can look at farmland in the United States.
The popular narrative of Trump’s voter base comprising mainly of the white working class might have been exaggerated. Nevertheless, it’s indisputable that cuts like this inevitably affect this particular demographic. Cuts to NOAA means hitting the southern states hard on extreme weather. It means affecting the lower class and the poor, who often either don’t have the means to escape natural disasters or struggle to recover after one hits. It means affecting our farmers, a vital part of the US economy.
Of course, the long-term effects of climate change affect these people as well. As the temperature changes, this will effect crop yields. Rising sea levels and more incidents of extreme weather will end up hitting the destitute hardest, which will globally include undeveloped regions and the poor. These effects will cause economic and cultural stress, leading to international conflict in the future, such that the changing climate can ultimately fuel terrorism.
Many of these issues are issues that the United States as a country appears to have bipartisan concern for. Most people at least profess caring about supporting the working class. We supposedly care about renewing our crumbling infrastructure. We supposedly care about supporting the poor. We all want a healthy economy, low levels of cultural and international stress, and we want to curb terrorism. If there are any steps we can take to mitigate these problems, climate and weather research is an important resource that we can’t afford to lose.