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Is a Cost-Free National Climate Service Too Much to Ask?

In its recently released report, the Defense Science Board Task Force on “Trends and Implications of Climate Change for National and International Security,” called for the U.S. government to institute “a scientifically robust, sustained, and actionable climate information system… (see page 14).” The rationale for the recommendation is that currently, climate information is collected by a “loose federation” of government, university, industry and NGO entities, and that U.S. climate “observational and model assets” do not “constitute a robust, sustained, or comprehensive resource for generating actionable climate forecasts.”

It is unfortunate, then, that one small step in this direction has hit a wall. For what can only be described as political reasons, the U.S. Congress recently said no to a request from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to organize its various offices that collect climate information into a National Climate Service. This is despite the fact that NOAA was not requesting any additional funds. The reshuffle wouldn’t have cost a dime, yet it would have likely yielded a much more accessible one-stop shop for good climate information in the United States – much as the National Weather Service does for weather information.

Given the national security implications of inadequate climate information identified in the Defense Science Board Task Force report, it is hoped that progress on something as cost-free and beneficial as a National Climate Service will not be stalled for long.

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