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On Wednesday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) relaunched an expanded version of climate.gov, expanding access to government climate data. This is a reversal from the Trump administration, which deleted large swaths of the government’s climate change information or allowed it to languish. Parts of climate.gov were temporarily shut down during the government shutdown under the Trump administration.
The award winning website is a repository of science-based information about climate change and the impact it will have on all our lives. And as with much else, Biden is reversing Trump’s much-maligned move.“Not only is the climate crisis costing us American lives, with countless families being tragically torn apart by these extreme weather events, but it’s also costing us billions of dollars, with a price tag of over $96 billion last year alone,” Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo said in a press release about the site.“That number will only get bigger, and the climate events will only get deadlier if we do not act,” she continued. “The Commerce Department, including NOAA, will use all of the tools at its disposal to address these challenges. Climate.gov is the nation’s leading online resource for advancing climate literacy and building resilience to climate impacts. The improved Climate.gov is an asset for families, communities, and businesses. We will continue to work to make NOAA’s data as accessible and impactful as possible.”The Trump administration scrubbed many official government websites of references to climate change soon after coming to power. In 2017, somebody cut down the Department of Interior’s climate change page to 101 words. A 2019 study found that government climate reports under the Trump administration used words like “climate change,” “adaptation,” and “clean energy” 26 percent less.
Trump’s administration also worked to privatize weather information in unprecedented ways. He nominated AccuWeather CEO Barry Myers to head the NOAA, breaking with years of precedent that put scientists in charge of the nation’s weather services. Myers was a surreal pick because his company relied on the publicly available data offered by the National Weather Service (NWS), a government agency overseen by NOAA. Myers had lobbied against the NWS for years and supported legislation that would limit how much the critical weather agency could communicate with the public. Trump eventually withdrew Myer’s nomination after a protracted battle with the Senate.Climate.gov includes a dashboard that tracks data like rising carbon dioxide and sea levels and lowered arctic sea ice and mountain glaciers. An October 11 post details the grim future of average temperatures rising across the country. A recent feature tells the story of NOAA studying a drought in the Southwest. “The drought task force team concluded that without efforts to control human-caused global warming, we should consider the current extreme drought a preview of coming attractions for the region,” NOAA said.The information is scary, but it’s also vital that we know it. We can not hope to survive climate change by ignoring reality.Update: This story and headline has been updated with more context about the Trump administration’s changes to climate change-focused government websites.