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Romm writes: "In a truly shocking news release on its Annual Greenhouse Gas Index, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has erased any reference to 'human activity' or fossil fuels."

The lead image from NOAA's 2016 news release on its Annual Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Index shows where GHGs come from. (photo: NOAA)
The lead image from NOAA's 2016 news release on its Annual Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Index shows where GHGs come from. (photo: NOAA)

NOAA Erases 'Human Activity' From News Release on Soaring Greenhouse Gases

By Joe Romm, ThinkProgress

15 July 17

“It’s a complicated topic that can be difficult to communicate,” the Trump administration claims.

n a truly shocking news release on its Annual Greenhouse Gas Index, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has erased any reference to “human activity” or fossil fuels. The index monitors the warming influence of greenhouse gases like CO2.

Last year, NOAA’s news release for the index featured the picture of flaring gas from fossil fuel extraction (see top image). The release began by stating, “human activity has increased the direct warming effect of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere by 50 percent above pre-industrial levels during the past 25 years, according to NOAA’s 10th annual Greenhouse Gas Index.”

This year, the news release begins, “NOAA’s Annual Greenhouse Gas Index, which tracks the warming influence of long-lived greenhouse gases, has increased by 40 percent from 1990 to 2016 — with most of that attributable to rising carbon dioxide levels, according to NOAA climate scientists.”

Rather than explaining that human activity is the cause, the agency’s release instead goes on to state that “the role of greenhouse gases on influencing global temperatures is well understood by scientists, but it’s a complicated topic that can be difficult to communicate.”

What? Are NOAA officials in the Trump administration implying that the human role in greenhouse gas emissions is somehow too complicated to explain to the public?

Perhaps that’s why NOAA swapped out last year’s lead photo of flaring fossil fuels for the least complicated — and least informative — image imaginable (see below).

(photo: ThinkProgress)

It is certainly complicated and difficult to communicate how human activity — especially the burning of fossil fuels — drives warming if the president and most of his appointees deny basic climate science.

Last year’s release, however, shows how easy it is to explain what’s going on. Jim Butler, director of NOAA’s Global Monitoring Division, explained that “we’re dialing up Earth’s thermostat in a way that will lock more heat into the ocean and atmosphere for thousands of years.”

In this year’s release, Butler’s quote is far less informative: “the greenhouse gas index is based on atmospheric data, so it’s telling us what is happening to Earth’s climate right now.”

Well, the index may be telling us what’s happening to Earth’s climate right now, but NOAA certainly isn’t. And NOAA has company: In May, the Department of the Interior deleted a line explaining how climate change drives sea level rise from its news release on a study about coastal flooding, claiming “it didn’t add anything to the original findings.”

In regard to the Trump administration failing to mention the connection between human activity and greenhouse gas emissions, the New York Times reported that “Theo Stein, a NOAA spokesman, acknowledged in an email that phrasing about humans causing greenhouse gas emissions did not make it into the announcement but noted a second news release that was published on the website of the agency’s office of oceanic and atmospheric research that lists ‘climate change indicators.’”

So the whole humans-cause-GHG-emissions thing didn’t make it into the nine-sentence news release NOAA links to from its front page. But the agency spokesman wants you to feel better because somewhere on their website is a release over twice as long… that also does not mention how humans cause climate change.

Seriously. The second NOAA release Stein refers to has the exact same opening paragraphs as the first, but adds some “climate change indicators” —for instance, “all 16 years of the 21st century rank among the 17 warmest years on record” — again without explaining the cause.

It’s just too complicated and difficult to communicate, I guess. your social media marketing partner


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+13 # economagic 2017-07-15 11:12
That is called a "lie by omission," not that we were unaware that T-Rump is demanding that his subordinates lie on his behalf.
+4 # ericlipps 2017-07-15 12:03
So now NOAA has been reduced to groveling before the Orange Emperor.

God bless the Electoral College and the Framers' wisdom in creating it!
+6 # Diane_Wilkinson_Trefethen_aka_tref 2017-07-15 14:34
This is a huge problem for US government funded scientific research. With NOAA having denied by omission that human activity is AT LEAST a substantial contributor to the CO2 increases in our atmosphere, we have completely undermined its credibility in the scientific world.

If NOAA's scientific opinion on CO2 can be dictated by mentally challenged Republicans whose primary goal is to show the country that only a small part of science is real and that facts are what they say they are, why would the world’s scientific community put any faith in ANY future report that NOAA might issue? And now that NOAA has succumbed to the purely political pressure of the Republicans, who is next?

The CDC? FLASH!! Contrary to earlier reports, the CDC has now confirmed that vaccines cause autism, brain cancer, enlarged hearts and sterility in men. To safeguard the health of the American people, all vaccination programs within the United States are immediately suspended.

NASA? Because it is very, very dangerous, NASA will no longer conduct exploration in our Solar System. The funds saved will allow us to do a wonderful, wonderful job at combatting the fake news that Antarctica is shrinking.

NIH? Now that our great, great science people have solved all the medical problems in the United States, we no longer need to fund any more medical research and we don’t need a library to house medical information.
+3 # LionMousePudding 2017-07-16 01:20
HUD-- "Who needs a house? The climate will be warm enough soon that the poor will be happy to live on the street.

Dept of Ed-- the public school system has been dismantled as a failed experiment because poor people don't need to learn- they are too lazy to work anyway.
-4 # Old School Conservative 2017-07-16 07:09
Trump is right, it is a complicated issue. CO2 levels may be higher than they were a couple decades ago, but there are questions as to CO2's effect on climate change, therefore making the human component irrelevant. A simple example to illustrate this is that while the Arctic is loosing sea ice, the antarctic is gaining sea ice. Both the arctic and antarctic are part of the same global environment, therefore should be seeing similar results if CO2 is in fact the cause of the warming. There is no scientific consensus to explain why this is happening. There are scientists however that believe that what we are seeing in environmental changes are related to the tilt of the earth which goes through cycles over periods of a couple hundred thousand years. This debate is not over. There are too many holes in the CO2 argument.
0 # universlman 2017-07-17 09:04
next the Trump administration will swing its guns towards the National Academy of Sciences, if they haven't already in their environmental witch hunt

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