The special report is the product of years of work by more than two dozen authors, who are drawn from NASA, NOAA, the Naval Postgraduate School, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Columbia University, Texas Tech University, and other institutions. The National Academy of Sciences also created a new editorial-review board explicitly for the purpose of reviewing this report.
This summer, some environmental groups said they feared that the Trump administration might seek to delay or alter the report in the final approval process, either by explicitly delaying its release or waylaying its completion by raising extraneous questions.
According to some of the study’s authors, there is little evidence of that happening. The vast majority of the federal government’s final comments about the Climate Science Special Report were standard, they say, and in line with the kind of issues raised by agencies in previous presidential administrations.
“It appears we continue to be on track for publication at the beginning of November. The comments received so far have been productive comments, consistent with previous interagency comments in December and May,” said Robert Kopp, a coauthor of the report and the director of the Institute of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences at Rutgers University.
In early August, The New York Times reported that some government scientists worried the Trump administration would try to suppress the long-planned report. That story generated its own mini-kerfuffle: The Times published a draft version of the special report that it said it had obtained exclusively; in fact, that same draft version was already freely available on the Internet Archive.
The Times later corrected its original story. It also posted an updated draft version of the Climate Science Special Report, which was an exclusive.
In the days after its story, Sarah Huckabee Sanders slammed the Times for the story. Scott Pruitt, the administration of the Environmental Protection Agency, also told a Texas radio show that he would now review the report before its publication.
“Frankly this report ought to be subjected to peer-reviewed, objective-reviewed methodology and evaluation,” he said. “Science should not be politicized. Science is not something that should be just thrown about to try to dictate policy in Washington, D.C.”
Eventually, this year’s report will inform the Fourth National Climate Assessment, which is due to come out in 2018. National Climate Assessments are supposed to turn climate science into usable policy information for state and local officials. Though the Global Change Research Act of 1990 mandates that those assessments should come out every four years, only three have ever been released.
In August, the federal government disbanded a 15-person scientific review board meant to help write a new climate assessment and convert the Climate Science Special Report into concrete policy.