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US National Oceanic And Atmospheric Administration Mission Statement To Change: No More "Climate", No More "Conservation"


US nonprofit the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) has expressed concern that a proposed new mission statement for the country's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) would undermine the federal agency's work around climate change and conservation.

As described by UCS, the mission of NOAA has been:

  • To understand and predict changes in climate, weather, oceans and coasts;
  • To share that knowledge and information with others; and
  • To conserve and manage coastal and marine ecosystems and resources.

At a US Department of Commerce summit in June, the acting head of NOAA , Trump administration appointee Rear Admiral Timothy Gallaudet, proposed a new mission statement for the agency that would undermine the vital work on behalf of the American people, according to UCS. Gallaudet currently serves as the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere within the Department of Commerce. In this function, he fulfills the roles of Acting Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere, as well as Acting Administrator of NOAA.

In his presentation to the Commerce Department, Rear Admiral Gallaudet suggested NOAA's mission statement would change to:

  • To observe, understand and predict atmospheric and ocean conditions; 
  • To share that knowledge and information with others; and 
  • To protect lives and property, empower the economy, and support homeland and national security.

Andrew Rosenberg, Director of the Center for Science and Democracy at UCS released a statement June 24 saying "This is a shocking change in the mission of one of the nation’s premier scientific agencies. Axing its focus on climate change and resource conservation is foolhardy". 

“Understanding the changing climate is becoming more critical by the day, as the effects of global warming mount, and it’s essential to protecting our economy and security, as the work of NOAA has shown time and again", Rosenberg said.

“NOAA is continuously working to improve forecasts of extreme events, which are intensifying in a warming world. As we know from last year’s wildfires and hurricanes, these kind of forecasts are critical for protecting American lives and infrastructure".

“Removing ‘conservation’ from its mission statement is equally alarming. We have made outstanding progress in ocean conservation, from fisheries to whales and other endangered species over the past few decades...This is another unconscionable action taken by the administration under the guise of national security".