That plan, which I’ve previously described in detail, would reframe the way the agency uses climate models in its research, in many cases narrowing its time horizon to just 10 or 20 years while leaving out the catastrophic outcomes that might follow in the decades after. This effort has been led by Trump’s USGS director, Jim Reilly, a former astronaut and petroleum geologist who assumed the role in mid-2018. For two years, though, Reilly’s ideas on modeling, viewed as marginal by his agency’s own scientists, have only lived in memos and proposals. They were never made into formal policy.
That may be about to change. On October 19, Reilly’s office sent around a draft of a new chapter for the US Geological Survey Manual called, “Application of Climate Change Models to Scientific Investigation and Policy.” The Survey Manual serves as an operational handbook for agency employees, and includes bureau directives and policies on everything from budgeting and contracting to the agency’s Fundamental Science Practices, which govern its publishing and peer review process. Survey Manual chapters, according to the USGS website, “establish long-standing policies, standards, instructions, and general procedures with Bureauwide applicability.”