Scientists launching anonymous hotline for NOAA workers

We have already had a small taste of what might come with the Trump administration. Within the scientific community there is a considerable climate of fear building up, and it is not un-warrented.


Data Point 1 – Trumps’ appointments

We have seen the appointment of wholly inappropriate individuals and there is real fear of more of the same …

There’s currently concern among NOAA scientists about who Trump’s pick to head the agency will be. …

Trump’s pick to lead the Department of Energy (DOE), former Texas governor Rick Perry, has denied climate change altogether, and the future head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Oklahoma attorney general Scott Pruitt says the science isn’t certain. These choices signal storms ahead generally and for NOAA specifically. Trump himself has tweeted that climate change is a fiction created by the Chinese to harm US manufacturing, and more recently said “nobody really knows” if it’s real.

I’ve also taken a look at the various appointees within a previous recent posting – it’s not good.

Data Point 2 – The DoE Witch Hunt by the Trump Transition team

The DOE (US Department Of Energy), received a request from the Trump Transition team to send them a list of names of individuals who had specifically worked on Climate Change or had simply attended a talk about climate change.

The Formal DOE response from Eben Burnham-Snyder was a polite diplomatic variation of “F**k Off”, and for that we can indeed salute them.

It did however quite rightly result in rather a lot of fuss because this was actually illegal, so the Trump Transition team had to rapidly row it all back with the claim that it was not officially authorised. The claim that it was not “official” however is something I personally find highly dubious when it comes from a camp that manufactures “truth” on a whim to fit the moment.

Remember that Trump is the most dishonest politician ever seen in modern politics, so nothing he or any of his administration says has any credibility, that ship sailed long ago. Instead the only means for determining things is to examine what is actually done. Trump might now issue less strident sound-nuggets about his rejection of climate science, and spin it to sound more acceptable, but all that is meaningless rhetoric when faced with the appointment of a collection of climate deniers into key positions within his administration.

The Hotline

Quite understandably, a hotline is now in place for NOAA employees ….

“I am hearing a lot of worry,” said Andrew Rosenberg, director of the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which established the hotline. “The worry is that they will be putting another ideologue in place.”

The Protest

Another very surreal data point was the street protest by scientists.

A few weeks ago, scientists attending the annual Geophysical Union conference in San Francisco held a protest outside in order to raise awareness.

Tuesday in San Francisco’s Jessie Square, approximately 500 people gathered for a ‘rally to stand up for science.’ …

…one of the keynote speakers at the rally, Harvard science historian Naomi Oreskes made that exact point:

We don’t want to be here. We want to be doing the work we were trained and educated to do, which is science … but we are at a moment in history where we have to stand up.

“This is a frightening moment,” said Harvard history of science professor Naomi Oreskest at the protest. “We have to get out and explain to people why this science matters.”

Rolling back evidence-based science

The UK’s Financial Times has an interesting quote from Gina McCarthy, the current head of the EPA. She makes the point that you can’t just turn up and wipe away everything that has been put in place, there is a legal framework that consists of laws such as the Clean Air Act that mandates it all …

If they choose [to] develop a different record then they have a right to do that, but it’s going to be a very high burden of proof for them, because I have no question that what we have done will be solid from a science perspective. They have to figure out why the climate science isn’t overwhelming and go back all the way to the Supreme Court to explain why decisions we’ve already made are no longer correct, and I wouldn’t want to have that burden myself.

Final Thoughts

When your target is evidence-based science, and the community you are attacking are scientists, then you can be wholly certain of one thing. You will be remembered with the same fondness and warmth that is reserved for those that insisted that the sun revolved around the earth.

Eppur si muove

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