There is a new panic among the people already panicked about global climate change. The election of Donald Trump and his likely appointment of people skeptical of man-caused climate change has climate alarmists fearing a purge of government science from the web. Motherboard is stirring this pot.
When Donald Trump takes over the federal government on January 21, his administration will also gain complete control over much of the .gov suite of websites, which currently hosts a treasure trove of publicly available, taxpayer-funded scientific research. The academic world is bracing itself: Will that data remain available after his transition?
Cue dramatic sting.
Scientists and university professors all around the country and in Canada believe we’re about to see widespread whitewashing and redaction of already published, publicly available taxpayer-funded scientific research, databases, and interactive tools, such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Sea Level Rise viewer, NASA’s suite of climate change apps, and the Environmental Protection Agency’s maps of the country’s worst polluters. They also expect to see censorship, misrepresentation, and minimization of new government-funded research, specifically regarding climate change.
They may take our suite of climate change apps, but they’ll never take our FREEDOM to believe your mom’s SUV broke the whole planet.
I don’t intend to rehash the whole “settled science” can of worms here but you have to chalk this up to the same sort of paranoia that has gay people believing that Mike Pence is going to abduct them and electroshock them into Stepford heterosexuals.
These fears are not based merely on a sense of dreading-the-worst from a man who has called climate change a Chinese hoax, nominated a climate change denier with close ties to the fossil fuel industry as head of the EPA, the CEO of ExxonMobil as Secretary of State, and will reportedly name the fossil fuel-friendly Rick Perry as Secretary of Energy.
Yeah, but they pretty much are based on that. On that and BUSH! Or at least a 2007 study of W’s virtually complete blackout of climate change science from the internet. It is literally a miracle that life still exists on the planet.
During the George W. Bush administration, which similarly denied that climate change is being caused by humans, there was widespread censorship and destruction of public-facing climate change information and research.
If Barack Obama’s administration made any changes to “public-facing” data I think the justification he’d give would be “I won” and all these Chicken Littles would be applauding.
With the Trump presidency looming, many scientists who studied Bush’s policies are starting a mad dash to preserve climate science that has been made available under President Obama based on fears that it might no longer be publicly accessible. Several professors I spoke to say that officials who work for the government’s science departments are privately imploring researchers outside the government to download what they can now, or risk losing access to it later.
“Several professors” talked to “officials.”
Scientists who don’t have to worry about upsetting their future bosses, however, tell a very different story.
“My expectation and fear is we are going to see round two of Bush,” Robert Paterson, co-director of the Urban Information Lab at the University of Texas’s School of Architecture, told me. Paterson posted about his concerns on a Facebook group for professors called Planners 2040 earlier this month. “The appointments are hostile to climate change, so I think it’s prudent for folks to download the science that’s easily available now, because you may have to file a [Freedom of Information request] later to get it.”
While it’s easy to scrape an HTML website, Paterson and others are worried that, for instance, a NOAA database and tool regularly used by city planners to calculate sea level rise could be pulled offline.
“It’s less the documents, which we can get through alternative means,” he said. “The bigger issue in my mind is the access to databases and analytic software that public dollars paid for which by administrative fiat they may remove. I use the NOAA sea level rise projection database for discussion in my environmental impact assessment class. I use the greenhouse gas emission calculator for analysis of major federal climate actions.”
For a field of science that is “settled” why is there such an inordinate dependence on the government for information? If the research and predictions are so rock solid one would expect that the task of producing software for prediction and analysis would have long since transitioned to the private sector. Maybe that will happen as a result of the “guerilla archiving” effort that is now happening in response to this expectation that the Trump administration will be bent on deleting internet content.