People, Environment

Fearing Trump, Scientists Rush to Save Climate Data

Fearing Trump, Scientists Rush to Save Climate DataFearing Trump, Scientists Rush to Save Climate Data

Donald Trump's incoming presidency will not be kind to climate change science and that's making both scientists and government divisions nervous—to the point where they're taking unusually drastic measures.

Researchers at multiple North American institutions, including the Universities of Pennsylvania and Toronto, are hoping to save as much public environmental data as possible in case the Trump administration orders its removal, Engadget reported.

There's also an independent Climate Mirror project that aims to copy public data before Trump takes office in January.

While Trump's team has not explicitly stated that it would try to erase existing climate data, the president-elect has been picking climate change deniers for positions in relevant agencies and has threatened to eliminate "politicized science" (read: any evidence of human-made climate change).

The groups stashing data argue that it's better to be prepared for a worst-case scenario than to assume everything will be safe and discover otherwise. This will not stop attempts to stifle future collection, but it could make sure that current research isn't lost.

There are some reasons to suspect that the Trump camp may go to extremes. Most notably, the US Department of Energy recently refused a request by Trump to name employees and contractors who have attended climate change meetings.

While the department will provide publicly available information, it is determined to "respect the professional and scientific integrity and independence" of its staff by keeping their names and participation under wraps. In other words, it doesn't want its staff to be punished for conducting "inconvenient" science.

The Trump White House is unlikely to fire many of these workers directly due to laws preventing ideologically motivated job cuts. However, there's a concern that anyone outed would be intentionally marginalized. Their work might not be officially recognized, for example, or they might be more likely to lose contracts that come up for renewal.

Again, there is no guarantee that the Trump administration would do anything—at the least, however, it appears to be an intimidation tactic meant to discourage the department's workers from pursuing uncomfortable truths about humanity's effect on the planet.


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