A ‘Sense Of Panic’ Over Trump Consumes Climate Science Summit

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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President-elect Donald Trump’s picks to head the energy and environment agencies seem to have caused a “sense of panic” among the thousands of climate researchers attending a science summit in San Francisco.

At least that’s according to meteorologist Anthony Watts, who’s at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) summit to present research.

Watts may be right. Media reports increasingly indicate scientists are worried they will be censored, marginalized or even fired for their position on man-made global warming.

The AGU at the last minute added a session to “talk about Trump,” reports NPR. Peter de Menocal, the dean of science at Columbia University, told NPR that colleagues have expressed “feelings of rage, anger, confusion, fear — they’re all negative emotions” about Trump.

“People are worried about — in extreme cases — their jobs,” Rob Jackson, a Stanford University environmental scientist, said. “They’re more worried about not being able to do their job the best way that is needed.”

Environmentalists plan on demonstrating outside the AGU meeting Tuesday to “stand up for science” because “anti-science forces gained unprecedented power” with Trump’s election victory and subsequent cabinet appointments.

“Science is under attack,” reads the demonstration’s Facebook page. The rally Tuesday is backed by environmental groups, including Greenpeace, the Sierra Club and Oil Change International.

“We face an Administration that proposes to gut science funding, pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement, appoint a climate denier to head the EPA, and derail the Clean Power Plan,” environmentalists claim on Facebook. “And that’s just the beginning. Real people and communities bear the brunt of these actions.

Activists and some scientists are particularly concerned with Trump’s appointment of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Energy (DOE), respectively.

Activists also sounded alarms Trump will marginalize government employees working on global warming-related programs, or those who attended United Nations climate summits based on a leaked memo to the DOE from the transition team.

Activists even claimed Trump would delete public climate change databases, spurring some climate scientists to start Google Docs of databases they don’t want deleted. Others reportedly began downloading data they feared would be deleted.

Further chaos was spread by reports a Trump campaign adviser told NASA they should spend less on global warming programs and more on space exploration. That got NASA climate scientists worried.

“A shift away from focusing on data for this planet could really leave us in the dark on how to respond to climate change,” former NASA climate scientist Drew Shindell told NPR.

Some scientists claimed such censorship of climate science happened in the Bush administration, but does that mean Trump will follow suit?

Not every climate scientist is so doom and gloom about Trump. Georgia Tech climate scientist Judith Curry thinks Trump could actually help the climate change debate.

“I have hopes that climate research will be a winner in all this, with more openness and transparency and allowance for diversity of perspectives and funding for a broader range of research topics,” Curry wrote in her blog.

“I expect that climate and energy policy will be a winner in the Trump administration relative to the Obama administration,” she wrote. “Any solutions will come from innovations in the private sector and state and local governments — not from federal decrees or U.N. proclamations.”

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