President Donald Trump has caused “fear and anxiety” that’s allegedly hampering NASA’s global warming communications, according to a report.
However, a closer look at The Guardian’s article on “fear” at NASA shows it’s career staffers, not political appointees, behind the alleged stymieing of global warming content coming out of the space agency.
“[NASA’s] talking point is that it’s business as usual, but that’s not true,” Laura Tenenbaum, a former science communicator at NASA, told The Guardian. Tenenbaum left NASA in October.
“They have stopped promoting or emphasizing climate science communication, they have minimized it,” she said. “People inside the agency are concerned Trump will cut climate science funding. There is a fear and anxiety there and the outcome has been chaos.”
Tenenbaum said NASA initiated an “arduous review process” for all blog and social media posts from NASA accounts. Though that review process was initiated by “career staff,” not Trump-appointed political staff. Of course, Trump’s mere presence in the Oval Office is blamed for this “review process.”
“I was told verbally by media relations it was because with Trump as president, climate change is now a sensitive subject,” Tenenbaum said. Other climate-related blog posts were “halted or scrapped due to interference from career staff nervous about provoking the new administration,” she told The Guardian.
It’s part of a larger narrative that began before Trump took office — that his administration would silence government climate science that didn’t fit their agenda. Activists with the Union of Concerned Scientists were integral in spreading this rumor before Trump took office.
However, there’s no evidence Trump administration officials have suppressed scientific findings with regards to global warming.
For example, scientists working on the latest National Climate Assessment special report “leaked” a copy to The New York Times based on fears it would be suppressed by Trump. (RELATED: Is Global Warming Really To Blame For Extreme Flooding In Ellicott City?)
The climate report was already online, and its authors said there was “no indication” of pressure from the White House to suppress their findings. The study was released on schedule last fall.
More recently, reports claimed a study by lead author University of Colorado research scientist Maria Caffrey was being censored by the Trump administration. The National Park Service tried to change language in a report she authored linking global warming to human activity, Reveal reported.
Caffrey’s plight gained media attention, but the changes to her story were largely made by a career public affairs official. The National Park Service released the study in May.
NASA Goddard Institute of Space Studies climate scientist Kate Marvel said no one has told her to suppress inconvenient climate science work she’s done.
“Physics doesn’t change just because the administration has changed,” she told the Guardian. “It’s my job to understand how the planet works and I will continue to keep doing that.”
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