Scientists Protest as Trump Transition Team Signals Possible Witch Hunt

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When climate scientists go out on the streets and protest, you know something is up.

Today, they are rallying outside the annual American Geophysical Union annual conference in San Francisco, joined by allies from the climate movement. 26,000 people are attending the conference.

For many years, scientists have been subjected to disinformation from fossil fuel interests and paid-off politicians, and now there is a new challenge: the agencies in charge of protecting our environment will be led by the very people who wish to destroy it. 

In a scary move, the Trump transition team asked the Department of Energy (DOE) to deliver a list of employees and contractors who have worked on climate policies under Obama.

DOE is refusing to list names.

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The 5-page memo asks 74 questions about:

  • who attended United Nations climate summits
  • who was involved in developing social cost of carbon metrics, which requires agencies to weigh the climate impacts of federal projects as part of the evaluation process.
  • information on research activities, the basis for DOE statistics, and its loan programs.

It also asks for information on specific programs:

  • ARPA-E, the lead research agency on clean energy innovation, investing $1.2 billion since its 2009 launch in 482 projects
  • Mission Innovation: US agreeement with 22 countries to double investment in basic clean energy research over the next five years
  • Clean Energy Ministerial: brings energy ministers from 23 countries together to advance clean energy.
“This looks like a scare tactic to intimidate federal employees who are simply doing their jobs and following the facts. I am sure there are a lot of career scientists and others who see this as a terrible message of fear and intimidation – ‘either ignore the science or we will come after you,'” Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), the top Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, told Washington Post.

Warning against “a return to political witch hunts of the 1950s, President-elect Trump must instruct his transition team to cease this profoundly anti-democratic behavior immediately,” says David Cox, President of American Federation of Government Employees.

Scared of potential political interference, scientists are feverishly copying reams of government data onto independent servers to protect decades of crucial climate measurements, from sea level rise to statistics on wildfires, reports Washington Post. Database experts are helping to organize mountains of data and to house it on free servers. Offers have come in to fund these efforts and the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund is offering pro bono legal assistance.

A table at this week’s conference is piled high with the Legal Defense Fund’s booklet, “Handling Political Harassment and Legal Intimidation: A Pocket Guide for Scientists.”

This weekend, a “guerilla archiving event” will be held at University of Toronto to catalogue key environmental data from the Environmental Protection Agency on climate change, water, air and toxics programs.

Republicans have been de-funding and attacking  environmental and climate programs throughout the Obama presidency – this is their chance!

Today’s rally is being streamed live at 3:30pm EST here:

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