“If Trump turns off the satellites, California will launch its own damn satellite.” — Jerry Brown
“Creating lists of employees smacks of McCarthyism and should cease immediately.” — The Union of Concerned Scientists
“Fear is palpable among U.S. climate scientists over Trump moves” — The Japan Times
“Assaults on science are characteristic of non-democratic, authoritarian, fascist governments. We worry it is going to get worse.” Dr Peter Gleick
“We’ve got more sun than you’ve got oil.” — Jerry Brown
Donald Trump hasn’t even taken office yet. But the war on climate science that he promised on the campaign trail has already begun. And in response, the good and necessary resistance is starting to form.
Last week, PEOTUS sent a chill through the scientific community when his transition team delivered a 74 question document to the Department of Energy asking for the names of all personnel who’ve worked on climate change or who attended U.N. climate talks within the last five years.
(Demonstrators protest in support of scientists outside the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco on December 14. Attacks against climate scientists have hit a fever pitch since the election of Donald Trump. Image source: Buzzfeed.)
Almost immediately after the letter’s delivery, The Union of Concerned Scientists made the following response:
“The Union of Concerned Scientists strongly condemns the effort by the President-elect’s transition team to seek the names of federal employees who have conducted climate research and worked on issues such as the social cost of carbon. We cannot imagine any legitimate purpose to this inquiry…
“This action should not be viewed in isolation. The Trump transition team is teeming with individuals with a proven history of attacking climate scientists and undermining climate science. Several transition team members now overseeing federal agencies have harassed scientists based on their research and have long signaled a desire to dismantle federal climate science research. Over the past few years, Congress has increasingly singled out specific government employees when their work is politically inconvenient.
“Creating lists of employees smacks of McCarthyism and should cease immediately. And Department of Energy employees should resist complying with any demands that would compromise the independence of the agency’s experts.”
The Department of Energy subsequently refused to provide the names requested. But the impact of the circulated questionnaire was profound — prompting protests and a swell of outrage from scientists, journalists and concerned citizens. Workers and officials at DOE expressed fears that Trump was developing an enemies list. And, considering the purges and attacks on scientists that occurred in numerous countries around the world following the election of climate change deniers during recent years, these fears were sadly quite valid.
Eliminating NASA Funding, Death Threats on Twitter
In a separate but related instance, Trump Administration officials reportedly stated that they intended to eliminate NASA’s climate research funding. Not only would this result in a purge of climate scientists from U.S. government offices. It would also precipitate the loss of climate monitoring satellites and the potential loss of decades of scientific data collected by some of the top researchers in the world. Concerned that scientists would be suddenly expelled and that critical data would be lost, as happened during similar purges that occurred in Canada and Australia under climate change deniers Stephen Harper and Tony Abbott, workers for various agencies began frantically copying data in order to ensure its preservation.
Meanwhile, instances of politically motivated threats against climate scientists mounted. Peter Gleick, a hydro-climatologist and co-founder of the Pacific Institute, a nonpartisan think tank, reported to the Japan Times that he received death threats in the form of pictures of guns posted to him after he tweeted critically about threats of violence to scientists made by Brietbart on Twitter.
Jerry Brown, Governor of California Vows to Fight Against Trump’s Anti-Science Agenda
Concern for scientists as a class increasingly victimized by political extremists like Trump hit a fever pitch this week at the American Geophysical Union Conference in San Francisco. There, hundreds of pro-science protesters marched outside as the meeting halls swelled with over 20,000 worried scientists and their supporters.
Among the attendees was Governor Jerry Brown of California who delivered this impassioned speech:
(Jerry Brown has pushed for pro-renewable energy, pro-climate response policies in California for decades. He has vowed to defend both science and progressive values from an impending assault by Donald Trump. Video source: YouTube.)
Brown highlighted the tremendous danger that human civilizations now face. The oceans are rising and acidifying, the weather is worsening, habitats, food and water sources are being destroyed. He also noted that in order to prevent climate harms, people would have to face down both “big oil” and “big financial structures that are at odds with the survivability of our world.”
Brown called on scientists and their ‘truth teller and truth seeker’ supporters to fight back. And, in doing so, he pledged the aid of California’s scientific and legal communities saying: “We’ve got the scientists and we’ve got the lawyers and we’re ready to fight back. We’re ready to defend.”
Brown cited past major environmental achievements by California including 28 percent renewable power generation, a goal to hit 50 percent in the coming years, and zero emissions vehicle and mileage standards that became the benchmark for the nation. Unlike Trump, Brown pledged to fully support international climate agreements and to work with over 200 states to help to reduce harms from climate change. Touting California’s 2.1 trillion dollar economy, Brown stated — “We will persevere. We will prevail.”
But Brown’s highest points involved his pledge to launch satellites if Trump shuts down NASA climate monitoring systems and to pit California’s economic might as a renewable energy power against the old fossil fuel interests. Brown stated:
“Well, I remember back in 1978, I proposed a Landsat satellite for California. They called me Governor Moonbeam because of that. I didn’t get that moniker for nothing. And if Trump turns off the satellites, California will launch its own damn satellite. We’re going to collect that data. …
“We’ve proved in California that the economy grows… in part because of the rules and the climate policy that we’ve adopted… and California is growing a whole hell of a lot faster than Texas and we’ve got more sun than you’ve got oil.”
Carrying a Light in the Darkness
Brown, in his support of the U.S. scientific community and in his pledge to continue progress for renewable energy sets an example for us all. His leadership serves as a light in a dark place and during a dark time. But many, many of us will have to follow his lead if we are to have much hope of making it through this difficult time. We need to all be ready to fight. To speak out. And to commit substantial resources to the effort.
The times of comfort are over. And if we are to prevent a worst case scenario for our climate we will have to face down the very real human monsters than have now been revealed to us. But we should console ourselves at least, in this. There is good in the world. There are the greatest causes in all of the vast arc of history to champion here and now. There are the good and innocent living among us that we now have the honor and the privilege to protect and defend. And there can be no better, more just thing, for us to do now than to unite in what is a very real fight to defend not only clean energy, not only the great enlightenment that has been gifted to us by the sciences, but to, in doing so, protect both the future of humankind and of life on Earth itself.
Hat tip to Josh