Scientists Protects Research on Climate Change

By Xyla Joelle L. Fernandez

Dec 16, 2016 07:11 AM EST

Some scientists and academics are embarking on a frenzied mission to archive reams of scientific data on climate change, energized by a concern that a Trump administration could seek to wipe government websites of hard-earned research.

Environmentalists and researchers encountered a friendly White House over the last eight years that encouraged inquiry into global warming and signed historic agreements meant to lower global carbon emissions.

The chief concern: publicly available climate change data and research found on government websites would be wiped clean or made otherwise inaccessible to the public. Some worry the information could only be retrieved with a taxing Freedom of Information Act request.

The outgoing Obama administration, for its part, is trying to calm any mounting worries. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell professed confidence this week that her successors would not aim to destroy the key data.

"Policies that have been put in place to make sure that science continues to be foundational are not going to be easy to remove," Jewell said at the American Geophysical Union conference in San Francisco, ClimateWire reported, "and I don't think there is any reason that a successor administration is going to want to because they are so important to the decisions we make every single day."

The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment. But Tump has a long history of doubting climate change, ranging back to a claim deeming it to be a "hoax" perpetrated by the Chinese. The President-elect said last weekend that "nobody really knows" if climate change is real.

And some of his recent appointments have dismayed environmentalists, from Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt to secretary of state nominee Rex Tillerson, who led oil giant ExxonMobil.

Some scientists are recalling trouble they had during the last Republican administration, under George W. Bush, when climate data was not as accessible. Yet others, like Eric Holthaus, a meteorologist and climate commentator, are not concerned about a politically motivated intentional purge of data. What concerns him, he told CNNI's Amara Walker, was budget cuts to government science organizations like NASA that makes certain data sets unavailable.

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