An academic who was supposedly asked to remove references to global warming from a Department of Energy (DOE) research grant claimed Monday that the agency’s request was an example of what she called the growing politicization of climate change.
Jennifer Bowen, an ecologist whose work deals with the ecology of salt marshes, posted a letter earlier this month on Facebook from DOE requesting her to remove “climate change” references from an application for a federal grant. Bowen posted the Aug. 26 letter, which has since been deleted, because she “found it to be a stark reminder of the ongoing politicization of science.”
Another ecologist made accusations after receiving a similar letter. Scott Saleska, an associate at the University of Arizona, told reporters that the DOE sent the same request. He also said the letter is an example of President Donald Trump’s willingness to use climate change as a political weapon.
“I think it is an unfortunate symptom of the Trump administration’s decisions to use political criteria for funding science,” Saleska wrote in an email, though he added that it is “a relatively minor deal that we are being asked to clarify the wording of public abstracts of already funded projects.”
Bowen, for her part, told reporters that the DOE official who sent the letter asked her to change parts of the application’s title, not the content of her research. The Northeastern University professor also said that she has “immense respect for the civil servants who are doing a tremendous job facilitating our research under trying conditions.”
Conservatives and climate skeptics have said for years that climate science is becoming politicized. Former DOE under-Secretary Steven Koonin told The Wall Street Journal earlier this year that bureaucrats within the Obama administration regularly spun scientific data to manipulate public opinion.
Koonin, who served under Obama from 2009 to 2011, said the decision to futz data was a clear-cut example of government officials adding a political element to scientific research. If you are a scientist, he added, then your ethos should be to “tell it like it is. You’re a scientist and it is your responsibility to put the facts on the table.”
Environmentalists and activists have criticized the agency in the past for eliminating duplicative programs devoted to hashing out climate change.
Nearly a dozen members of the DOE’s Office of International Climate and Technology were released in June so the Trump administration could cut bloat from the agency. The office was opened in 2010 to help allies across the world kick-start technology reducing greenhouse gasses.
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