Environmentalist worry over President-elect Donald Trump reached new heights when activists set up an anonymous hotline for government climate scientists to report “political meddling” by the incoming administration.
Bloomberg reports “outside scientists are setting up an anonymous hotline for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s employees to report political meddling” over fears Trump could delete public climate data and silence researchers.
“I am hearing a lot of worry,” Andrew Rosenberg, a top activist at the at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) in Cambridge, Mass., told Bloomberg. “The worry is that they will be putting another ideologue in place.”
UCS set up the hotline for climate scientists in the wake of news Trump’s administration could tamper with taxpayer-funded climate data. Interestingly enough, it’s a rumor they started.
The genesis of such fears seems to have originated from a recent Mashable article, quoting Michael Halpern, a UCS activist. In the article, Halpern said “who relies on publicly available federal government research and information should take steps to ensure that they download what they need before the new administration steps in.”
His evidence? A now disavowed questionnaire sent to the Department of Energy asking for a list of all websites maintained by federal laboratories.
Mashable’s Andrew Freedman somehow concluded the questionnaire “it raises the possibility that websites dedicated to climate change… could be taken offline.”
Halpern told Mashable that during “the Bush Administration, government scientific websites were altered or disappeared completely.”
Trump’s transition team has never said anything to indicate they would alter any public databases — a fact Freedman admitted. But it was too late, scientists, activists and media outlets began to preach the story as gospel.
Climate scientist and Slate columnist Eric Holthaus led the charge and asked people to fill it with climate data “you don’t want to see disappear.” Scientists at the University of Toronto and the University of Pennsylvania created a “Guerrilla Archiving team” to download data before Trump could “delete” it.
Holthaus, to his credit, argued budget cuts are more likely to force agencies to jettison climate data rather than malicious acts by Trump appointees. But it’s hard to say since Trump has not nominated anyone to head NOAA or NASA.