While Scientists Meet, Trump/Putin Make Lists

December 12, 2016


“Do you now, or have you ever, given a damn about your children’s future?”

I’m at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in San Francisco, where the atmosphere is tense.
At the onset of perhaps the most regressive, anti-science administration in history, an administration that may itself be acting at the behest of a hostile foreign power – scientists are somber – but quietly resolved.

Washington Post:

Donald Trump’s transition team has issued a list of 74 questions for the Energy Department, asking agency officials to identify which employees and contractors have worked on forging an international climate pact as well as domestic efforts to cut the nation’s carbon output.

The questionnaire requests a list of those individuals who have taken part in international climate talks over the past five years and “which programs within DOE are essential to meeting the goals of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan.”

While there have been many instances of political appointees and career scientists clashing in various administrations, what is novel is the request for the names of so many individual scientists, and the fact that it comes during the transition period, before the Trump administration has even taken power. This may be a signal of even more intense politicization after the inauguration.


Yale University environmental historian Paul Sabin said in an interview that previous administrations have worked to install like-minded energy and environmental experts in key agencies, often at the expense of employees from previous administrations.

“But what seems unusual is singling people out for a very specific substantive issue, and treating their work on that substantive issue as, by default, contaminating or disqualifying,” Sabin said, adding that officials can now track a civil servant’s past activities “in such a systematic way.”

During Ronald Reagan’s time, when his political appointees sparred with officials at the Interior Department and the Environmental Protection Agency, Sabin noted, “it would have been so much harder to collect it on paper and track it down.”


The Obama administration used the social cost of carbon to justify the enactment of rules to limit the burning of fossil fuels for energy, among other purposes. This calculation is central to the Clean Power Plan, which is the EPA’s program to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants.

Scott Pruitt, the Trump administration’s nominee to lead the EPA, has vowed to dismantle that plan. The Energy Department transition team is clearly taking aim at this as well.

“These are people who have been following government for a very long time and are taking advantage of Donald Trump to step in and try to dismantle what they see as a system of research that comes up with results that they won’t accept,” said Michael Halpern, the deputy director of the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, in an interview.


35 Responses to “While Scientists Meet, Trump/Putin Make Lists”

  1. dumboldguy Says:

    Flogging the Scientists is one of your all-time great videos—-I’m sure that you’ll be able to use it many more times over the next year or two when the flogging and purges begin.

    I have a friend who has spent a multi-decade career at the EPA—-he had planned to work just a few more years but put in his retirement papers the week after the Orange POS lost the election but gained the presidency—-he will be leaving in mid-January just before the coronation of the King of Stupid.. He doesn’t work in an area related to climate change or clean air and water, but he reports that there is much “nervousness” among the rank-and-file all across the agency.

    My mouth fell open when I read in the WashPost about the “witch hunt” questions that were being put out for use at Energy—-I’d bet the “get me out of here” lines at the retirement counselors there are even longer than at EPA. (And how about NASA, and OSHA, and Labor? Anything that stands in the way of the free marketers and greedy rich is going to be purged. It’s a hell of a way to make government smaller—-since my kids are grown and gone, I guess I’ll just imitate the Trump transition and downsize by burning down part of the house.).

    PS Flogging the Scientists is nearly 7 years old. Not to sound like the kid in the back seat and/or the wife-who-drives-from-the-right-hand-seat, but “Are we there yet?”, “Are we ever going to get there?”, “Are we sure we’re in the right road?”, etc., etc.

  2. Ron Voisin Says:

    I’m sure I’ll get vitriol for this line-of-thinking.

    Look at the ice core record. Temperatures begin their rise precisely when CO2 levels are at their lowest. Temperatures begin their fall precisely when CO2 is at its highest. How is this explained…it simply isn’t. But clearly then, something currently unknown to us overwrote the effect of CO2 in both temperature directions. We simply don’t know the nature of this powerful driver.

    Now go to the video. When asked why scientists believe enhanced CO2 is the cause of the current warming they answer: the fact that we cannot explain the warming from the 1950s by solar and volcanic forcing.

    Well…there’s a lot you cannot explain. And the fact that you don’t have an alternative answer to the current warming doesn’t strike me as powerful evidence that it then MUST be anthropogenic CO2.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      No vitriol from me, Ron. Just my sincere sympathies for being so ignorant of science, having such a poor understanding of the meaning of words, and such a large deficit when it comes to rational analysis and the use of logic. But that’s what makes you a denier and flaming anal orifice, a role you seem to enjoy, so keep on truckin’ and Merry Christmas to you..

      Watch the video as many times as as needed in order to REALLY comprehend what they said (take notes). The BS that you clipped from the Denier’s Handbook doesn’t cut it.

      PS Have you ever heard of Occam’s Razor or the Law of Parsimony? Simply put, the simplest answer is often the most correct, and/or what’s left over after when you eliminate all other possibilities is likely to be the truth. That’s a hint on parsing the real meaning of “we cannot explain the warming from the 1950s by solar and volcanic forcing”.

      PPS Can you give us a citation to the source of this bit of “knowledge”?
      “Temperatures begin their rise precisely when CO2 levels are at their lowest. Temperatures begin their fall precisely when CO2 is at its highest”.

    • @Ron Voisin,

      Hi, Ron.

      The effectiveness of CO2 in such warming is experimentally determined, it is not a supposition. You can check it in a lab. In fact, there are many manufacturing processes which depend upon not only this effect happening, but knowing precisely how strong it is and calibrating it.

      And it’s been known a long time.

      Your curiosity is to be applauded, but there’s plenty of material that explains this very well, http://scied.ucar.edu/carbon-dioxide-absorbs-and-re-emits-infrared-radiation

      A good read is Guy Stewart Callendar.


      That the excess CO2 in atmosphere is from burning fossil fuels is derived from isotopic assay, not statistical coincidence.

      When James Hansen predicted atmospheric concentrations and temperature rise in the early 21st century based upon a by-hand calculation in the 1980s, he pulled off two feats of forecasting. One, he got the atmospheric physics right. And, two, he got the estimate of how much fossil fuel emissions there’d be in the meantime correct. Examples of successes like that are (conveniently) forgotten in many of today’s discussions. And he did not use a climate model, at least not a GCM. He did the kind of calculations you can learn to do using the textbooks of David Archer or Ray Pierrehumbert. If you’re really interested, you will.

    • redskylite Says:

      The only vitriol you’ll get from me is for completely ignoring the topic (flogging scientists), completely changing the thrust of Peter’s posting and your arrogant flouting of pseudo science.

      This is typical there is always one. You haven’t addressed the topic at all and seem to be saying that EPA staff deserve to be singled out because they have participated in mainstream science, in an attempt to ease life for people who live in vulnerable areas and of course for future generations. I find you truly despicable.

      Maybe this attached article is aimed at you and people like you.


  3. Ron Voisin Says:

    I’m so glad that first paragraph was no vitriol from you. Obviously your exceptionally self-aware.

    As I said: Look at the ice core record.

    At each deglaciation the temperature goes up for several hundred years before the minimalist CO2 begins to rise.

    At each drop to glaciation the temperature falls for several hundred years before the maximal CO2 begins to fall.

    • If you really want an answer then watch the person who most probably knows more about ice cores than anybody else – Richard Alley – he will explain the answers to both your points much better than I can.

      The ONLY main drivers which could change global temperature in the last 100 years are (volcanism (random), solar (hasn’t changed nearly enough), ocean circulation (hasn’t changed as far as we know) and CO2 (what do you know it has increased)) This was what lead Phil Jones to conclude that if it wasn’t volcanism or solar then it must be CO2. The logic is correct.

      When discussing the recent changes in glaciation it is changes in the Earth’s orbit which are the triggers. CO2 follows and amplifies the trigger.

    • I will assume you do actually not know how this works so I’ll give you a link which you can read and understand why ice ages come and go for
      natural reasons.


      Natural changes can also be a driver for CO2 changes. When its cold the oceans absorb more CO2 and there is less vegetation around – more carbon locked in the soil. When the planet heats up naturally from these big orbital changes (which btw happen over tens of thousands of years), the oceans heat up, more soil is exposed and thawed which leads to a rise in CO2 levels. The CO2 levels then amplify the total energy trapped on earth so that more ice is melted releasing more CO2.

      The orbital changes are not on their own enough to explain the amount of energy needed in order to melt all that ice, you need to add the 100ppm growth in CO2 for the physics equation to be solved. Greenhouse gases are essential for a planets ability to hold energy. The global estimate is around 3.5C increase for each doubling of CO2 (so it needs exponential growth). But when the planet is in an ice age there is only 180ppm of CO2 so a doubling is rather easy to get close to although it actually just fluctuates between 180ppm and 280ppm. The reduced albedo of the planet from more dark land and ocean adds the extra bits of heat so that the global average climbs by +5C.

      Now consider the fact that our emissions has so far added a 40% increase in CO2, from 280ppm to 400ppm. We would certainly be expecting a rise in global temperatures, something we can observe in the measurements too, about 1C more than pre-industrial times although the planet is not yet at equilibrium with regards to our planets ability to retain heat from increased CO2 (and a lot of methane too).

      There is a wealth of information out on the web if you just steer clear from WUWT and sites that have an agenda. Learn some basic physics, learn about the properties of the CO2 molecule (which follow the same physical laws as all other molecules), learn a bit about planetary physics, atmosphere, heat exchange, learn about the oceans amazing “heat battery” and how ocean currents often decide when the planet has a chance to get rid of some of that heat, but study carefully the greenhouse effect which has been known for over 150 years now, and how they are vital for our planet to even be habitable and not a solid ball of ice.

    • That is a really stupid, brain-dead talking-point that has been refuted a countless number of times. The fact that you are still regurgitating it means that you are dishonest or stupid (that’s an inclusive-or, btw).

      Real scientists, as in the intrepid men and women who have actually put boots on the ice collecting ice-core data, have no patience for your stupid, dishonest bulls**t.

      Here’s what Jeff Severinghaus, one of the top scientists at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and National Academy of Sciences member, has to say about that baloney you just regurgitated: https://youtu.be/0SplPUDcxco?t=2076

      • Ron Voisin Says:

        Dear caerbannog666,

        Did you bother to absorb your own reference as it confirms my stated position.

        Of course you erroneously presumed, different from what I said, that I was asserting CO2 cannot therefore cause warming. But that is not what I said.

        I was simply making the point that some powerful, as yet unidentified, forcing agent initiated the temperature swings.

        • Some powerful, as yet unidentified, forcing agent? You are a crank, and nothing more.

        • Paul Whyte Says:

          Ron you don’t seem to have read much climate science. It was covered in my course work in 1975 and the lectures then match the IPCC reports of the last 15 years. It’s old science.

          You say:

          “How is this explained…it simply isn’t. But clearly, then, something currently unknown to us overwrote the effect of CO2 in both temperature directions. We simply don’t know the nature of this powerful driver.”

          “I was simply making the point that some powerful, as yet unidentified, forcing agent initiated the temperature swings.”

          You make some very big claims but don’t provide much by way of evidence. The reports that I have read about paleo science talk about positive and negative feedbacks of which there is a number, take many thousands of years to come into effect when forcings as low as orbital forcings are involved. That answers your missing powerful forcing.

          CO2 is simply a less than largest forcing that we are able to effect. The primary forcing from water on a 70% water planet is well a little out of our reach.

          Your expectations are simply unreasonably high that all forcing must be accounted for at all points in Earths history.

          I work in the medical goods supply industry as a designer of devices and we are forced by regulators to take precautionary measures when any big risks are plausible, not proven just plausible.

          We are at a point where the measured forcings for CO2 and also for water vapour forcings are 10 times the orbital forcings. The ice melt data is showing doubling times of about or less than 10 years from WAIS. This would mean the end of a global economy in about 30 to 40 years if this was the case.

          To accept a need to find out if this really is what is happening would mean the end of global capital for about 50,000 years give or take 50,000 years. If the ice loss is a doubling time event.

          So the precautionary principle that I make devices under requires that risk management is undertaken. But that is just for human lives.

          Planetary civilisation boundaries seem to not be a worry for you. I notice that you have studied electrical engineering. That’s good but where is the in depth understanding of the greenhouse effect and positive and negative feedbacks?

          I notice that you have used the emotional label alarmist. That is interesting as the possible effects for a well-functioning scientist would involve “being alarmed”. Not feeling those emotions is what I find “interesting”.

          In your case, you are reversing that requirement of precaution. You’re trying to stop action or support delaying actions on removing carbon from the position of primary energy source for the globe when experts in the area are saying we have 5 to 15 years to get onto a 1.5 degree C path.

          I hope you will understand my reluctance in giving your propositions credence.

        • I think this officially represents the pidgeon shitting on the chessboard.

          Which is why debating science deniers is like trying to play chess with a pidgeon.

    • lesliegraham1 Says:

      My condolences too Voisin. So sad.

  4. Ron Voisin Says:


    I’m well versed in all the areas you point to.

    What you might not be aware of is that radiative analysis of Milankovitch Cycles expects deglatiation to occur when the Earth’s eccentricity is nearly circular; and for glaciation to occur when eccentricity is at a maximum. However, this is exactly opposite what the ice-cores show.

    Further, while the temporal resolution of many deglaciations is quite crude, the most recent jump into the Holocene occurred in less than 100 years – entirely disconnecting from the tiny radiative forcing of Milankovitch cycles.

    The latest and most promising research in this area follows from gravitationally induced modulations to the release of internally generated Earthly heat. Maya Tolstoy’s work (Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory) bears this out.

    Maya Tolstoy abstract to Geophysical Research Letters “Mid-ocean ridge eruptions as a climate valve”:

    Seafloor eruption rates and mantle melting fueling eruptions may be influenced by sea level and crustal loading cycles at scales from fortnightly to 100 kyr. Recent mid-ocean ridge eruptions occur primarily during neap tides and the first 6 months of the year, suggesting sensitivity to minor changes in tidal forcing and orbital eccentricity. An ~100 kyr periodicity in fast-spreading seafloor bathymetry and relatively low present-day eruption rates at a time of high sea level and decreasing orbital eccentricity suggest a longer-term sensitivity to sea level and orbital variations associated with Milankovitch cycles. Seafloor spreading is considered a small but steady contributor of CO2 to climate cycles on the 100 kyr time scale; however, this assumes a consistent short-term eruption rate. Pulsing of seafloor volcanic activity may feed back into climate cycles, possibly contributing to glacial/interglacial cycles, the abrupt end of ice ages, and dominance of the 100 kyr cycle.

    Maya Tolstoy TED Talk here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dhMoQrLEJe0

    A strong correlation is being revealed between a plot of the Younger Dryas “fit/start” deglaciation temperature curve an one that plots celestially induced gravitational perturbations.

    Meanwhile, CO2 as an agent of forcing is LOST IN THE NOISE.

    • Sounds like you should write a paper, get it published, and retire to your own private island with all the money that will be rolling in from the coal and oil companies. Let us know how that works out.

      • Ron Voisin Says:


        I’m quite happy with my current financial position and it has nothing to do whatsoever with fossil energy. It was earned by me outside conflict-of-interest.

        However, alarmists might just consider that the science of Climate Change is not quite settled. Rather, it is enormously evolving.

        redskylite seems to think my contributions to this thread are OFF-BASE.

        OK let me go to the base of this thread: The science is not settled. New Trump cabinet and appointee positions are consistent with the position that climate science is evolving. And that should not scar anyone…even dumboldguy.

        • redskylite Says:

          Say this site was WUWT and the powers that be demanded a list of tutors who testified in support of say Cruz or fossil fuel continuance, eg. Judith Curry, maybe some Alabama University skeptics, with a possible view of diminishing their careers or even firing them.

          I then reply to the WUWT post with a personnel theory of my own view of what is happening to the climate, unsupported by mainstream science, without any empathy to the position of Curry, Christy, Spencer etc.

          I would be a cold fish, because I can respect their views, they have earnt their University qualifications, and at least Curry has contributed in previous landmark studies. I would not wish to make an example of them, or list them as dissenters, like is now happening in your country (assuming you are a U.S national).

          This is why I think you are totally off-base and I utterly despise you for your stance.

        • lesliegraham1 Says:

          What is your definition of ‘alarmist’ Voisin?
          Because it appears to include billions of people – in fact it seems to include every educated person on the planet these days. Including the US military for example. Not to mention every single scientific institution on the planet.
          In fact it seems the only people who aren’t ‘alarmistd’ is you and the dwindling little army of conspiracy theory nutjobs at WUWT – plus the two or three scientists out of 28,000 that have taken the ‘cash for papers’ route.
          By the way – where is your evidence that Trump is not making a list of scientists. You went really quiet on that point.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      This talk about Tolstoys’ work is all parroted from the pages of WUWT and Judith Curry’s blog. The deniers fired it all arounf the denier echo chamber when it came out as PROOF of where the CO2 is coming from—-not from anthropogenic sources, no sir!—–it’s all NATURAL!

      Tolstoy made some interesting discoveries, but what Ron and WUWT and the deniers attempt to do with it is total bullshit, nothing more.

      Green Road is always reposting stuff from Crock—-here’s something informative back from GR about undersea volcanoes. The whole page is good stuff, but scroll down to the yellow highlighting and links for the volcano info.

    • Well, I understand now that you have made up your mind and is not really open to actually learning about the topic, so debating this with you is futile. But I’d ask you to consider that “unknown force” – and make an effort into describing for us where all the extra energy in the climate system comes from, as we perfectly know it can’t just appear out of nowhere. Just saying it it “unknown” is a red herring, as you perfectly know science is never made by skipping around “uknowns” and just ignoring them. That is exactly why the greenhouse gas fits so perfectly, it gets rid of the vast amount of unknowns, and have been for over 150 years. The past 150 years has basically just added more decimals to the calculations as we were able to get better metrics and technology to actually measure the physical properties of CO2 and other greenhouse gas molecules.

      I find it funny that you so readily accept any science that has enabled us to make for example mobile phones with their small flat LCD screens, processors with gazillion tiny transistors, electrons whizzing about with all kinds of fun use of the physical properties of matter. You know this technology would not have been made with sticks and stones, it required actual knowledge of the physical properties of matter around us. Much like a biologist studies animals and at one point they understand that there are so many similarities between a dog and a human being that evolution becomes a fact for them, down to the DNA and matter that make up all living beings. If anything it broadens their view of how special all life is, instead of what many creationists does – accept that there is this big “unknown force” that makes it all happen.

      You cannot approach climate science as something you choose to “believe in” as that is the domain of religion, not science. So I ask you this simple question, how did humans come to make mobile phones work at all? Do you have any inkling of understanding and do you respect the people who did all the grunt work within physics and chemistry (even some parts biology if your mobile has an OLED screen) – and without this knowledge we’d actually still be using sticks and stones for our technology. Climate science is basically using the same toolbox on a planetary system, and you know what, it perfectly explain why life even can exist on this planet, why Venus is isothermal, and even how heat seeking missiles were able to find their target as well a lot of other uses of knowing the properties of CO2.

    • lesliegraham1 Says:

      What do you think about Trump and his ghouls purging scientists?
      Do you think anything at all?
      Why is Trump making a list of all scientists who have worked on essential climate change mitigation measures?

      • Paul Whyte Says:

        “What do you think about Trump and his ghouls purging scientists?”

        I’m happy to have a shot at this important question. I suspect but don’t really know, that Trump is after a way of silencing climate scientists because most of them are paid by federal funding.

        Get their names. Find their funding source. End it. That is what I suspect is the game plan.

        My wife used to work for a state environment department that was told by both major parties that CO2 would not be reduced till 2050 so in the mean time find something that would be useful to do till we drop coal as a primary energy source past 2050.

        The scientists were then defunded and sacked by the state government. The state government said it was because it was duplicated at a federal level. Then the federal government defunded the federal climate change programs they could find no use for them now that climate change was accepted as occurring. Isn’t neo-liberalism when practiced by both major parties something? It can cut funding for the future of civilization and justify tax cuts for the very rich all in one blow.

        I think Trump is planning to do the same kind of thing in the USA. Tax cuts for the very rich, drop funding for everything that does not follow the neo-liberal agenda. Find which noisy scientists can be got to shut up first.

  5. Ron Voisin Says:


    You’re right that any type of witch hunt should be avoided.

    However, the questions asked of DOE are a witch hunt in Alarmist minds only.

  6. dumboldguy Says:

    Redsky beat me to it with his observation that Ron is distracting us and deflecting the discussion from the topic at hand, i.e. he is “….completely ignoring the topic (flogging scientists), completely changing the thrust of Peter’s posting and….flouting pseudo science”. Ron, like Tommy-Poo Bates, is a motivated reasoner and a science ignorant troll, pure and simple, and we waste our time trying to educate him—-he is beyond saving.

    Anyone who can say “The science is not settled. New Trump cabinet and appointee positions are consistent with the position that climate science is evolving” with a straight face is actually delusional.

  7. AGU makes many of the lectures presented at the conference available… live streaming or on demand,,,

    And it is FREE…. just registrar, watch and LEARN.


  8. skeptictmac57 Says:

    Just as a reminder, the world has seen this before from our neighbors up north. The Harper government committed a slash and burn during it’s reign of terror war on science:


  9. toddinnorway Says:

    Given the level of stupidity by Tom Bates, Ron Voisin, that Cook idiot, and the ilks of the seemingly countless paid shills for climate denial otherwise,

    I strongly recommend that Peter begins to block climate denial comment generators. They are getting paid to write these comments, it is part of their strategy to strengthen their echo chambers, and they have got zero personal science competency to qualify to make of the claims they excrete and repeat.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      I concur. Tom Bates and Ron Voisin are just stupid, science-ignorant WUWT lemmings, and I doubt that anyone is paying them much if anything to shill (and Bates may even be a Poe). They are becoming tiresome and oh-so-boooooring, particularly Bates, who keeps parroting the same few pages from the denier’s handbook.

      That “Cook idiot”, on the other hand, IS provably a paid whore for the fossil fuel interests, and beyond that is a fascinating case study in personality disorders of many kinds, as well being a bad example for us of a purposeful and mildly clever climate denial propagandist. I certainly do NOT want to have to chase him down on WUWT, his own blog GlobsOfS**TFiles, or American Stinky Thinking and the other sites of the echo chamber in order to be entertained by him, because that’s dangerous to one’s mental health. On the other hand, too much Russell on Crock is a bad thing, mostly because his delusional rantings leave such a bad taste and clog up the threads badly.

      So, I recommend that Peter consider not totally blocking climate denial comment generators, but rather allowing them to post only during one week of the month, and that he also put a cap on the number of comments they can make during that week. Furthermore, Bates, Voisin, and “that idiot Cook” should not be allowed to post during the same week—-just as one does in the garden, spreading the horseshit out more thinly is better than piling it up in one spot—-the smell fades more rapidly.

      • dumboldguy Says:

        On second thought, maybe Peter SHOULD jam all the denier idiots into the same week—–it could be a monthly Crock Super Toilet Bowl of Denial, and the rest of the month would be much more pleasant.

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