Scientists Scramble to Hold off a New Dark Age

December 13, 2016


Here at the world’s largest scientific meeting, the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in San Francisco, the mood is tinged with a steely resolve.
Have been interviewing scientists and will continue through the week.

It’s come to this.

Washington Post:

Alarmed that decades of crucial climate measurements could vanish under a hostile Trump administration, scientists have begun a feverish attempt to copy reams of government data onto independent servers in hopes of safeguarding it from any political interference.

The efforts include a “guerrilla archiving” event in Toronto, where experts will copy irreplaceable public data, meetings at the University of Pennsylvania focused on how to download as much federal data as possible in the coming weeks, and a collaboration of scientists and database experts who are compiling an online site to harbor scientific information.

“Something that seemed a little paranoid to me before all of a sudden seems potentially realistic, or at least something you’d want to hedge against,” said Nick Santos, an environmental researcher at the University of California at Davis, who over the weekend began copying government climate data onto a nongovernment server, where it will remain available to the public. “Doing this can only be a good thing. Hopefully they leave everything in place. But if not, we’re planning for that.”

In recent weeks, President-elect Donald Trump has nominated a growing list of Cabinet members who have questioned the overwhelming scientific consensus around global warming. His transition team at the Department of Energy has asked agency officials for names of employees and contractors who have participated in international climate talks and worked on the scientific basis for Obama administration-era regulations of carbon emissions. One Trump adviser suggested that NASA no longer should conduct climate research and instead should focus on space exploration.

Michael Halpern, deputy director of the Center for Science and Democracy at the advocacy group Union of Concerned Scientists, argued that Trump has appointed a “band of climate conspiracy theorists” to run transition efforts at various agencies, along with nominees to lead them who share similar views.

“They have been salivating at the possibility of dismantling federal climate research programs for years. It’s not unreasonable to think they would want to take down the very data that they dispute,” Halpern said in an email. “There is a fine line between being paranoid and being prepared, and scientists are doing their best to be prepared. . . . Scientists are right to preserve data and archive websites before those who want to dismantle federal climate change research programs storm the castle.”

For now:

Joe Davidson in the Washington Post:

Global warming — “it’s a hoax.”

Donald Trump has said that more than once.

So it’s understandable that the request by the president-elect’s transition team for the names of individual Energy Department employees and contractors who worked on the issue makes them worry that the trick could be on them.

“There is major concern amongst my members,” said Jeff Eagan, president of the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) chapter at the department’s headquarters building in Washington. He’s also a 17-year Energy employee, but was speaking in his union capacity. “I have received lots of calls, emails, messages expressing shock and dismay.”

The scientists and their colleagues at Energy know global warming is real. What they don’t know is what Trump might do to those whose work has been in line with the science and the Obama administration, which has spoken about “the urgent imperatives of climate change.”

Given civil service protections, it’s not likely department employees would be fired for working on climate change. There is good reason for concern, however. Trump advisers have urged him to fire feds faster and Energy staffers know protections for senior executives at the Department of Veterans Affairs have been weakened. But firing isn’t the only way to punish people.

“A greater concern would be that selected employees could be marginalized, i.e., ignored, by new leadership at the Department solely based on unfounded conjecture that those employees cannot be trusted by the new political team,” said John Palguta, a civil service expert with decades of federal government experience. “The consequences for contract employees could be greater if a future decision not to renew a contract is influenced by the same unsupported speculation.”

41 Responses to “Scientists Scramble to Hold off a New Dark Age”

  1. miffedmax Says:

    I have never been more proud of my son’s alma mater, the University of Toronto, which is taking a leading role in preserving this critical data. Go Varisty Blues

  2. redskylite Says:

    As a spectator from far afield, I perceive many people have supported Trump because he is a businessman, and they have a strong point in that a businessman could make a good and fair leader of a country. Also I have heard that this is a victory for the small man. Don’t quite understand that one, when Trump seems to be appointing the richer few in his inner circle of governance.

    I’m also not convinced Trump is a shining example of a businessman when he has dodged contributing tax for many years, and seems to totally lack ethics, I have certainly worked for far better businessmen in my working life. I am pleased to read that Science is grouping to protect data and itself, and will not dumbly just submit to Herr Trump and his circle.

    Business and science are highly connected, you can’t have one without the other.

    Bravo – Energy Department. . . hope you don’t end up being disbanded, but sometimes life sucks.

    The DOE will hand over public information but no list of individuals to transition team.

    The Department of Energy said it will not provide a list of names of staffers who worked on climate change issues to the Trump transition team on Tuesday, despite the team’s demand for that information.

    • webej Says:

      It is a common prejudice to think that a good business man would make a good political leader. History does not support the claim. Politicians must compromise and garner support. Corporations are hierarchical highly ritualized environments with an anti-democratic culture. Corporations are not used to getting along with dissidents and minorities — they would rather fire them. That is hard to do in a nation. If is perhaps not ideal that almost all politicians are lawyers, but having a businessman as a political leader is a risk rather than a boon.

      • lesliegraham1 Says:

        Trump isn’t even a good businessman. In fact he is a terrible businessman.
        He would have made more profit if he had simply left the billions he inherited in a savings account instead of losing vast amounts of it in stupid, and often fraudulent, harebrained schemes.
        Ironically I think there is just a glimmer of hope that this bumbling idiot might just turn out to be the catalyst for climate action that the world has so desperately needed for the last 30 years.
        A lot of people who normally wouldn’t take that much notice are sitting up now it’s becoming increasingly obvious that he, and his fossil fool cronies, intend to shamelessly pillage the country.

  3. […] Source: Scientists Scramble to Hold off a New Dark Age | Climate Denial Crock of the Week […]

  4. Gary Evans Says:

    Data forms the basis of knowledge. See the data, information, knowledge, wisdom pyramid here:

    We are now seeing the destruction of the whole pyramid, even down to the data that underpins it. So much for the road to wisdom, we are now lead by the wilfully ignorant who are intent on destroying the foundations of science.

    We all have a duty to protect these foundations by sharing data, information and knowledge on open source platforms. I only hope that the wisdom we have gained over time can be saved in these darkening times.

    • Tom Bates Says:

      If you want to share the data why not ask the folks over at Giss where the actual temperatures for the stations in the network are? They are not is a readable format or organized for easy analysis by the public as I asked. Where is the data that has not been homogenized stored in a format you or any reader can get without buying a 10,000 dollar software program. Where is the data on how many temperatures are changed at each station? Where is the data sorted by type of change? Where is the data changed by region? All sorts of data is hidden beneath the layers of rock placed on it by the bureaucrats who do not want anybody much less the unwashed masses actually asking questions why, for example, Barrow Alaska actual temperatures last October were changed upward since they were 5.1F colder than in 1902. Tens of thousands of temperatures have been changed from actual readings going back as far as 1880. Since most stations did not exist in 1880 how is it possible to plug numbers into a world wide temperature claim when most of the data is not actually measured data but is computer plugs. What is the differences between the homogenized data and the actual data? All you see is the homogenized data which is supposed to be God’s answer to the climate.

      Why does the AGW folks completely ignore the medieval warm period in the northern hemisphere which was warmer than today with half the CO2 yet they claim CO2 is warming the world today when NASA own modeling of changes in earths tilt and orbit show a 5 percent increase from that and if you add all the possible other reasons 7 percent +- from other solar gain changes. Those changes are thousands of times the actual measured changes from CO2 increases in a study by Berkeley, a hotbed of the AGW crowd.

      • Gary Evans Says:

        Thanks, but I don’t have any use for this FUD.

      • Oh, FFS!

        NASA/GISS doesn’t own the temperature data, NOAA does! NASA simply uses what NOAA provides.

        The GHCN data used by GISS is provided in a well-documented format that is *decades* old. I could teach college freshmen how to write a program to read and decode it. It just isn’t very hard.

        Go to — that’s where the GHCN data (supplied by NOAA and used by NASA/GISS) can be found.

        You will find the non-homogenized data along with the NOAA homogenized data there, in *separate* files. The file ghcnm.tavg.latest.qcu.tar.gz contains the non-homogenized data and the file ghcnm.tavg.latest.qca.tar.gz contains the homogenized data.

        Both files contain the temperature data in a format that a first-year programming student can read and decode.

        Also note that there’s a README file that contains all the information about the data format.

        Now Tommy Poo, do you know what to do with a README file? I’ll give you a hint: you READ it. But if you can’t do that, perhaps you can find someone who can read it to you. Unfortunately, given the crowd you likely hang out with, that might not be easy for you to do.

        Now, if you can’t figure out how to do any of the above, you are still in luck. I just so happen to have written a program that decodes the GHCN data and computes global-average temperature results from both the non-homogenized and homogenized temperature data-sets.

        And no, it doesn’t cost $10,000. For most folks, it’s free. However, for you I’ll make a special offer — I’ll sell it to you for $9,000 (that’s a 10% discount from what you were expecting to pay). We can make arrangements for you to send me a check for the full $9,000. When the check clears, I’ll send you the download link.

      • Just because you aren’t smart enough to figure it out doesn’t mean people should spoon feed it to you.

      • Tommy Poo,,

        I just want to follow up on my previous reply by pointing out that your post above is the most mind-blowing, jaw-dropping exercise in stupidity that you have posted here to date. It is sheer idiocy.

        The data that GISS uses *is* in “a readable format” and *is* “organized for easy analysis by the public” as you asked. You just aren’t smart enough to comprehend the detailed and complete documentation that describes the data format and tells you how to decode it.

        FYI, I had no trouble figuring out (1) where NOAA keeps its non-homogenized data and (2) how to read and decode it.

        If you weren’t missing so many marbles, you’d be totally embarrassed by the idiotic nonsense that you’ve posted here.

        You (and millions of others like you) are the primary reason for America’s decline.

        The biggest threat to our national security isn’t ISIS. It isn’t al Qaeda. It isn’t “Sharia Law”. It isn’t Communism, Socialism, or even dirty hippies. It’s homegrown idiots — people like you.

        People like you, manipulated by master puppeteers such as former KGB intelligence officer Vladimir Putin, are the biggest threat to our Republic.

      • lesliegraham1 Says:

        Oh do shut up Bates. Your stunning ignorance is no longer amusing – it’s just boring.

  5. Ron Benenati Says:

    Would “final dark age” be more appropriate?

  6. dumboldguy Says:

    Before we get our knickers all knotted, Perhaps it’s time to get out our copies of 1984 and recall how government agencies are supposed to work in the world of the Big Orange Brother? “The Ministry of Peace concerns itself with war, the Ministry of Truth with lies, the Ministry of Love with torture, and the ministry of Plenty with starvation”.

    Why should we be surprised if agencies in the Trump administration that are supposed to base their work on scientific truths will now operate from a base of lies and science based not on observable fact but on politics? In fact, 1984 offers many useful thoughts about where Trump may take us. Just a few:

    “If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—forever.”

    “War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.”

    “Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.”

    “The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power, pure power.”

    “Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power”

    • redskylite Says:

      On a parallel line (though somewhat less intellectual) , I’ve been thinking that Trumps organization seems strangely familiar – to J. K. Rowling’s Ministry of Magic (before Hermione Granger becomes the Minister for Magic.)

    • Tom Bates Says:

      Obama is the political operative at work who has distorted the actual science to feather his political base. An example is the pipeline which passed all science and engineering requirements and than was shut down based on a bunch of tribal wackos for political reasons. What you folks never admit is the tribe in question was all for the pipeline when they saw dollars coming their way and than got all religious and worried about water when the pipeline company found a cheaper route.

  7. […] climate measurements could vanish under a hostile Trump administration, scientists … … Continue reading → Source: Climate […]

  8. neilrieck Says:

    Dark ages are real as this chart will show:

    The Rise and Fall of Empires

    Symptoms before each collapse: ignorance, superstition, religious fundamentalism, xenophobia, intolerance, rejection of science.

  9. Tom Bates Says:

    A new dark age? The dark age happened years ago when people like Hansen managed to claw their way to power and hired all their right thinking friends in the AGW movement as scientists and head bureaucrats. The lies, distortions and mumbo jumbo have been flying out of government ever since.

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