Trump Keeps Wrecking Science on the Way Out

October 28, 2020

New York Times:

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration has recently removed the chief scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the nation’s premier scientific agency, installed new political staff who have questioned accepted facts about climate change and imposed stricter controls on communications at the agency.

The moves threaten to stifle a major source of objective United States government information about climate change that underpins federal rules on greenhouse gas emissions and offer an indication of the direction the agency will take if President Trump wins re-election.

An early sign of the shift came last month, when Erik Noble, a former White House policy adviser who had just been appointed NOAA’s chief of staff, removed Craig McLean, the agency’s acting chief scientist.

Mr. McLean had sent some of the new political appointees a message that asked them to acknowledge the agency’s scientific integrity policy, which prohibits manipulating research or presenting ideologically driven findings.

The request prompted a sharp response from Dr. Noble. “Respectfully, by what authority are you sending this to me?” he wrote, according to a person who received a copy of the exchange after it was circulated within NOAA.

Mr. McLean answered that his role as acting chief scientist made him responsible for ensuring that the agency’s rules on scientific integrity were followed.

The following morning, Dr. Noble responded. “You no longer serve as the acting chief scientist for NOAA,” he informed Mr. McLean, adding that a new chief scientist had already been appointed. “Thank you for your service.”

It was not the first time NOAA had drawn the administration’s attention. Last year, the agency’s weather forecasters came under pressure for contradicting Mr. Trump’s false statements about the path of Hurricane Dorian.

But in an administration where even uttering the words “climate change” is dangerous, NOAA has, so far, remained remarkably independent in its ability to conduct research about and publicly discuss changes to the Earth’s climate. It also still maintains numerous public websites that declare, in direct opposition to Mr. Trump, that climate change is occurring, is overwhelmingly caused by humans, and presents a serious threat to the United States.

Replacing Mr. McLean, who remains at the agency, was Ryan Maue, a former researcher for the libertarian Cato Institute who has criticized climate scientists for what he has called unnecessarily dire predictions.

Dr. Maue, a research meteorologist, and Dr. Noble were joined at NOAA by David Legates, a professor at the University of Delaware’s geography department who has questioned human-caused global warming. Dr. Legates was appointed to the position of deputy assistant secretary, a role that did not previously exist.

Neil Jacobs, the NOAA administrator, was not involved in the hirings, according to two people familiar with the selection process.

The agency did not respond to requests for comment and a request to make the new officials available for an interview.

Third from left, newly installed “Deputy Assistant Secretary” at NOAA, David Legates. He is joined here by Brent Bozell of the right wing Media Research Center, Sarah Palin, and on far left, climate denier Marc Morano

5 Responses to “Trump Keeps Wrecking Science on the Way Out”

  1. Keith Omelvena Says:

    I hope a new administration can boot these cranks out, before they get too comfortable in their executive chairs?

  2. Kent Peacock sent me here (virtually, or rather, I came via his blog, which refers to this) and I’m glad I came. Fantastic site. Clear, and concise. I’ll bookmark it and refer to it in the upcoming publication I’m working on about philosophy as a practice in the ecological emergency. For as long as we are able, let’s keep our voices cool, and clear, and articulate. The truth is, we are powerful together and the more honest we are about what is going on, the more we can see that there are enough of us who can see what needs to be done – from rewilding to humane farming, from humane refugee policies to education programmes – to do this. Create communities, create resilience.

  3. […] parole", mi scrive un lettore, citando la notizia del "licenziamento" di Craig McLean da "facente funzioni" di direttore scientifico della NOAA, […]

  4. mboli Says:

    I *think*: Trump guys are planning to insert themselves into civil service positions shortly before the next administration takes office.

    The idea is that a recent Trump executive order reclassifies a bunch scientific, technical, and advisory positions. This will allow a bunch of non-civil service political appointees to transfer to civil service in January.

    I’d appreciate it if somebody who understands what is going on could explain it?

  5. BL Brown Says:

    Shooting the messenger is nothing new, and often popular. But, as always, it’s strictly for those determined to whistle in the dark instead of turning on the lights.

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