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Documenting Trump Administration Silencing of Climate Science

September 18th, 2017 · 2 Comments

Donald Trump’s and his GOP acolytes anti-science attitudes created a flurry of activity in the interregnum prior to their White House occupation to capture key U.S. government science (especially climate science) information on servers accessible to the world’s researchers (and, well, everyone with internet access) that are outside U.S. government control (good example/discussion). In the past nine months, from time to time, reporting has captured why that made sense (such as this CNN reporting on EPA’s “removal of climate change information from its website“).  The Guardian provided an excellent overview of worst of the first 100 days,

In the more than 100 days since, the administration has largely opted for a chisel and scalpel approach to refashioning its online content, but the end result is much the same – mentions of climate change have been excised, buried or stripped of any importance.

Federal government websites are being combed through to apply new verbiage. The state department’s office of global change, for example, has removed links to the Obama administration’s 2013 climate action report and mention of the latest UN meeting on climate change. Text relating to climate change and greenhouse gases has also been purged.

While political pundits, often too interested in horse race than substance, discuss the failure of major legislation to go through and foolishly suggest that Trump is somehow magically a ‘post partisan’ President after making (yet to be executed) deals with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, there is a horrific grinding reality across the US government: the science denial forces are hard at work to make it harder for quality scientific work to be done and to adopt a ‘see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil’ path toward climate change: if we don’t study it and don’t have any information out there about it, obviously the problem doesn’t exist and we can say whatever we want about it.

The above-mentioned efforts to guard records of what existed on U.S. government websites as Trump put his hand down on the Bible (to lie) in takingthe Oath of Office provides tools to understand just how Team Trump is devastating the U.S. government’s climate change material.

Dr. Peter Gleick took, over this week, a statistical look at pre-Trump and September 2017 Trumpian-era climate change information on the USGS web site.  This is sobering material.

  • In December 2016, 5,932 climate science items linked there (9 were just pictures). Today there are 416 and 292 are just pictures.
  • In December 2016, 320 of those items were links to climate data. Today, 0 links to data. 5,271 were web links. Now, 0 web links.
  • In December 2016, the USGS “Effects of Climate Change” webpage had 2,825 items. Today … zero.


When it comes to Team Trump & climate science, in some ways, this response to Gleick is an excellent summary:

The challenge of that image, however, is a form of passivity: that there is simply ‘ignoring’ going on when the reality of Team Trump’s dystopia are active efforts to undermine climate science, the public’s understanding of climate science, and humanity’s potential to take action effectively to reduce the risks of climate catastrophe.

A note of appreciation for Peter Gleick for worsening my Monday by this effort to quantify one corner of the Trump Administration’s war on science and knowledge.

UPDATE: Peter has added to the window of silencing of climate science.


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Tags: climate change · science denial · Trump · Trump Administration

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