On Wednesday, California Governor Jerry Brown shared some choice words on his state’s commitment to the study of climate change, saying the state would “launch its own damn satellite” if President-elect Donald Trump’s administration shuts down current technology. The epic speech warns all future presidents not to “mess with” California’s Earth science programs. Brown’s declaration comes in the wake of growing uncertainty about the future of climate change research under an anti-environment administration.
Brown spoke Wednesday to a group of geophysicists in San Francisco. “We will persevere,” he told the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union, where scientists in white lab coats publicly protested Trump’s appointments. “We’ve got the scientists, we’ve got the lawyers and we’re ready to fight. If Trump turns off the satellites, California will launch its own damn satellite.” Later in his speech, Brown argued that “California is the future,” regardless of decisions made in Washington. He also criticized Trump’s pick to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the climate-denying former Texas governor Rick Perry, saying, “California is growing a hell of a lot faster than Texas. And we’ve got more sun than you have oil.”
The Trump administration’s official position on climate change research may be shifting, but not drastically, and Brown’s fighting words are certain to ruffle feathers on Team Trump. Last month, Trump admitted that humans may have “some connectivity” to climate change, which marked a huge departure from his long-held opinion that it was all a hoax by the Chinese, and he has also softened on his earlier promises to withdraw from the Paris climate accord. However, the president-elect is far from becoming a tree lover. One of Trump’s senior advisors promised he will axe NASA’s Earth Science division, which is responsible for producing some of the most valuable climate change data in the world. Last week, Trump’s transition team attempted to compile a list of Energy Department employees who work on climate change policy—an unprecedented ask which the department roundly refused.
Each new announcement from the Trump administration raises more questions about how severe the attack on climate change research will be in the coming four years. However, it’s nice to know that some state-level leaders are not willing to go down without a fight. As long as the sun is shining in California and “Governor Moonbeam” is at the helm, perhaps there is still some hope after all.