For climate scientists, the writing is on the wall. President-elect Donald Trump has made it clear that science will not have a place at the table under his administration, so researchers have begun frantically copying data onto independent servers. This “guerrilla archiving” is a frenzied attempt to safeguard years of data from political interference by figures whose personal interests threaten future efforts to save the planet.
In the last week, Donald Trump has named a climate change denier as the head of the Environmental Protection Agency and tapped the CEO of ExxonMobil as Secretary of State. He also requested the names of government employees who have worked on climate change policy, in an assumed intimidation attempt. Luckily, the Department of Energy denied his request, noting that many were left “shocked” that he would even ask.
All of these actions have led to climate scientists feeling uneasy about the future of clean energy initiatives and the general understanding that yes, global warming is happening. The Washington Post says several efforts to preserve the data are underway, including a “guerrilla archiving” event in Toronto, meetings on how to safely download federal data, and creating an online site for the 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, a University of California at Davis environmental researcher who has started copying climate data onto a public server.
Even though there has been no explicit threat from Trump’s administration to manipulate or minimize the data, some are fearful that .gov climate databases may “disappear” under the new administration. After all, the president-elect himself told the public he thinks climate change is a “hoax.” Santos also said, “Doing this can only be a good thing. Hopefully they leave everything in place. But if not, we’re planning for that.”
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