Fearing that decades of crucial climate measurements could be destroyed by a hostile Trump administration, scientists across the nation have begun a frantic operation to protect U.S. climate data, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.
According to the report, experts are copying irreplaceable public data reams of data onto independent servers in hopes of safeguarding it from potential political sabotage.
“If you can just get rid of the data, you’re in a stronger position to argue we should do nothing about climate change,” said Andrew Dessler, professor of atmospheric sciences at Texas A&M University. While Dessler and others like him insist the measures are only precautionary, these unprecedented actions further reflect the hostile relationship between science and the Trump administration.
“Doing this can only be a good thing. Hopefully, they leave everything in place. But if not, we’re planning for that,” 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.
“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,” Santos added.
The University of Toronto has also held what they labeled as a “guerrilla archiving” event to “focus on preserving information and data from the Environmental Protection Agency, which has programs and data at high risk of being removed from online public access or even deleted,” according to the organizers.
Lawyers from the Climate Science Legal Defense fund have begun to take one-on-one consultations with concerned researchers, and have made up a 16 page booklet titled “Handling Political Harassment and Legal Intimidation: A Pocket Guide for Scientists.”
Researchers with the University of Pennsylvania have also teamed with local climate activists to find non-government storage for critical data sets.
Trump has claimed that global warming was a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese, and has filled his cabinet with climate deniers who have made a career of aggressively opposing the overwhelming scientific consensus that global warming is caused by manmade activity.
His transition team has also asked the Department of Energy for a list of government employees who worked on climate change under Obama. Fearing a witch hunt, the Dept. of Energy has refused this request.
“All of these data sets are priceless, in the sense that if there is a gap, it greatly diminishes their usefulness,” said meteorologist and climate expert Eric Holthaus.