Scientists are already beginning to fight back

The climate scientists are already standing up against Trump.

The American Geophysical Union’s (AGU) annual week-long conference of 26,000 earth and planetary scientists from around the world took place in San Francisco this past week. This meeting is one of the largest yearly gatherings of scientists, and the first major gathering of climate scientists since Trump’s election.

Trump’s climate change denial and attacks on science were big topics of conversation throughout the conference. At the official AGU table, attorneys were handing out guides to “handling political harassment and legal intimidation” for scientists studying things like climate science. They have already been in the crosshairs of attack by anti-science Republicans in Congress—and they would be qualitatively more intensely targeted with a Trump regime. Some scientists have announced projects to save crucial climate data on non-government servers. They are anticipating outright destruction of data and accumulated scientific knowledge about climate change by a Trump administration. The Trump forces have already threatened to de-fund the satellite system run by the U.S. that gathers climate and other data for the entire world. This knowledge belongs to humanity—it is not for some Nazis in the U.S. to destroy to enforce blindness, ignorance and their savage rule.

Inside the conference, Sally Jewell, the outgoing Secretary of the Interior, made some shameful remarks that tried to normalize the threat Trump represents. According to the UK Guardian: “The Trump administration could not quickly gut federal research. Science would be ‘foundational’ to government, she told attendees: ‘We have a president-elect that likes to win, and we can’t win without science.’”

On the first day of the AGU conference, over 400 people, including prominent climate scientists, environmental activists, indigenous leaders, students, and others held a protest against attacks on science that are threatened with the election of Trump and further foreshadowed by his cabinet choices. The protest rally began with a procession of lab-coated scientists mounting a stage, with signs like “Science is Real” and “NO DAPL” (referring to the fight to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline, which has been a hard-fought struggle for both indigenous rights and the environment). Other signs ridiculed Trump and his minions, like “Gravity Is a Hoax” and “Ice doesn’t have an agenda, it just melts.”

It is rare for scientists to organize public political protests, and this is a sign of how disturbed people are. The press release for the rally spoke of how scientists are starting to act “In the face of attempts to intimidate academics and undermine freedom of inquiry” and how this rally is “a notable exception” to the ways scientists normally express their views.

Naomi Oreskes, a prominent earth and planetary science professor at Harvard University, said, “We don’t want to be here. We want to be doing the work we were trained and educated to do, which is science. So don’t get upset, don’t get depressed. Get organized.”

Peter Frumhoff, a representative of the Union of Concerned Scientists, one of the organizers of the rally, said, “Science and evidence is at risk. It is on us to ensure it is protected.”

If you’re attending a scientific meeting, or better yet, if you’re organizing a scientific meeting, try to get a consensus letter or protest event on the agenda, and get your opposition to the Republican politicization of science on the record.


  1. raven says

    There is one huge flaw in the Trumpist’s attack on science and climate research in particular.
    Even if they sent all US climate scientists to those FEMA concentration camps, it wouldn’t stop climate research.

    Because the USA is not the world!!! A lot of climate research is done by people outside the USA.

    It also wouldn’t stop global warming and sea level rise. Because reality doesn’t care what anyone thinks.

  2. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says


    If there ever was a good reason for WikiLeaks, this is it.*

    *Note that I’m not one who ever really questioned the need for WikiLeaks or its general operations, despite harboring extreme doubts about its founder.

  3. says

    Denying climate change requires denying the methodology behind it. I would love to see the medical profession stand up, join in and say to these politicians:

    “Sorry, we can’t offer you medical care. You reject the science that makes medical care possible, the same science that proves climate change. Rejecting one without rejecting the other is hypocrisy. Try a faith healer.”

    No, I’m not cruel and don’t want people to die. I just want to give them a wake up call to reality.

  4. johnson catman says

    Giliell @2:
    It is indeed a sad day when people feel the need to act in order to protect knowledge from being “disappeared” by political forces that find it inconvenient to their narrative.

    But in the end, as Raven @1 said, reality doesn’t care what anyone thinks. Mother Nature is a force that cannot be stopped by ignorance or denial.

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