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On Giving Tuesday, Support Increasingly Embattled Climate Scientists

By: Jeff Masters 10:33 PM GMT on November 29, 2016

Climate science and climate scientists in the United States are likely to be under unprecedented assault by powerful politicians in the coming four years. Climate-change-denying politicians are already in high positions in Congress, and soon we will have a president who has publicly denied climate change science. On Giving Tuesday, November 29, I urge you to make a tax-deductible donation to the nonprofit Climate Science Legal Defense Fund (CSLDF) to help protect the crucial research of climate scientists from political interference.

Multiple climate scientists are currently involved in litigation in state and federal courts across the United States. Most noteworthy have been the cases brought by Lamar Smith (R-Texas), head of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, and a major recipient of campaign contributions from the fossil fuel industry. According to Wikipedia, Smith’s House Science committee issued more subpoenas in his first three years than the committee had for its entire 54-year history; many of these subpoenas demanded the records and communications of scientists who published papers that Smith disapproved of. In one of his 2016 subpoenas, Smith called on court decisions defending the work of the House Un-American Activities Committee in the 1950s as valid legal precedent for his investigation—explicitly equating his investigation with the dark McCarthy era in our history when the government trampled on civil liberties.

Figure 1. Dr. Michael Mann addresses an audience at a fund raiser on behalf of the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund (CSLDF) in 2014. Dr. Mann will be featured at a CSLDF legal symposium on open records laws on Wednesday morning, December 14, from 8am - 1pm at the San Francisco Marriott Marquis as part of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) conference. For those not already attending AGU, tickets are available for $25 here.

Trump has little knowledge of climate science, and low regard for climate scientists
President-elect Trump’s remarks on climate change last week to the New York Times demonstrate that the president-elect has little knowledge of climate science, and low regard for climate scientists. Some examples from the interview:

Trump on climate change: “You know the hottest day ever was in 1890-something, 98. You know, you can make lots of cases for different views."

My commentary: Climate change is a matter of scientific fact. Based on the evidence, more than 97% of climate scientists have concluded that human-caused climate change is happening. The hottest day on Earth since records began probably came in 2016--Earth's third consecutive warmest year on record. The year 1898 was one of the coldest years in global recorded history, ranking as the 18th coldest year since 1880. The hottest day globally is a statistic that is not computed by climate scientists, and is largely irrelevant to the discussion of climate, which is measured on timescales of many years.

Trump on wind turbines: "They’re made out of massive amounts of steel, which goes into the atmosphere, whether it’s in our country or not, it goes into the atmosphere."

My commentary: Steel in the atmosphere? That's completely insignificant.

Trump on climate scientists: “They also have those horrible emails that were sent between the scientists…. Terrible. Where they got caught, you know, so you see that and you say, what’s this all about. I absolutely have an open mind.”

My commentary: seven independent inquiries concluded that the hacked climate scientists’ emails that were made public in 2009 showed that the researchers' work was scientifically correct. And as I wrote in our post-election post, Trump’s Proposals: Dangerous to our Climate’s Future, the president-elect has surrounded himself with top officials who are climate change deniers, and these are the people who will be influencing his "open mind." In comments made to the media on Sunday, Trump’s new White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus, confirmed that climate change denial will be the official policy of Trump’s administration.

Enter the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund
The nonprofit Climate Science Legal Defense Fund (CSLDF) was created five years ago to help climate scientists fight back against politically-motivated harassment. CSLDF works to help raise funds for scientists’ legal defenses, serves as a resource in finding pro bono legal representation, and provides support during difficult litigation proceedings as well as when legal action is threatened. I'm proud to say that I'm a founding board member of the charity, which has helped nearly a hundred researchers across the country since 2011. Check out their website at climatesciencedefensefund.org, and please consider making a tax-deductible donation to this worthy cause.

CSLDF at the AGU Meeting in San Francisco, December 12 - 16
The Climate Science Legal Defense Fund will have a booth (booth number 1523) in the exhibit hall in this December's American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco, where climate scientists can set up a free one-on-one session with a lawyer; these free sessions can also be set up with an email to lawyer@climatesciencedefensefund.org. CSLDF is also hosting a legal symposium on open records laws on Wednesday morning, December 14, from 8am - 1pm at the San Francisco Marriott Marquis, Salon 2. For those not already attending AGU, tickets are available for $25 here.

See my 2009 blog post, The Manufactured Doubt industry and the hacked email controversy.

My fellow CSLDF board member, Naomi Oreskes, has co-authored the excellent book, Merchants of Doubt, which has also been made into a fascinating documentary (available on Netflix.)

Figure 3. Women walking down the street in Jeremie, southwest Haiti, after the city was devastated by Hurricane Matthew. Foto: Logan Abassi UN/MINUSTAH.

Portlight and Lambi Fund of Haiti disaster relief charities need your help
If your giving instincts favor disaster relief, consider a donation to the Portlight.org disaster relief charity, founded and staffed by members of the wunderground community. Portlight is responding to needs of the disabled in the wake of the $10 billion in damage Hurricane Matthew brought to the Southeast United States, and is also continuing their work in Louisiana, which suffered an even more devastating flooding disaster in August, with damages estimated at $10 - $15 billion. You can check out their progress on the Portlight Blog or donate to Portlight's disaster relief fund at the portlight.org website.

For over ten years, I’ve been a big booster of and donor to the Lambi Fund of Haiti, which is very active in disaster relief and disaster prevention, including promotion of reforestation efforts, use of alternative fuels, and infrastructure improvements at a grass-roots level to help avert future flood disasters. Category 4 Hurricane Matthew devastated Haiti on October 4, killing 546, making it the Atlantic’s deadliest hurricane in 11 years. Damage in Haiti was estimated at $1.9 billion—a staggering 21% of the impoverished nation’s GDP, and by far Haiti’s costliest hurricane on record. Here’s what the Lambi Fund is currently doing for their Hurricane Matthew response:
• Protecting food security by replanting the fields with beans, corn and vegetables so that a consumable harvest occurs in three months.
• Ensuring that women who lost their assets receive funding through micro-credit to reignite their small businesses.

You can make your donation online at http://www.lambifund.org or send your funding support to:

Lambi Fund of Haiti
1050 Connecticut Avenue, Suite 500
Washington DC 20036

Note: My views are my own and not necessarily representative of The Weather Company or IBM. I am a founding board member of the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund.

Jeff Masters

Climate Change Politics

The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.