President Donald Trump has already done a lot of damage to the environment. His executive orders have gutted EPA funding and rolled back the clean water act, allowing mining companies to pollute America’s waterways.
However, behind the scenes, Trump’s administration have taken some extremely destructive actions to damage climate change research. In an opinion piece for The Guardian, climate scientist Victoria Herrmann has pleaded with Trump to stop deleting publicly available climate data.
This data was laboriously compiled over many decades by scientists and forms the base of many statistical analyses of the change in climate data. By destroying this information, Trump is ruining future science research and stalling any potential progress.
Scientists are now having trouble not only linking their articles to other similar literature but are also seeing some of their crucial citations removed from their work, making their findings invalid because they cannot be reviewed against available data.
The consequences of vanishing citations, however, pose a far more serious consequence than website updates. Each defunct page is an effort by the Trump administration to deliberately undermine our ability to make good policy decisions by limiting access to scientific evidence.
These back-to-back data deletions come at a time when the Arctic is warming twice as fast as the global average. Just this week, it was reported that the Arctic’s winter sea ice dropped to its lowest level in recorded history. The impacts of a warming, ice-free Arctic are already clear: a decline in habitat for polar bears and other Arctic animals; increases in coastal erosion that force Alaskans to abandon their homes; and the opening up of shipping routes with unpredictable conditions and hazardous icebergs.
In a remote region where data is already scarce, we need publicly available government guidance and records now more than ever before. It is hard enough for modern Arctic researchers to perform experiments and collect data to fill the gaps left by historic scientific expeditions. While working in one of the most physically demanding environments on the planet, we don’t have time to fill new data gaps created by political malice.
So please, President Trump, stop deleting my citations.
The deletion of such valuable data is criminal at best, at worst it is deliberately destructive. It would suit Trump’s agenda very well if climate scientists could no longer use statistics from years gone by to prove that the planet’s temperature is increasing.
Scientists will now have to go back and re-measure the changes in temperature that have occurred over the last few centuries, wasting precious time in the fight against global warming. Trump will no doubt use this time to pass even more draconian and destructive climate regulations, destroying Obama’s legacy in the process.
When humanity looks back at this point in history when the planet tipped over the edge and started spiraling down an irreversible path of environmental destruction, they will shake their heads in disgust that we destroyed the planet because a despotic reality TV star said environmental concerns are “fake news created by China.”