Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Donald Trump is deleting scientific citations

The Trump administration is trying to keep us from determining how the climate is being affected by global warming, to make it easier to claim we don't know enough about what is happening to take steps.

Some people are claiming since we don't know with complete precision the results of global warming, we shouldn't take steps to cut back on it. This makes as much sense as saying since we cannot predict exactly the damage done to a particular baby's IQ by exposure, we shouldn't try to avoid exposing babies to lead.


Victoria Herrmann is the managing director of the Arctic Institute and a National Geographic explorer

I am a Arctic researcher. Donald Trump is deleting my citations
Victoria Herrmann
Mar. 28, 2017


Over the past two months though, I’ve been navigating a different type of uncharted territory: the deleting of what little data we have by the Trump administration.

At first, the distress flare of lost data came as a surge of defunct links on 21 January. The US National Strategy for the Arctic, the Implementation Plan for the Strategy, and the report on our progress all gone within a matter of minutes. As I watched more and more links turned red, I frantically combed the internet for archived versions of our country’s most important polar policies.
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I had no idea then that this disappearing act had just begun.

Since January, the surge has transformed into a slow, incessant march of deleting datasets, webpages and policies about the Arctic. I now come to expect a weekly email request to replace invalid citations, hoping that someone had the foresight to download statistics about Arctic permafrost thaw or renewable energy in advance of the purge.


We’ve seen this type of data strangling before.

Just three years ago, Arctic researchers witnessed another world leader remove thousands of scientific documents from the public domain. In 2014, then Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper closed 11 department of fisheries and oceans regional libraries, including the only Arctic center. Hundreds of reports and studies containing well over a century of research were destroyed in that process – a historic loss from which we still have not recovered.

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.


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