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I am friends with quite a few politically conservative people even though I am a liberal. One of the most common claims I heard from these friends during the primaries and after Trump was elected was that “Trump will put good people around him.” Let us take a look at several key appointments:
Stephen K. Bannon is Assistant to the President and Chief Strategist and was recently elevated to a permanent seat on the Security Council by an Executive Order. The same Executive Order also demoted the director of National Intelligence and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff because these two security experts would only attend meetings when “issues pertaining to their responsibilities and expertise are to be discussed.” Bannon, on the other hand, will have a seat at ALL security meetings. Do some research on Bannon and you will quickly see that he is a neo-Nazi and is not a qualified security expert.
Betsy DeVos was just confirmed (VP Pence had to break the tie) as Secretary of Education. She has NO EXPERIENCE in the public education system that she now heads. Her Congressional testimony was embarrassing. So much so, that even a few Republicans voted against her! FYI: Her family donated more than $200 million to the Republican Party over the years but that could not possibly have mattered, right? /sarcasm
Scott Pruitt will be Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. Pruitt has sued the EPA 14 times and has been a fossil fuel and chemical company front man for years. He is a well-known climate change denier although now he has moved his goal post by stating that the climate is warming but scientists are unsure how much is due to humans. Hint: humans are responsible for ALL of the global warming since 1950 and will continue to be for a few centuries. Having Pruitt head the EPA is like hiring a fox to guard the hen house. I could find no evidence that he has ever been an advocate for the environment nor for public health.
Rick Perry will be Secretary of Department of Energy (DOE). In a 2011 Presidential debate he forgot the name of this department and also said he would abolish it if he were President! Numerous sources also reported that Perry was unaware that the DOE was responsible for our nuclear weapons program. Obviously a bad choice.
Ben Carson will be Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. He has no experience in government, period. He is a surgeon.
I am not asking for Trump to appoint progressives but I do expect the country to be led by competent, qualified people. My conservative friends should also hold Trump and the GOP to this same standard. There are qualified Republicans for each of these important positions. Choose some of them instead. Right now, it looks like it is Party before Country and Big Oil before People.
For Immediate Release
Amicus Groups File Brief to Protect Climate Scientists
New York, N.Y. — The Climate Science Legal Defense Fund (CSLDF) has asked the District of Columbia federal District Court to safeguard roughly 8,000 pages of privileged correspondence between nine climate scientists.
Under the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), Judicial Watch, a conservative group, has sued for emails of scientists employed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), who authored a June 2015 study published in Science.
The study, which has since been replicated by other researchers, found that global temperatures are increasing faster than previously thought. The paper addresses and refutes prior claims about a so-called slowdown in global warming since the late 1990s.
Judicial Watch’s lawsuit is not the first attempt to obtain these researchers’ emails. In October 2015, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), who disputes the scientific consensus on climate change, tried to use congressional subpoena powers to obtain the NOAA emails. At that time, NOAA released hundreds of pages of documents to Rep. Smith, but steadfastly refused to produce the scientists’ email correspondence.
CSLDF filed the new brief on Friday, January 27 in partnership with the American Meteorological Society (AMS) and the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). The brief urges the court to protect scientific correspondence and preliminary drafts of publications from indiscriminate disclosure.
“Now more than ever, it is critical that we defend climate scientists and their research,” Lauren Kurtz, Executive Director of CSLDF, said. “Forcing the disclosure of scientists’ private emails is invasive, unnecessary, and hugely detrimental to the scientific method.”
Organizations across the political spectrum increasingly use public records laws to attack research findings and fields of study they dislike. As in this case, the records requests typically do not seek the data, methodology, or funding sources of completed studies. The requests instead seek privileged prepublication materials, such as preliminary drafts, private critiques from other scientists, and researchers’ personal documents and correspondence.
These types of records are generally protected from disclosure by the deliberative process privilege — as courts have repeatedly recognized in cases similar to this one. Government scientists’ correspondence, preliminary drafts, and peer review materials are quintessential deliberative, pre-decisional records safeguarded by Exemption 5 of the FOIA, 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(5).
“Providing free and open access to all data and methodologies used to conduct scientific research is central to science and to scientific advancement,” Keith Seitter, Executive Director of AMS, said. “However, internal communications leading up to publication in the peer-reviewed literature should remain confidential so scientists can feel free to debate and resolve issues candidly without fear of their remarks being taken out of context.”
The brief explains that releasing privileged prepublication materials — generally treated as confidential within the scientific community — could significantly damage government scientists’ ability and willingness to conduct research into vitally important but politically charged subjects like climate change.
“Scientists, whether in government or academia, need to freely exchange and discuss ideas without constantly looking over their shoulders or worrying about legal action,” said Andrew Rosenberg, Director of the Center for Science and Democracy at the UCS.
About CSLDF: The Climate Science Legal Defense Fund was founded in 2011 in response to the increasing incidence of legal attacks against climate scientists. Its mission is to protect the scientific endeavor in general — and climate science and climate scientists in particular — from assaults being launched through the legal system, including intrusive public records requests.
About AMS: American Meteorological Society was founded in 1919 and is dedicated to advancing the atmospheric and related sciences for the benefit of society. AMS is committed to strengthening scientific work across the public, private, and academic sectors, and believes that collaboration and information sharing are critical to ensuring that society benefits from the best, most current scientific knowledge and understanding available.
About UCS: Union of Concerned Scientists was founded in 1969 and combines independent scientific research and citizen action to develop innovative and practical solutions to pressing environmental and security problems. UCS believes that a crucial ingredient in achieving these goals is maintaining research institutions within the federal government that foster an environment of independent and rigorous scientific inquiry free from political interference.
Rebecca Fowler, CSLDF
Rachel Thomas-Medwid, AMS
Seth Michaels, UCS
On September 20, 2016, 375 members of the National Academy of Sciences, including 30 Nobel laureates, published an open letter to draw attention to the serious risks of climate change. The letter warns that the consequences of opting out of the Paris agreement would be severe and long-lasting for our planet’s climate and for the international credibility of the United States.
The problem of human-caused climate change is real, serious, and immediate, and that this problem poses significant risks: to our ability to thrive and build a better future, to national security, to human health and food production, and to the interconnected web of living systems.
The letter also calls out Trump:
The political system also has tipping points. Thus it is of great concern that the Republican nominee for President has advocated U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Accord. A “Parexit” would send a clear signal to the rest of the world: “The United States does not care about the global problem of human-caused climate change. You are on your own.” Such a decision would make it far more difficult to develop effective global strategies for mitigating and adapting to climate change. The consequences of opting out of the global community would be severe and long-lasting – for our planet’s climate and for the international credibility of the United States.
It is important that the public understands that it is not just our scientific experts who accept human-caused climate change and the associated risks. Military experts, health officials, and major insurance companies also agree. One would certainly not consider these groups as liberal. They are data-driven groups and the data is overwhelming.
Most people who claim that the world is not warming or that it is not due to humans or that it will not be bad are subconsciously worried about the proposed solutions (I write about this here) so they advocate doing nothing. Delay works against their own self-interest because delay means it is more likely things will get bad enough that Big Brother will have to step in and impose increased taxes and regulations. If we act sooner than later then WE make the choices and the free market can provide the solutions.
So consider the importance of climate change (it affects EVERYTHING) when you decide whom to vote for. Trump is advocating digging up more and more coal, oil, and gas which endangers our national security, economy, and health. Why would you vote for a more dangerous world? I understand the reluctance of my Republican friends to vote for Clinton, but a vote for Trump is a vote against the future of humanity. Maybe just stay home November 8th…..
“After years of attacks, I am thrilled that there is a world class litigator whose full time job is to stand up for scientists.” –Dr. Michael Mann, Distinguished Professor of Meteorology at Penn State
The Climate Science Legal Defense Fund is excited to announce the hiring of Lauren Kurtz as its first Executive Director. Lauren Kurtz is joining CSLDF from Dechert LLP, a top tier law firm where she was a litigator. There she served as project manager on a high-profile $3 billion litigation initiative and she represented commercial and individual clients on cases involving FOIA requests and litigation over FOIA requests, discovery disputes, and defamation claims. Prior to working at Dechert, she held legal and policy positions at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. She has a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania Law School and a master’s in Environmental Policy from the University of Pennsylvania.
Ms. Kurtz was hired by the board of directors after a widely publicized summer fundraising campaign to grow CSLDF from an all-volunteer organization to one with a full time professional staff. CSLDF was started to help scientists cope with the barrage of politically motivated attacks. Early successes included a victory for Dr. Michael Mann at the Virginia Supreme Court, legal clinics at major scientific conferences and a legal education campaign.
Ms. Kurtz will be based in NYC working in an office generously provided by the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at the Columbia Law School.
For Press Inquiries:
This Lawyer’s New Job Is Defending Climate Scientists From Political Attacks by Emily Atkin at Think Progress
The Weekend Wonk: Lauren Kurtz of the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund, and Why Good Scientists Sometimes Need a Good Lawyer by Peter Sinclair of Climate Denial Crock of the Week
The Wall Street Journal’s Saturday Essay by Steven E. Koonin, titled Climate Science is Not Settled follows WSJ’s standard playbook. Have a so-called expert either deny the science or advocate for delay on action to address the issue.
I spoke to my liberal arts classes about this essay and focused on four simple points:
Saturday night I sent the Tweet you see below because, once again, there are people who are criticizing Dr. Michael Mann’s “hockey stick” research that shows today’s climate is warmer than at any time in the past 2000 years. The latest attempt to discredit Mann’s work comes from Dr. Judith Curry’s post titled Fraudulent(?) hockey stick where she writes “accusations of data cherry picking and flawed statistical analyses and interpretations seem to be justified. ” Dr. Curry and others should know that the hockey stick curve shows up in other research even when using different types of data and different types of data analyses. (I blogged about this in 2010 with Shooting the Messenger with Blanks.)
Enter Paul Clark (@cbfool). His three main points were:
- Hockey sticks are based on tree rings and tree rings are unreliable
- Ice core data from Greenland shows the past was much warmer than today
- Greenland in the 1200s was more conducive to agriculture than today so it must have been warmer than today
Back in 2011, the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund (CSLDF) came together in response to the mounting legal bills of Dr. Michael Mann in protecting his email correspondence. The litigation has been ongoing for the last several years and on Thursday April 17, 2014, the Virginia Supreme Court ruled in Dr. Mann’s favor. His emails and the emails that colleagues from around the world included him on will be protected from groups whose only purpose is to distract from legitimate scientific discussions. For more on the ruling see this Washington Post article.
A second reason to celebrate is that through CSLDF’s winter fundraiser, CSLDF has raised enough money to hire its first executive director. CSLDF is proud of the work done by volunteers in their kitchens. CSLDF is prouder that the efforts of its supporters, volunteers and donors have reached a point where there will be a full time position created whose sole charge is to defend scientists. CSLDF is still working on the next steps so please check back for additional updates in the coming weeks.
Joshua Wolfe and I send our deepest thanks to everyone that made both of these reasons to celebrate possible.