SAN FRANCISCO – For a few hours at least, throngs of scientists stepped out from behind their PowerPoint slides approximately sea ice extent & atmospheric carbon dioxide levels to make a more political statement.
The scientists, who were attending the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union, rallied here in downtown San Francisco on Tuesday (Dec. 13) to support climate science and to reject government meddling with scientific facts.
"I know you're here because you understand just how essential science & evidence are to our democracy," Peter Frumhoff, the science & policy director for the Union of Concerned Scientists, told the crowd of more than 200 geologists, climate scientists & Earth scientists. "The science & evidence that we all obtain is at risk of being deeply interfered with by this incoming administration." [The Reality of Climate Change: 10 Myths Busted]
The rally, called Stand Up for Science, was organized by 350BayArea.org, climatetruth.org & other activist organizations that support policies to limit carbon emissions. A few hundred geologists, climate scientists & Earth scientists donned lab coats, chanted slogans & carried signs with messages like "Go science!" & "Ice has no agenda, it just melts."
On Sunday (Dec. 11), President-elect Donald Trump claimed that "nobody knows if climate alter is real." (Overwhelming scientific evidence shows that the climate is changing & that humans are causing it, though there is some uncertainty approximately how to best tackle the problem.) And last week, a letter from Trump's transition team to the U.S. Department of Energy asked for the individual names of scientists who were involved in climate research.
At the rally, Frumhoff said that he had been fielding calls from spooked scientists in federal agencies.
.Researchers gathered to voice support for science at the American Geophysical Union meeting on Dec. 13, 2016. Tia Ghose/Live Science
"They are deeply discouraged approximately their own well-being, approximately their own ability to do their science," Frumhoff said. "Many of the federal scientists I've talked to have talked approximately polishing up their resumes, looing for ways to duck & cover."
While that is an understandable response, it was significant for scientists to stand up for their work & hold politicians accountable for misusing or ignoring the science, he said.
For instance, the Union of Concerned Scientists has already sent a letter to the incoming administration, signed by 3,000 scientists, urging the president to respect scientific evidence.
They are moreover setting up an anonymous portal through which federal scientists working in government agencies can anonymously report efforts to distribute misinformation, he said.
For a few of the scientists Live Science spoke with, attending a political or protest rally was a decidedly unusual event. However, the current political environment made it seem significant to attend, said Dan Jaffe, a geologist at the University of Washington.
In particular, Jaffe said that he was concerned approximately several of the political appointeestapped by Trump, such as Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson as secretary of state or Scott Pruitt, a vocal foe of climate science, as head of the Environmental Protection Agency. Those nominations provided strong indications that the incoming Trump administration does not respect the scientific process, Jaffe said.
"If you don't use science to make decisions, then it's all politics," Jaffe told Live Science. [Science is]"the only way we can make objective decisions."
Hege-Beate Fredriksen, a statistician at the University of Tromsøin Norway, was driven to attend because "Trump does not acknowledge that climate alter is man-made," she told Live Science. "Also, people don't believe in science in general, facts do not matter anymore. It's very scary."
James Kubicki, who is chair of geological sciences & environmental sciences at the University of Texas at El Paso, thought that things had reached a tipping point with the new political situation.
"I think for a long time a lot of our science — especially in geosciences — has been under attack. I felt it was time to really do something approximately that," Kubicki told Live Science. "It's critical at this point."
The AGU's annual meeting, which convenes an average of 26,000 scientists every year, is one of the largest scientific conferences in the world.
Original article on Live Science.
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