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Climate Change Skeptic Ejected from NOAA Transition Team; What's the Agency's Fate Under Trump?

Feb 02, 2017 08:12 AM EST
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The scientific community reacted when a climate change skeptic was asked to be a part of President Trump's NOAA transition team. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), responsible for global weather observation, is said to hold the largest repository of climate change data.

Experts argue that the move to install a skeptic in the NOAA transition team directly threatens climate change data under NOAA. In a surprising twist, a spokesperson from the administration announced that the skeptic has been removed from the roster.

The agency plays a huge role in the global understanding of climate change to various climate-related industries such as ocean chemistry and fisheries. The forecasts produced by NOAA using its innovative satellites help warn the public about incoming weather disturbances that, in turn, save lives.

"The archive spans data that goes well over a hundred year," Scott Stephens, a NOAA meteorologist said in an interview with Quartz. "Especially for the US, there's data that goes back almost to Independence."

Kenneth Haapala, a known climate change skeptic, was named as part of President Trump's NOAA transition team. The team will help decide who will lead the agency under the new administration. This is a move that was not received positively by the scientific community calling Haapala as a "climate change denier."

Democrats lobbied to get Haapala removed from the transition team. Democrat Raúl M. Grijalva (Ariz.) and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) from the House Natural Resources Committee wrote a letter to President Trump asking for the removal of Haapala from the team.

"Climate science is an important component of this work, and to deny that fact will put American businesses at a disadvantage and make our country a more dangerous place to live," the democrats wrote. "Therefore we urge you to remove Mr. Haapala and any others who share his discredited views on climate science from the DOC landing team."

In a recent update, a representative from the Department of Commerce said that Haapala no longer has a role in the NOAA transition team.

"From inauguration on forward, he has not had a role," the official said.

But the transition is just the tip of the iceberg, despite not having Haapala in the transition team, scientists still fear for the fate of the agency under the new administration.

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