Thousands of Earth scientists are in San Francisco this week to talk about climate change, volcanoes and earthquakes.
And another tectonic topic: President-elect Donald Trump.
As president, Trump will oversee a huge government scientific enterprise. Agencies like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA have satellites collecting valuable data on the climate. Other agencies employ scientists studying that data, or modelling future climate shifts.
Scientists attending the American Geophysical Union’s Fall meeting are worried Trump could have a profound effect on the effort to understand climate, and not in what they consider a good way. Peter de Menocal, dean of science at Columbia University says he’s heard colleagues express “feelings of rage, anger, confusion, fear — they’re all negative emotions.”
“People are worried about — in extreme cases — their jobs,” adds Rob Jackson, an environmental scientist at Stanford University. But, he says: “They’re more worried about not being able to do their job the best way that is needed.”
Trump has sent contradictory signals about how he regards climate science. He tweeted that climate change is a hoax. Many of his advisers and cabinet picks, including his pick for administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, doubt that climate change is a serious problem.