President-elect Donald Trump has asked the Department of Energy to provide him with a list of their employees who have attended conferences dealing with the subject of climate change. In addition, he has asked the DOE to provide lists of all websites their employees maintain or contribute to. These requests are clearly aimed at climate scientists since most of the national DOE labs conduct research related to climate change, including climate modeling, data analysis and data storage. Thus, Trump appears to be getting ready to “cleanse” the DOE of scientists who either believe that man-caused global warming is real or, at the very least, consider the topic to be worthy of study.
This bizarre behavior of President-elect Trump is reminiscent of Senator Joseph McCarthy’s “commie witch hunts” of the 1950’s in which he claimed to be exposing and routing out communists from all aspects of American life in and out of government with an emphasis on the State Department and the US Army. His countless interrogations of individuals before his Senate committees invariably included the question “Sir, are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the communist party?” Although Senator McCarthy’s smear campaign eventually led to his downfall and censure by a Senate vote of 76 to 22 in December 1954, his reckless and unfounded claims did a lot of damage to both individuals and American institutions at that time.
The fact that President-elect Trump is now using McCarthyite techniques to “rout out” climate change scientists would be entirely laughable if it were not so sad. Is our future President so ignorant of US history and culture that we would not see the absolute folly and childishness of his attempt to discredit American scientists? Is he also so ignorant of world history that he does not know the result of Hitler’s campaign in the 1930’s to rid German universities of their Jewish professors? His success in that endeavor left Germany with a second-rate set of scientists in all areas while their best and brightest migrated to England and the USA. Even though the first discovery of nuclear fission was made Germany in 1938, the rapid application of that knowledge leading to nuclear reactors and weapons occurred only in the USA. Having routed out all proponents of “Jewish science”, the German program for making a nuclear bomb never got to first base.
So the question is: is our next President so ignorant of both science and 20th Century history that he would attempt to rid or marginalize the influence of American scientists in any area and especially in the all important area of climate change? The very clear answer to that question appears to be “yes”, he is trying to do just that and, yes, he is clearly that ignorant and foolish. Furthermore, he seems to be a man who thinks that all ultimate truth is what he wishes it to be. Given his questionable attitude towards women, in general, he probably thinks that he can even grab Mother Nature by the whatever and get Her to do his bidding. Apparently, he does not know yet that She is one tough Mother and does things only one way, Her way. Since the rest of us will suffer the same fate as our new Fuhrer, however, perhaps we should do our very best to reign this intellectual moron before his administration reaches the bunker stage. In this endeavor, it would be most helpful if the majority party in both the Senate and House also did not believe that the American community of climate scientists was fatally “infected” with a Chinese virus, as Mr. Trump claims.
One wonders if we are about to enter a low point in American history in which our main contribution to the rest of the world will be the dark humor as is now reported weekly on Saturday Night Live.