Official meetings about science and climate change aren’t normally where you expect to hear rousing speeches of defiance. And especially not when they come from a governor.
But then again, California Gov. Jerry Brown isn’t always known for following the federal party line. His reference to Donald Trump as a “fraud” at the Democratic National Convention is among the most caustic discredits the president-elect has received of late.
But Brown’s most recent declaration — “If Trump turns off the satellites, California will launch its own damn satellite” — hit a chord with the environmental lobby. This, of course, refers to Trump’s threats to defund NASA’s Earth Science division, which includes a network of satellites that track climate change. In his speech to scientists of the American Geophysical Union, Brown also vowed to ensure that California kept up with the environmental data despite federal policy.
And as to news that the new federal government would go after cities and entities that bucked federal policies (as Los Angeles and Chicago vowed to do when it came to Trump’s plans to expel 3 million immigrants), Brown had a message for Washington:
“We’ve got the scientists; we’ve got the lawyers; and we’re ready to fight.” He also had a message for Trump’s appointee for energy, Rick Perry: “Rick, I got some news for you: California is growing a hell of a lot faster than Texas. And we’ve got more sun than you have oil.”
Brown’s rousing speech may have seemed out of character at this particular podium, but it was further proof that the first 100 days of presidency may not be as easy as Mr. Trump is expecting.
There are already speculations that some Republicans in Congress may not go along with all of Trump’s agenda. A few congressional hearings, some lengthy closed-door meetings and states, like California, that are willing to battle issues out in court may impart the message that money isn’t the only issue that drives business. States — all 50 of them — have sovereignty as well.
But Brown’s speech also reflects a growing nervousness in the scientific community about the implications of an administration that clearly gains from ignoring climate change and limiting information.
Researchers from across the nation are now stepping up efforts to save vast amounts of environmental data they fear may disappear once Trump comes into power. They are reportedly working with the University of Toronto’s “guerilla archiving” project in an effort to squirrel away data that would help scientists track a global warming.
The Canadian-based university is also becoming the new hub for a satellite office of the Internet Archive. The organization archives about 30 million websites a week and maintains that its primary goal is to keep its “materials safe, private and perpetually accessible” so that “no-one will ever be able to change the past.”
Trump has previously suggested that some areas of the Internet should be blocked from public access to foil terrorists. The idea sent shockwaves through the scientific community and mobilized efforts to ensure that archiving projects that were originally based in the U.S. have alternative “homes” for secondary access.
It may be too early to tell the outcome of Brown’s call for activism or whether the Trump administration might actually become a threat to efforts to stop global warming. But it is reassuring to know that a change of administration in Washington won’t signal apathy when it comes to stopping the planet’s greatest environmental threat.
Image credit: Flickr/U.S. Army Corps of Engineers