Under Fire, Climate Scientists Unite With Lawyers to Fight Back

By John Schwartz

Lawyers and scientists do not always get along, but some are now finding common cause in an effort to defend the integrity of science — especially climate science — in government and academia.

Climate scientists are feeling the heat as Republicans cement control of the executive branch and Congress. The Trump administration has already rolled back about two dozen environmental laws and regulations, dismissed members of an important science panel and taken down web pages giving information on climate change. Republicans in Congress have also brought pressure to bear on climate scientists.

Now scientists and lawyers are fighting back, with well-attended public demonstrations and legal action. The push included a recent conference that brought law professors from across the United States to New York for training to protect scientists who come under scrutiny.

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5 COMMENTS

  1. There seems to be political action too!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-39954423

    The world’s poorest nations say the Paris climate agreement is their “lifeline” and must be strengthened.

    The Climate Vulnerable Forum, (CVF) representing 48 countries, said the deal was crucial to their survival.

    In a swipe at President Trump’s oft-used phrase, they said that “no country would be great again” without swift action.

    Thousands of delegates are meeting here in Bonn to develop the rule book for the Paris deal.

    Around one billion people live in countries that are part of the CVF.

    The group firmly supports the idea, enshrined in the Paris agreement, that countries would do all in their power to keep temperatures from increasing more than 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.

    “Keeping to 1.5 degrees is quite simply a matter of survival,” said Debasu Bayleyegn Eyasu from Ethiopia, which holds the presidency of the CVF.

    “For all of us, the Paris agreement is our lifeline.”

    Other speakers highlighted the fact that there is widespread dissatisfaction with the current US position on climate change.

    President Trump is expected to decide on future US participation in the Paris accord after the G7 summit in Italy next week.

    Picking up on Mr Trump’s “make America great again,” election battle-cry, Emmanuel Guzman from the Philippines said: “Without increased climate action, no country will be great again.”

    “The measure of greatness is how you are able to increase and enhance your climate action.”

  2. It is usually better to research and think-through proposals BEFORE making public campaign pronouncements, if leaders do not wish to appear as ignorant idiots!

    Those who ARE ignorant idiots will of course, learn nothing and abuse their critics!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-39961992

    Fiji’s Prime Minister has issued a coded warning to Donald Trump about the dangers of climate change.

    The US leader is due to decide on future US participation in the Paris climate agreement after next week’s G7 meeting in Italy.

    But Frank Bainimarama told delegates here that whether you lived in Miami or New York, you wouldn’t be able to escape the rising seas.

    Fiji will lead the next key UN climate talks later this year.

    This normally low-profile May meeting of UN delegates has been overshadowed to an extent by the ongoing question of future US involvement in the Paris accord.

    While not addressing Mr Trump or the US directly, Mr Bainimarama told the negotiators that he would bring his own experience as a Pacific islander to his role as head of the Conference of Parties.

    “We who are most vulnerable must be heard, whether we come from the Pacific or other Small Island Developing States, other low-lying nations and states or threatened cities in the developed world like Miami, New York, Venice or Rotterdam,” he told negotiators.

    “But together we must speak out for the whole world – every global citizen – because no-one, no matter who they are or where they live, will ultimately escape the impact of climate change.”

    Other members of the Fijian team hoped that the US would be able to stay in the climate “family”, but that progress would be made with or without the Americans.

  3. Meanwhile, as Trump sabotages American developments, other countries take over chunks of the commercial Earth Science information market!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-40088006

    A British company has announced its intention to launch a big constellation of Earth observation satellites.

    A prototype spacecraft will go up later this year for testing, with the expectation that a further five platforms will follow in 2019.

    Earth-i, based in Guildford, says its train of satellites will deliver rapid, high-resolution imagery of the planet in still and video formats.

    At best resolution, these products will see features just under a metre across.

    The video is promised in full colour. It could be used to track moving objects such as cars and other vehicles; or, if the scene is held fixed on a specific point, it would enable 3D models of the ground to be constructed.

    Earth-i is already well established in the analytics business, processing and selling space pictures to a strong customer base. But this move, announced on the opening day of the biennial UK space conference in Manchester, would see the company operate its own satellites as well.

    These platforms are the fruit of an R&D project coming out of Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL), also in Guildford.

    The manufacturer has developed a new class of Earth observation spacecraft codenamed Carbonite.

    The first in this series was built in just six months and was launched in 2015. The lessons learned from that experience were then applied to a second satellite which is now set to be the pathfinder in the Earth-i constellation.

    Earth-i is chasing a burgeoning market that is attracting new types of customers who are only now beginning to understand the potential of daily, fast-turn-around imagery.

    So, for example, whereas governments have long made use of Earth observation (EO) data for mapping towns and cities, to plan major infrastructure ventures and to track land-use changes – the likes of the financial sector is really just beginning to appreciate the intelligence value of space pictures.

    Those who trade in commodities are now gaining insights on supply chains, and on the activities at particular factories, ports, mines and oil fields; activities that all have financial implications.

    And just as satellite-navigation data – knowing where things are positioned in the world – has become a mainstay of the smartphone applications revolution, there is a feeling that the exploitation of EO data in this domain has barely scratched the surface.

    This was part of the motivation for the UK government last year committing more money than any other member state to the Earth observation programme of the European Space Agency (Esa). There are big economic opportunities coming.

    “There is an almost insatiable demand for data from space as people are realising its true value to both their planning and daily operations,” said Josef Aschbacher, director of Earth observation at the European Space Agency.

    “Higher resolution image data from commercial organisations is likely to be very valuable either in its own right or when used in conjunction with other data sources including medium-resolution image data such as that provided under the European Copernicus Programme.”

    Earth-i’s constellation would be the first European system to provide HD video of activity on the ground.

    Two North American companies have already started doing this – Urthecast of Canada, and US firm Terra Bella (recently acquired by Planet Labs).

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