NASA is full of “fear and anxiety” since Trump took office, former employee says

This article was originally published in The Guardian and appears here as part of the collaboration Climate Desk .

The production of information on climate change aimed at the public of NASA has been reduced under the Trump administration, with a former employee claiming "fear and anxiety" within the agency has led to an online retreat of the subject.

Laura Tenenbaum, a former science communicator at NASA, said she was warned that she used the term "global warming" on social media and was restricted from speaking in the media because of her focus on climate change.

"NASA's discussion point is that everything remains the same, but that's not true," said Tenenbaum, who left NASA in October after a decade in the space agency.

"They have stopped promoting or emphasizing communication about climate science, they have minimized it, and people within the agency are worried that Trump will cut funds for climate science, there is fear and anxiety there and the result has been been chaotic. "

Tenenbaum said that about a month after Trump took office last year, an "arduous review process" was established on each blog post, Facebook post and tweet that she took from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. from NASA in California.

"They told me verbally about media relations that it was because with Trump as president, climate change is now a sensitive issue," he said. "There was confusion about what to do now that we have a president who does not believe in climate change, everyone was fighting, it was chaos."

The planned blog posts about coal plants converted to solar plants, "reasons to be optimistic with NASA" and an interview with Gavin Schmidt, senior climate scientist at NASA, were stopped or rejected because of interference from The race staff is nervous about provoking the new administration, according to Tenenbaum.

The figures show that there has been a notable decrease in the production of climate information from NASA since the election of the Trump administration. During 2016, NASA frequently posted on its Facebook page about climate change, reaching a maximum of 122 publications in August of that year, according to CrowdTangle.

There were 53 posts on Facebook in January 2017, the month of Trump's inauguration, and NASA did not get close to this total since, posting 21 times this March and 31 times in April.

This drop in messages has caused a decrease in interactions with the public on Facebook. During January 2017, there were more than 61,700 interactions, defined as I like, comments and participations, on the weather page. This has plummeted dramatically since then, adding up to just 7,000 in April. In April 2016, under the Obama administration, there were more than 100,000 interactions.

NASA's Earth Right Now blog, for which he wrote Tenenbaum, has also seen a decline in activity, with only two publications originally produced since the last entry of Tenenbaum in August 2017. Tenenbaum said he was warned about talking to the media and then being offered another job at the agency, before taking a license and then resigning.

The website on climate change and the Facebook page of NASA still clearly describe their findings, common with other scientific organizations, that the world is warming and the seas are rising.

A spokesman for NASA said there has been "no policy change on how we communicate science to the American public."

"NASA Communications has not received any directive to change the way we communicate about the agency's research, which includes climate change," he added.

"The frequency of blog posts at has always been varied based on staff availability and other factors, including mission activities (launches, field trips, etc.)." [19659003] There has been some anguish in NASA over Trump's aversion to climate science, which he previously called "nonsense" and a "Deception" inspired by China – and the dismantling of his government to address global warming.

The White House proposal to cut funds for NASA's Earth science work, which uses satellites to measure climate, soils, forest fires and the planet's weather like hurricanes, is also a point of discord.

A scientist at the agency, who did not want to be identified, said: "Some people are apprehensive, some are defiant and some put their nose in [the] tooth and put on it."

NASA still has They attract the level of controversy surrounding the Environmental Protection Agency, whose administrator Scott Pruitt has denied the basic facts about climate science, modeled scientific panels to include more industry representatives and oversaw the elimination of information on climate change. of the EPA website for a "review" that lasted more than a year.

Kate Marvel, climate scientist at Columbia University and NASA Goddard The Institute of Space Studies, which said it was speaking on a personal basis, said no one had told her to "shut up" her work.

"Physics does not change just because the administration has changed," he said. "It's my job to understand how the planet works and I will continue to do so."

Jim Bridenstine, the new administrator of NASA and former Republican congressman, has previously expressed doubts about the dominant scientific understanding that the world is heating up due to human activity.

But it seemed to have changed its position during a televised meeting with NASA workers earlier this month.

"I do not deny consensus, I totally believe in climate change and that human beings are contributing to this in an important way," said Bridenstine, who added that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas and that " we are placing it in the atmosphere in volumes that we had not seen before. " We are responsible for that "

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