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A war on facts: The Donald vs. US States and Scientists

Since President Trump took office, sales of George Orwell’s 1984 have soared. If you’d rather live in ignorant bliss, download one of Lee Child’s instead. In 1984, the protagonist Winston spends hours in the Ministry of Truth, deleting reports that don’t suit Big Brother and altering facts. Eventually deliberate untruths become facts because the original reports no longer exist.

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Enter Victoria Herrman. She penned an article for The Guardian a couple of weeks ago entitled, “I am an Artic researcher. Donald Trump is deleting my citations.” She says at the end of 2016, there was a warning “Save the data.. Back up the climate measurements.” It went viral – guerrilla archivists (surely the most fun type of guerrilla activist) took up the call.  But since the start of the year she claims there has been a “slow, incessant march of deleting dataset, webpages and policies about the Artic.”

(To be fair to Trump, this is not a new phenomenon. Recently, under the former Canadian PM Stephen Harper’s watch, one of the world’s top aquatic and fishery libraries was shut down, leaving scientists, consultants and members of the public to scavenge through a mountain of irreplaceable books. It was described by a retired scientist as ‘equivalent to Rome destroying the Royal Library of Alexandria in Egypt. It’s equal to that.” However, given Harper is considered one of the worst Canadian PMs in history, he’s probably not the best role-model for the fledgling New York politician.)

Hermann says the deleted records impact on monitoring climate change in the Artic, “at a time when the Artic is warming twice as fast as the global average.”

Just last week Trump faced fresh controversy over the way he is dealing with the significant issue of climate change. A group of US states is suing his administration over plans to delay the introduction of new climate change regulations.

One of several notable executive orders signed since the 45th President took office directed the Environmental Protection Agency to review the ‘Clean Power Plan’ law set out by former President Obama, which would require states to dramatically reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. The EPA then requested that ongoing court hearings about this regulation be suspended to allow it to investigate. This could effectively kill the plan.

UPI.com said that the Natural Resource Defense Council had emailed claims that the “Trump administration was using stealth tactics through the court by mooting the measure rather than taking formal legislative action that could be more susceptible to scrutiny.”

It so incensed attorney generals from California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington – along with the District of Columbia and a number of smaller localities – that they decided to sue the US Department of Energy.

Even for a foreign government, this was too good an opportunity to land a punch. China used its state media to call Trump “selfish” over the plans to remove environmental regulations. It also said that “Western opinion should continue to pressure the Trump administration on climate change.” Though China is currently the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, there is a key difference between it and the US: China’s leaders vocally back the consensus that climate change is a global threat which requires immediate action.

 It’s a good thing President Trump has such a good relationship with his judges..