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Within moments of the inauguration of President Trump, the official White House website on Friday deleted nearly all mentions of climate change. The one exception: Mr. Trump’s vow to eliminate the Obama administration’s climate change policies, which previously had a prominent and detailed web page on whitehouse.gov.
The purge was not unexpected. It came as part of the full digital turnover of whitehouse.gov, including taking down and archiving all the Obama administration’s personal and policy pages. That also included a page devoted to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender issues. At the same time, the official White House Twitter handles also changed over, allowing Mr. Trump to now post on Twitter as @POTUS.
But the digital change, which flashed into place at noon on Friday, immediately placed into sharp relief some of the starkest differences between the old president and the new. And for advocates of climate change policy, it presented the first concrete sign that Mr. Trump remains, as he was on the campaign trail, skeptical and dismissive of the established science of human-caused climate change, and committed to blocking policies to curb it.
Scientists fear the online deletions will extend far beyond changes to introductory websites and into the realm of government data. Climate change data gathered and stored by the United States government is considered among the most authoritative in the world. But scientists worry the data will be deleted during the Trump administration.
Since Mr. Trump’s election, about 50 scientists at universities around the country have volunteered their time — and computer servers — to save and store government data stored on the websites of the Environmental Protection Agency, NASA, NOAA, and the United States Geological Services. Those websites keep records of key climate data such as atmospheric temperature trends, greenhouse gas emissions levels, and sea level rise.
The scientist gatherings have been organized by 314 Action — a nonprofit group named for the first three numbers of the mathematical concept Pi — which aims to make science more accessible to the public.