President Donald Trump, left, listens as Kenneth Graham, director of NOAA’s National Hurricane Center, on screen, gives an update during a briefing about Hurricane Dorian.
( AP Photo )
When Hurricane Dorian made landfall on the Bahamas, on September 1st, it produced the second-highest wind speed of an Atlantic hurricane ever. Emergency planners at all levels of government, as well as millions of Americans, were looking to the federal government for life-saving information. That day, President Trump tweeted that the storm would hit Alabama. But just a few minutes later, the National Weather Service in Birmingham, Alabama, tweeted that the storm would not be hitting the state.
It should have been a straightforward clarification but instead turned into a week of confusion. President Trump held a news conference with a seemingly doctored weather map, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration posted a press release supporting the President’s incorrect map, and now the agency’s chief scientist is investigating whether or not this response by NOAA violated the agency’s policies.
The New York Times has broken the story that Wilbur Ross, the Commerce Secretary, threatened to fire top NOAA employees for contradicting the President. This story reveals a lot about the relationship between this administration and scientists, and what it means for scientific and climate-specific research in the future.
We are joined by Michael Halpern, Deputy Director, Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, and Michael Oppenheimer, Director at the Center for Policy Research on Energy and the Environment at Princeton University.