Guest essay by Eric Worrall
h/t Dr. Willie Soon – Denying President Trump funds to fulfil his promise to build the wall appears to be a higher priority for Democrats than allowing US Scientists the funds they need to attend key climate conferences.
Scientists despair as US government shutdown drags on
Space missions can continue to collect data, but thousands of federal researchers are forced to stay at home without pay.
Organizers of several major conferences are scrambling to replace whole fleets of government researchers who were set to present their work or lead discussion panels.
The American Astronomical Society expects that 10–15% of the 4,200 people who registered for its meeting in Seattle, Washington, from 6 to 10 January will be unable to attend because of the shutdown, says Kevin Marvel, the society’s chief executive. They include the AAS’s immediate past president, Christine Jones, an astronomer at the Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which is run jointly by Harvard University and the Smithsonian Institution. Another Smithsonian astronomer, David DeVorkin of the National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC, is supposed to give a plenary talk at the meeting; plans are being made to find a replacement.
The AAS is looking for ways to lessen the disruption to its meeting, Marvel says, such as webcasting plenary sessions and allowing non-government researchers to give talks on behalf of their federal collaborators. And the American Meteorological Society is soliciting volunteers to replace government researchers who are scheduled to lead sessions or unveil findings at its meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, from 6 to 10 January. The society estimates that roughly 800 federal scientists, mostly from NOAA, have registered for the 4,300-person meeting.
Then there is the Plant and Animal Genome meeting set to take place in San Diego, California, from 12 to 16 January. Many of its organizers and presenters are USDA employees. The meeting gives experienced researchers opportunities to vet potential PhD students and find collaborators, and students a chance to network.
“I don’t really do resolutions for the new year, but it would be nice if the furlough would end so that we can get back to feeding the world,” said John Cole, a geneticist at the USDA in Beltsville, Maryland, who studies dairy cattle, in a tweet on 31 December. “The program committee at PAG [Plant and Animal Genome meeting] would also be grateful.”
But many federal scientists are grappling with more existential worries. No government employees at affected agencies are being paid during the shutdown — even those who have been deemed essential, and ordered to keep working. Congress has historically passed legislation authorizing retroactive pay after a shutdown ends, but that is cold comfort to many federal employees trying to survive without a regular salary.
“Today I had to apply for unemployment,” Leslie Rissler, an evolutionary biologist and programme director at the NSF, tweeted on 3 January. “This is a ridiculous shutdown unnecessarily affecting thousands of federal employees and families. Wishing all of them, and this country, better days ahead.”
A scientist working on AR6 claims the shutdown is affecting climate conferences.
Scientists despair as US government shutdown drags on https://t.co/Bc6SPjazhL
— Val. Masson-Delmotte (@valmasdel) January 6, 2019
Democrat Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi recently suggested that Climate Change is an existential threat.