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A Pocket Guide for Scientists

On the eve of the presidential inauguration, there is serious concern about how the new administration’s agenda could affect climate science. The Trump transition team has included attorneys with a history of using the legal system to attack climate scientists. We now face an incoming administration full of key personnel who dispute, sometimes aggressively, the scientific consensus on climate change (97% of climate scientists agree that human-caused climate change is a reality).

Harassment of climate scientists has been going on for years and seems likely to worsen in the new political environment. Legal tactics used to harass climate scientists include lawsuits under open record laws, attempting to compel public university professors or government scientists to turn over confidential emails, internal drafts, and peer review correspondence to hostile groups. Some members of Congress have attempted to conduct Congressional investigations of scientists with whom they disagree. In previous administrations, federal scientists’ reports have been altered by government officials for political reasons. Climate scientists have also received hate mail and even death threats. We fear that these sorts of attacks will only become more prevalent in the coming years.

Scientists should read our pocket guide to understand better the risks that they face, and to learn ways they can prepare and protect themselves. The guide, Handling Political Harassment & Legal Intimidation, examines the legal aspects of the various types of harassment and provides information on handling each scenario. Check it out HERE.

This guide concerns only U.S. laws, and should not be taken as individual legal advice. If you are facing any of the situations described in this guide, or one not covered here, email lawyer@climatesciencedefensefund.org or contact us via web form to receive a free consultation with an attorney who can discuss the specific laws and options that pertain to your case.

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