The NOAA's top scientist tried to get the White House on board with its science ethics policy. He got fired by email instead.

The NOAA's top scientist tried to get the White House on board with its science ethics policy. He got fired by email instead.

October 28, 2020
  • The NOAA fired its acting top scientist after he requested that Trump administration employees respect the agency's policies and not meddle with scientific data, reported The New York Times. 
  • The scientist, Craig McLean, was replaced by a former employee at a libertarian think tank who has questioned climate change projections. 
  • President Donald Trump has meddled with data about hurricanes, climate change and COVID-19 during his four years in office, and is accused of eroding the independence of government agencies. 
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The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration fired its top scientist by email after he asked Trump appointees at the agency to commit to its scientific ethics policy, The New York Times reported.

Craig McLean, the acting chief scientist, sent an email to several political appointees to the agency, requesting that they acknowledge NOAA's policy of respecting the integrity of scientific data, the Times said.

Among the recipients of the email was  Dr. Erik Noble, the newly appointed NOAA chief of staff and a former White House policy adviser.

"Respectfully, by what authority are you sending this to me?" Noble replied to the email, per the Times.

McLean answered that it was part of his job to ensure that the agency's ethics policies were observed, the outlet said.

The following day, the Times said Noble emailed him to say: "You no longer serve as the acting chief scientist for NOAA. Thank you for your service."

McLean was replaced by Ryan Maue, a former employee at a libertarian think tank who has questioned projections about the impact of man made climate change. 

According to the Times report, Trump appointees at NOAA have clashed with scientists over facts about climate change, and imposed stricter controls on agency communications. 

During his four year's in office, President Donald Trump and top administration officials have distorted scientific data to serve political ends. 

The NOAA did not immediately respond to a request for comment, and provided no statement to the Times on the report. 

Trump in September 2019 famously doctored an NOAA chart with a Sharpie marker in an attempt validate his false projections about the likely course of Hurricane Dorian.

The president made the alteration after being publicly rebutted by a branch of the National Weather Service, one of NOAA's sub-divisions, prompting disquiet among its scientists.

As the coronavirus has swept across America, the president has also clashed with public health officials, spreading false claims and misinformation to downplay the severity of the pandemic. 

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