I want to start by thanking everyone who has reached out to me recently in regards to the piece in Reveal: https://www.revealnews.org/episodes/silencing-science/
It’s been a very difficult year as everything unfolded. I don’t really want to get into all of the details of it here, but I think the piece I linked to above did a good job of encapsulating everything. I did not approach Reveal and ask them to investigate this. The author, Elizabeth Shogren, is a former reporter for NPR who I had first met when she interviewed me 2014 for a piece on the project I was starting at NPS. Elizabeth was aware of the timeline of the project and emailed me while I was on maternity leave for an update. I referred her to NPS who sent her a very vague response which prompted her investigation. While I did not initiate any of this I do want to say thank you to her for unraveling this story. I had no idea what had been happening to my report while I was on leave and had always taken my colleague’s excuses for the delay in publishing at face value. I feel very naive.
I do want to say though that when I spoke to Reveal I believed that my experience was one that was limited to one particular vein of staff in the NPS and DOI. I had no idea how far reaching this has been. When I heard the report and how other colleagues have reacted to the same kinds of pressure I was put under it really made my heart sink. Not only was I disappointed that others didn’t have the courage to stand up to this bullying, but also because many of the people mentioned are permanent federal employees or tenured faculty who have significantly less to lose than I do if they had stood up to this. I’m sure everyone is very fearful at this time but we really do need to show that we intend to uphold the mission of the NPS and that we can not be pushed around. Now is the time for courage.
I have spent the last few weeks on shutdown. When my SLR funding ended in September 2017 I was offered a position through Geocorps to work with some NPS colleagues down the hall from those I had previously worked with. Needless to say, given the level of pressure I was put under I have no desire to work with the NPS Climate Change Response Program again unless significant action is taken to reprimand or remove the people in power who I believe have violated the NPS scientific integrity policy and failed to uphold the NPS mission. It became an incredibly hostile environment.
Unfortunately my Geocorps position has meant that I take a pay cut to approximately 1/3 of what I used to make. Despite this I was prepared to do that because I was working for an organization I loved. The piece in Reveal has, however, made me question whether NPS deserves my loyalty. So I would like to put out a call to anyone reading this that if they would like to contact me regarding other opportunities I am very open to that. I must stay in the Denver area due to family commitments, but I am otherwise open to any and all ideas. I have spent the last couple of days feeling incredibly sad about how things have turned out and mourning all the plans I had for projects to protect our nation’s “best idea,” but I must get back to reality and start looking out for myself.
Some people have emailed me asking whether they could setup a GoFundMe or donate in other ways. That is tremendously kind, but that was not why I spoke out. I spoke out because I am at the end of my tether. I have tried to report these problems to the Office of the Inspector General and the NPS Scientific Integrity Officer and I feel my concerns have been swept under the rug. Elizabeth Shogren’s reporting and evidence she obtained via the Freedom of Information Act shed new light on this and I hope that my complaints will be revisited.
So what can we do going forward? I suggest the following:
If you would like to make a donation, please consider making a donation to the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund or an environmental fund such as the Environmental Defense Fund, Nature Conservancy, or Natural Resource Defense Fund.
Please reach out to your representatives and let them know how concerned you are about this.
If you know of any positions (it does not need to be a research position) that might be suitable for me please tweet or email me.
If you are a researcher or NPS staff member who has experienced similar pressure to censor your work that you believe violates the NPS mission and/or scientific integrity policy please report it to the OIG and file a scientific integrity complaint. It might seem like a pointless thing to report your experience to these people, but we need to put each incident on the record so we can show this is a wider pattern of behavior. You are also welcome to contact me and I can put you in touch with people who can give you free legal advice.
If you are a climate scientist please remember to never back down on your research. This issue is too important. We need people with courage in this fight.
Finally, I’d like to end with a reminder of the NPS mission statement. This was something I always took to heart as I carried out my research. Even if you are just a visitor to the parks I hope this is something you will bear in mind. Our parks are truly special places and there are a lot of people working very hard to protect them for future generations. I hope the Reveal article didn’t change your opinion of them too much. One thing is clear though; once the shutdown is over we have a lot of cleaning up to do both in the parks and beyond.