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White House To Tap NOAA Chief Scientist Who Downplays Climate Change

The White House reportedly plans to name Ryan Maue, a meteorologist who downplays links between extreme weather and climate change, to be the next chief scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, one of the nation’s prime agencies tasked with giving Americans clear and apolitical research.

The Washington Post first reported Monday that the White House planned to tap Maue pending ethics and security reviews. The chief scientist role, which does not require Senate confirmation, is a top leadership position at NOAA. Maue would be tasked with directing the agency’s science and technology priorities, as well as enforcing its scientific integrity policy.

The White House did not immediately reply to HuffPost’s request for comment. Gizmodo confirmed Maue’s expected appointment.

If approved, he will replace Craig McLean, who currently serves as NOAA’s acting chief scientist.

Maue has a Ph.D. from Florida State University and has grown popular on Twitter for his work as a meteorologist. But his past work at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank that has questioned the scientific consensus surrounding climate change, and his frequent efforts to target politicians and fellow researchers who have warned of the link between climate change and extreme weather events have rankled climate scientists.

Most recently, Maue used Twitter to lambaste California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) for linking the state’s devastating wildfire season to climate change, the Post noted. Scientists have long warned that human-caused climate change will only lead to a cascade of environmental effects: In regards to wildfires, the phenomenon makes the planet warmer, drying out forests and prepping them for massive blazes.

“For the second time this month, a person who misrepresents, distorts, and disagrees with climate science is being placed in a science position at NOAA,” Katharine Hayhoe, a prominent climate scientist at Texas Tech University, wrote on Twitter.

Maue’s appointment is not as controversial as another White House choice this month. The Trump administration named David Legates as the deputy assistant secretary of commerce for environmental observation and prediction, even though he has falsely said rising levels of carbon dioxide, a main greenhouse gas, is good for the planet. Legates has worked for the climate-denying Heartland Institute.

The choice of Maue adds to the Trump administration’s yearslong effort to undercut climate science and reject warning bells that the earth is warming at dangerous rates. NOAA had largely remained untouched throughout the president’s first term, unlike other agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency or Interior Department.

Scientists said Monday that period appeared to be at an end.

“Normally, when people are chosen for high-profile positions relating to climate change, I’ve heard of them,” Andrew Dessler, a professor of atmospheric and climate sciences at Texas A&M University, wrote on Twitter. “I have no idea who this person is. … I suspect that he has the one and only necessary qualification for the job: A willingness to advance the agenda of climate deniers.”

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