Anyone who reads the Bulletin—anyone who reads, really—is aware of the contempt with which Donald Trump and his administration regard science. The contempt might be synopsized in a very short list like this:
But, alas, there’s more to it than that, and the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists has catalogued the outrages in a 52-page report called “Sidelining Science from Day One.” (A six-page executive summary is also available). The report makes for dispiriting, discouraging, and disgusting reading. As the report argues in its very first paragraph:
“A clear pattern has emerged over the first six months of the Trump presidency: multiple actions by his administration are eroding the ability of science, facts, and evidence to inform policy decisions, leaving us more vulnerable to threats to public health and the environment. The Trump administration is attempting to delegitimize science, it is giving industries more ability to influence how and what science is used in policymaking, and it is creating a hostile environment for federal agency scientists who serve the public.”
But haven’t previous presidents been guilty of scientific transgressions as well? Yes. “All modern presidents,” the report admits, “have politicized science to some extent. [They] have falsified, fabricated, or suppressed evidence, selectively and deceptively edited documents, exaggerated uncertainty… .” The list goes on and on. But under the Trump administration, “these threats to the federal scientific enterprise have escalated markedly [emphasis mine].” Great. In a nation that has already experienced George W. Bush, threats to the federal scientific enterprise are escalating markedly. We might as well revert to stone tools.
Fortunately, the Union of Concerned Scientists isn’t losing heart. It assures us that science will not stand down. It proposes concrete actions through which scientists, legislators, and journalists can defend the scientific enterprise. Most of all, it documents the atrocities—a grim task, but a task conferring honor on those brave enough to execute it.
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