Attacks on Science
The Trump Administration and 115th Congress have sent clear signals that they intend to dismantle science-based health and safety protections, sideline scientific evidence, and undo a decade’s worth of progress on scientific integrity.
Scientific content has been changed on several agency websites in the early weeks of the Trump administration—and the alterations share some common themes. Read more >
Endangered Species Act: get ready for big changes, says GOP
Republican lawmakers are preparing to roll back the influence of the Endangered Species Act, arguing that the law is an unnecessary hindrance to economic development.
JANUARY 18, 2017 —The Endangered Species Act may soon be, well, endangered.
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“There’s a lot of evidence that some species are conservation-reliant,” J.B. Ruhl, a law professor at Vanderbilt University, told the AP. Political fights over some species have taken decades to resolve, he added, because recovering them from “the brink of extinction is a lot harder than we thought.”
Trump’s NASA budget cuts earth, climate science programs
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) programs on climate and earth science face cuts under President Trump’s first proposed budget blueprint.The president’s plan, unveiled Thursday, requests $19.1 billion for NASA overall, a 0.8 percent decrease from last year’s $19.3 billion budget.Earth science programs would be cut slightly from $1.9 billion to $1.8 billion in annual funding.
The blueprint, though, calls for eliminating four earth science missions: PACE, OCO-3, DSCOVR Earth-viewing instruments, and CLARREO Pathfinder.DSCOVR, the Deep Space Climate Observatory was originally proposed by former Vice President Al Gore, and uses satellites to measure the earth’s carbon levels.
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Trump’s budget also calls for cutting $250 million in grants for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) under the Commerce Department to help coastal communities deal with climate change. Trump’s budget also proposes cuts to Environmental Protection Agency climate programs.
The proposed budget also calls for eliminating NASA $115 million Office of Education in favor of consolidating educational efforts under the agency’s Science Mission Directorate.
Trump vs. the media: the war over facts
PUTTING IT IN PERSPECTIVE
The president’s collision with the media is changing the way newsrooms operate – and may rejuvenate journalism.
How quickly things change. Today the United States has a president who elicits applause when he calls reporters “among the most dishonest human beings on earth.” They are “scum,” he says, “the lowest form of life” and “enemies.” His top adviser, Steve Bannon, labels the news media as “the opposition party.”
Today the very meaning of truth and fact is called into question. President Trump has repeatedly claimed that, were it not for massive voter fraud, he – not Hillary Clinton – would have won the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes. He alleges that “thousands” of Massachusetts residents were bused into New Hampshire to vote against him. Both charges lack evidence.
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When Mr. Trump is confronted with contradictory evidence, his response isn’t to admit error, or even to cease repeating the claims. He attacks the critics, none more vociferously than the news media. Presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway, in one confrontation with a TV interviewer, controversially referred to “alternative facts.”
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But are Trump’s venomous attacks – propelled to countless true believers in his tweets and passed along on partisan websites – “just politics”? The consequences to some journalists have been real and personal. Reporters who have criticized Trump have had their home addresses and the names of their children distributed through extremist sites. The Washington Post retained security guards to protect one of its reporters who had been threatened anonymously for his coverage. Female journalists and reporters with Jewish-sounding names regularly endure scathing assaults on social media. Former Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly’s criticisms of Trump so riled some in her audience that she hired an armed guard to accompany her and her children as they vacationed at Disney World.
These threats and attacks come because the news reporters are doing their jobs. They report embarrassing facts about Trump’s behavior or his predilection for repeating statements that are – and you can choose your own word here – inaccurate, falsehoods, exaggerations, or lies.
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At this point in the nation’s history, having a president with little regard for facts that challenge his beliefs isn’t a trivial matter. American democracy presupposes a well-informed citizenry – that is, it depends upon voters making decisions using factual information. Legendary columnist Walter Lippmann wrote in 1920, “There can be no liberty for a community which lacks the means by which to detect lies.” That is as true today as it was a century ago and serves well in defining the purpose of serious journalism in the Trump era.
(Go read the whole article from the link below – really amazing.)
White House Urged to Suspend, Investigate Sebastian Gorka
“If the allegations prove accurate, Gorka needs to be removed from his position. A man who has sworn an oath to a group glorifying Nazi-era antisemitism has no business serving alongside those who have sworn to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
The Forward reported today that leaders of the “Historical Vitézi Rend” claim Gorka is an official member of the organization, which is a reconstitution of the World War II era Vitézi Rend group. The State Department lists Vitézi Rend as having been “under the direction of the Nazi Government of Germany during World War II,” and classifies members of this group as inadmissible to the United States under the Immigration and Nationality Act. The original Vitézi Rend organization, of which the Historical Vitézi Rend organization claims to be an heir, was established as a nationalist group by Hitler collaborator Admiral Miklos Horthy. The Historical Vitézi Rend group ascribes to nationalist, racist, and antisemitic ideologies similar to those of the original organization.
Human Rights First continues to urge President Trump to make clear that he condemns all forms of antisemitism and intolerance, including by supporting a thorough investigation into allegations regarding Sebastian Gorka.
Thank a Government Scientist
Federal scientists are working hard every day to make the food we eat, the medications we take, the air we breathe, and so much more safe for all Americans. Unfortunately, these same scientists are hearing harsh rhetoric attacking the safeguards they provide, some are being muzzled by orders prohibiting them to speak out about their research, and all are uncertain about what the Trump administration and Congress might due to cut science-based programs and their staff.
Help pushback against the anti-science rhetoric from the Trump administration with some appreciation: Take a moment to thank a government scientist today. Let them know how much you appreciate the crucial role they play in our daily lives and that you will advocate for science-based policies every day!
Send a tweet or Facebook message using the hashtag #ThankAGovScientist to the agencies of your choice—or a federal scientist you know personally—using one of the following handles:
Post on the Environment Protection Agency Facebook page
Post on the Department of Energy Facebook page
Post on the US Department of Agriculture Facebook page
Post on the Food and Drug Administration Facebook page
Post on the Consumer Product Safety Commission Facebook page
Post on the US National Weather Service Facebook page
Not on Twitter or Facebook?
If you don’t have a Twitter or Facebook account, write a thank you card to one of the agencies listed above with a message of appreciation and encouragement and mail it to the following address—we will deliver it for you:
Attn: Center for Science and Democracy
Union of Concerned Scientists
1825 K St NW, Ste. 800
Washington, DC 20006-1232
(I hope they will forgive me for putting the whole thing here because I believe it is so important right now.)
Do you have a superpower? Because we do! Check out the new
#ScienceIsMySuperpower collection and tell us yours! http://marchforscienceshop.com/collection/Science-is-Super …!
When I March for Science, I’ll March for Equity, Inclusion, and Access
We are on the verge of something big. Scientists as a group are politically engaged like never before. They are communicating with decisionmakers, ready to march, and ready to run for office. The March for Science—an event that formed organically by a few enthusiastic people on Reddit and snowballed from there—is slated to be the largest demonstration for science that this country has ever seen. I’ve personally been blown away by the unprecedented support for scientists in the streets.(etc.)
Those moves have stoked fears among the scientific community that Trump, who has called the notion of man-made climate change “a hoax” and vowed to reverse environmental policies put in place by President Obama, could try to alter or dismantle parts of the federal government’s repository of data on everything from rising sea levels to the number of wildfires in the country.
Michael Halpern, deputy director of the Center for Science and Democracy at the advocacy group Union of Concerned Scientists, argued that Trump has appointed a “band of climate conspiracy theorists” to run transition efforts at various agencies, along with nominees to lead them who share similar views.
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“What are the most important .gov climate assets?” Eric Holthaus, a meteorologist and self-proclaimed “climate hawk,” tweeted from his Arizona home Saturday evening. “Scientists: Do you have a US .gov climate database that you don’t want to see disappear?”
Within hours, responses flooded in from around the country. Scientists added links to dozens of government databases to a Google spreadsheet. Investors offered to help fund efforts to copy and safeguard key climate data. Lawyers offered pro bono legal help. Database experts offered server space and help organizing mountains of data. In California, Santos began building an online repository to “make sure these data sets remain freely and broadly accessible.”
Climate data from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have been politically vulnerable. When Tom Karl, director of the National Centers for Environmental Information, and his colleagues published a study in 2015 seeking to challenge the idea that there had been a global warming “slowdown” or “pause” during the 2000s, they relied, in significant part, on updates to NOAA’s ocean temperature data set, saying the data “do not support the notion of a global warming ‘hiatus.’”
In response, the U.S. House Science, Space and Technology Committee chair, Rep. Lamar S. Smith (R-Tex.), tried to subpoena the scientists and their records.
That effort launched by Holthaus is one of several underway to preserve key federal scientific data.
In Philadelphia, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, along with members of groups such as Open Data Philly and the software company Azavea, have been meeting to figure out ways to harvest and store important data sets.
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Please go read this article from its original source and share it as much as possible – the more people that help protect the data, research and information now and going forward, the better as Trump and the GOP begin dismantling as much as possible from the inside of every US government agency.