We're getting a clearer picture of how science in America will be treated under Trump. It's horrifying. Our scientific endeavors are under severe threat, as is our environment. Scientists and those who support science have every reason to be concerned about the next several years.
Here's a small taste of what we're dealing with under Trump.
I’ve faced hostile investigations by politicians, demands for me to be fired from my job, threats against my life and even threats against my family. Those threats have diminished in recent years, as man-made climate change has become recognized as the overwhelming scientific consensus and as climate science has received the support of the federal government. But with the coming Trump administration, my colleagues and I are steeling ourselves for a renewed onslaught of intimidation, from inside and outside government. It would be bad for our work and bad for our planet.
We are afraid that four (possibly eight) years of denial and delay might commit the planet to not just feet, but yards, of sea level rise, massive coastal flooding (made worse by more frequent Katrina and Sandy-like storms), historic deluges, and summer after summer of devastating heat and drought across the country.
We also fear an era of McCarthyist attacks on our work and our integrity. It’s easy to envision, because we’ve seen it all before. We know we could be hauled into Congress to face hostile questioning from climate change deniers. We know we could be publicly vilified by politicians. We know we could be at the receiving end of federal subpoenas demanding our personal emails. We know we could see our research grants audited or revoked.
I faced all of those things a decade ago, the last time Republicans had full control of our government.
With his climate denying cabinet—including Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State, Rick Perry for Secretary of Energy, and Cathy McMorris Rodgers or U.S. Rep. Ryan Zinke, R-MT, in the running for Secretary of Interior—and a fossil-fuel friendly U.S. House and Senate, it is no understatement to say the Trump is preparing a fossil fuel takeover of the U.S. economy. But the economy won't be the only thing that's taken over. Our public lands, clean air and clean water will face a withering assault.
In case you were still wondering about the incoming Trump administration's attitude toward science —and at this point you’d have to live on Mars to not see what's going on— take a look at the person Trump has picked to run the Office of Management and Budget (OMB): Congressperson Mick Mulvaney (R-South Carolina).
As we've seen, Trump's choices for government positions have been anything from grossly unqualified to vocally antagonistic toward the agency they'll be in charge of; for his part Mulvaney says Trump will "restore fiscal sanity back in Washington," which is at best a bizarre proclamation. And of course he’s a climate change denier; that’s de rigeur for nearly every Trump pick.
But he’s more worrisome even than that. As Pema Levy at Mother Jones has written, Mulvaney questions whether government should be funding scientific research.
For more on Mulvaney, please see Snopes.
I’ve made something of a career in debunking nonsense when it comes to science, from people who think the Moon landings were faked to hair-on-fire UFOlogists who think every lens flare and dust mote in a photo is the precursor to an alien invasion.
So when I say that Trump’s adviser Anthony Scaramucci just let loose one of the more asinine streams of anti-science garbage I’ve heard, you must appreciate the scale of what I mean.
Even if we give Scaramucci the benefit of the doubt here, the context is important; when discussing science and Trump it's important to understand that Trump has enveloped himself in people who are creationists as well as climate change deniers; VP Mike Pence is one, Rick Perry appointed creationists to the Texas State School Board over and again, and Ben Carson said evolution is satanic and the Big Bang is a fairy tale.
And, finally, more on our old nemesis Betsy DeVos.
DeVos’s deregulation approach to charter schools is wrong for America’s schoolchildren for other reasons as well. For example, without sufficient governmental oversight, charter schools may violate parents’ and students’ rights by proselytizing and imposing religious instruction on students and by assigning religious textbooks.
We at Americans United know from experience that this is already happening at charter schools across the country.
Science is going to need our help to survive this regime. We used to be the scientific leaders of the world. If we want to stay in the forefront of scientific advances, we will need to resist Trump and his merry band of anti-science lackeys at every turn. We'll need to speak out for science at every opportunity, demand better of our elected officials, and support our scientists in their work, no matter what it takes.