By Jennifer Weeks
Scientists and environmental advocates will be speaking out this month about the Trump administration and what they view as its abuses of science. This year's March for Science on Saturday, April 14, has a goal of holding leaders accountable for "developing and enacting evidence-based policy."
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Chelsea Rochman, Priya Shukla, Susan Williams and Tessa M. Hill
As the first anniversary of the March for Science approaches, researchers continue to reflect on the relationship between science and society. A recent survey of 2017 marchers indicated that nearly all were also actively participating in other types of science advocacy. In the past year, inspired by the call to stand up for science, scientists have written editorials, contacted members of Congress, attended public protests, initiated runs for political office, and organized new groups to support diversity, inclusion and justice.
From the Women's March on Washington to the March for Science, the first year of the Trump administration saw an increase in highly-publicized mass demonstrations, leading to the sense that the president's policies are mobilizing people with progressive beliefs to defend their views in the streets.
Now, a Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll reported by The Washington Post on Friday provides the numbers to confirm that narrative.
By Lauren McCauley
The amount of carbon in the Earth's atmosphere is now officially off the charts as the planet last week breached the 410 parts per million (ppm) milestone for the first time in human history.
Tens of thousands of people celebrated Earth Day Saturday by taking to the streets in a historic day of action for science and truth. A massive March for Science took place in Washington, DC, and more than 600 sister marches took place in other cities around the world.
This Saturday's March for Science is inherently connected to the April 29 People's Climate March, climate scientists and environmentalists say: one march is about listening to science, the other is about acting on it.
Science isn't everything. But it is crucial to governing, decision-making, protecting human health and the environment and resolving questions and challenges around our existence.
In an effort to understand how climate change is altering the carbon cycle, a project between the University of Oklahoma and NASA is headed to space. Orbiting 22,000 miles above Earth's surface, this host of instruments will track carbon as it flows through the Earth delivering real-time data and helping scientists quantify just how much humans are affecting the planet.
By Brenda Ekwurzel
I have had the thrill of sharing the latest discoveries in the classroom with students who asked probing questions, when I was a faculty member of a university. That journey of discovery is one that parents and family members delight in hearing about when students come home and share what they have found particularly intriguing.
The March for Science has announced three honorary national co-chairs for the April 22 march in Washington, DC.
They are: Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, a pediatrician and key whistleblower of the Flint water crisis, Dr. Lydia Villa-Komaroff, a biologist who made critical contributions to how bacterial cells could be used to generate insulin, and Bill Nye, beloved science educator and CEO of The Planetary Society.
The Trump administration released its first official 2018 budget proposal this morning and copies obtained by multiple outlets yesterday confirmed deep cuts across the board for climate- and science-related research, grants, programs and agencies.
5 Ways #Trump Continues His Assault on People & Planet https://t.co/MCvXvGBj4V @NRDC @RobertKennedyJr @MarkRuffalo @LeoDiCaprio @BillNye— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1489336372.0
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, one of the budget's biggest targets, would suffer a cut of $2.8 billion or nearly a third of its $8.1 billion current budget—much higher than previous estimates of 25 percent—including a $100 million cut for climate programs.
Funding for climate finance in the State Department budget, clean energy research at the Energy Department and funds for NOAA and NASA research also take serious hits in the draft proposal. The budget is one of the "skinniest" first budget documents in history and experts predict many of its short-on-policy-detail proposals will not sit well with Congress.
"Money talks, and Trump's budget proposal screams that the only thing that matters in his America is corporate polluters' profits and Wall Street billionaires," said Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club. "If Trump refuses to be serious about protecting our health and climate, or our publicly owned lands, then Congress must act, do its job, and reject this rigged budget."
Manish Bapna, managing director of World Resources Institute, agrees: "The administration should respect science and continue to respond to the growing impacts of climate change, which is understood by the scientific and security communities alike. It's now up to Congress to restore funding, recognizing that America's economic and security interests are intertwined with the well-being of people and the planet."
For a deeper dive:
By Andrew Rosenberg
As the Trump administration and the new Congress have gotten down to work, there is a lot of chaos and confusion. But there are a few clear themes:
- There is a concerted attempt to enact by executive order or statute major rollbacks of science-based rules that protect public health, safety and the environment.
- Federal agencies such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Energy, that have been in forefront of scientific work since their creation by Congress, are under attack in their management and proposed budget.
- The new administration and Congress are turning away from public policies grounded in scientific evidence and toward policies that turn over control wholesale to regulated industries.
- The campaign rhetoric of racism, bigotry and misogyny was not just rhetoric.
I don't think I am being overly alarmist. So what is a scientist to do? Just keep your head down and do your science, hoping this particularly troubling time in our national politics will pass? I hope not and I am not alone.
'Keep Your Tiny Hands Off Our Data' https://t.co/GzeV7RW8cA @ScienceNewsOrg @sciam— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1487714424.0
Call to Action
At the February meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science I moderated a town hall meeting on how to respond to this new administration and Congress. The room was packed. So was the overflow into the hall and many others watched online. And there was a lot to talk about, from a new report on Scientific Integrity in government, discussed in a new report led by my colleague Gretchen Goldman, to science in a "post-truth world" an important new essay by panelist Jane Lubchenco. It was not just an incredible panel of thoughtful scientists, but a deeply engaged audience. And everyone spoke to the need for scientists and supporters of science, to be active, engaged and vocal as never before.
Full house at the Union of Concerned Scientists "Defending Science and Scientific Integrity in the Age of Trump" Town Hall during the Boston American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting.
Five Opportunities to Stand Up for Science
There are many places, right now, for scientists to stand up and be heard. Here are a few that we, at the Union of Concerned Scientists, are working on. Some are as simple as a tweet. Others might take a day or two of your time. And still others are opportunities to make a difference over the next months and years to push back against those who want to shove science out of the way.
1. As a first small step, those most under the gun are our colleagues working in federal agencies. Never before in my memory have federal scientists faced as daunting a set of challenges in doing their work for the benefit of the nation. They need our support. So why not simply tweet your thanks for the scientist, agency or program in the federal government that you know and love?
2. Our federal colleagues are definitely in a tough spot. But they are the ones that best know what is happening inside our government. Is science being censored? Are political appointees manipulating the results? Are scientific integrity policies being ignored? But for federal employees to speak out may be risky. Let your friends and colleagues know there are secure ways to get information out, anonymously. And there are lawyers willing to help those targeted for blowing the whistle. So too are many journalists willing to tell the story and protect their sources under the 1st Amendment.
3. I don't know about you, but right now I am somewhat obsessively watching the news. And the attacks on science keep coming. We can't necessarily respond to everything, but it is important to be heard on many issues. It is not okay to replace science with "alternative facts." It is not ok to give regulated big corporations an ever greater opportunity to manipulate the rules because they have money to spend to buy influence. We need to watchdog these actions and you can help from where you live all across the country. What can you do? Join our watchdog teams. Use our LinkedIn and Twitter groups to keep up with news about attacks on science and ways to take action.
4. Science and science policy is not just in Washington. We know that, but do your neighbors? Speak out in your community, your local paper and to your elected officials. You can be a scientist, but you are still a constituent—one knowledgeable about technical issues. So use your science and your constituency. Help educate and advocate in your state and our watchdog toolkit will help you get started. Here is one attack you can write to your local paper about right now. There will be more to come, with training and teams of people all around the country working together to fight back.
5. For many of us, we want to write and speak to raise our voices. But many also want to march. Getting out in the street with big crowds of our fellow Americans is another way to stand up for science. Many scientists participated in the Women's March in January. Others went to airports to protest the ban on immigration from majority muslim countries. And in April there are two marches directly calling for scientists. On April 22 participate in the March for Science. There will be training opportunities, such as how to connect with your legislators to defend science, before and after the march itself. And, on April 29 is the People's Climate March. Why not get your steps in and do both? The whole week between the 22 and the 29 will be a week of action in DC with many groups from all around the country participating.
We are long past the point where scientists can sit back and watch the pitch go by.
#Trump's War on #Science Sparks Massive Resistance https://t.co/1Zgu6zhYGY @ScienceMarchDC @MichaelEMann @BillNye @billmckibben @SierraClub— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1485439425.0
In the wise words of my friend Jane Lubchenco, "It is no longer sufficient for scientists in academia, government, nongovernmental organizations or industry to conduct business as usual. Today's challenges demand an all-hands-on-deck approach wherein scientists serve society in a fashion that responds to societal needs and is embedded in everyday lives. Humility, transparency and respect must characterize our interactions."
Stand up for science.