Australia's Chief Scientist Compares Trump to Stalin
The Trump administration has incited a war on science that "defies logic" and resembles the censorship enforced by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, Australia's chief scientist, Alan Finkel, said Monday.
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Warning that "science is literally under attack," Finkel stated, "It will almost certainly cause long-term harm." He recounted the consequences under Stalin when the scientific method, based on facts and evidence, was suppressed by politics:
Soviet agricultural science was held back for decades because of the ideology of Trofim Lysenko, who was a proponent of Lamarckism. Stalin loved Lysenko's conflation of science and Soviet philosophy, and used his limitless power to ensure that Lysenko's unscientific ideas prevailed. Lysenko believed that successive generations of crops could be improved by exposing them to the right environment, and so too could successive generations of Soviet citizens be improved by exposing them to the right ideology. So while Western scientists embraced evolution and genetics, Russian scientists who thought the same were sent to the gulag. Western crops flourished. Russian crops failed.
Finkel has extensive experience as an engineer, educator, neuroscientist and entrepreneur. In 1983 he founded the California-based Axon Instruments, and in 2004 he became a director of its acquiring company, NASDAQ-listed Molecular Devices (MDCC).
"Today, the catch-cry of scientists must be frank and fearless advice, no matter the opinion of political commissars stationed at the U.S. EPA," he said. He expressed gratitude for the freedom of speech he's been granted in Australia.
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One of the first measures the Trump administration took was to restrict scientists at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from speaking to the public or releasing information before it gets reviewed by political appointees. Soon after, a Twitter account appeared in response to the censorship. Alt U.S. EPA calls itself the "Satirical 'Resistance' team of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency."
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One city in New Zealand knows what its priorities are.
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By Jeff Masters, Ph.D.
Earth had its second-warmest year on record in 2020, just 0.02 degrees Celsius (0.04°F) behind the record set in 2016, and 0.98 degrees Celsius (1.76°F) above the 20th-century average, NOAA reported January 14.
Figure 1. Departure of temperature from average for 2020, the second-warmest year the globe has seen since record-keeping began in 1880, according to NOAA. Record-high annual temperatures over land and ocean surfaces were measured across parts of Europe, Asia, southern North America, South America, and across parts of the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific oceans. No land or ocean areas were record cold for the year. NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information
Figure 2. Total ocean heat content (OHC) in the top 2000 meters from 1958-2020. Cheng et al., Upper Ocean Temperatures Hit Record High in 2020, Advances in Atmospheric Sciences
Figure 3. Departure of sea surface temperature from average in the benchmark Niño 3.4 region of the eastern tropical Pacific (5°N-5°S, 170°W-120°W). Sea surface temperature were approximately one degree Celsius below average over the past month, characteristic of moderate La Niña conditions. Tropical Tidbits
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