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U.S. President Donald Trump (L) is seen during an NBC News town hall event in Miami on October 15, 2020, and President-elect Joe Biden (R) participates in an ABC News town hall event in Philadelphia on October 15, 2020. Brendan Smialowski and Jim Watson / AFP / Getty Images

By Genna Reed

In his first week as president-elect, Joe Biden instituted an advisory board of experts to provide science-based recommendations to respond to COVID-19. This could be a signal that independent science advice under a Biden administration is valued. After four years of watching the norms of science advisory structures eroded and undermined, especially at the EPA, it is hard to visualize the possibilities of a government informed by experts. Once Biden takes office in January, here are the actions I hope his administration will take to shore up the government's fifth arm of external expert advice:

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A memorial project installation of 20,000 American flags on September 22, 2020 in Washington, D.C. represents the more than 200,000 American lives lost to COVID-19. Win McNamee / Getty Images

By Derrick Z. Jackson

Officials at the highest levels are discussing the possibility of caving in on controlling the coronavirus and instead letting it run rampant throughout the United States until we reach "herd immunity," the point where the virus effectively runs out of people to infect. More than 6,200 scientists, health professionals, and research organizations say this is inhumane and have signed a memorandum rejecting herd immunity as a legitimate strategy.

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Like many other plant-based foods and products, CBD oil is one dietary supplement where "organic" labels are very important to consumers. However, there are little to no regulations within the hemp industry when it comes to deeming a product as organic, which makes it increasingly difficult for shoppers to find the best CBD oil products available on the market.

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An example of a dry field in San Joachin Valley, California, during the California drought that lasted from 2012 to 2016. Citizens of the Planet / Education Images / Universal Images Group / Getty Images

By Jose Pablo Ortiz Partida

The immediate emergency of COVID-19 has been a powerful reminder that the most valuable things in our lives are our families, friends, and the welfare of our communities.

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People gather at Nahant Beach in Nahant, MA on June 4. While few patrons wore their masks on the beach, many of the groups adhered to keeping their towels six feet apart. Blake Nissen / The Boston Globe / Getty Images

By Derrick Z. Jackson

All over America, protesters have taken to the streets to protest the police murders of African Americans George Floyd in Minneapolis and Breonna Taylor in Louisville and the white vigilante lynching of African American Ahmed Aubrey in Brunswick, Georgia. Part of the news coverage has dwelled on the speculation that the protests will fuel a second wave of COVID-19. One infectious disease scientist, Trevor Bedford of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, made the rough calculation that the protests could ultimately lead to between 15,000 and 50,000 overall coronavirus infections and between 50 to 500 deaths.

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As a heat wave descends upon the city, people seek refuge from the record high temperatures at the fountains in Flushing Meadows Park on July 21, 2019 in the Queens borough of New York City. Andrew Lichtenstein / Corbis / Getty Images

By Juan Declet-Barreto

In early April, when social distancing took hold across many places in the U.S. — with school and workplace closings and public life coming to a halt — it seemed like an inopportune time to talk about climate change.

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By Ken Kimmell

The COVID-19 crisis has upended the world, threatening the health and lives of millions, shattering the global economy, and imposing an unprecedented physical isolation upon us. It has changed so much almost overnight, including how we advocate for action on an even bigger long-term threat — climate change.

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Derrick Jackson

By Derrick Z. Jackson

As much as hurricanes Katrina and Maria upended African American and Latinx families, the landfall of the coronavirus brings a gale of another order. This Category 5 of infectious disease packs the power to level communities already battered from environmental, economic, and health injustice. If response and relief efforts fail to adequately factor in existing disparities, the current pandemic threatens a knockout punch to the American Dream.

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ROBYN BECK / AFP / Getty Images

By Dave Cooke

So, they finally went and did it — the Trump administration just finalized a rule to undo requirements on manufacturers to improve fuel economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from new passenger cars and trucks. Even with the economy at the brink of a recession, they went forward with a policy they know is bad for consumers — their own analysis shows that American drivers are going to spend hundreds of dollars more in fuel as a result of this stupid policy — but they went ahead and did it anyway.

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A protester left a "Science Makes America Great" sign in front of the Environmental Protection Agency during the Science March in Washington on Earth Day, Saturday, April 22, 2017. Bill Clark / CQ Roll Call

By Michael Halpern

Now, for some good news: the First Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday that UCS's lawsuit challenging the politicization of EPA science advisory committees may move forward. UCS sued the agency over a new directive that prohibits EPA grant-funded scientists from serving on these committees.

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Maskot / Getty Images

By Sarah Reinhardt

Back in February 2015, a committee of leading health and nutrition experts published a scientific report intended to inform the development of the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (Dietary Guidelines), the national nutrition recommendations that guide the food choices of millions of kids, adults, seniors, and veterans every day. For the first time, the report contained a significant and rigorous review of research on sustainable eating, including the ways that our food choices can impact our climate, natural resources, and ability to produce food in the future.

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Oil and chemical refinery plants cover the landscape next to African American communities along the Mississippi River near Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Andrew Lichtenstein / Corbis via Getty Images

By Derrick Z. Jackson

The Trump administration is trying mightily to gut the 50-year-old National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the law that mandates rigorous, science-based environmental impact reviews for major infrastructure and construction projects prior to federal permitting. NEPA also reserves significant time for the public to weigh in on the impact of projects to their communities.

The loss of public input in the administration's proposed changes to NEPA has environmental justice leaders up in arms. For them, the silencing amounts to regulatory racism.

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A researcher works in a lab that is developing testing for the COVID-19 coronavirus at Hackensack Meridian Health Center for Discovery and Innovation on Feb. 28 in Nutley, New Jersey. Kena Betancur / Getty Images News / Getty Images

By Michael Halpern

The Trump administration is scrambling to reconcile the president's contradictions of statements made by federal health scientists about the emerging coronavirus crisis. Their solution: muzzle scientists, require that all statements be politically vetted through Vice President Pence, and punish federal employees who draw attention to gross negligence. This is a highly dangerous power grab that undermines both emergency response and public faith in the reliability of information coming out of the government. And it speaks to the incompetence and incoherence of the response to this crisis so far.

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