Future Science · Need to Know Science · New Science

Trump Is Banning Science Communication

We all knew that when Trump eventually rose to office it would be a bit rocky. I cannot say with any certainty, however, that we predicted quite how insane things would become. At the time of writing, Trump has been inaugurated for 5 days. In that time he has:

  • Withdrawn the USA from the Trans Pacific Partnership (a trade agreement between Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam)
  • Barred US aid from going towards nonprofit organisations which promote/perform abortions (The Mexico City Policy)
  • Frozen governmental hiring
  • Begun the process of repealing the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare)
  • Banned the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from using media outlets (talking to the press or even posting on social media). On that note, Trump also appointed a climate-science denier as head of the EPA. WHAT?
  • Revived the Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines (300 people were injured during protests against this, including one person who nearly lost an arm)
  • Placed a lock-down on communication from USDA scientists (though this was rescinded on Tuesday)

…TO NAME A FEW.

In a heroic act of defiance, one ex-employee of the Badlands National Park, part of the US Department of the Interior, took to twitter following the EPA ban, with one of my favourite protests; the education of the Badlands audience using EVIDENCE-BASED SCIENCE. #AlternativeFacts my ass.

screen-shot-2017-01-24-at-4-08-58-pm.png
@BadlandsNPS/Twitter
screen-shot-2017-01-24-at-4-07-28-pm.png
@BadlandsNPS/Twitter
screen-shot-2017-01-24-at-4-07-16-pm.png
@BadlandsNPS/Twitter

Unfortunately the law-abiding folk still employed by the organisation were quick to remove the posts, and I don’t imagine many more companies will be taking up the revolutionary mantle.

US scientists are definitely not happy about the newest regime, however. The WRI (World Resources Institute) think tank has described how “these actions will stem the free flow of information and have a chilling effect on staff in these agencies“, and the chief executive of the American Association for the Advancement of Science is equally concerned:

“We are concerned about reports that federal agencies…have issued directives to staff that may silence the voices of scientific researchers and others working for the federal government…censorship, intimidation, or other restriction on the freedom of scientists employed or funded by governmental organisations…is inimical to the advance of science and its appropriate application in the policy domain.”

We can only hope that the Trump administration will lift this ban, but I don’t have much hope. It’s a very scary time – the most powerful man in the world believes climate change is a Chinese conspiracy.

Here’s to the revolution.

Sources: TIME, Buzzfeed, the Guardian, the Independent

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