After just one week of the Trump presidency, it is already obvious that the war on science has begun. Trump’s pick to run the Office of Management and Budget, Mick Mulvany, questions whether government should fund research at all. Scott Pruitt, nominated to lead the EPA, actively denies climate change and in the past tried repeatedly to sue the EPA. In the last week freezes on EPA grants, bans on EPA and USDA employees from talking to the public about their research, and the possibility of censorship of scientific data and reports have all become realities in this uncertain time for science.
The CDC Climate and Health meeting originally scheduled for February was cancelled suddenly at the start of the Trump administration and speakers and participants were given no clear explanation for the cancellation. The cancellation was describe as a preemptive “strategic retreat” with the intent of avoiding a potential last-minute forced cancellation and political backlash. But does this preemptive cancellation actually do anything? How would self censorship make the situation better when faced with anti-climate beliefs in Washington? Perhaps the CDC feared that they would suffer from more widespread budget cuts in research areas aside from climate science. However, there is no concrete evidence for any of these speculations.
On January 26, thanks to former Vice President Al Gore, an alternative climate change and health meeting has been proposed independent of the CDC. The conference will consolidate the original three days into one day and it is unclear if CDC staff will be able to attend. For more information, see the meeting’s website.
The intent of this meeting was to discuss health risks posed by climate change and possible solutions. Global temperature rises is not just about warmer weather and coastal flooding but also pose significant consequences to human health. With warmer temperatures, we can expect to see worsened air quality, increase in infections related to insects, water and food and heat related illnesses.
Conceivably, there is a silver lining in this dark cloud. Scientists are fighting back and are realizing that science needs to be shared with the community. Nationwide science marches are being organized and agencies such as the EPA, USDA, and CDC have gotten more public visibility lately.
If you can take action to support science, here are a few resources that will make it easier to do so:
5 Calls: Pick an issue and enter your zip code. The name and phone number for your representative will show up along with a script you can follow or use as an example.
March for Science: This is being organized currently. Dates and cities are TBD but you can put in your information to keep up-to-date on the developments.
314 Action: This organization is dedicated to support scientists in running for political office.