News

SCIENCE RESEARCH UNDER SIEGE

By Molly Rush

Focused on tweets and impeachment, the media has largely ignored the lasting damage being done by the Trump Administration in undermining the essential work of our government. Think Secretaries of Education, Labor, EPA, etc. chosen to carry in wrecking balls to their agencies. 

The New York Times published a blistering article on December 28th, “Science Under Attack: How Trump Is Sidelining Researchers and Their Work”. It details how in just three years the role of science in government has been on the path toward destruction: research projects undermined, misused, or de-funded; scientific committees disbanded. Those affected include studies of the effects of chemicals on children and pregnant women, defense against invasive insects, crop science and the economics of farming. 

Professor Wendy E. Wagner commented, “When we decapitate the government’s ability to use science in a professional way, that the risk is that we start making bad decisions, that we start missing new public health risks.” 

Shutting down research programs, challenging findings, and cutting staff has been a consistent policy that has given industry the upper hand in the important and urgent efforts to protect our health, safety and the environment. Regardless of consequences, the Trump Administration has moved ahead determinedly toward its goal of destroying the role of science, seeing it as a threat to corporate profits. 

Hundreds of scientists have resigned in dismay over work undone. These include studies on the environmental effects on health and food safety, of coal and oil extraction, of lowering air pollution and much more. EPA staffing is at its lowest level in ten years, despite the frightening effects of climate change already affecting the lives of millions of humans, animals and plant life. Two hundred and fifty scientists are gone, their work in disarray or unfinished. 

Michael Gerard, Director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University tracked over 200 reports of administration efforts to restrict or misuse science since 2017. “It’s pervasive.” 

A White House statement says it all: “Businesses are finally being freed of Washington’s overreach, and the American economy is flourishing as a result.” 

What is most dismaying is the fact that “It will take five to ten years to rebuild,” according to a former official of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. No surprise, given that many top government positions are in the hands of former lobbyists, including at the EPA and Interior. 

Presidential and Congressional candidates and the media need to be pressed to discuss how they plan to turn all this around. We can find ways to get this information to the public, to legislators, to educators, the medical profession and advocacy groups. 

Begin by searching the Times for the article, read it and weep for the helpless infants and children as well as the planet. All will suffer from these heedless actions. Then find ways to respond. Share this information with family and friends. Write a letter to the editor. Join with others to meet with your representative. Approach an advocacy group, such as those involved with health care, justice, the environment, education, justice and peace. All are being affected. 

Molly Rush is a co-founder of the Merton Center and a member of the New People Editorial Collective.

NewPeople Newspaper VOL. 50 No. 2. March, 2020. All rights reserved.

Categories: News

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