Since his campaign’s inception, President Donald Trump has been a figurehead for conspiracy-mongering on climate change, vaccines, and everything scientistsunderstand that he doesn’t— which is essentially anything related to science. The political atmosphere of anti-science rhetoric only worsened after his inauguration: Trump effectively declared a war on science by appointing an anti-science cabinet and shutting out scientific facts and perspectives.
Soon after Trump was sworn in as the President of the United States, the official White House website (https://www.whitehouse.gov) removed all mentions of climate change. However, Trump’s heavy skepticism toward science began long before his inauguration. In 2016, Trump appointed Steve Bannon as Chief Strategist and Senior Counselor to the President. Before joining the White House, Bannon ran Breitbart News, which contained stories of racism, anti-semitism and sexism along with climate change conspiracy theories. His extremist views promoted many stories discrediting climate change, including “Climate Change: The Greatest-Ever Conspiracy Against The Taxpayer” and “1001 Reasons Why Global Warming Is So Totally Over in 2016.” Not only are these stories spreading misinformation, they are effectively dividing the public through denial of factual evidence.
Bannon isn’t the only climate change denier in the Trump Administration: Trump appointed Myron Ebell as head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) transition team. The EPA strives to protect America’s environment and its people. However, Ebell is currently the director of the Center for Energy and the Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), which promotes climate change skepticism and the dismantling of the Clean Power Plan, which was a plan made under the Obama Administration to reduce carbon emissions and promote cleaner energy sources. Ebell’s tactics match those that the tobacco industry used to deny adverse health effects of cigarettes, which makes sense, considering Ebell is a former lobbyist for the tobacco industry. Jeremy Symons of the Environmental Defense Fund spoke of his reaction position shortly after Ebell was appointed: “I’ve got a sick feeling in my gut,” Symons said. “I can’t believe we got to the point when someone who is as unqualified and intellectually dishonest as Myron Ebell has been put in a position of trust for the future of the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the climate we are going to leave our kids.”
In addition to opposing an anti-climate change propagandist as the head of the EPA, the Trump Administration has put a gag order on scientists and employees of the EPA and the United States Department of Agriculture. Trump imposed this media blackout to prevent the EPA from issuing any press releases, blog posts, or social media posts, effectively muzzling scientific input. The Trump Administration also froze EPA grants and contracts and ordered the removal of the EPA’s pages on climate change from their website in what can only be interpreted as a ploy to prevent the dissemination of climate science to the masses.
Inresponseto the media blackout, over 80 rogue Twitter accounts for scientific organizations such as AltUSNationalParkService, Rogue NASA, and AltUSForestService have started a resistance movement against the Trump Administration. These rogue accounts have been flooding twitter with facts about climate change, giving power to scientists who were forced into silence by the Trump Administration.
Scientists are also planning a “March for Science” in Washington D.C., as well as a sister march in Los Angeles. According to the website, the purpose of this march is to protest against anti-science politicians because, “slashing funding and restricting scientists from communicating their findings (from tax-funded research!) with the public is absurd and cannot be allowed to stand as policy.” The website describes the causes as “a non-partisan issue that reaches far beyond people in the STEM fields and should concern anyone who values empirical research and science.”
As American astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson famously said, “the good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.” Unfortunately for Trump, no amount of gag orders or climate change skeptics will prevent the changes that arerapidly affecting our planet every day.
The March for Science will take place on April 22, which happens to be the same day as Earth Day.