• 28 JUL 17
    • 0

    The Science Inquisition in America

    From Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER)

    After the Spanish Inquisition arose during the 15th century, it spread across most of Europe.  In 1616, the Roman Inquisition judged the Copernican proposition that the Earth moves around the sun “formally heretical” leading to placement of Copernicus’s On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres on the Index of Forbidden Books.

    Because he expanded Copernican theories, Galileo was tried by the Inquisition in 1633 and found “vehemently suspect of heresy.”  He was forced to recant and spent the rest of his life under house arrest.

    Does any of this sound familiar?

    The Trump White House currently regards as heresy the idea that human activity has an effect on the 60-mile thick blanket of the Earth’s atmosphere  – or that something can be done about it.  As a result, our climate is becoming like the weather – everyone talks about it but nobody does anything about it.

    Consequently, for those in federal service working on climate issues, these are perilous times:

    •    Climate experts are transferred to non-jobs in hopes that they resign;

    •    EPA’s Scott Pruitt wants to subject climate science to a “red-team-blue team” exercise, as if science can be honed in a military-style war game; and

    •    EPA is not only scrubbing its climate web pages (even the one for schoolchildren) but also banning the phrase climate change, instead using the term “resilience” (which implies that the effects of climate change are real but offers no clue about causes or possibility for control).

    Nor is climate science the only purge target in an administration rooted in alternative facts.  To push forward with its plan to repeal the Obama Clean Water Plan (also known as WOTUS for Waters of the United states), Scott Pruitt decided to throw out detailed hyper-documented findings of more than a half-billion dollars in benefits for protecting just 3 to 5% more wetlands.  Instead, Pruitt declares wetlands have no value. These guys are not just cooking books; they are burning books.

    As you know, there are many other martyrs in the Trump Science Inquisition.  So many that the Union of Concerned Scientists has put out a catalog of ways the Trump administration has sidelined science. At this rate, UCS will need to issue a new catalog every six months.

    We have seen some of the same tactics before. The excesses of the George W. Bush era helped frame the issue of scientific integrity and the need to insulate science and scientists from political manipulation. As before, we are working to convert these Trump abuses into concrete for building even stronger legal structures for safeguarding both government scientists and the scientific enterprise itself.

    PEER is needed now more than ever and your support has never been more timely.

    Sincerely,

    Jeff Ruch

    Executive Director

    P.S. VIP Treatment. When Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg toured the rapidly shrinking glaciers at Glacier National Park last month, he was supposed to meet with a top federal climate scientist. But since he is a VIP, Interior HQ got involved and decided that meeting was “inappropriate.” Instead, Zuckerberg got to shake paws with Gracie, the “Bark Ranger,” a service dog whose job is keeping bears and mountain goats away from visitors.  Arf.

    P.P.S. Unclear on the Concept.  When the Park Service says it has “zero tolerance” for sexual harassment of its female employees, it actually means double-digit tolerance – if the harasser is a manager.  Look at the double standard in action.

    P.P.P.S. Secret to Resource Management. One key to effectively managing resources is to not allow them to be stolen. Sounds simple?  Well, it is something the BLM has yet to master in allowing rampant rip-offs on the range by ignoring grazing trespass. Nor does the Forest Service show much interest in preventing commercial timber theft and fraud. PEER is pressing both agencies to put a lid on our natural resource cookie jar.

    P.P.P.P.S. Help us spread the word. Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and share and re-tweet all our breaking news about our work standing up for public service. And if you are an agency employee working with one of the “resistance” Twitter accounts and need PEER assistance or advice, DM us!

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