Government scientists blast Trump's 'abysmal' record of censorship


A survey of 63,000 federally employed scientists are warning about the dangers of the Trump administration's shocking assault on science.

Trump political appointees are censoring scientists, hindering data collection, and overruling scientific experts to push a politicized agenda, according to a survey of thousands of scientists working at several federal agencies.

The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), which sponsored the survey, calls the Trump administration's record on science policy "abysmal."

In early 2018, UCS sent a survey to more than 63,000 scientific experts employed by 16 federal government agencies. The results provide even more evidence that this administration is stridently anti-science.

"The administration often disregards science in and excludes agency scientific staff from decision-making even when legally bound to consider such evidence," the UCS report states. Half of all respondents agreed that "consideration of political interests hindered their agencies' ability to make science-based decisions."

Some scientists complained of political appointees suppressing research findings that don't align with Trump administration priorities.

The fear of political interference spans numerous agencies, even seeping into agencies with a mission to keep Americans healthy like the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

"Even those who have spent 30+ years at CDC are concerned that, for the first time, politics are being put above science," one CDC employee said.

In a blatant form of interference, censorship — especially related to climate change — is a major problem.

"Censorship has been a problem in the Trump administration from the beginning," the report states, "as the White House and various agencies have removed mentions of climate change from websites and instructed staff to avoid referring to climate change in their communications."

Almost half of respondents from the National Park Service, and more than a third from the EPA, have been asked to take out the phrase "climate change" from their work.

The report of censorship around climate change, while not a new allegation, is resonant as California struggles with catastrophic wildfires of historic proportions.

While scientists readily admit climate change plays a significant role in the size and intensity of the wildfires, Trump administration officials, including Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, refuse to admit that fact.

Last week, Zinke wrote a vicious op-ed blaming "radical environmentalists" for California fires.

Trump himself once called climate change a "total hoax," a sentiment many find troubling as a sixth firefighter died trying to contain one of California's wildfires.

Part of the problem is that Trump simply refuses to hire enough scientists. Of the 83 posts designated by the National Academy of Sciences as "scientist appointees," Trump has filled only 25 of them, far fewer than previous administrations, according to UCS.

Trump's anti-science view impacts not only performance of scientists, but overall morale. One 25-year veteran scientist of three different federal agencies called the impact of the Trump administration, "appalling."

Even with the world literally on fire, the Trump administration would rather promote its anti-science agenda than listen to experts.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.