Science, unlike politics, is a fact-based discipline. Which is why it is so widely discouraged, and often outright-ignored, by the notoriously fact-averse Trump administration.
The examples are many, from the denials of climate change that led to the nation’s withdrawal from the Paris climate accords signed by every other country in the world to the removal of phrases like “evidence-based” and “science-based” from the budget proposals from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The latest affront from the Trump administration towards the world of reality comes with the news that National Park Service officials have erased any mention of the human role in climate change from drafts of a new report on the rising levels of the world’s oceans and the accompanying increase in deadly storm surges.
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According to an article on The Hill, the first draft of the report was started before the last presidential election in the summer of 2016 when the government was headed by people who had a rational mindset and didn’t mistrust the existence of facts. The purpose of the report was as an attempt to inform the public and Park Service employees about how National Park resources could be protected.
Despite the declaration from Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to Congress swearing that his department had not altered any scientific papers and was not trying to smother the voices of scientists, The Center for Investigative Reporting has discovered that every single mention of the human impact on climate change has been eradicated from the initial drafts of the report.
The National Park Service’s amendments to the reports reflect an unprecedented political interference in government science by the Interior Department according to critics of the agency.
Jonathan Overpeck, a climate scientist and dean of the University of Michigan’s School for Environment and Sustainability, told The Center for Investigative Reporting that the deletions are “shocking from a scientific point of view, but also from a policy point of view.”
“’To remove a very critical part of the scientific understanding is nothing short of political censorship and has no place in science,’ he said. ‘Censorship of this kind is something you’d see in Russia or some totalitarian regime. It has no place in America,'” Overpeck continued.
While Zinke may be the man responsible for this particular violation of the public trust and fact-based policy making, it is EPA Secretary Scott Pruitt who is perhaps the most anti-science enabler in the Trump administration.
Pruitt recently had a series of “approved talking points” disseminated to EPA staff members that made it official agency policy to deny the proof of human impact on the earth’s climate ecosystem. That recent move comes on top of the scrubbing of the EPA website of all mentions of climate change after Pruitt took control of the agency and the deletion of valuable data sets from publicly-financed studies that suddenly disappeared from government databases.
While the Trump administration, along with the rest of the Republican leadership, can bury their heads in the sand and continue to ignore science to benefit the bottom lines of their corporate overlords, any good scientist knows that the chickens eventually come home to roost.
Perhaps these anti-science, doubting Thomases of climate change will relent in their lack of belief in human impact on the environment when the waves begin lapping across the dining room floor at Mar-a-Lago.