War on Science

By Ty Shikashio


Rep. Matt Gaetz, Florida’s representative for their first congressional district, proposed a bill on February 3, 2017, calling for the termination of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). While this bill is still in committee, the very thought of it passing can be extremely terrifying for some.

The United States is one of the forefronts for scientific inquiry and discovery. In 2016 alone, the U.S. proved Einstein’s gravitational wave theory by discovering its very existence, we found a possible habitable planet (Proxima b), and we even sent a spacecraft to Jupiter. But despite these amazing accomplishments, the new administration seems to be both aiming towards and encouraging the elimination of scientific assets in the United States.

Climate change denial, reduced funding of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the reestablishment of Keystone and Dakota Access Pipeline projects are just some of the anti-science actions Trump’s administration has pursued so far.

Branham’s AP Environmental Sciences (APES) teacher Mrs. Kori Reynolds weighed in on the new administration, and said, “The one thing that Trump has done that is beneficial for science is that there is an urge for science funding and research.”

She added that fear of the new administration jeopardizing current scientific climate in the U.S. is sparking donations to small grassroots organizations that promote environmental conservation.

Science Department Chair Mr. Juan Fernandez is concerned with the new administration’s effects on public school education.

He said, “If Trump and his advisors concentrate money towards private schools, the service of public of education turns into a business which will further dismantle public education of science.” Mr. Fernandez is also troubled by Trump being happy to accept alternative facts. He says that this gives the possibility of non-fact based science being given to the public.

Some of the Branham students are slightly concerned as well. Senior Madeline Trotter intends on majoring in biochemistry, and is concerned about the repercussions of some of Trump’s accusations on young minds.

She said, “The way he speaks and acts in response to certain scientific ideas can often be interpreted as largely discouraging from a young, scientifically interested person. My only hope is that those interested in the field will continue developing an interest and pursue their education.” Madeline also said that she is confident that the U.S. will continue to push and progress science. “There will always be a demand for educated people, and because of that I think it’s unlikely that Trump would have much of a negative impact.”

 

  • Climate change

-Trump (and EPA head Scott Pruitt) have openly shown disbelief in anthropogenic climate change. Pruitt even saying, “Carbon dioxide is not a major contributor to global warming.”

  • Travel ban restricts scientists from leaving home to conduct research

-The recent Muslim ban has restricted notable scientists based in the seven banned countries from coming to the U.S. to conduct research.

  • Appointment of Scott Pruitt – ties with Exxon Mobil

– Scott Pruitt served as Oklahoma’s attorney general. Exxon Mobil was a major donor of the Republican Attorney General’s Association, donating $50,000 to this group in April.

  • Proposed defunding of NOAA

– Though it has not yet happened, Trump is planning on cutting NOAA’s (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) budget by up to 17%. NOAA is the nation’s top climate and weather agency.

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