Maya Angelou once said, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”
President-Elect Donald Trump has shown that he has a quite tenuous grasp on science, at best, and that his policies will be, at best, hostile towards research and innovation. Alas, Trump offered little in the way of a policy platform throughout his campaign, so we’re left playing catch-up to understand a Trump presidency’s impact on science. That said, what we do know of Trump’s take is alarming.
Trump believes climate change is a Chinese hoax, tweeting in November 2012: “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”
In his hallmark tradition of international affronts, Trump has also threatened to “cancel” (withdraw from) the Paris climate agreement.
More recently, in September of this year, Trump selected Myron Ebell, a well-known climate skeptic, to lead his EPA transition.
Trump believes the United States does not have funding for space research, because we have potholes to repair. He also believes in privatizing space exploration. In November 2015, Trump was at a “Politics and Eggs” event in Manchester, New Hampshire when a 10-year-old asked him about space. Trump said, “Right now, we have bigger problems—you understand that? We’ve got to fix our potholes. You know, we don’t exactly have a lot of money.” He continued, saying that privatization of space is “great” and “maybe even better” than government space exploration.
Trump’s space policy adviser Bob Walker recently suggested in an interview with The Guardian that he intends to cut budgets for NASA’s “Earth-centric science.” NASA’s Earth Science Division, which will receive an estimated $2 billion (out of a total $19 billion) in funding for the fiscal year 2017, is dedicated to researching things like hazards, weather forecasting, and climate change. An article on Vox details the complexities of such a budget slash.
While Trump has thus far publicly made climate change and space the primary targets of his ineptitude, he has revealed a gross (and now empowered) lack of understanding in a wide-ranging set of areas, including the internet, mental health, and water.
Now for the reason I’m writing this article. This month, the House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space, and Technology’s official account tweeted a Breitbart climate-change-denying article.
As in the past, but perhaps now more than ever, it is up to scientists and science journalists to combat the barrage of scientific misinformation—and up to us to stay woke. So, if you haven’t already, now is the time to follow these people* on Twitter.
* This list includes primarily environmental and space scientists and reporters.
- @AstroKatie: Katie Mack is a theoretical astrophysicist at Melbourne University and a passionate science communicator. Mack’s work focuses on finding new ways to learn about the early universe and fundamental physics via astronomical observation.
- @PlanetDr: Sarah Hörst is an assistant professor of planetary science at Johns Hopkins University. Her work focuses on the formation and composition of planetary atmospheric hazes.
- @edyong209: Ed Yong is a science writer at The Atlantic. Yong recently authored I Contain Multitudes, a New York Times best-selling book examining the microbiome. Yong is also the author of the National Geographic blog, Not Exactly Rocket Science.
- @mdichristina: Mariette DiChristina is the editor-in-chief and senior vice president of Scientific American. Her work can be found here.
- @Rocket_Woman1: Vinita Marwaha Madill is a space operations engineer at the European Space Agency, as well as an advocate for women in STEM. At the ESA, she works on future human spaceflight projects. She is also the founder of Rocket Women.
- @scicurious: Bethany Brookshire is a staff education writer at Science News for Students. Her work can be found here.
- @mcnees: Robert McNees is an associate professor of physics at Loyola University Chicago. His research focuses on general relativity, cosmology, string theory, and quantum field theory.
- @carlzimmer: Carl Zimmer is a columnist at The New York Times and a national correspondent for STAT. Zimmer publishes a newsletter, Friday’s Elk, featuring his writing and upcoming talks.
- @am_anatiala: Asia Murphy is a PhD student in ecology at Penn State. She runs the website Anati’ala, which is Malagasy for “inside the forest,” where she communicates science and conservation information for lay audiences.
- @elakdawalla: Emily Lakdawalla is the senior editor at The Planetary Society, and an advocate of exploration of all the worlds of our solar system. She uses the Planetary Society blog to write space news, explain planetary science, and share beautiful photos.
- @TucsonPeck: Jonathan Overpeck is a professor of geosciences and director of the Institute of the Environment at the University of Arizona. Overpeck is interested in interactions among climate, ice sheets, and sea level, as well as in interactions between climate and ecosystems. He also collaborates in environmental law. Full disclosure: I am employed by the University of Arizona.
- @AlongsideWild: David Steen is an assistant research professor of wildlife ecology and conservation at Auburn University. He has been called the best biologist on Twitter.
- @cragcrest: Christie Aschwanden is the lead writer for science at FiveThirtyEight and a health columnist for The Washington Post. She blogs about science at The Last Word on Nothing.
- @aaronecarroll: Aaron Carroll is a health services researcher, and contributor to The New York Times. Carroll is editor-in-chief of The Incidental Economist, a health services research blog.
- @GrrlScientist: “GrrlScientist” is the pseudonym of the evolutionary ecologist and ornithologist who writes about science for Forbes. Her work can be found here.
- @chriscmooney: Chris Mooney is an energy and environment writer at The Washington Post. His work can be found here.
- @LeeBillings: Lee Billings is a science journalist covering space and physics for Scientific American. His book, Five Billion Years of Solitude, chronicles the scientific quest to discover other Earth-like planets elsewhere in the universe. His work can be found here.
- @laurahelmuth: Laura Helmuth is the health, science, and environment editor at The Washington Post.
- @borenbears: Seth Borenstein is a science writer for the Associated Press, covering climate, astronomy, and more. His work can be found here.
- @ivanoransky: Ivan Oransky is the vice president and global editorial director of MedPage Today. Oranksy is also a columnist for STAT, and the co-founder of Retraction Watch, a website dedicated to tracking scientific retractions. Oransky teaches medical journalism at New York University’s Carter Journalism Institute, as a distinguished writer in residence.
- @celiadugger: Celia Dugger is the science editor at The New York Times. Her work, focused on global health and development, can be found here.