On Saturday, September 2, during a long holiday weekend and amid the national focus on Hurricane Harvey’s wrath, the Trump Administration nominated Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) to be administrator of NASA (the National Aeronautics and Space Administration). The irony of this appointment isn’t lost on environmentalists and climate campaigners, given Bridenstine’s long history of climate science denial and the fact that NASA is the world’s foremost agency tracking human-induced climate change and its effects.
Of course, it’s no surprise either, given others Trump has tapped for key science-related positions. First there was Scott Pruitt, the former Oklahoma Attorney General, who Trump named to run the Environmental Protection Agency — and who has started to systematically gut the agency from within. The next major environmental affront was Samuel Clovis as Under Secretary of Agriculture in charge of the USDA’s research, education, and economic analysis programs. Formerly an economics professor with little to no science background, Clovis was not the choice of environmentalists who are used to actual scientists filling such roles.
“Trump marched into Washington vowing to drain the swamp, but instead is draining the life out of the nation’s scientific leadership,” declares an August 24 editorial in the Boston Globe. “Inexcusable gaps abound in scientific firepower.”
The Globe goes onto report that staffing at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy “has plunged” from 135 under President Obama to 45, according to its former director (and Harvard physicist) John Holdren. “The State Department science envoy resigned this week with a letter that contained a pungent anagram: The first letter of each paragraph spelled out the word ‘impeach’.” adds the Globe.
It’s hard to believe that the Commander in the Chief of the United States is at war with science, but at least we live in interesting times. Environmentalists and reason-based thinkers everywhere are working hard to turn the tide in Congress over to Democratic control in the upcoming mid-term elections, and keeping their fingers crossed for impeachment proceedings.