• Science Informed Leadership

    It’s been a while since I’ve contributed to the Pale Blue Blog, and I’m glad to be back! Today’s post is focused on the concerns of many scientists, and science minded citizens, in the current political arena. Let me talk first about facts. There are harsh facts that we humans have to, or are being forced to, face even if we do not want to. We’ve all heard them: climate change, global warming, sea level rise, pollution… etc. Before I jump into the messy swaths of politics at the moment I’d like to remind everyone that facts don’t care about political preference, facts are facts.

    Here are some more facts about the cabinet picks for this administration that are quite concerning:

    • 8 out 20 of the cabinet nominees are business executives.
    • The Secretary of Health and Human Services nominee, Tom Price, has openly opposed the 21st Century Cures Act, which provides funding for medical research through the National Institutes of Health, reduces the educational debt of young medical researchers, and funds stem cell research.
    • The nominee for the Administer of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, wrote in the National Review that, “scientists continue to disagree about the degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the actions of mankind.”
    • Rick Perry, the nominee for Secretary of Energy, has been quoted speaking out against climate change, in 2011 stating, “the science is not settled on this. The idea that we would put Americans’ economy in jeopardy based on scientific theory that’s not settled yet, to me, is just nonsense. I mean, Galileo got outvoted for a spell. But asking us to cut back in areas that would have monstrous economic impact on this country is not good economics and I will suggest to you is not necessarily good science. Find out what the science truly is before you start putting the American economy in jeopardy.”

    These cabinet nominees are concerning for scientists and science-minded citizens alike. The apprehension is clear, as these nominees play a role in key policy making, and they may not protect the role that science plays in creating sound policy that will better our environment and health. There are several groups that are attempting to highlight these concerns to senators that will be responsible to approving the cabinet nominees in the upcoming senate confirmation hearings. One of these groups is the Science-informed Leadership group, a band of graduate students from UC Davis. They have created an online resource to make it simple to write and call your senator to hear your concerns heard.

    In their own words, “we are working to promote the appointment of executive branch leaders who demonstrate a track record of evidence-based decision-making that is rooted in scientific evidence and consensus, especially with regard to policy and regulatory issues that directly affect science, energy, the environment, education, and public health. We want to see federal leaders who appreciate science and the power of curiosity-driven research and make that appreciation an explicit part of their decision-making process. Engaging with senators and fostering a nationwide conversation about the value of science in leadership and public policy presents a real opportunity to change the way that science intersects with the federal government.” (J. Rudnick and K. Dynarski, ESA.org blog post).

    Here is how you can help! Contact your senators. Do it. I’m sure you’ve heard this a million times, but now is the time to act, as hearing have already started! The Science Informed Leadership team has a streamlined web app to make it easy to write and call your senators. Check it out here: http://www.scileadership.com/contact-senators.html