Marching For Science

By David Hong ’19

“What do Trump and atoms have in common? They make up everything”, said one of the hostile signs in the March for Science, addressing President Trump’s anti-science agenda. Formerly known as the Scientists’ March on Washington, the March for Science was held in at least 600 cities across the world on April 22nd, Earth day. With an unusual number of participants and amount of attention, many journalists point out that the Trump administration’s actions have been the cause for this phenomenon.

It is no secret that the president does not prioritize environmental protection as his prime agenda. President Trump has tweeted remarks such as “the concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive” and has instigated the U.S. science community to voice out its concern about environmental policy changes and global warming. His personal stance on climate change caused concerns even during his presidential election campaign. Another action that may have contributed to the heat of the argument around the role of science in politics is his controversial appointment of Scott Pruitt as the head of the Environmental Protection Agency. Scott Pruitt not only denied climate change but also sued EPA thirteen times as he had close business ties in the fossil fuel industry. During his campaign, President Trump regularly said that environmental regulations are slowing down the U.S. economy and that the EPA would be removed once he sits in the oval office.

Ever since President Trump has been in office, he has taken initiatives to reduce environmental regulations, many of which are reversing former President Obama’s executive orders on environmental protection. Most notably, President Trump issued an executive order to rescind the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, an Obama-era regulation that was made to curtail carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. President Trump also approved the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines construction, which could exacerbate future greenhouse gas emissions. The president also introduced deep cuts to U.S. science and environmental agencies such as the EPA and NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, to allow increases in the budget for defense by $54 billion. The president has cut down $3.4 billion from the budget for the U.S. Department of the Interior, which finances National Park Services and National Heritage Areas.

In the light of current events, the Trump administration has more pressure in deciding whether to exit the Paris Climate Agreement, an agreement made within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to deal with greenhouse gas emissions from year 2020. Currently, the Trump administration is divided internally and has not publicly announced its stance on the Paris agreement; a few people including Scott Pruitt is in support of exiting the Paris agreement. Would President Trump continue his anti-environmental policy agenda after witnessing the public response on Earth day? The question remains unanswered but soon to be obtained in the near future.

References:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/scott-pruitt-environmental-protection-agency_us_5878ad15e4b0b3c7a7b0c29c

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/03/how-trump-is-changing-science-environment/

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