Facts to fake news? A climate of falsehoods

Has the Trump administration's gone too far this time when it comes to its interference in science? A task force report certainly thinks so.

Maud Webster
21st October 2019
Image- Flickr
Scientists aren’t always objective, and despite our society’s perception of those working in the industry, the fact is that their studies are often funded by corporations and major organisations with other motives in mind. However, it’s been revealed that during the Trump administration scientific research has been manipulated on a supposedly weekly basis; this accusation originates from a group of ex-government officials, who released a Task Force report detailing the political interference currently going on in government scientific findings.

This has led to the restriction of study findings, particularly those which may cause damage to the business sector, and especially that of energy. 

As we approach the 2020 US election season, it’s more important than ever for the Republicans to ensure that their term in office has been ‘successful’. Therefore this obstruction of true scientific evidence seems this is one of many measures being taken at the moment to ensure that the currently distressing state of political and social affairs is concealed. 

But what has been hidden? Manipulated? Even erased? Well, the Department of Interior has been found reassigning a scientist to a position of accounting after he spoke out about the negative impacts of climate change on Arctic communities such as Inuit people. Another case found by the report is at the EPA [Environmental Protection Agency], members of some scientific advisory boards have been replaced by those representing corporate interests - biased individuals who care more about keeping money in their pockets than safeguarding our world for future generations. A final example is how the White House has suppressed a report displaying how a dangerously toxic substance, present in many states’ water sources, can harm humans at far lower levels than previously reported by the EPA.

Thomas Burke, a senior official at the EPA during Obama’s term in office expresses his concern for the current climate of suppressed information:

“Let’s face it, without credible science the fundamental responsibilities of our government are threatened. I fear the public has lost faith in our agencies, and our best and brightest are being discouraged and blocked from federal service.”

I don’t know about you, but to me, this doesn’t exactly sound like the kind of thing I want to hear about one of the most influential nations in the world as we hurtle towards many threats of resources dwindling, overpopulation and climate crisis. 

The report suggests the introduction of rigorous scientific integrity standards at all government agencies, as well as a higher level of accessibility to government data for the public, in the hope that this will mitigate the effects political manipulation is having and has had on scientific research.

Will this work? Let’s wait and see.

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AUTHOR: Maud Webster
she/they | third year architecture & urban planning student @ newcastle | co-head of culture for the 21/22 academic year

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