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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The war on climate change

The+war+on+climate+change

Don’t subtract from facts

Although this column has typically been a biweekly reminder to show more appreciation to your local mathematician, at times I have waded into unrelated waters sharing my personal and political opinions carefully masked, of course, by some witty math metaphor. However, this week there is no masking; the time for metaphor has passed. There is a war against science, and it is necessary to speak plainly.

Just as Donald Trump’s presidency was beginning, many pages began disappearing from whitehouse.gov, including information on climate change. Just days later, there was a gag order placed on both the Environmental Protection Agency and the research division of the US Department of Agriculture.

He has also ordered all studies or data from the EPA, including peer reviewed research, to be reviewed by politicians before the public has access to them.

This is not okay. The research in question is not only taxpayer funded, but has no bearing on national security and puts no lives at risk. Thus, it is the public’s right to see such studies. Unless the politicians making the reviews have doctorate degrees in the relevant subjects, I simply cannot see how their review can be of any relevance to the process.

The question then is what can we, particularly scientists, but also citizens do? Scientists, librarians, and other volunteers in our very own city, gathered at the University of Pennsylvania just days before Trump’s inauguration to compile a list of scientific data from across government webpages that was likely in danger of being removed by the incoming administration. Computer scientists then wrote scripts to scrape this data from the web and store it on private servers.

This may seem like an extreme example, but don’t worry. Even if you don’t know Java from a cup of coffee, there are still steps you can take. First of all, in the words of “Harry Potter” character Alastor Moody, “Constant Vigilance!” We must remain alert and demand the information that is being kept from us. One easy step is to write to your senators and representatives to let them know you care about these issues and insist on the public’s right to the facts (and not the alternative kind either). Another easy measure, and a way to stay informed, is to directly follow and read private scientific publications, especially peer-reviewed journals published by the professional societies from relevant fields. I also suggest following Twitter accounts such as @NotAltWorld and @RogueNASA, which according to their bios, are “resistance teams” in the name of science.

Furthermore, if the administration is to continue these actions, then it is up to us to stand up for what we believe in, even through small everyday acts.

We can actively engage in productive change by turning off lights when we leave a room and not leaving water running while we brush our teeth. We can walk to campus instead of driving and make more of an effort to recycle. We can donate to private research efforts that rely on government grants to operate. On their own, these actions may seem insignificant, but as the Women’s March on Washington (and the sister marches all over the world) showed, there is power in numbers. If we all endeavor to do a little better for our planet, together we could make a noticeable difference.

Right now it’s climate change, but what is next? There is no doubt in my mind that there will be additional attacks on science in the near future. In each case, we can take small steps to stay informed and stay active. Furthermore, we need not, should not, confine ourselves to science. Now is the time to take action about any issues we care about and stand up for any rights we feel are being infringed, whether we are directly affected or not. Now is the time to stand up and stand together to show the administration that we will not become “1984.”

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