Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Science Has The Lowest Of Priorities In Trump Administration

It became clear soon after his election that Donald Trump doesn't have much respect for science. Scientific facts don't go with his pro-corporate agenda. And it's not just environmental science or global climate change science. The Trump administration is largely ignoring science in general -- and that is not good for the future of this country.

Here is part of an article on this subject by Sara Reardon at nature.com:

US President Donald Trump has pledged to shrink the federal government, and he seems to be starting with science. Nearly six months after taking office, Trump has not chosen a science adviser, and the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) has dwindled from around 130 staff members under former president Barack Obama to 35.
The vacancies have diminished the White House’s ability to coordinate science policy and spending between agencies, and have left government-wide programmes on topics such as cybersecurity, regulation of genetically modified organisms and science education without clear direction. And the problem is expected to worsen, with the continuing exodus of the OSTP’s non-political (or ‘career’) staff; four senior people left on 30 June alone. Many are frustrated that the White House is not calling on scientific expertise when making decisions. 
OSTP insiders fear that it may be difficult for the next science adviser — who normally directs the office — to restore it to its role of scientific coordinator. “Anyone who is nominated, if they are confirmed, is going to have to play catch-up,” says a former OSTP staff member, who is still a government employee and not authorized to speak to the press. “And I don’t know if they’re ever really going to have a seat at the table.” 
Trump has waited longer than most recent presidents to choose a science adviser. Obama and Bill Clinton each named theirs the month after they were elected, whereas George W. Bush announced his pick in June 2001, about six months after taking office. A White House official says that Trump is considering three or four candidates, but declined to say when a decision might be announced.
For now, it is unclear who is running the OSTP. Long-time staff member Ted Wackler has been acting director since Obama’s science adviser, John Holdren, left in January. But a mid-level Trump appointee — deputy chief technology director Michael Kratsios — represents the office at meetings of the president’s senior staff, the anonymous White House official says. That slot is normally occupied by the president’s science adviser. 
Kratsios, former chief of staff to venture capitalist and Trump donor Peter Thiel, has helped to hire eight people to work on technology issues in three of the OSTP’s five Obama-era divisions: environment and energy, national security and the office of the chief technology officer. But two divisions — science, and technology and innovation — are now completely unstaffed, according to several former employees. “It begs the question: if science and technology is in your name and you do not have a science or technology division, what are you doing?” one former staffer says.
(NOTE - The caricature of Donald Trump above is by DonkeyHotey.)

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