Editorial: Evidence-based policy is not a partisan issue, it’s a human one.
Science cannot be refuted. This was the rally cry behind this past weekend’s science marches, which occurred in over 610 cities around the world.
Under the Trump administration, climate change and scientific fact have been falsely branded as “fake news.” However, scientific fact is not fake. Properly gathered data is not an opinion, nor is there room for one until further research concludes otherwise. As of now, there is no research that points to the falsifiability of climate change.
Additionally, if data does not align with a personal belief that does not mean the facts can, or should, be written off. Studies on climate change, habitat destruction, dwindling species populations and medical interventions using native plant species all underwent a rigorous, scientific process before they were even initially introduced into the public sphere. Once there, it is not a matter of whether or not the research should be taken seriously. Rather, it is a matter of how to collaborate with the science community in order to effectively and swiftly enact positive change.
This weekend’s marchers evidenced the blatant acts of hypocrisy currently being enacted by the Trump administration. A proposal that was published in March outlines plans to strip 31 percent of the current funding for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and cut over $5 billion from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This is only one example of a policy that presents barriers for researchers to conduct studies and limits their capacity to communicate crucial findings.
Using fact-based, objective methods of discovery to direct policies are not only in the public interest because of the environmental and health benefits that they offer, but are also key for generating economic opportunities and cultivating the general well-being of our world. Furthermore, environmental issues are usually directly related to issues regarding human rights. Minority and indigenous populations typically live in areas first affected by climate change, exacerbating the vulnerability of an already disenfranchised group. More recently, at Standing Rock, native populations have been continuously forced to confront construction of a pipeline that will further pollute their water. Additionally, the city of Flint, Michigan is still attempting to deal with the consequences of lead poisoned water. Lastly, every human being inhabits the same biosphere so turning the environment into a partisan issue serves virtually no purpose and arguing against climate change does not offer any benefits.
The importance of science in the modern world is clear; however, despite such seeming clarity, there is still much that needs to be done in order to mitigate the damage actively being perpetrated by the Trump administration — which has successfully, and unfortunately, branded itself as anti-science in almost every regard. When entities like the EPA and National Science Foundation are inappropriately questioned about their legitimacy, people who have spent their lives using pragmatic means to reach a solution are successfully disenfranchised. Scientists typically tend to remove themselves from the political sphere. Despite this, 2017 has ushered a global movement of scientists who are actively advocating for funding for science and education in this realm.
There is a quote by Ronald Reagan that has recently resurfaced proclaiming “preservation of our environment is not a liberal or conservative challenge, it’s common sense.”
It is resoundingly ironic to note the differences between that statement spoken by a former president — and many other former heads of state — at a time when opposing sentiments are spewed by the current president on a daily basis. These marches provided a much needed, public display for fact-based, peer reviewed policy initiatives and an intention to hold higher institutions of power accountable for their actions. It is outrageous and upsetting that, in 2017, peer-reviewed facts and scientific research must be debated and protested to remain protected.
This editorial was developed by The Review staff, led by Editorial Editor Alexandra Eichenstein and Investigative Editor Margaret McNamara.