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Here We Are Again

More than 570 of the National Academy of Sciences published a statement on Monday decrying what they're calling the Trump Administration's "denigration of scientific expertise and harassment of scientists," reports the New Yorker. The members represent many fields, but they note that the White House's "dismissal of scientific evidence" has been "particularly egregious" in the case of climate science.

Benjamin Santer, an atmospheric scientist at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, led the effort to draft the statement, and says he now fears losing his job, the New Yorker reports. But he also felt that he couldn't remain silent. "There is no point in being a scientist if you are unwilling to defend the technical work you do, especially when that work is mischaracterized by powerful members of the Administration," he tells the magazine.

And this isn't the first time the scientific community has felt it necessary to come together to warn this administration of the dangers of dismissing science. In 2016, 375 scientists — many of whom signed Monday's statement — published an open letter warning against the dangers of a US withdrawal from the Paris climate accord, the New Yorker says. Since then, the new statement points out, the suffering and economic loss wrought by "human-caused climate disruption" has only become "more obvious." 

The statement also takes issue with the White House's censorship of phrases such as "climate change," "sea-level-rise," and "science-based" in government reports and public communications, as well as a lack of expert scientific guidance within the administration. "I would say there isn't even any pretense at appointing qualified individuals to key scientific positions, which is deeply disturbing," Santer tells the magazine, noting that there is no Presidential science adviser, and that the Office of Science, Technology, and Policy "has been virtually gutted."