Drought, Hurricane, or Wildfire? Assessing the Trump Administration’s Anti-Science Disaster

  • Scott Frickel Brown University
  • Christopher M. Rea The Ohio State University
Keywords: Trump Administration, science policy, disasters, anti-science, methodology, politics of knowledge

Abstract

We describe the Trump Administration as an “anti-science disaster” and approach study of the phenomenon as other disaster researchers might study the impacts of a drought, hurricane, or wildfire. An important, but rare, element of disaster research is identification of baseline data that allow scientific assessment of changes in social and natural systems. We describe three potential baselines for assessing the nature and impact of Trump’s anti-science rhetoric and (in)action on science, science policy, and politics.

Author Biographies

Scott Frickel, Brown University

Scott Frickel is Professor of Sociology and Environment and Society at Brown University and Community Engagement Core Leader for the Brown Superfund Research Program. Interested in how nature, knowledge, and politics combine, his latest book, with James R. Elliott, is a comparative study of urban socioecological change titled Sites Unseen: Uncovering Hidden Hazards in American Cities (Russell Sage Foundation and the ASA Rose Series in Sociology, 2018).

Christopher M. Rea, The Ohio State University

Chris Rea is Assistant Professor of Public Affairs and (by courtesy) Sociology in the John Glenn College of Public Affairs at The Ohio State University. He is also Core Faculty in the Sustainability Institute at Ohio State. His first book project, Economy and Ecology, is a study of the causes and consequences of the increasing integration of markets into systems of nature protection, theorized through a comparative examination of the development of “ecological offsetting” schemes in Germany and in the United States. Chris also likes to go outside and to ride bikes whenever he can.

References

Bush, George W. 2001. “President Bush Discusses Global Climate Change.” The White House (June 11). https://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/news/releases/2001/06/20010611-2.html. Accessed July 19, 2019.

Couvillion, B. R., Baras, J. A., Steyer, G. D., Sleavin, W., Fischer, M., Beck, H., et al. (2011). Land area change in coastal Louisiana from 1932 to 2010: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Map 3164, scale 1:265,000. https://pubs.usgs.gov/sim/3164/. Accessed July 20, 2019.

Davis, Julie Hirschfeld. 2018. “Spending Plan Passed by Congress Is a Rebuke to Trump. Here’s Why.” The New York Times (March 23). https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/22/us/politics/trump-government-spending-bill.html. Accessed July 20, 2019.

Diffenbaugh, Noah S., Daniel L. Swain, and Danielle Touma. 2015. “Anthropogenic warming has increased drought risk in California.” PNAS 112(13): 3931–3936.

Elliott, Rebecca. 2018. “Sociology of Climate Change as a Sociology of Loss.” European Journal of Sociology 59(3): 301-337.

Fisher, Dana R. and Scott Frickel. 2018. “Will Scientists Gear Up for Activism in the Age of Trump?” The American Prospect (July 12). https://prospect.org/article/will-scientists-gear-activism-age-trump.

Fredrickson, Lief, Marianne Sullivan, Christopher Sellers, Jennifer Ohayon, Ellen Kohl, Sarah Lamdan, Alissa Cordner, Alice Hu, Katarzyna Kaczowka, Natalia Navas, Linda Wicks, and the

Environmental Data Governance Initiative. 2018. “A Sheep in the Closet: The Erosion of Enforcement at the EPA.” The Environmental Data Governance Initiative (May 2019). https://envirodatagov.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Sheep-in-the-Closet.pdf. Accessed July 20, 2019.

Hess, David J. 2020. “The Sociology of Ignorance and Post-Truth Politics.” Sociological Forum, forthcoming.

Kates, R. W., C. E. Colten, S. Laska, and S. P. Leatherman. 2006. “Reconstruction of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina: A Research Perspective.” PNAS 103(40):14653–14660.

Kelkar, Shreeharsh. 2019. “Post-truth and the Search for Objectivity: Political Polarization and the Remaking of Knowledge Production.” Engaging Science, Technology, and Society 5: 86-106.

Keyes, Amelia Trafton, Kathleen Fallon Lambert, Dallas Burtraw, Jonathan J. Buonocore, Jonathan I. Levy, and Charles T. Driscoll. 2019. “The Affordable Clean Energy Rule and the Impact of Emissions Rebound on Carbon Dioxide and Criteria Air Pollutant Emissions.” Environmental Research Letters 14(4): 1-10.

Kinchy, Abby J. and Daniel Lee Kleinman. 2005. “Democratizing Science, Debating Values: New Approaches to ‘Politicized’ Science under the Bush Administration,” Dissent 52(3, Summer): 54-62.

Ledford, Heidi, Sara Reardon, Emiliano Rodríguez Mega, Jeff Tollefson, and Alexandra Witze. 2019. “Trump Seeks Big Cuts to Science Funding — Again.” Nature (March 11). [Ed: no volume to cite here.] http://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-00719-4. Accessed July 20 2019.

Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency. 2007. 549 U.S. 497.

Mooney, Chris. 2005. The Republican War on Science. New York: Basic Books.

Otto, Shawn Lawrence. 2012. "America's Science Problem." Scientific American 307(5): 62-71 (1 November).

Rea, Christopher M. 2018. “Regulatory Thickening and the Politics of Market-Oriented Environmental Policy.” Environmental Politics 28(7): 1167-1191.

Union of Concerned Scientists. 2018. “Abandoning Science Advice.” Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists. (January). https://www.ucsusa.org/sites/default/files/attach/2018/01/abandoning-science-advice-full-report.pdf. Accessed July 20, 2019.

USACE and EPA. 2019. Revised Definition of “Waters of the United States.” Federal Register(84): 4154-4220.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 2018. “Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Revision of the Regulations for Prohibitions to Threatened Wildlife and Plants.” Federal Register(83): 35174-35178.

Williams, A. Park, et al. 2019. “Observed impacts of anthropogenic climate change on wildfire in California.” Earth’s Future (July 15). [Ed: no volume or page numbers to give here].

Zarefsky, David. 2007. “Making the Case for War: Colin Powell at the United Nations.” Rhetoric and Public Affairs 10(2):275–302.

Published
2020-01-08
Section
Thematic Collections