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


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.


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