A tracker is keeping tabs on the Trump administration's assault on science

The Silencing Science Tracker has been compiling records since 2018

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Reporters taking notes on pen and paper.

Photo by The Climate Reality Project on Unsplash 

It's difficult to remember all the ways the Trump presidency has ignored, subverted, or  kneecapped science in the United States. Picking a story that best exemplifies the administration's hostility towards evidence-based policy is like picking the perfect rock to smash your own head against. 

There's the eviction of two US Department of Agriculture (USDA) research agencies from DC to Missouri, effectively firing career scientists who weren't willing to pick up their lives and move. There's the move to allow slaughterhouses to self-regulate themselves. And of course there have been countless ways that the administration has undermined the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This week the EPA announced its plan to relax coal industry regulations around waste disposal, which were put in place to prevent metal contamination in water supplies. Also this week the EPA announced new policies that would restrict what research could be used to base policy on. It's too much to keep track of.

Luckily you don't have to. The Silencing Science Tracker has been keeping diligent records on the Trump administration's behavior around science for almost two years. The tracker lists every instance of distorting science that's occurred at the federal and state level in the US since January 2018, founded on the one year anniversary of Donald Trump's inauguration. I spoke with Susan Rosenthal at the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law and Climate Science Legal Defense Fund at Columbia University, which houses the Tracker:

"[We're] seeing all these things, a lot of stuff about web pages being removed, and [scientists] were being asked to or were choosing to censor their work, to stop using certain words, from this fear of attracting attention from officials that were appointed by the new administration." 

The Tracker only deals with absolute, concrete stuff. So even though the westward movement of USDA and Bureau of Land Management scientists out of DC has a strong air of suppression, since there's no hard evidence that the move was an act of repression, it's left out. 

You can sort by state, agency, explanation given, and even by scientists affected. The amount of climate science being ignored or interfered with is so great that the scientists affected are simply categorized as "Climate," with 261 entries, or 201 "Other" entries. The depth and breadth of climate science suppression is breathtaking. Even Amtrak of all agencies has deleted references of climate change from reports, and withheld studies on the effects of climate change. Said Rosenthal:

"We have a lot of stuff to add, which is good for the Tracker, but obviously, is bad."