Follow @AltNatParkSer on Twitter- response to the EPA gag order #resist

If you haven’t already, be sure to follow @AltNatParkSer on twitter: The Unofficial “Resistance” team of U.S. National Park Service. Not taxpayer subsidised! Come for rugged scenery, fossil beds, 89 million acres of landscape.

This account is in response to a gag order placed by Trump banning agencies like the EPA from using twitter accounts or other forms of media to inform reporters of news. While Trump can prevent the official agency accounts from being in use, he cannot prevent personal twitter accounts from being used.

 

 

AAAS helps us with the transition

AAAS has a nice website detailing information on the president-elect’s transition into the White house:

The 45th President of the United States will confront a broad range of global challenges, including addressing climate change, securing our energy future, and sustaining investments in scientific research efforts. AAAS has created this website to display information on the President-elect’s Transition and Cabinet appointments; white papers, transition statements, and letters from the scientific community; and news and other resources. It will be updated throughout the transition, inauguration, and the New Administration’s First 100 Days.

CHECK OUT THEIR WEBSITE. But be warned, there’s not a lot of promise for the future of science.

Vaccine skeptic Robert Kennedy Jr. to lead commission on vaccine safety? #wtf

The real news is starting to sound more and more like the Onion. Today, it was announced that Trump has asked major vaccine skeptic Robert Kennedy Jr. to chair a commission on vaccine safety and scientific integrity. Full details on WaPo.  REALLY?!

The nightmare keeps going on. I don’t know how many more times this blog is going to have to discuss that there is no link between vaccines and autism or how many more times we need to advocate for vaccination. I’ll save my full rant for another day, but it’s infuriating that in this “post-truth” world, scientists have to spend SO MUCH TIME convincing politicians that a discredited study is actually false and that it is inappropriate to make political decisions based on this false claim.

I still don’t understand how politicians come to these scientific conclusions such as vaccine skepticism when the overwhelming majority of established scientists argue otherwise. If 99% of dentists told me I had to get my tooth pulled, but 1 businessman told me no need, guess who I’d listen to? The dentists. Even though it will hurt, it’s going to be best in the long run.

In the case of climate change denialism, I can at least somewhat understand that accepting climate change means having to accept some very uncomfortable realities (as I discussed previously), and politicians and society may not want to accept that out of their own self-interest. But what is the financial, political, or personal gain in overturning vaccination laws and denying the efficacy of vaccines? I DO NOT get it. Seems like everyone will lose.

 

*note- As a scientist, obviously I think it is incredibly important to ensure quality control and safety when it comes to vaccine design, production, and testing. And that there’s always room for improvement in these areas. However, I’m worried that the intentions of skeptics like Robert Kennedy Jr. is not to improve and enhance vaccines, but to debunk and overturn progress under the guise of “safety”.

 

Baracktrema Obamai- new parasite named after the president #LifeGoals

I guess when you become president, you get the honor of having a newly discovered organism named after you. Introducing Baracktrema Obamai, a newly discovered freshwater parasitic flatworm that is found in Malaysian turtles. The full discovery is published in the Journal of Parasitology. Enjoy!

Anti-Science Quotable: Donald Trump on wind energy @factcheckdotorg

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In promoting his energy plan, Donald Trump made two false claims:

  • Trump said wind farms in the U.S. “kill more than 1 million birds a year.” Reliable data are scarce, but current mean estimates range from 20,000 to 573,000 bird deaths per year.
  • While discussing the number of eagles that are killed by wind turbines, Trump said that “if you shoot an eagle … they want to put you in jail for five years.” Actually, the maximum penalty is a one-year imprisonment.

On May 26, Trump held a press conference and then gave a speech in Bismarck, North Dakota, where he unveiled what he called an “America First” energy plan. In his press conference, Trump said he is “into all types of energy,” but he singled out wind energy as “a problem” because it kills eagles. In his speech, he also spoke generally about birds that are killed by wind farms.

Via SciCheck – who have featured science mis-statements from the Donald more than once recently. Check the SciCheck site for the full low-down on Trumps lies about wind energy.

Anti-Science Quotable: Trump Economic Advisor Steve Moore #climatechange

I have to tip my hat to the left, this has been one of the greatest propaganda campaigns in world history that the left has pulled off. I mean, they’ve taken this dingbat idea of global climate change and they’ve put it in the schools, they’ve put it in the movies, they’ve put it in the media and the churches — you know, I’m Catholic, even the pope talks about climate change.

So it’s very alarming how this propaganda campaign, that they made this stuff out of, almost completely out of thin air and they’ve convinced millions and millions of thought leaders that this stuff is real.

Trump economic advisor and Heritage Foundation fellow Steve Moore

           Seen via Right Wing Watch

Concerned scientists tell Lamar Smith – HELL NO – to his overreaching McCarthyistic info request #science #intimidation @UCSUSA @BadAstronomer

Phil Plait has written a scathing take down in Slate of anti-science Representative Lamar Smith and his recent request for oversight over the Union of Concerned Scientists (ironically Smith is the chair of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology). See the many, many, many previous CauseScience posts about Rep. Lamar Smith intimidating scientists and anti-science credentials.

Plait does a great job summarizing Smith’s history against climate change, as well as the recent controversy involving the  Union of Concerned Scientists – a quick and informative read:

To the surprise of no one, Lamar Smith (R-Texas) is continuing his unfounded attack on science, ratcheting it up even higher than before. This time, he’s trying to tie up the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). The good news? They’re having none of it.

 

Smith’s been ramping up a new(ish) tactic, trying to flush out what he thinks is a cabal of scientists fighting the fossil fuel industry. On May 18, 2016, he sent a letter to the UCS, an obvious attempt to create a chilling effect on their work to help scientists maintain the freedom they need to do their research.

See the ridiculous letter from Smith to UCS here. The letter and intent behind it are far overreaching Smith’s jurisdiction – as pointed out by Plait. The head of UCS responded by saying HELL NO, more or less. Below is the response… in fewer words, UCS will not be intimidated by Smith. AND UCS will not allow Smith to set a precedent of overreaching his jurisdiction when it comes to harassing scientists! Way to go UCS! Can’t wait to see the guaranteed McCarthyistic response from Smith and his Committee!

Several members of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee have sent letters to 17 state attorneys general, the Union of Concerned Scientists and other groups, requesting that they turn over documents and communications among the groups related to investigations into ExxonMobil. Attorneys general from California, Massachusetts, New York, and the U.S. Virgin Islands are investigating whether ExxonMobil lied to its shareholders and the public about the threat of climate change.

Below is a statement by Ken Kimmell, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists.

“The premise of Chairman Smith’s letter is a farce. The attorneys general are not investigating ExxonMobil’s scientific research, but rather whether the company misled shareholders and the public about the dangers of climate change in order to continue profiting from a lucrative product. Documents uncovered by UCS and others reveal that scientists with Exxon and other companies knew about the causes and consequences of climate change by the 1970s, but company leaders chose to deny, disparage and downplay this evidence to avoid sensible regulation.

“We are unapologetic about our efforts to expose this deception, and we will not be intimidated by this tactic. Record temperatures, rising seas and unprecedented flooding affects people around the globe and they rightly expect carbon producers to be held accountable for their deliberate strategy to deceive the public, shareholders and policy makers.

“It’s ironic that Representative Smith sees our work as an attempt to stifle scientific discourse, when he has spent the last 10 months harassing National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists whose research he doesn’t like. This abuse of power has been repeatedly and strongly rebuked by the scientific community.

“In keeping with Mr. Smith’s calls for transparency, the public should demand that oil companies fully disclose what their scientists knew about climate change and when. And more importantly, the public deserves to know which industry executives made decisions to mislead shareholders, policy makers and investors about the harm of their products.”