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Alternative Facts: Trust Us, We're Like Smart People | Seth Thomas

This isn’t the first time SciEnvy has gotten political, and I’m sure that it will not be the last. If you’ve tuned in to the news this week, you will also have born witness to a series of executive orders pouring from The Whitehouse like they’re going out of fashion. Amongst lies spouted from the 45th President of the United States Donald J. Trump about inauguration numbers, tweeting out a photo of Barrack Obama’s crowd with the wrong date inscribed, and acts of atrocity against women, comes - quite frankly - terrifying policy changes to a well established climate policy.

Trump has always been a climate skeptic, a trait which I find unbelievable in the every day man, let alone in the leader of the free world. But who are we to doubt his beliefs, he has recently proven beyond all doubt that he is like a smart person. As a candidate, he made bold claims about climate change being plucked from thin air by the Chinese as a means of preventing American development and stripping American citizens of jobs. He regularly threatened to tear up The Paris Agreement, an act it seems he is intent on following through with this week.

Within the first week of office, not only has President Trump stated plans to cut funding for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, signed executive orders recommencing work on the Dakota Access Pipeline the very same day a Canadian pipeline spills 200,000 litres of oil on aboriginal land, but also - and arguably the greatest atrocity of the week - was an order censoring the information that government affiliated US scientists can disseminate to the public.

America, land of the free and home of the brave right? Not anymore, land of the censored and home of the 'alternative fact'. If you’re looking for a definition of an alternative fact, you may struggle - they were only invented when Trump came to power. I can offer you a smattering of synonyms though: lies, non-truths, falsehoods, deception, fabrication, fiction. You get the idea. Without a hint of remorse, the President plans to take his latest innovation, and turn it to Science.

Gagging scientists is the beginning of the end when it comes to Climate Change. By attempting to cut off information from the source, Trump is kickstarting the coal industry and quite literally, silencing the opposition from spreading the facts - that’s real, not alternative - via social media. All mention of Climate Change was removed from The Whitehouse website within 24 hours of inauguration, making Trump’s intention clear from the get go. Recent Whitehouse spokespersons have said that the material has not been removed, it is simply "under review". Translation: if it does go back online, it will be littered with alternative facts.

But it doesn’t stop there. Trump’s team have the audacity, to require work from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) - one of many organisations affected by the new gagging order - to be approved by them before release. Therefore, the EPAs facts must agree with the opinion of a man, who’s greatest claim to academia is an Uncle that worked at MIT, before they see the light of day. As ridiculous a thing as I have ever read, but yes, you did read that correctly. When has it ever been the case, that because a family member does something, you have innate knowledge of that subject or share in their intellect? Perhaps it was an alternative fact that I didn’t pick up on...

The crux of the matter is that, now more than ever before, science communication of hard empirical and peer reviewed fact is more important than ever. Personally, I have always been more of a political observer than an activist, floating on a tide of change rather than attempting to swim against the current. No more. Climate Change is real and can not be ignored nor accelerated by a greedy man’s delusional quest for approval and short term fixes in a rapidly changing world. For those who gave Trump the benefit of the doubt, this extreme first week in office is enough to decimate any reserved optimism.

Thankfully, resistance is strong in the scientific community, and across the world in response to Trumps drastic changes in policy. Rogue twitter accounts started anonymously by scientists that refuse to be silenced, have continued to tweet scientific evidence of Climate Change to resist the orders issued by President Trump. Rogue NASA is just one of as many as 24 rogue accounts created within the last 48 hours alone. The Netherlands set up an international abortion fund to counter Trump’s cuts. If only one of our resistance could tweet about where we can find Trump Tower’s thermal exhaust port and destroy him for good.

The cynic in me thinks that with such a drastic start to Trump’s tenure, littered with deceit and seemingly reckless abandon of many American principles, his presidency is destined for impeachment. However, in a world where he was even elected POTUS, one should never expect the best case scenario to come to pass. Until that impeachment, and a return to progression as opposed to the past, the scientific community must stay united and vigilant.

Follow the rogue accounts, retweet their proven facts and call out Trump’s alternatives. Educate yourselves and apply pressure to government officials. Particularly in the UK. Trump’s time in office will oversee Brexit. With the uncertainty of trade deals post Brexit, our own Prime Minister has refused to say whether she will combat Trump on - I’m hesitant to use the word policy - his views on Climate Change.

In short, the scientific community must not go quietly into the long night of Trump’s tenure, and we here at SciEnvy have no intention to do so.

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