Another Trump assault on science as Covid-19 fires and rage

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As wildfires swept across the West, causing dozens of deaths, destroying property and polluting the air with smoke, Trump suddenly arrested an official who warned climate change was fueling the flames – saying that the weather would soon start to “get cold.” Even by his own standards, it was one of the president’s most shocking comments on global warming – which he previously called a “hoax.”

New reports have emerged, meanwhile, of the president’s spinners trying to cook the facts about the pandemic, which he has misled the country about and which will soon claim its 200,000th American in part as a result. Trump continued to flout epidemiological guidelines by crowding people into indoor events that risked spreading Covid-19, exacerbating the disbelief and extreme frustration of medical experts. At a Latino outreach event, the president was the only person in a packed house to be socially left behind – affording himself protection his campaign continues to deny attendees.

‘I don’t think science knows it’

These are just the last few times a president who entertains bizarre theories about health, the environment and other issues – often distilled by conservative media conspiracy theorists – has turned away from science and expertise. world leaders that solidified the global leadership of the United States.

For years, Trump rejected the advice of his own intelligence services and preferred the propaganda of American adversary Russia. He pushed for discredited therapies for Covid-19, such as hydroxychloroquine, which federal regulators have rejected. His Environmental Protection Agency sent a wrecking ball through regulations meant to save the planet. It pulled out of the Paris climate agreement to accommodate its embrace of fossil fuel polluters and overturned fuel efficiency standards for cars.

But Trump’s visit to California for a briefing on the fires that consumed more than 3 million acres in a record year and also ravaged other Western states was perhaps his most astonishing speech on climate change. nowadays.

Trump doubled down on his theory that failure to rake forest soils was responsible for creating powder keg conditions. He cited an unnamed foreign leader who he said said he alleviated the problem of “explosive trees” by managing forest soils.

A consensus of scientific evidence has found that while forest management is important, longer dry seasons and warmer weather, including at night, make wildfires worse in places like California. A study last year in the journal Earth’s Future found that between 1972 and 2018, California experienced “a fivefold increase in annual area burned” and an “increase in the area of ​​forest fires in summer has most likely occurred due to the increase in atmospheric aridity caused by warming ”.

Trump doesn’t have time for such science. After California Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom acknowledged that more brush clearance was needed, he also called on the president to “respect” the scientific consensus that “climate change is real”.

When another local official told Trump it was time to “stick your head out of the sand” using the forest management excuse, the president jumped up.

“It’s going to start to get cooler. Just watch, ”Trump replied.

“I wish science would agree with you,” replied the official.

“I don’t think science knows that, actually,” Trump said, shutting down the official.

This exchange was a glaring example of how the President simply rejects any information that does not correspond to his preconceived idea of ​​a problem. While many of Trump’s opinions appear ill-informed and are not shaped by the nearly unlimited resources of the federal government, there is also a clear political motivation that underscores his responses.

The president has set priorities: for example, promoting the big oil companies. Accepting that climate change is real would force him to take action to address it. Reluctant to do so, the president feels ignoring the issue – and using his propagandist Twitter feed, which is a pit of disinformation and lies – suits him better.

Trump’s rejection of science is a power movement

Dismissing the advice of highly trained scientists and expert government bureaucrats also fits well with the president’s political image as a foreigner and the bane of elite political, academic and scientific institutions. It helps solidify his bond with supporters, who appreciate this image and may themselves share Trump’s reluctance to accept changes in traditional lifestyles – than a national effort to combat global warming, for example, could result.

As such, Trump’s rejection of science and facts isn’t just a personality trait, it’s also a key factor in the method he uses to build, exercise, and hold onto power.

A similar sequence of events unfolded during the pandemic – a once-in-a-century disaster that, as Bob Woodward shows in his new book, Trump decided to play down Americans for his own personal reasons over the course of ‘an election year.

Trump’s long-standing hostility to wearing masks – which scientists say is key to slowing the spread of the virus – was clearly rooted in hostility to what many of his supporters see as a violation of individual rights .

Trump then ignored science when he pushed states to reopen before the pathogen was removed – a development that helped spark a wave of disease and death across the solar belt. Now the events of Trump’s indoor campaign, like a crowded rally in Nevada on Sunday, are a huge act of defiance against the scientific community and expert advice – another political piece.

“The courage he has to hold this kind of rally. I am speechless. Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer Monday.

A scientific “bible” corrupted by politics

Trump renews climate fight on visit to fire-ravaged West Coast

In a new indication of how Trump’s political allies appear to be working his will within government agencies that once bragged about their political neutrality, The New York Times first reported on Sunday an extraordinary outburst from the spokesperson. of Health and Human Services Michael Caputo, a former Trump. campaign official.

Caputo, who confirmed to CNN the statements made during a live video hosted on his personal Facebook page, accused career government scientists of “sedition” in their response to the coronavirus. He also claimed without evidence in the video that experts from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had become “political animals” and abandoned science. A federal health official told CNN on Saturday that Caputo’s communications team pushed to change the language of the weekly science reports released by the CDC in a story first reported by Politico.

The news came as another blow to scientists facing the pandemic.

“I find it odious that political influences try and perhaps fit successfully into CDC communications, which have always been a model of science-based, very, very rigorous correctness,” Dr. William Schaffner, an expert on Internationally renowned infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University, told CNN “The Lead with Jake Tapper. ”

“They are the bible that everyone in public health reads not only in this country but around the world. We cannot leave them tainted with politics. ”

Regarding the pandemic and many other issues that the US government was once relied on for reasoned, scientific problem solving, it is too late for that.

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