Science and Democracy

The partnership between science and democracy has played a huge role in U.S. history. But misinformation and attacks on science have strained that partnership. UCS science and democracy experts keep you informed on the latest developments, from Capitol Hill to local communities.

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Latest Science and Democracy Posts


Cleveland Can Beat the Heat by Planting Trees—But Don’t Forget Environmental Justice

, Kendall Science Fellow

Climate change presents many threats to cities, compromising their ability to protect public health, or deliver critical services like sewage disposal or adequate protection against storm surges and flooding. Many cities are acutely aware of these threats, and are developing climate adaptation plans with strategies to mitigate, and adapt to, climate change impacts. Read more >

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Digital Visual Library
Article (doi:10.1175/WCAS-D-15-0026.1) Declet-Barreto, J.; Knowlton, K.; Jenerette, G. D. & Buyantuev, A. Effects of urban vegetation on mitigating exposure of vulnerable populations to excessive heat in Cleveland, Ohio Weather, Climate, and Society, 0, 0, null Abstract: AbstractHot weather is a threat to human health, especially in cities, where Urban Heat Islands (UHIs) are elevating temperatures already on the rise from global climate change. Increased vegetation can help reduce temperatures and exposure to heat hazards. We conduct an ensemble of Geographically Weighted Regressions (GWR) on Land Surface Temperature (LST) for May-October to estimate potential LST reductions from increased vegetation and assess the effect of temperature reductions among vulnerable populations in Cleveland, Ohio, USA. We apply possible tree canopy increases to our results, finding that LST reductions can range from 6.4 to 0.5 °C for May-October, and are strongest from May-July. Potential LST reductions vary spatially according to possible canopy increases, are highest in suburban fringe neighborhoods and lower in downtown areas. Among populations at high heat-related health risks, the percentage of the population 65 years of age or older in Cleveland is negatively associated with LST, while percentages of Hispanics and those with low educational achievement are most positively associated with higher LST. Percent Hispanic also has the lowest potential temperature reductions from increased vegetation. Neighborhoods with the highest potential temperature reductions had the highest percentages of Whites. Three sub-populations associated with high heat health risks are negatively correlated (African-Americans, the elderly) or not correlated (persons living in poverty) with LST, and the relationships to LST reduction potential for all three are not statistically significant. Our estimates of the effect of vegetation increases on LST can be used to target specific neighborhoods for UHI mitigation under possible and achievable, policy-prescribed tree canopy scenarios in Cleveland.
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Native Rights and Concerns at Standing Rock: The Important Role of Science

, director, Center for Science & Democracy

Over the past months, we have all had an opportunity to see democracy in action with all its challenges.  No, I don’t mean the endless coverage of the presidential campaign.  I am talking about people taking action to protect the rights, health, safety and culture, standing with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and other Lakota nations in North Dakota. Read more >

Photo: Joe Brusky, CC BY-NC 2.0/Flickr
Sources: Esri, HERE, DeLorme, USGS, Intermap, increment P Corp—NRCAN, Esri Japan, METI Esri China (Hong Kong), Esri (Thailand), MapmyIndia, copyright OpenStreetMap contributors, and the GIS User Community
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New Research Documents That Sugar Industry’s Playbook Goes Way Back

, science and policy analyst, Center for Science and Democracy

It might not shock you to know that the sugar industry doesn’t have our best interests in mind. But would you be alarmed to find out that they consciously manipulated science in order to increase sugar consumption? And that they did so in the face of scientific evidence that sugar consumption was associated with chronic disease? Read more >

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Why You Should Be Paying Attention to the Upcoming Budget Fight

, Washington representative, Center for Science and Democracy

When it comes to Congress, we know that budgets are about more than just money. Back in April, I warned that we shouldn’t let the federal budget process become a playground for special interests. Basically, with little to no debate, policymakers will exploit the process and attempt to sneak in harmful, ideological provisions that undermine the use of science in the policymaking process and help rig the system for special interests. Read more >

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Endangered Columbian white-tailed deer on Tenasillahe Island at Julia Butler Hansen National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon.

New Endangered Species Peer-Review Policy Scores A Point for Independent Science

, lead analyst, Center for Science and Democracy

Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) released an update to its peer review policy for endangered species listings. The new policy takes a step forward in terms of safeguarding the science that informs endangered species listing decisions. While the provisions could be stronger in a few areas, the new policy takes strong steps toward more robust and transparent peer-review at the agency, following efforts by a group of independent scientists working with the Union of Concerned Scientists and others to improve science-based decisions around endangered species. Read more >

Photo: Blu Chaney, USFWS: CC BY 2.0/Flickr
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