Defending Science Is Not Only for Scientists—It’s for All Who Care About Clean Air, Water, and Soil

, Climate Vulnerability Social Scientist | January 25, 2017, 4:12 pm EDT
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The Union of Concerned Scientists is committed to watchdogging the Trump administration’s attacks on science and the safeguards that keep our water, soil, and air clean.  Since the inauguration of President Trump, we have seen how the administration has fired all cannons on deck to gut protections from the ravaging effects of climate change as well as from air, soil, and water contaminants. For example, a few minutes after the inauguration, all mentions of climate change from the White House’s website were taken down (but were archived here). This week, the Environmental Protection Agency has been effectively gagged and immobilized under orders to suspend all social media contacts, and freeze grants and not talk about it.

It’s critical that all members of society oppose this. I have many friends and family members who don’t consider themselves “political” and thus do not raise their voice to oppose these assaults. I understand why—many don’t want to open themselves to attacks or be labeled as “radicals”; others may think that this is the job of the political class or of people who do this for a living (like me!). Others may not think it is as bad as it looks. But let me be clear: it is as bad as it looks. Don’t take my word for it, though. The majority of scientists who work on climate agree that climate change is caused by humans and that it requires immediate action to avoid catastrophic consequences. More importantly, there’s nothing radical about wanting clean air and water to breathe and drink, is there? There’s nothing radical about our children’s right to live in a world without major weather disruptions due to climate change.

I know many people have concerns about the frontal assault of the administration on health and environments and the institutions that protect us. It’s important that your elected officials hear your voice directly about what’s at stake in your state or local community, especially since in a few days confirmation votes for cabinet positions will be coming up. Follow our guide below to get contact information for your Senators, and tips for a successful call with their staff members:

In general, this can help you be more effective when talking to congressional staff:

  • Make your message clear and concise—just a few sentences
  • Let them know that you’re a constituent—and share any affiliations with local institutions
  • Make a very concrete ask ( e.g. “vote no”)
  • Very briefly, let them know why you care and what the implications are for his/her state and constituency
  • Thank them for their time

Do you have any other tips or resources for people making calls to Congress? Share them in the comments section below.

Posted in: Science and Democracy

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  • Kevin

    Here’s the number of the US Senate: (202) 224-3121

  • Stephanie Mihalik

    I applaud thoroughly the work of the UCS. However, at this juncture in political time I feel strongly that rather than focusing on science in individual situations, we must push for the use of scientific data and principles in all aspects of governing. I want to see Congress, the White House, and the individual departments all use evidence, rather than beliefs, to make decisions. Medicine has been vastly improved and streamlined by focusing on evidence, as have judicial proceedings been improved with the inclusion of DNA results. We do not have an unlimited amount of funds or good will and its behooves us to use our resources where they will be most effective. Two suggestions I would make include the establishment a nonpartisan watchdog to do this work for for Congress and the full funding of the statistical arms of the government including the census and the further funding of data mining for the good of the country. I applaud beliefs and ideas, but these are best tested in pilot studies.

  • solodoctor

    I would add that people who call their elected reps can/should follow up with an email in which they do a number of things. First, reiterate the ideas they expressed in their phone call. Second, thank the rep for attending to their concerns. Third, inform the rep politely that they would like to hear back how the rep intends to deal with the issues they have raised. Finally, note that they intend to continue to communicate their concerns to the rep in the future.

    I have been doing this for a few years now. One of the Senators from my state (of California) sends me written replies to my emails on a fairly regular basis. Some of these replies are admittedly generic in nature. But some are specifically aimed at addressing a concern that I raised about a piece of legislation, a proposal that I made, an objection that I noted, etc.

    Admittedly, it takes some time to engage with an elected rep(s) like this. But it is worth the effort.