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

January 25, 2017
Juan Declet-Barreto
Senior Social Scientist for Climate Vulnerability

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:

http://www.ucsusa.org/action/phone-calls.html

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.

About the author

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Dr. Declet-Barreto earned a Ph.D. in environmental social sciences, M.A. and B.S. degrees in geography, and an associate’s degree in geographic information systems, from Arizona State University. At UCS, his research maps, analyzes, and finds solutions to the unequal human health and livelihood impacts of environmental hazards, particularly those exacerbated by climate change.