by Marcella J. Mulholland
“I would not agree that [CO2] is a primary contributor to the global warming that we see,” Environmental Protection Agency director Scott Pruitt said in an interview with CNBC on March 9. A mere three weeks into his term as Donald Trump’s EPA cabinet appointee, Pruitt displayed an alarming level of ignorance about the field which he is supposed to lead.
Unfortunately, Pruitt’s behavior is not uncommon in Washington. Over the past decade we have seen politicians attack science on all fronts. From funding cuts to gag orders to blatant denial our scientific community is plagued by a political body that largely ignores empirical evidence when it is inconvenient for their party affiliation or campaign donations.
In Florida this is particularly troublesome because our unique geographic vulnerability to the impacts of climate change and sea level rise calls for decisive and informed environmental leadership. Yet, Governor Rick Scott banned the use of the terms “climate change” and “global warming” in several government agencies, including Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection. Senator Marco Rubio has repeatedly spread climate skepticism. And, Gainesville’s Congressman Ted Yoho responded to a town hall climate question by making a sarcastic joke about the weather.
The politicization of science and the partisanship of climate action is a disgrace to our academia and the United States’ role on the global stage as a leading country for innovation, research and development.
It is up to us as citizens to demand that science play a definitive role in our society’s decision-making process.