The Republican war on science intensifies in the Trump era

Beakers are seen in a science laboratory. (Photo by Eliseo Miciu/Gallery Stock)
Beakers are seen in a science laboratory.
Meet the new Environmental Protection Agency; it's quite a bit worse than the most recent iteration of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, moved late on Wednesday to reject the scientific conclusion of the agency's own chemical safety experts who under the Obama administration recommended that one of the nation's most widely used insecticides be permanently banned at farms nationwide because of the harm it potentially causes children and farm workers.The ruling by Mr. Pruitt, in one of his first formal actions as the nation's top environmental official, rejected a petition filed a decade ago by two environmental groups that had asked that the agency ban all uses of chlorpyrifos. The chemical was banned in 2000 for use in most household settings, but still today is used at about 40,000 farms on about 50 different types of crops, ranging from almonds to apples.

Hundreds of scientists and their supporters rallied in historic Copley Square on Sunday, demanding that the Trump administration accept empirical reality on issues such as climate change and highlighting the centrality of objective information to making policy."We did not politicize science," said Naomi Oreskes, a Harvard science historian who spoke at the rally, which unfolded on a surprisingly warm February day that left the square filled with mud puddles from the melt of a recent blizzard. "We did not start this fight.""Our colleagues who have been attacked have not been attacked because they did something wrong," Oreskes continued. "They have been attacked because they did something right" — namely, producing information that proved politically inconvenient.

For now, Republicans are choosing to reject scientists' work, activism, and warnings. Here's hoping the scientific community increases the volume accordingly.