Another Day, Another Denier

Deniers have long been fans of the “I’m not a scientist” trope, claiming their lack of scientific knowledge prevents them from taking climate action. But Trump has taken this to a whole new level, slotting one non-scientist climate denier after another into science positions.

On Wednesday, he nominated Sam Clovis, a former economics professor and conservative talk show radio host, to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s top scientific position. We wrote about Clovis when his name first came up, due to widespread concerns over his lack of science experience and history of climate denial.

Source: Alex Hanson/Flickr

As a reminder, Clovis will oversee projects ranging from food nutrition to the effects of climate change on crop development. Under the 2008 Farm Bill, this position is supposed to serve as the agency’s “chief scientist” and be chosen “from among distinguished scientists with specialized or significant experience in agricultural research, education, and economics.”

Clovis, an early advisor to the Trump campaign, has a master’s in business administration and a doctoral degree in public administration, and appears to have no published scientific or academic work to his name. The position he is nominated for has previously been held by distinguished scientists with deep expertise in specialized areas. In a 2014 interview, Clovis called evidence of climate change “junk science,” claiming that he has “enough of a science background to know when I’m being boofed.”

FYI: This is a “boof

But really, it’s no surprise that deniers are thriving within the Trump administration. Scientists, on the other hand, continue to face attacks from all sides.

A scientist at the Interior Department published an op-ed in the Washington Post yesterday claiming the Trump administration is attempting to push him out of the agency in retaliation for speaking out about climate change. Joel Clement, who previously handled policy around the impact of climate change on Alaskan communities, filed a whistleblower complaint alleging that his public comments about climate change motivated the DoI to reassign him to a position in an accounting office that collects oil and gas royalty checks. Clement describes the reasoning behind his decision to file a complaint, writing, “silencing civil servants, stifling science, squandering taxpayer money and spurning communities in the face of imminent danger have never made America great.”

Joel Clement, we heart you.

The Union of Concerned Scientists released a report today detailing the more than 40 attacks on science that have come out of the first six months of the Trump administration. That’s right, folks. We made it through the first half of the first year of this seriously anti-science administration.

From gutting advisory boards to ignoring scientists’ advice to removing data from websites to clamping down on scientists’ ability to speak with the press, the timeline of Trump’s first six months is packed with troubling examples. And we still have three and a half more years.

But don’t give up hope. UCS also lays out seven ways to support science and fight back. From becoming a science watchdog to writing letters to the editor of your local newspaper, every single person concerned about science can make a difference.


Bridgette Burkholder writes for I Heart Climate Scientists. You can follow her at @bridgette_ck.