If there's something weird and it don't look good, who ya gonna call? Well, if you're a government-employed scientist, there's at least one option: a new hotline set up to expose any anti-science action under President Trump.
Trump's administration is one of the most anti-science in history, and recent actions have underscored the lengths it's willing to go to reign in government researchers. Just last week, the Environmental Protection Agency cancelled a planned talk by three agency scientists at a climate change conference. On Monday, EPA head Scott Pruitt—citing the bible—barred scientists who receive EPA funding from sitting on the agency's advisory groups.
In light of all this, 314 Action, a political advocacy group that is helping scientists run for office, has set up its whistleblower hotline and specifically reached out to 30,000 EPA, NASA, and NSF scientists to let them know who to call. They also set up a website (http://speakoutforscience.org/) and multiple channels for communication, including Signal, WhatApp, and good a old-fashioned snail mail address.
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"I would hope nobody has to use it," Shaughnessy Naughton, a chemist and founder of 314 Action, told me over the phone."What we know about what's going on is already troubling, so what we don't know could be terrifying."
Naughton said she's not sure if, or what, information may be leaked but that 314 Action partnered with law firm Garvey Schubert Barer, which is offering services pro bono, to make sure anything that comes out goes through proper legal channels. The hope is to discourage or raise awareness around any government interference that prevents scientists from doing their work or sharing their findings with the public, but what those leaks might look like is difficult to guess.
President Trump has been particularly critical of leaks in his administration, frequently tweeting about his intention to root out leakers from his office. (Although Naughton noted no president is a fan of whistleblowers.) So do we think he'll take kindly to a hotline specifically designed for scientists in his government to sound the alarm? I guess it depends if anyone uses it.
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