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Nearly a half-century after the first Earth Day, the war on science – particularly environmental science – has accelerated under the Trump administration.

We have launched a special project, called the (Un)Scientific Method, to expose the conflicts between science and policy. Here are some of our favorite stories from this project, and beyond, that highlight the perils of ignoring science.

Zinke’s Interior Department edited out key climate change passages from science report

National Park Service officials deleted every mention of humans’ role in causing climate change in drafts of a long-awaited report on sea level rise and storm surge, contradicting Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s vow to Congress that his department is not censoring science. (Members of Congress have since grilled Zinke and called for an investigation. Zinke seems more concerned about why we got the document before he did.)


This rendering depicts an aerial view of a flooded National Mall area in Washington, D.C., in 2100 if global emissions rise and a Category 3 hurricane hits the city. It was included in an October 2016 webinar by University of Colorado Boulder’s Maria Caffrey, the lead author of the sea level rise report for the National Park Service. Credit: Courtesy of Maria Caffrey

How Scott Pruitt reshaped the EPA’s Science Advisory Board in industry’s image

Eleven new members of the board had a history of downplaying the health risks of secondhand smoke, air pollution and other hazards, including two who have spun science for tobacco companies.

Interior Department weakens long-standing bird protections

Since the 1970s, federal officials had used the Migratory Bird Treaty Act to prosecute and fine companies that accidentally killed birds with oil pits, wind turbines, spills or other industrial hazards. But a decision issued in December by the Interior Department revoked that ability. Wildlife officials predict deadly consequences for migratory birds.

California is sinking

The last comprehensive survey of sinking was in the 1970s, and a publicly funded monitoring system fell into disrepair the following decade. Even the government’s scientists are in the dark.

California’s strawberry industry is hooked on dangerous pesticides

A loophole created by state regulators at Dow Agroscience’s behest put people in more than 100 California communities at higher risk of cancer, ignoring persistent warnings from the state’s own scientists.

To keep up with the latest (Un)Scientific Method reporting, follow Elizabeth Shogren on Twitter: @ShogrenE.


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