New Year's Resolutions of the Top Scientists
As we come up with what we will try to do (or try not to do) in the New Year, the Union of Concerned Scientists have come up with their own list. The Union’s new resolutions are targeted for the new administration and are pretty impressive in their breadth and emphasis on the environment and climate change. Take a look:
- Protect the air we breathe by obeying the law and setting air pollution standards based on science. The Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Air Science Advisory Committee should have a key role from the start in assessing air pollution threats and ensuring that air pollution standards are based on the best available scientific information.
- Safeguard our health by putting the Environmental Protection Agency back in charge of evaluating the potential dangers of chemicals without interference from other agencies. Roll back new rules that allow agencies with clear conflicts of interest such as the Department of Defense or Department of Energy to delay scientific assessments of the toxicological and cancerous effects of chemicals for a database known as the Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS).
- Use science to conserve our natural heritage for future generations. The role of science in making decisions to protect imperiled species under the Endangered Species Act has been eroded significantly, reducing the government’s ability to protect our nation’s biodiversity.
- Collect enough information to give us flexibility to meet future challenges and keep tabs on current problems. Initiatives like the Toxics Release Inventory have been recently scaled back, robbing the public of critical information regarding what chemicals are released into our communities. And climate change monitoring satellites have been threatened with funding cuts, severely hampering the usefulness of long-term data sets.
- Hold your administration accountable to high scientific integrity standards. Give the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy the authority to investigate the state of science at federal agencies and report its findings to the public.
- Keep politics out of science by reining in the power of the White House to tamper with purely scientific analyses. While it is appropriate for the White House to coordinate activities across agencies, OMB should respect the quality analysis that comes from agency scientist
- Protect us by shining a bright light on all agency meetings held with special interests so we can understand their influence. Too many decisions have been made behind closed doors with too much influence from special interests, putting our health, safety, and environment at risk.
- Restore our faith in government by providing more information to the public about how science-based policy decisions are made. Agencies should disclose all scientific information used in making a decision, the names of the individuals involved in making the decision, and whether or not there was any dissenting scientific opinion.
- Defend Americans from unsafe drugs, toys, and other products by requiring that federal agency leaders protect employees who blow the whistle when science is misused. Hundreds of government scientists have reported a fear of retaliation for expressing concerns about their agencies’ conduct. Federal government scientists will be looking for a clear signal from agency leaders that the manipulation, suppression, and distortion of science will not be tolerated.
- Allow the public access to tremendous scientific resources by letting government scientists tell us what they know. The first step is to reform federal agency media policies to allow government scientists to better share their expertise with the public.
Please share with us your sustainable, earth-friendly New Year’s Resolutions!