Alan Finkel, Australia’s chief scientist, has likened the denial of US President Donald Trump to environmental data to the Soviet Union’s attempt to control science. According to Finkel, scientists should not hesitate to give advice despite fierce opposition.
“The Trump administration has mandated that scientific data published by the United States Environmental Protection Agency from last week going forward has to undergo review by political appointees before that data can be published on the EPA website or elsewhere,” Finkel said. Trump said that any scientific data should undergo review by his political appointees before showing them to the public. According to Finkel, this could cause harm in the long-term and this reminds him of the censorship exerted by the Soviet Union.
Trump’s mandate also applied to the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s website when it shows information about climate change and greenhouse gasses produced by humans. Overall, Finkel said that Donald Trump is similar to Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.
“Soviet agricultural science was held back for decades because of the ideology of Trofim Lysenko, who was a proponent of Lamarckism,” the scientist added. “Stalin loved Lysenko’s conflation of science and Soviet philosophy and used his limitless power to ensure that Lysenko’s unscientific ideas prevailed.”
According to Lysenko, as Finkel explained, successive generations of crops could be enhanced by exposing them to the right environment. And exposing the citizens of the Soviet Union to the right ideology could also improve them.
“So while Western scientists embraced evolution and genetics, Russian scientists who thought the same were sent to the gulag. Western crops flourished. Russian crops failed. Today, the catch-cry of scientists must be frank and fearless advice, no matter the opinion of political commissars stationed at the US EPA,” Finkel added.
Donald Trump said that climate change is a hoax made up by the Chinese. He also wants to remove the US from the Paris climate deal.
In a White House press conference, press secretary Sean Spicer argued that the Trump administration did not ask any government agency to censor their data. He said that the government did not impose a communications crackdown like others have claimed.
However, the Guardian reports that Doug Ericksen, the communications director for Trump’s transition team at the EPA, said that the Trump administration was actually controlling any findings or data produced by scientists at the agency. Moreover, the latest studies have been put on a temporary hold before they could be released to the public.