A pair of groups at Columbia Law School have created the Silencing Science Tracker, a website that tracks federal government attempts to discredit or censor climate scientists.
Columbia Law School’s Sabin Center for Climate Change Law and the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund recently launched an online resource tracking actions by the government to “silence science” since the November 2016 election. The launch of the Silencing Science Tracker coincided with the first anniversary of President Trump’s inauguration on January 20, 2017.
The Silencing Science Tracker is intended to capture government attempts to restrict or prevent scientific research, education, discussion or the publication or use of scientific information. The tracker contains a table of entries, drawn from media reports, which will be updated on a regular basis. There is also a resources page, which contains links to other trackers and resources that complement the Silencing Science Tracker. The tracker currently has 96 entries of actions organized by the following categories: 41 government censorship, 11 self-censorship, 15 budget cuts, 20 personnel changes, 5 research hindrance and 8 bias and misrepresentation (please note that some entries fall within two categories). At this time, the tracker only records federal government attempts to silence science, but there are plans to add state-level actions in the future.
Michael Gerrard, Faculty Director of the Sabin Center and a professor at Columbia Law School, said, “Scientific knowledge is the very foundation of all environmental regulation. When the government ignores science, it’s like a truck driver who wears a blindfold and drives based on what is whispered into his ear — dangerous and intolerable. The vital work of scientists must be supported, made public, and listened to. When government officials block this, we plan to shine a harsh light.”
Lauren Kurtz, Executive Director of the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund, said, “Political and ideological attacks on science have a long and shameful history, and such attacks are the most dangerous when carried out or condoned by government authorities. Our tracker is designed to provide a tally of government-sanctioned threats to the scientific endeavor. We must watch out for efforts to curtail research, and speak up when we see attempts to silence science.”
The core mission of the Sabin Center is to develop and promulgate legal techniques to address climate change and to train the next generation of lawyers who will be leaders in the field. The Sabin Center is both a partner to and resource for public interest legal institutions engaged in climate change work.
The Climate Science Legal Defense Fund (CSLDF) protects the scientific endeavor by providing support and resources to scientists who are threatened, harassed or attacked for doing their job. The CSLDF offers free legal aid to scientists, educates researchers about their rights and responsibilities, shares strategies and information about cases with attorneys and publicizes attacks on science.
Find more information at http://columbiaclimatelaw.com/resources/silencing-science-tracker/