In the days following the recent general election in the United States, more than 2,000 scientists signed an open letter addressed to President-Elect Trump and the 115th Congress. The letter addresses issues of great relevance to the scientific community and thus we believe that our readers will be interested in its full text (reprinted below). A discussion of the letter and a full list of the signers can be found in the website of the Union of Concerned Scientists.
the STC Team
Science and the Public Interest
An Open Letter to President-Elect Trump and the 115th Congress
Scientific knowledge has played a critical role in making the United States a powerful and prosperous nation and improving the health and well-being of Americans and people around the world. From disease outbreaks to climate change to national security to technology innovation, people benefit when our nation’s policies are informed by science unfettered by inappropriate political or corporate influence.
To build on this legacy and extend the benefits of science to all people, including Americans who have been left behind, the federal government must support and rely on science as a key input for crafting public policy. Policy makers and the public alike require access to high-quality scientific information to serve the public interest. There are several actions Congress and the Trump administration should take to strengthen the role that science plays in policy making.
First, creating a strong and open culture of science begins at the top. Federal agencies should be led by officials with demonstrated track records of respecting science as a critical component of decision making. Further, recognizing that diversity makes science stronger, administration officials should welcome and encourage all scientists regardless of religious background, race, gender, or sexual orientation.
Second, Congress and the Trump administration should ensure our nation’s bedrock public health and environmental laws – such as the Clean Air Act and the Endangered Species Act – retain a strong scientific foundation, and that agencies are able to freely collect and draw upon scientific data to effectively carry out statutory responsibilities established by these laws. They should also safeguard the independence of those outside the government who provide scientific advice.
Third, Congress and the Trump administration should adhere to high standards of scientific integrity and independence in responding to current and emerging public health and environmental threats. Decision makers and the public need to know what the best-available scientific evidence is, not what vested interests might wish it to be. Federally funded scientists must be able to develop and share their findings free from censorship or manipulation based on politics or ideology. These scientists should, without fear of reprisal or retaliation, have the freedom and responsibility to:
- conduct their work without political or private-sector interference;
- candidly communicate their findings to Congress, the public, and their scientific peers;
- publish their work and participate meaningfully in the scientific community;
- disclose misrepresentation, censorship, and other abuses of science; and
- ensure that scientific and technical information coming from the government is accurate.
Finally, Congress and the Trump administration should provide adequate resources to enable scientists to conduct research in the public interest and effectively and transparently carry out their agencies’ missions. The consequences are real: without this investment, children will be more vulnerable to lead poisoning, more people will be exposed to unsafe drugs and medical devices, and we will be less prepared to limit the impacts of increasing extreme weather and rising seas.
These steps are necessary to create a thriving scientific enterprise that will strengthen our democracy and bring the full fruits of science to all Americans and the world. The scientific community is fully prepared to constructively engage with and closely monitor the actions of the Trump administration and Congress. We will continue to champion efforts that strengthen the role of science in policy making and stand ready to hold accountable any who might seek to undermine it.
Sampling of Prominent Signatories
Andreas Acrivos Stanford University, Peter Agre Johns Hopkins University, Jeffrey H. Altschul Statistical Research, Inc., Kenneth J. Arrow Stanford University, Francisco J. Ayala University of California, Irvine, David Baltimore California Institute of Technology, Mark A. Barteau University of Michigan, Georges C. Benjamin American Public Health Association, R. Stephen Berry University of Chicago, Lewis M. Branscomb University of California, San Ken Caldeira Carnegie Institution for Science, Mark A. Cane Columbia University, F. Stuart Chapin III University of Alaska, Eric Chivian Harvard Medical School, Robert W. Corell Global Science Associates, Gretchen C. Daily Stanford University, Ruth DeFries Columbia University, Rodolfo Dirzo Stanford University, Philip B. Duffy Woods Hole Research Center, Paul R. Ehrlich Stanford University, Kerry Emanuel Massachusetts Institute of Technology, James A. Estes University of California, Santa Cruz, Christopher B. Field Stanford University, Edmond H. Fischer University of Washington, Charles A. Francis University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Richard Garwin IBM Fellow Emeritus, Peter H. Gleick Pacific Institute, Kurt Gottfried Cornell University, Carol W. Greider Johns Hopkins University, Roger Guillemin The Salk Institute for Biological Studies, James E. Hansen Columbia University, James S. Harris Stanford University, Oliver Hart Harvard University, Geoffrey M. Heal Columbia University, Dudley R. Herschbach Texas A&M University, Roald Hoffmann Cornell University, Kathy Jacobs University of Arizona, Daniel H. Janzen University of Pennsylvania, Daniel M. Kammen University of California, Berkeley, Anne R. Kapuscinski Dartmouth University, David Keith Harvard University, Kenneth H. Keller Johns Hopkins University, Wolfgang Ketterle Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Daniel Kleppner Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Lawrence M. Krauss Arizona State University, Neal F. Lane Rice University, Anders Levermann Columbia University, Simon A. Levin Princeton University, Michael C. MacCracken Climate Institute, Eric S. Maskin Harvard University, James J. McCarthy Harvard University, Bonnie McCay Rutgers University, Jerry M. Melillo Marine Biological Laboratory, James Merchant University of Iowa, Matthew S. Meselson Harvard University, William E. Moerner Stanford University, Mario J. Molina University of California, San Diego, William Moomaw Tufts University, Harold A. Mooney Stanford University, K.M. Venkat Narayan Emory University, Michael Oppenheimer Princeton University, Jonathan Overpeck University of Arizona, Stephen Pacala Princeton University, C. Kumar Patel University of California, Los Angeles, Stuart L. Pimm Duke University, Thomas Dean Pollard Yale University, John P. Reganold Washington State University, Linda Rosenstock University of California, Los Angeles, Liane B. Russell Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Benjamin Santer Member, National Academy of Sciences, Randy Schekman University of California, Berkeley, William H. Schlesinger Duke University, Robert J. Shiller Yale University, Charles Sing University of Michigan, Susan Solomon Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Thomas A. Steitz Yale University, Karel Svoboda Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Max Tegmark Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Kevin E. Trenberth National Center for Atmospheric Research, Harold E. Varmus Weill Cornell Medical College, Steven Weinburg University of Texas at Austin, Zena Werb University of California, San Francisco, Eric F. Wieschaus Princeton University, Frank Wilczek Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Robert Woodrow Wilson Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Steven C. Wofsy Harvard University, George M. Woodwell Woods Hole Research Center, Melinda A. Zeder Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.
For the complete list of over 2,300 signers, please see here (PDF)