Expertise Exodus

The exodus of expertise under Trump

by Coral Davenport (New York Times; July 2021)

Former President Donald J. Trump’s contempt for climate science continues to reverberate, six months into the Biden administration.

Mr. Trump’s political appointees undermined federal studies, fired scientists and drove many experts to quit or retire. Now, as a result, hundreds of jobs in climate and environmental science across the federal government remain vacant as President Biden attempts to push through his climate change agenda.

Scientists and policy experts who quit have not returned. Recruitment is suffering, according to federal employees, because government science jobs are no longer viewed as insulated from politics. And, money from Congress to replenish the ranks could be years away.

That brain drain is turning out to be a big problem for Biden’s efforts to confront climate change. For the details, please read the article I wrote this week with my Climate Team colleagues Lisa Friedman and Christopher Flavelle.

The numbers: At the Environmental Protection Agency, the number of environmental protection specialists dropped by 24 percent under Trump, according to a House science committee report. The number of scientists and technical experts at the United States Geological Survey, an agency of the Interior Department and one of the nation’s premier climate science research institutions, fell about 8 percent.

Quotable: “The attacks on science have a much longer lifetime than just the lifetime of the Trump administration,” said John Holdren, a professor of environmental science and policy at Harvard.

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