Last week, I came across a disturbing post on the March for Science Facebook group. A professor posted an email from the Department of Energy (DOE) asking her to remove the term “climate change” from her already approved grant proposal. I think all scientists and people who believe in the integrity of scientific research should be appalled by this brazen politicizing of fact-based data.
Here is a screenshot of the post by Professor Jennifer Bowen. (click to enlarge)
I have been asked to contact you to update the wording in your proposal abstract to remove words such as “global warming” or “climate change.” This is being asked as we have to meet the President’s budget language restrictions and don’t want to make any changes without your knowledge or consent.
It’s no secret President Trump doesn’t believe in climate change. He called it a “Chinese hoax” and pulled out of the Paris climate agreement earlier this year. You can read about the likely effects of that decision here. I still find it shocking the DOE is asking researchers to eliminate certain language from their studies. Especially when the language accurately describes the science.
For the record, the DOE denies they have a policy restricting language. It should also be noted the President’s budget hasn’t been passed so there couldn’t be an official policy in place anyway. However, E&E News reports that other DOE scientists have received similar requests.
Below is the statement Jennifer Bowen gave to snopes.com. I’ve also linked to the page where they lay out the details of the story.
Last week, I received a request to remove any reference to “climate change” from the abstract of a funded research proposal. I shared this information on my personal Facebook page because I found it to be a stark reminder of the ongoing politicization of science.
I firmly believe that scientists should have the intellectual freedom to tackle the most pressing issues of the day, regardless of the political landscape. I also believe that researchers, policy makers, and the public should maintain an ongoing dialogue regarding the role that science plays in today’s society.
I do think it is important to make clear that at no time was I asked to change the research scope of my proposed project or modify the contents of the proposal in any other way, with the exception of the language that was to be posted on the government’s website.
I have immense respect for the civil servants who are doing a tremendous job facilitating our research under trying conditions. It is through their hard work and steadfast commitment to the research process that we are moving knowledge forward.