Internationa time line

Countries

Arctic

2018

October

Canadian federal government delegates to a meeting on Arctic science, reaffirmed their commitment to international scientific investigations and emphasized the importance of Indigenous knowledge.

2017

November

The eight Arctic States sign the Agreement on Enhancing International Arctic Scientific Cooperation.

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Argentina

2019

May

Austerity cuts threaten science research in Argentina.

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Australia

2020

June

A published survey of 220 scientists reveals suppression of research by government and industry on impacts of logging, mining and climate advice; and that “a third of government and industry-employed ecologists and conservative scientists had work unduly modified”.

2019

November

Documents accessed under freedom of information laws revealed that the federal department of the environment pressured scientists to try and prevent the publication of a paper that described significant underfunding on threatened species. The Spending to Save paper was published after researchers agreed to delete references to the government’s Threatened  Species Recovery Hub program, and agreed not to promote its findings in the media.

2017

September

The Ocean Science Council of Australia criticizes the federal government’s draft management plans for Australia’s Marine Park Network for ignoring scientific evidence.

2016

July

A controversial Australian conservative government plan to make severe cuts to fundamental climate research at the country’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization was halted after the agency’s scientists led by Dr. John Church helped make the story public, which action led to push back from the international scientific community and from an informed Australian citizenry.

May

Leading scientists in Australia and abroad have expressed concern that a new United Nations report about the impact of climate change removed the chapter describing damage to the Great Barrier Reef, after the Australian government requested that the section be cut.

Australia’s national science agency, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, or Csiro announced that it would lay off 275 of its scientists, among them Dr. Church, one of the world’s 10 leading climate scientists. The move has generated harsh international criticism.

2014

June

Australia’s Federal Liberal Party endorsed a proposal to strip 13 environmental groups of their tax-deductable status, a move one of the groups targeted referred to as “draconian.” Critics of the initiative have also highlighted its similarities to ongoing audits of a number of charities here in Canada.

 

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Brazil

2021

April

New rules allow top officials to review all manuscripts and texts before publication, leading scholars to fear censorship. This new procedure has been put into effect at the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation and the Institute for Applied Economic Research. There is already a climate of fear among scholars researching topics unpopular with the government, occasioned by highly public clashes with the government over satellite data on Amazonian deforestation and health risks of treatment of COVID-19 with chloroquine (as advocated by the President Bolsonaro). Government spending on research has shrunk by ~70 % since 2014.

2020

October

The government abandoned the plan to take control of universities’ financial reserves but introduced a new bill allowing it to withhold 30% of the allocation to the research funding agency.

September

A proposed budget bill would require the three major universities and the Sao Paulo Research Foundation to transfer money in long-term reserve funds to the government. The more than 1 billion reais would otherwise be used for long-term projects. The move comes on top of the decline in science funding (see April).

June

The government eliminated scientists from the National Environment Council that drafts regulations and advises the government on environmental concerns. Science, 7 June 2019, volume 364, issue 6444, page 912.

April

The latest Brazilian budget freezes funds for science research, putting many projects at risk including the almost completed synchrotron light source Sirius.

January

Brazilian scientists are upset about the elimination of the departments responsible for climate change and mitigation policies and for combatting deforestation.

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China

2020

October

  • Writer Fang Fang’s experience with on-line harassment after she criticized the government’s pandemic response highlights instances of the approaches taken by Mr. Xi Jinping’s government to shut down public dissent.

The Wall Street Journal, October 23, 2020, pp. A-8-A-9

April

  • A critique of China’s handling of the pandemic: the disease identification system failed, authorities ignored bad news, silenced doctors and much more.

 

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Egypt

2018

April

Egypt has drafted a bill that seeks to punish anyone “talking about meteorology, or anyone using a weather forecasting device without our consent, or anyone who raises confusion about the weather”.

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Europe

2020

January

• The European Court of Justice upheld a decision of the European Medicines Agency to publish the data in applications for drug approvals, unless a company can prove that doing so would cause concrete harm.

Science, 31 January 2020, vol. 367, issue 6477, p. 491.

2019

June

• The start date of Plan S, the program to make research publications open access, will be delayed to 2021. It will apply to research from 19 funders.

2018

September

Starting in 2020, 11 European national research funding agencies will require any research they support to be published in an open access journal.

Concerns that a recent Directive on digital copyright issues passed by the European Parliament requiring a tax on hyperlinks and censorship upload filters for websites would adversely affect free exchange of information on the Internet, have been somewhat addressed by several targeted safeguards.

May

The General Data Protection Regulation for the European Union comes into effect. It aims to harmonize data protection legislation and to simultaneously enhance protection of individual privacy and the circulation of data within the EU.

2017

November

In light of threats by U.S. President Trump to cut its $2 million annual contribution to the IPCC, Europe pledges to cover any funding shortfall. Science 24 Nov 2017: vol. 358, Issue 6366, pp. 977

February/March

After President Trump issued his first travel ban to citizens of 7 Muslim-dominated countries, scientists in Europe created the Science Solidarity List, offering assistance to stranded research scientists from the US. This was updated in March with the issuance of the second travel ban for 6 countries.

2015

December

The European Commission axes its Chief Science Advisor, just three years after the position was established. Researchers across Europe condemn the move.

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France

2017

February

  French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron invites American scientists and researchers who suffer under the Trump administration’s war on science to come to France, once he is elected President. He promises them protection and innovation.

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Germany

2020

October

Nature journals reached an agreement to allow researchers from any participating German research institution to publish within their 55 journals without charge, with the article immediately made open access for all. The charge to the institution for each published article of 9500 euros seems high.

2019

August

 Project DEAL, representing 700+ research institutions and libraries, reached an agreement with Springer Nature to have access to 2500 of its journals (but not including Nature) and to make all of its papers published in those journals free for all to read. There was a similar agreement with Wiley in February.

Science, 30 August 2019, vol 365, issue 6456, p. 844.

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Great Britain

2021

May

Major cuts in scientific research funding by the UK government have reduced grants, cancelled projects prematurely, and threaten international collaboration.

2020

November

Issues of the suppression of science or scientists are raised in regard to the U.K.’s pandemic response including secrecy and  “inappropriate involvement of government advisors in the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE)”, muzzling of Public Health scientists, and reliance on “scientists and other government appointees with worrying competing interests” (i.e. covid-19 related shareholdings).

February

The position of the Science Minister has been demoted to the status of undersecretary There have been four appointments to the position in 1 year, the latest incumbent without a university degree.

2016

June

An independent inquiry into departmental record keeping concerning expert advice commissioned by the UK government to the tune of 2.5 billion pounds per year reports that a mere 4 of 24 departments could provide a list of studies funded. The report thus concludes that millions of pounds worth of “ghost research” is lost because the research is not published nor is a record of its commissioning kept.

2015

March

 The UK government makes a three-sentence change to its Civil Service Code which “requires that all contact with media be approved in advance by the minister in charge of the relevant agency.” The department that oversees the UK Civil Service later clarifies that the code does not apply to employees of research councils and other organizations that are not directly part of government departments. Nevertheless, critics are quick to condemn the increased restrictions on scientific communication, and many liken the situation in the UK to what’s been happening in Canada.

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Hungary

2019

July

• A new law establishes a new organization to control its 15 research institutions previously run by its Academy of Science. Half of the membership and the deciding vote will be controlled  by the Ministry of Innovation leading to fears that the new organization will restrict academic freedom. Science, 7 June 2019, volume 364, issue 6444, page 104

2018

December

Following Hungary’s decision to forbid the Central European University in Budapest to accept new students in 2019, the CEU will relocate to Vienna. Canada calls the impending forced move “a terrible loss” and “a blow to academic freedom”.

2017

April

Hungary passed a law the intent of which is to close down the Soros-funded Central European University. Thousands protested, and the move was condemned within Hungary and abroad. In Sept. 2018, the CEU’s website states that the deadline for reaching a bilateral agreement between Hungary and NY State, which would avert closure, has been extended to January 1, 2019. “While this does not represent a permanent solution, it does mean CEU can admit a full class for Academic Year 2018-19 and can guarantee that all admitted students who successfully complete their academic requirements will be able to graduate with a CEU degree.”

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India

2021

January

• India announced that it plans to negotiate an open access agreement with publishers to allow access from anywhere in India.

Science, 8 January 2021, vol 371, issue 6525, p. 107.

2020

January

Scientists have raised alarms about the pseudoscience rooted in Hindu nationalism and the violent attacks at universities by Hindu nationalists and the police.

2017

August

On August 9th, across India, the scientific community held a March for Science. Thousands of scientists and their supporters rallied in over twenty five cities to demand an increase in government funding for scientific and technological research, and for building science-based knowledge throughout the educational system.

2016

January

Left-wing professors in India are removed from their positions by right-wing movement, the R.S.S.. The R.S.S. aims “to install its men at the helm of universities where they will wreak vengeance on the traditionally left-wing intellectual establishment that has always held them in contempt.”

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Indonesia

2021

April

The Indonesian Parliament approved the creation of a superagency for research, the National Research and Innovation Agency, dismantling the Ministry of Research and Technology and several other agencies. Scientists worry about its broad powers to control science in a country where many areas of inquiry have already been banned by the government, including anticommunist massacres in the 1960s, deforestation, forest fires, and threats to a rare orangutan species.

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Ireland

2015

March

Over 1,000 Irish scientists and engineers sign an open letter, urging their government to provide adequate funding for basic research. The letter precedes Ireland’s release of a new national strategy for science, technology and innovation. Already, signs point to an increased emphasis on “research prioritisation,” suggesting that basic science is bound to take a hit just as it has in Canada.

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Israel

2020

September

Israel puts Palestinian Professor of Space Physics on administrative detention for expressing his opinion on social media.

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Italy

2018

December

Health Minister Giulia Grillo, a member of the vaccine-skeptic Five Star Movement, fired all 30 members of the Higher Health Council, the committee of medical experts who advise the government on health.

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Japan

2021

January

The autonomy of the Science Council of Japan is being threatened by a proposed change to its independent status and an unprecedented attempt by the Prime Minister to block appointments to its General Assembly.

Science, 8 January 2021, vol 371, issue 6525, p. 106.

2020

October

Prime Minister Sago has refused to appoint six scholars, nominated by the independent Science Council to be new members. Experts have described this as “political interference in academic freedom”.

2014

March

Scientists in Japan face pressure to downplay the results of the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

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Mexico

2019

July

Steep budget cuts and dismissive comments are negatively affecting the work of federally funded institutes and labs.

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Qatar

2017

December

The blockade against Qatar has disrupted scientific research and scientists’ participation in regional meetings.

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Sudan

2019

February

Sudan jails leading scientist after he participates in peaceful protests.

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2017

December

The lifting of sanctions against Sudan will allow its scientists to conduct research as part of international collaborations for the first time in two decades.

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Turkey

2020

September

Cihan Erdal, a queer youth activist and a PhD Candidate in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Carleton University was detained in Istanbul, Turkey on September 25, 2020 along with 81 other politicians, academics and activists for unknown allegations. It is speculated that the detentions are related to October 2014 protests in Turkey against the seizure of the Kurdish-Syrian town of Kobane by ISIS.

2019

March

Turkey continues to criminalize academics and students for “exercising their freedom of speech and academic freedom” for calling for an end to state violence”.

2016

September

2346 academics have been dismissed for alleged ties to the July 15 coup attempt. Many others have been detained.

July

The government banned all work-related international travel by scholars and demanded those abroad return immediately.

The government closed 15 private universities among others for supposedly being “connected or in communication with the Fethullah Terrorist Organization”.

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Uruguay

2018

November

New regulations require researchers to receive approval from the National Office of Aquatic Resources before publishing results from research using aquatic resources and aquaculture.  Science, 30 November 2018, volume 362, issue 6418, page 1008.

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United States

2021

January

This summary of President Biden’s science team lists appointees with “strong backgrounds in research and evidence-based policy”.

An analysis of policy documents about COVID up to May 26 2020 show that many refer to extremely recent peer-reviewed science articles and those that do, are cited more often. This pattern was strongest for inter-governmental agencies, like the World Health Organization, second-strongest for think tanks, and weakest for government agencies. 

Under President Biden, the position of Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and Presidential science advisor has been elevated to a cabinet position for the first time.

The Environmental Protection Agency finalized the rule restricting the data that can be used to set pollution limits to those available for outside scrutiny. Scientists fear that the rule will make it difficult for relevant epidemiological studies to be considered because they may contain confidential health information.

Science, 8 January 2021, vol 371, issue 6525, p. 107.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture issued new dietary guidelines that did not follow the recommendations of a panel of external science advisors on daily intake of sugar and alcohol.

Science, 8 January 2021, vol 371, issue 6525, p. 107

2020

December

Trump appointed 9 new members to the National Board for Education Sciences, enough  to make a quorum possible for the first time in his administration.  However, according to Science, the new appointees “lack relevant experience”.

Science, 18 December 2020, vol 370, issue 6523, p. 1383.

Congress passed a massive spending bill that reversed Trump’s proposed deep cuts to science funding. Instead, most agencies will receive modest increases, capping 4 years of continuous growth.

November

The National Institutes of Health finalized a rule requiring all biomedical researchers funded after January 2023 to share the data they collect or explain why that is not possible.

October

President Trump issued an executive order allowing scientists, statisticians, and other government workers employed in “confidential, policy-determining, policy-making, or policy-advocating” jobs to be shifted from competitive merit-based civil service positions to political positions from which they could be fired easily.

A review of Trump’s impact on science over the last four years shows a few gains (increased spending, activity at the Department of the Environment) but main restrictions on federal agency’s scientific activities and unprecedented ignoring of scientific evidence. This led to a sharp rebuke from the U.S. National academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine.

Political influences have weakened the scientific work of the Centers for Disease Control in many ways since early in the pandemic.

A task force of the American Statistical Association raised concerns about political interference in the collection of census data, such as requiring undocumented residents to be removed, and called for an independent group of researchers to scrutinize the data.

The Silencing Science Tracker initiative provides an ongoing(since Nov.2016) detailed list of U.S. federal and state government actions that interfere with government scientific research and communication. For each action the list gives relevant date, description of action, nature of interference, scientists affected, and a summary.

This ProPublica report provides an inside look at the unprecedented political interference in public health policy at CDC on the part of the White House, and the capitulations of some of the world’s top public health leaders. The extensive report details the internal and external problems experienced by CDC. For instance, CDC planned to post a warning re choir singing in churches. The White House wanted the line deleted. When CDC did not follow this advice, they received an email informing them that the White House suggestions were not optional, and that the CDC’s failure to use them was insubordinate. Fifteen minutes later the agency’s text was replaced with the White House version. The danger of singing wasn’t mentioned.

“A four-year timeline of Trump’s impact on science” summarizes the impact of the U.S. President’s policies and actions since he took office in 2017.

A second major U.S. research funder, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, requires that the research it funds be made open-access, following the lead of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Issues of integrity of data and safety of clinical trial participants have been raised by the failure of the Food and Drug Administration to adequately enforce clinical research regulations over many years.

September

CDC (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) reverses August 24th guidance that had been criticized for political interference. At the same time two political appointees resigned who had tried to muzzle CDC personnel who spoke out about the seriousness of the pandemic.

April

Trump undermines environmental protections by changing reporting criteria for the Environmental Protection Agency using Covid as a cover.

2019

December

The Trump administration has been cancelling research, sidelining scientists, and ignoring their advice throughout its time in office. N.Y. Times, 28 December 2019 Science under attack: How Trump is Sidelining Researchers and Their Work.

October

report by the National Task Force on Rule of Law on Democracy cites examples of politicization of government research, and outlines ways to safeguard scientific integrity. It concludes that “over the last few decades, the safeguards meant to keep government research objective and publicly accessible have been steadily weakening”.

 

September

As a result of NOAA’s change to a weather forecast following President Trump’s incorrect claim about the likely impact of Hurricane Dorian on Alabama, questions have been raised about the scientific  integrity  of NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) amid signs of political pressure “to make the President happy”.

June

Florida appointed a chief science officer to provide environmental advice and establish an Office of Environmental Transparency and Accountability.

Science, 28 June 2019, vol 364, Issue 6447, p. 1213.

May

The scientific independence of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been gradually eroded since the late 1960s.

April

The United States Department of Agriculture closed the research lab working on Toxoplasma gondii, a parasite reproduced in cats that infects 1 billion people globally, often leading to blindness, death, or birth defects.

The Pentagon announces it will not renew the contract for Jason, a scientific group advising the government on national security issues.

New legislation requires all federal departments to formulate plans for evidence-based policy and evaluation, to perform risk assessments about the release of private data, and to develop inventories of available data.

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March

The White House sets up panel to review climate science led by a retired physics professor who argues that carbon emissions have been unfairly criticized.

Trump’s proposed budget for 2020 includes major cuts for research funding by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, NASA (including the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope), and other agencies.

Trump signs an executive order cutting off research funds to colleges and universities that do not safeguard free speech but does not explain how compliance will be monitored.

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February

The AAAS awarded the Scientific Freedom and Responsibility Award to 2 Sri Lankan scientists who faced death threats and claims of research misconduct while demonstrating that Glyphosate led to an epidemic of kidney disease that claimed tens of thousands of lives in their home country and around the world according to a Feb. 4 AAAS press release. Shortly afterwards, the press release was removed from the AAAS website and the award ceremony was cancelled. This followed concerns raised by scientists, at least one of whom, Kevin Folta, had ties with Monsanto.

2018

November

 New regulations limit federal agencies’ scientific review of the literature and types of modelling that can be conducted.

October

The Environmental Protection Agency abolished a panel of outside experts charged with reviewing permissible levels of particulate pollution and dropped plans to form a similar panel for ground-level ozone. These topics will be assimilated into the parent panel, the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee. Science, volume 362, Issue 6412, 19 October 2018, page 270.

The Environmental Protection Agency eliminated the National Center for Environmental Research, which oversaw research on responses to chemical exposure, and transferred its responsibilities to other offices. Science, volume 362, Issue 6410, 5 October 2018, page 10.

September

Changes in two of the Environmental Protection Agency’s offices have raised concern that the Agency may be further “diminishing the role of scientific research”. Recent information reveals that the EPA plans to dissolve its Office of the Science Advisor. Further, the head of the Agency’s Office of Children’s Health was put on administrative leave without being given a reason. A union representative calls the moves an attempt to silence voices.

July

The EPA proposes to allow administrators to reject study results if research isn’t public, in an attempt to limit research that supports critical regulatory action.  Scott Pruitt also removed scientists affiliated with universities from the department’s scientific advisory committees. The result is that the number of university scientists on the boards has fallen by half, while the number from regulated industries or consulting companies has increased threefold.

June

A new directive, LA Times reports, requires scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey to get approval for media interviews from U.S. Department of the Interior for most cases.

May

A Finnish group is raising money to carve Donald Trump’s head into an iceberg similar to Mount Rushmore, with an in-built camera to document its melting, thus proving global warming in an easily understandable visible manner.

According to Science magazine, the Trump Administration has cancelled NASA”s Carbon Monitoring System, research that provided information for improved climate change projections.

April

Climate change denialists say polar bears are fine. Scientists are pushing back.

March

•  An editorial in the New York Times documents the “disdain” of science on the part of the head of the EPA, Mr. Scott Pruitt, arguing there are no studies, no data, no rules. “He told his subordinates that they could no longer make policy on the basis of studies that included data from participants who were guaranteed confidentiality.” The Scientific American noted that the Science Advisory Board had not met or communicated in 6 months.

• EPA employees are advised to play down climate change.

January

An advisor in the U.S. Department of Interior will review grants and agreements with universities or nonprofit groups of $50000 or more to assure they align with the administration’s priorities. The Environmental Protection Agency made a similar change in December 2017. Science, 12 January 2018, volume 359, issue 6372, page 139.

2017

December

700 EPA officials have left the agency since Trump took power, disheartened by the agency’s direction.

The Trump administration forbids the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to use the following 7 words in documents prepared for the next budget: “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based” and “science-based.”

November

• The Trump administration’s position and policies on climate change are contradicted by the US Global Climate Report which concludes that there is “strong evidence” that humans are the dominant cause of unprecedented global warming. The Report is barely acknowledged by the White House.

• The director of the Office of Research Integrity has been transferred to another agency after two tumultuous years.

October

• In reviewing the potential economic effects of climate change and risks to the federal government, the U.S. Government Accountability Office reported that the government has failed to undertake comprehensive “strategic government-wide planning to manage climate risks”.

• On October 12th, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)adopted a Statement on Scientific Freedom and Responsibility. Among the many benefits to the scientific community cited by the interim program director of the AAAS Scientific Responsibility, Human Rights and Law Program, scientists will be able to defend their work in the event of improper interference by government.

The EPA cancelled, without explanation, the talk of 3 scientists who were on the program to talk about a project that had been funded by the agency, Narragansett Bay Estuary Program. The barred Scientists had contributed substantially to the 400-page report.

September

• The New York Times publishes an editorial on President Trump’s War on Science.

• The congressionally mandated Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking recommends that the government create a secure data portal of administrative records so that researchers can evaluate how well programs are working.

• Scientific evidence is being used increasingly in court cases about climate change, including the emergence of novel legal theories that have been used in other jurisdictions.

August

• The Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment was disbanded.  Its role was to advise the government on the implementation of the National Climate Assessment prepared by the U.S. Congress. Science, volume 357, Issue 6353, 25 August 2017, page 739.

Following protests, the U.S. Department of Agriculture restored public access to a searchable data base of information collected under the Animal Welfare Act, including its inspection reports, although some information is still being withheld. Science, volume 357, Issue 6353, 25 August 2017, page 737.

Trump administration restricts communication on climate change, prompting the Centre for Biological Diversity to sue the government.

CDC staff are prohibited from speaking with the press without prior clearance:”Effective immediately and until further notice, any and all correspondence with any member of the news media, regardless of the nature of the inquiry, must be cleared through CDC’s Atlanta Communications Office.” “This correspondence includes everything from formal interview requests to the most basic of data requests.”

The Department of Energy asked a scientist to remove the phrase “climate change” from her grant proposal.

Department of Agriculture staff are instructed to talk about “weather extremes” rather than climate change.

The Trump administration is reported to have removed “climate change” and “clean energy” from websites and prevented scientists from attending conferences. The Department of Energy denies the charges.

July

Former top climate policy official, Joel Clement, fights involuntary reassignment to an accounting job, alleging abuse of power by the Trump administration in its effort to silence him for speaking publicly about climate change threats to Native communities in Alaska.

The Union of Concerned Scientists releases its science report, demonstrating that Trump has appointed conflicted individuals to scientific leadership positions, left key science positions vacant, revoked science-based safeguards, misrepresented climate science, altered scientific content on government websites, reduced public access to data, restricted communication of scientists and created a hostile environment for scientists.

June

• A spokesperson for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stated that a meeting between EPA head Scott Pruitt and former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper was a courtesy visit and had nothing to do with seeking policy advice.  However, within two months of their meeting, the EPA had dismissed members of the Board of Scientific Counselors, the EPA’s science advisory agency, followed by dozens of scientists from 23 committees.

May

As the federal budget was finalized by Congress, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy survived threats by the Trump administration to drastically cut their budgets, thus preserving key programs on climate and energy.

• John H. Thompson, the director of the Census Bureau, abruptly resigned. “Without a respected director to push Congress and the White House to give dequate funding to the bureau, the agency risks stumbling on a shoestring budget.”

President Trump has nominated Sam Clovis as chief scientist of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Reports state that Clovis lacks any appropriate academic background in science, and is a climate change skeptic who supports Trump’s agriculture policy that focuses on increasing trade and reducing regulation. However, in November Clovis announced his withdrawal from the nomination amid connections to the Justice Department’s probe into Russian collusion and the Trump campaign.

This discussion of the emerging transformation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under Administrator Scott Pruitt highlights the dismissal of research scientists from review boards in conjunction with increasing corporate representation, the major budgetary cuts, the roll back of environmental protection regulations, and the removal of climate change data from its website.

April

The Department of Energy is not processing the paperwork for research grants funded by the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy and gagged program managers from speaking with the grant recipients. The uncertainty even threatens of the viability of small companies for whom these grants are vital.

• Being called “unprecedented” in terms of the “scale and breadth” of the scientific community in support, the inaugural March for Science took place on Earth Day in Washington D.C. as well as in hundreds of other cities around the world. Scientists and science advocates wish to call attention to the important role that science plays in society, and to call on governments to invest in science and to “…enact evidence-based policies in the public interest”.

March

The head of EPA has rejected recommendations by the Agency’s scientists to ban a pesticide that has been in widespread use since1965 despite being of concern by scientists as being a potential cause of health problems in children and farm workers. A former head of the Agency’s chemical safety unit stated that “They are ignoring the science that is pretty solid.”.

Under the leadership of Scott Pruitt, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has removed climate change as well as a description of international climate change from its website, and deleted science from its mandate.

Scott Pruitt, Trump’s appointee to lead the EPA on February 17, 2017, rejects the scientific consensus on climate change. Pruitt has stated that he believes that “the climate is changing, and human activity contributes to that in some manner” but questions whether carbon dioxide “is a primary contributor to the global warming”.

Hundreds rallied for science at a demonstration in conjunction with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) meeting in Boston.

Trump’s budget request would cut funding to the National Institutes of Health by 20%. It would eliminate funding for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, folding it into the budget of the National Institutes of Health. It would cancel all funding for the Fogarty International Center at NIH that funds training of researchers for low-income countries.

February

Multiple groups of American scientists copy and store government sites with crucial climate change information to save the data, anticipating that the Trump Administration will shut these sites down.

The New York Times opinion piece encourages US scientists to learn from the experience of Canadian scientists in the Harper years.

American scientists are becoming politically active by preparing for the next election, running for office, participating in marches, writing op ed pieces and storing data.

January

The US Department of Agriculture banned scientists and other employees in its main research division from publicly sharing everything from the summaries of scientific papers to USDA-branded tweets. The ban was rescinded shortly after.

Fearing what might happen to the data that catalogues the details of climate change, more than 250 people gathered at the University of Pennsylvania. Over two days, volunteers from academia, nonprofits and the tech industry were trained and then preserved data from more than 3,000 websites hosted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Canadians started the organization EDGI to help substantially with these efforts.

A US national park employee fights muzzling with humour.

The Trump administration has imposed a freeze on EPA grants and contracts.

2016

December

The Trump transition team tried to collect names of employees of the Department of Energy who worked on climate change. The department refused to comply.

Scientific American warns American scientists to learn from the Canadian experience.

November

Shortly after the US election, in response to the Trump administration’s objective of removing scientific and environmental data from the web, a group of scientists and academics started the Environmental Data Governance Initiative (EDGI), which is working on ways to rescue these data and make them available to the public.

May

Food & Water Watch release a report that documents that the National Research Council (NRC) (and its parent organization, the National Academy of Sciences) are compromised by industry ties.

February

The Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) argues that in the U.S. Department of Agriculture “politics determines what scientific work will see the light of day”. This follows a complaint by one of its top entomologists that USDA purged controversial findings, blocked publication of research papers with policy implications, and forbade scientists from being interviewed by reporters. A USDA panel rejected the charges.

2015

August

Federal judge strikes down Idaho’s law against secretly videotaping animal abuse on farms. Agricultural gagging, ag-gag, legislation criminalizes undercover investigations that reveal abuse or violent actions against animals. Idaho passed ag-gag legislation in 2014, but Judge Winmill considered the law unconstitutional.

March

The state of Florida – one of the United States most susceptible to climate change – warns officials of its Department of Environmental Protection not to use the terms “climate change” or “global warming.” The move is referred to as just “the latest in a string of recent events highlighting the challenge the United States faces from the politicization of science.” An employee of Florida’s environmental protection department later claims that he was accused of violating policy and instructed to get a mental health evaluation after violating the unwritten ban.

A report from the Union of Concerned Scientists in the United States reveals significant improvements to the communications policies of government agencies conducting scientific research. This follows years of work  by the UCS to catalogue instances of political interference in government science in the United States.

A top U.S. climate scientist says officials at NASA headquarters ordered staff to review his forthcoming lectures, papers and media interviews after he called for urgent cuts to greenhouse gas emissions.

2014

December

The Union of Concerned Scientists in the U.S. protests the use of a spending bill to delay protections for sage grouse (which are considered threatened under the Endangered Species Act). UCS says the move signifies “blatant, unobscured interference in science-based policy” on the part of Congress.

Republicans in the U.S. pass the EPA Science Advisory Board Reform Act, which effectively forbids scientists from advising the Environmental Protection Agency on their own research. The White House says it will veto the bill.

June

Former Pennsylvania Department of Health employees say they were instructed not to return phone calls from local residents concerned about the health effects of natural gas development in the region. Former employees also allege that the Department recently began requiring field staff to get permission to attend any outside meetings. As well, funding for research into the health effects of gas drilling was cut in 2012.

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World

2019

November

Scholars At Risk Academic Freedom Monitoring Project publishes its annual report Free to Think 2019  analyzing 324 attacks on higher education communities in 56 countries between September 1, 2018 and August 31, 2019.

2018

October

 Scholars at Risk releases Free to Think 2018, a report on its Academic Freedom Monitoring Project that identifies major trends in attacks on higher education communities in 47 countries.

July

The International Science Council was formed to be “the global voice for science”.  It represents the merger of earlier councils for social science and for science and has more than 180 organizations as members. Science, volume 361, Issue 6398, 13 July 2018, page 113.

2017

September

Scholars at Risk release their report Free to Think  documenting violent attacks on higher education communities across the world.

May

Some of the world’s largest medical research funders and supporters, including international non-governmental organizations, signed a joint statement on May 18th committing to adhering to the World Health Organization’s global standard for timely public disclosure of the results of clinical trials. In most cases the reported information will be accessible through the WHO’s International Clinical Trials Registry Platform.

March

Thousands of scientists from across the world who had to flee their countries rarely get their credentials recognized by host countries.

2016

October

Scholars at Risk released a report documenting 158 attacks on higher education communities arising from 101 verified incidents in 35 countries, from May 1, 2015 to September 1, 2016. In Appendix – Table of Incidents, a breakdown by country is given.

2015

November

More than 15,000 scientists from 184 countries send a warning to the world re: climate change.

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International

2021

January

Plan S, an effort to allow free access to scientific articles, came into force. Although still limited in impact, it is an important initiative by an international coalition of funders, 17 agencies and six foundations, including the Wellcome Trust and Howard Hughes Medical Institute, two of the world’s largest funders of biomedical research. There are many different business models for open access publishing, with both benefits and drawbacks for authors, universities, and publishers.

2020

February

Lots of findings about COVID-19 are appearing on preprint servers prior to peer review. This has fostered communication but raised worries about sharing of questionable findings.

2019

February

Cloud computing is complicating access to open government data. Because of the volume of data, some agencies may turn to commercial platforms that charge fees for access.

Link’s full text available with  membership or subscription.

 January

There is worldwide debate about mandating open-access publishing. For example, since the European Plan S was launched in September 2018, 16 funders in 13 countries have signed on and China has expressed strong support for it.

 

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