Tuesday, October 23, 2018

A Record Number of Scientists Are Running for Congress, and They Get Climate Change

More than a dozen scientists are candidates for U.S. House and Senate seats this year in a wave fueled by the Trump Administration’s anti-science agenda.

 March for science (Credit: Time Health) Click to Enlarge.
Joseph Kopser, an aerospace engineer, Army veteran and Austin tech entrepreneur, is spending October on the campaign trail, Texas style.

At a barbecue, a block party, even a hayride through Hill Country, he's making the case for a dramatic change in Texas' 21st Congressional District and an historic transformation in the U.S. Congress.

Kopser is one of more than a dozen scientists running for Congress this November—a record number that reflects a groundswell of political activism in the scientific community triggered by the anti-science agenda of President Donald Trump's administration, especially on climate change.

Kopser is quick to point out that the political attacks on science pre-date Trump. His district is a prime example:  He's running to fill the congressional seat of retiring Republican Rep. Lamar Smith, who spent the past six years using his power as chairman of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee to cast doubt on consensus climate and environmental science.

"The problem I saw is we are so entrenched in our camps and party loyalty, no one is willing to think about other ways of doing business right now," said Kopser, who is a Democrat like many of the scientists running for office.  "Trump is just a symptom of the day and age."

The scientist candidates and their supporters say the political movement has the potential to transform Congress, injecting a critical mass of evidence-based thinkers who could lessen the influence of ideology on decision-making.  It could help catalyze real debate on solutions to address climate change and a host of other issues, they say.

Already, the scientists are having an impact, forcing some GOP opponents to attempt to rebrand themselves to appeal to voters who are concerned about the environment.  But the collective clout of the engineers, physicians and other scientists running for Congress ultimately will depend on getting elected, and their odds vary widely depending on the political landscape of their states and local districts.

Read more at A Record Number of Scientists Are Running for Congress, and They Get Climate Change

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