Scott Pruitt, who is reportedly Trump’s nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency, is an outspoken critic of the agency that he would lead, though his criticisms have little basis in fact. PHOTOGRAPH BY JOHN TAGGART / BLOOMBERG VIA GETTY Next week, the American Geophysical Union will hold its annual conference in San Francisco. The A.G.U. meeting is one of the world’s première scientific gatherings—last fall, some twenty-four thousand experts in fields ranging from astronomy to volcanology attended. This year, in addition to the usual papers and journals, a new publication will be available to participants. It’s called “Handling Political Harassment and Legal Intimidation: A Pocket Guide for Scientists.”
The guide is the creation of a group called the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund. One of the group’s founders, Joshua Wolfe, and its executive director, Lauren Kurtz, made the decision to write it on the day after the election. “There is a lot of fear among scientists that they will become targets of people who are interested in science as politics, rather than progress,” Wolfe told me in an e-mail.
With each passing day, that fear appears to be more well founded. The one quality that all of Trump’s picks for his cabinet and his transition team seem to share is an expertise in the dark art of disinformation.