A Record Number of Scientists Are Running for Congress, and They Get #ClimateChange

From Inside Climate News (Marianne Lavelle):

[Joseph] 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 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…

Many of the more than 60 scientist candidates who were running for Congress lost in the primaries, but that hasn’t discouraged Naughton or other supporters.

“I think that’s just a reflection that a lot of scientists are not strong on political skills,” said Rush Holt, chief executive officer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), a physicist who himself made the transition from the lab to legislative chamber. Representing New Jersey’s 12th district in the U.S. House of Representatives for 16 years, at a time a handful of scientists served in Congress, Holt said he saw first-hand how their presence could make a difference.

“Almost every issue that comes before a legislature has some science, somewhere,” Holt said. “If there’s not a scientist in the room—and the way things are on Capitol Hill, there usually isn’t—the facets of an issue that could be illuminated by science won’t even be noticed.”

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