It may come as a surprise, but there is at least one person in Congress who has a firm grasp of science: Representative Bill Foster – and you can bet that this weekend, he was marching for science.
As the only PhD scientist in Congress, Foster has been a champion for science over the past year, and in many ways he has been an unsung hero in the March for Science movement.
On the very same day that President Trump was sworn into office, all references to climate change were removed from the White House website. The March for Science movement was created shortly after, and Foster was one of its earliest and most vocal proponents.
Last year, in an op-ed published in The Hill, Foster announced that he would be attending the march - not as a Congressman, but as a concerned citizen.
"The president's anti-science policies began on the campaign trail when he called climate change a hoax, directly contradicting decades of climate science data and research and instilling a falsehood as fact to millions of Americans," wrote Foster.
"As president, Mr. Trump has stacked his Cabinet with individuals who have either actively worked to undermine the agencies they now lead or have demonstrated a willingness to wipe out federal funding for science entirely."
The piece ended with a simple: "See you at the March."
This year, at the 2018 march, Foster was back. Last week, Foster announced he would once again be marching in another op-ed for The Hill titled, "We still need to march for science."
The article is a terrifying read, simply because it lays out the extent to which the Trump administration has devalued, silenced, censored and politicized science.
"The Trump administration has moved to censure and politicize science to turn scientific research into a field that only exists to confirm their political truths or – worse yet – completely dismantle our scientific infrastructure altogether," wrote Foster.
He's not wrong. In just one year, the Trump administration has proposed massive cuts to science agencies, hidden climate change information, promoted climate change conspiracies, left key science advisory positions unfilled, and moved to dismantle important environmental regulations.
And, every step of the way, Foster has been there to condemn the Trump administration's dismissal of science and evidence-based policy making.
Earlier this year in an interview on C-Span, Foster said he was most afraid by the Trump administration's "disinterest" in science.
In particular, he cited President Trump's failure to nominate a chief science advisor to lead the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). In last week's op-ed, Foster brought the issue up once again.
"These developments might sound like nothing more than Washington chatter, but there are serious implications for Americans if we fail to have leadership with the qualifications they need for their positions," he wrote.
"Each of these positions plays a critical role in our country's response to national disasters, disease outbreaks and national security crises."
Still no matter how much Foster tries to stand up for science, the Trump administration is not interested in what one, lone physicist has to say. Although, with more scientists running for office in 2018 than ever before, Foster could soon have some company in Congress.
"We must continue to tell this administration that leaders cannot ignore scientific facts when it is politically convenient for them," wrote Foster.
"Science is the foundation of a society whose innovation has made this country great and will lead the way to a more prosperous and safer country. That's why I will join Americans across the country on Saturday to march for science."
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