It’s amazing to think that we’ve all been alive for a thousand years, our bodies swept by a burning wind into nothing but dust and a lingering scream. Except we haven’t — it’s just the end of the first week of the Trump administration, and a disconcertingly large number of horrible things have already happened.
So much has already gone wrong — ill-considered executive orders, arseholes on Twitter, mind-numbing press conferences — but it’s been especially bad in the science, health and technology arenas. From the war on climate change to the slow undoing of the Affordable Care Act, we’re rounded up the things US President Donald Trump and his administration screwed up in science and technology this week. Happy Saturday!
If our planet could talk, it would be screaming into a pillow right now
If you were worried about climate change, good news: According to the White House, it more or less doesn’t exist. The new White House website was recently scrubbed of any mention of climate change, and as of publication, there are still zero search results on the site for the term. Instead, the new administration has trotted out what it calls the “America First Energy Plan”, which promises to dismantle the Climate Action Plan and the Waters of the US rule, in addition to bringing back clean coal, which more or less doesn’t exist.
The Environmental Protection Agency is under siege
On Monday, the Trump administration ordered the EPA to freeze all grants and cease public communications. While reports emerged last night that the agency has now resumed its grant distribution, the back and forth doesn’t set a very comforting precedent. The day after the initial orders came down, EPA employees told Jalopnik that the agency is “under siege” and there’s “a real sense of dread”.
Oh, and Trump also wants to cut down the agency’s budget and workforce, so there’s that, too.
Theodore Roosevelt is turning over in his grave
Trump was apparently feeling a little insecure about the fact that his inauguration wasn’t quite as well attended as former president Barack Obama’s 2009 ceremony. So he got mad online after the National Park Service retweeted a tweet making this comparison. The agency received mysterious orders to stop tweeting, though it wasn’t long before it was back in business. It was later reported that Trump personally called the head of the National Park Service to complain about the retweet and to demand further photos proving that his crowd was bigger than the media claimed.
In the meantime, Badlands National Park tweeted and then deleted some facts about climate change, which some took to be a subtle dig at Trump. More like Badarse National Park, if you ask us.
America’s new national healthcare plan may soon just be ‘Don’t get sick!’
Last week, Trump signed an executive order that set the wheels in motion for the end of the Affordable Care Act, one of his oft-repeated campaign promises. Though the order was, as the New York Times noted, largely symbolic, it was preceded by a similar step from the Senate. If the Affordable Care Act is repealed, access to HIV treatment — which costs thousands of dollars without insurance — is under threat, as are prevention and awareness campaigns.
But he also had to screw up foreign healthcare, too
Another terrible executive order reinstated the “global gag rule”, which bans US aid-funded organisations from performing or talking to women about abortion. Federal funds are already prohibited from being spent on abortion, so the result of this is seemingly to prevent women (and, because of the nature of the programs, that really means low-income women in developing countries) from even being told their healthcare options.
The USDA got swept up in yet another gag order saga
On Monday, it was reported that employees at the US Department of Agriculture had received an email forbidding them from releasing “public-facing documents”, including press releases and tweets. By Wednesday, that order was reportedly rescinded, though one source told Gizmodo that some restrictions remain.
Net neutrality might get neutered
It was announced on Monday that Ajit Pai would lead the Federal Communications Commission. Under Pai, net neutrality protections are not expected to remain in place; he once warned it would embolden authoritarian regimes to interfere with their citizens’ internet, so it’s safe to say he is Not A Fan.
Haha, what’s national security?
Reports emerged on Thursday that Trump is still using his old, unsecured Android phone. President Obama gave up his phone when he entered office, but apparently no one has been able to get through to Trump that he needs to do this, too.
YOU get an oil pipeline and YOU get an oil pipeline and YOU get an oil pipeline!
On Tuesday, Trump signed executive actions to push forward the construction of both the Keystone XL pipeline and the Dakota Access Pipeline, both of which have been strongly protested by environmentalists.
That was week one. We’ll be here with you for the rest of them, too.