The Biden administration has put a focus back on science, and for most Americans, it's a welcome return.
An Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll released on Monday found he has a 63% approval rating, bolstered primarily by his response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Seventy-one percent of Americans, including 47% of Republicans, approve of how he has handled the pandemic.
The Biden administration has made huge efforts to communicate about the virus in a transparent, science-driven way, and made Herculean efforts to make the vaccine available to all adults. Whereas Trump chose to downplay the pandemic and spread misinformation.
Biden hopes to strengthen his administration's commitment to science even further through the help of a new 46-person federal scientific integrity task force. The task force includes members from more than two dozen government agencies.
The task force was created after a January 27 memo from Biden requiring "evidence-based policy-making."
The task force's primary focus is to find areas where partisanship has interfered with science over the last 12 years. It also looks to bolster the government's credibility in matters of science after the previous administration's hostile research that conflicted with its agenda.
The Trump administration was against the promotion of climate change research, notably scrubbing mentions of it from various Environmental Protection Agency websites.
And let's not forget about "Sharpiegate."
via Wikimedia Commons
"What we have seen in the last administration is that the suppression of science, the reassignment of scientists, the distortion of scientific information around climate change was not only destructive but counterproductive and really problematic," Jane Lubchenco, the deputy director for climate and environment at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, told the Los Angeles Times.
"There's little doubt that the American death toll from Covid-19 was far higher than it needed to be and that the administration's early unwillingness to take the issue seriously to listen to and act on the advice of experts and to communicate clearly contributed substantially to that death toll," Naomi Oreskes, a Harvard University historian who has written extensively on the politicization of science, told The Los Angeles Times.
"This is such a hopeful moment," says Rachel Cleetus, policy director of the Climate and Energy program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, told Scientific American. "We've seen this administration hit the ground running from day one. They have signaled very clearly a return to science-based policymaking and a commitment to center equity and justice in their policy missions."
The Biden administration's commitment to science shows that its primary goal is to create effective policy. It's also an important step in stopping Americans' eroding faith in government.
In 1970, 70% of Americans trusted the government a "great deal" or a "fair amount" when it came to domestic decision-making. In September 2020, it had declined to just 41%.
By bolstering the government's commitment to science, the Biden administration has an opportunity to enhance its credibility. Sure, that is of course good for the Biden administration. But it's arguably even better for American democracy in the long term. The government has a big hand in protecting the safety and economic well-being of all Americans. Improving the public's faith in the institution an important step in creating an even more stable, free, and prosperous society.
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