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Since the earliest days of the Trump administration, we've heard how Trump and his allies may have covered up evidence and obstructed investigations into Russiagate and other improprieties. Unsurprisingly, this has led to calls for the president's impeachment.

But there are other, more serious forms of obstruction that haven't generated anywhere near as much attention, despite potentially catastrophic consequences for the country and the world. And the most dangerous of these has been the Trump administration's near-constant war on science.

Trump and his administration are slashing common-sense regulations and censoring science to enrich their fossil fuel industry backers, exposing the country and the whole world to potentially catastrophic consequences. They are literally willing to endanger human lives and the very future of humanity for corporate profit.

A recent report by the Union of Concerned Scientists, "Science under Siege at the Department of the Interior," documents how the Trump team has set out to obfuscate the findings of scientists through the use of censorship and distortion. And just this month, the State Department blocked a State Department official from testifying to Congress on the "possibly catastrophic" security impacts of climate change, even as an Australian study warned that civilization itself could be under dire threat by 2050.

Recently, the Department of Energy began referring to natural gas as "freedom gas," which sounds like something straight out of satire site The Onion. Unintentional humor aside, this choice of terminology resembles the calculated debasement of language by totalitarian states.

Last November, when a report by government scientists contradicted Trump's position and showed that the United States will suffer devastating consequences from climate change, the president simply declared that reality was irrelevant. "I don't believe it" was his response.

Now there are fresh signs that the Trump administration intends to actively interfere in research by federal scientists. The New York Times reports that scientists who prepare the National Climate Assessment will now be instructed not to include the worst-case scenarios of climate change in their reports, so the full extent of potential impacts will be hidden from readers. They will also be asked to project their model results through 2040 instead of the end of the century, masking some of the most dire effects of climate change.

The administration is also reportedly setting up a "review panel" to publicly scrutinize the conclusions of the National Climate Assessment. Given the administration's track record, it wouldn't be surprising if the "review panel" is stacked with industry hacks or scientific outcasts like William Happer - Trump's reported choice for chair, who has likened what he termed the "demonization" of carbon emissions to the Holocaust.

Governments that respect democracy, transparency and truth don't systematically obstruct scientific research and harass scientists. Nor do they resort to crude propagandistic terms like "freedom gas" to mask the truth about their agenda.

This is obstruction and collusion of the worst and highest order. If the comparatively venal case of Russiagate is grounds for impeachment, why isn't this?

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ABOUT THE WRITER

Basav Sen directs the Climate Policy Project at the Institute for Policy Studies. This column was produced for the Progressive Media Project, which is run by The Progressive magazine, and distributed by the Tribune News Service.

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