With unprecedented wildfires burning across western states, the Gulf Coast bracing for a hurricane, and the coronavirus pandemic still raging, Scientific American on Tuesday gave Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden its first-ever endorsement in the magazine's 175-year history.
"The 2020 election is literally a matter of life and death. We urge you to vote for health, science, and Joe Biden for president."
Although SciAm had refrained from supporting any political candidates up until now, "this year we are compelled to do so," the editors explain in an endorsement published online. "We do not do this lightly."
"The evidence and the science show that Donald Trump has badly damaged the U.S. and its people—because he rejects evidence and science," the editors charge, calling "his dishonest and inept response to the Covid-19 pandemic" just the "most devastating example."
SciAm's editors note that in addition to his "catastrophic" handling of the ongoing public health crisis, Trump "has also attacked environmental protections, medical care, and the researchers and public science agencies that help this country prepare for its greatest challenges."
"That is why we urge you to vote for Joe Biden, who is offering fact-based plans to protect our health, our economy and the environment," they write. "These and other proposals he has put forth can set the country back on course for a safer, more prosperous, and more equitable future."
The evidence and the science show that Donald Trump has badly damaged the U.S. and its people—because he rejects evidence and science.
The most devastating example is his willfully ignorant response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which cost more than 190,000 Americans their lives.
— Scientific American (@sciam) September 15, 2020
The magazine endorsement details how Trump's mismanagement and dishonesty regarding the pandemic, the Affordable Care Act, and climate change contrast with Biden, who "comes prepared with plans to control Covid-19, improve healthcare, reduce carbon emissions, and restore the role of legitimate science in policy making."
The former vice president "solicits expertise and has turned that knowledge into solid policy proposals," the editors point out.
Biden is getting advice on these public health issues from a group that includes David Kessler, epidemiologist, pediatrician, and former U.S. Food and Drug Administration chief; Rebecca Katz, immunologist and global health security specialist at Georgetown University; and Ezekiel Emanuel, bioethicist at the University of Pennsylvania. It does not include physicians who believe in aliens and debunked virus therapies, one of whom Trump has called "very respected" and "spectacular."
SciAm's editors also highlighted a $2 trillion proposal that Biden put forward in July that won praise from environmental and climate campaigners. As Common Dreams reported at the time, some progressive activists who had been critical of the candidate welcomed the plan as a major step forward while still emphasizing that Biden has more work to do and grassroots movements will keep pressuring him to deliver.
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That message was clear Monday in another endorsement of Biden. The Center for Biological Diversity Action Fund, in its endorsement announcement, compared the Democrat's potential with Trump's record of rolling back dozens of environmental and public health protections to appease corporate polluters.
"Joe Biden must defeat Donald Trump in November or this planet and our democracy will suffer catastrophic and irreversible damage."
—Kierán Suckling, president of the Center for Biological Diversity Action Fund
"We cannot equivocate in this election. Joe Biden must defeat Donald Trump in November or this planet and our democracy will suffer catastrophic and irreversible damage," said Kierán Suckling, president of the Center for Biological Diversity Action Fund. "Donald Trump has been the most anti-environmental president in modern history."
The current president "has put children in cages, elevated white supremacy, denigrated women, mocked the suffering of countless people, and divided our nation through the politics of hatred, fear, and ignorance," Suckling said. "Joe Biden can restore decency and give us a fighting chance to stop the environmental calamities we now face."
"The nightmare of the Trump presidency must come to an end in November," he added. "After the election we'll push President Biden tirelessly to stop the wildlife extinction crisis, tackle the global climate emergency and protect people from polluters. First, though, we have to get Trump out of office. The future of our planet is at stake."
The group's endorsement came as Trump visited fire-ravaged California and publicly denied climate science—telling one state official, "It'll start getting cooler, you just watch"—while Biden delivered a climate-focused speech in Delaware that was applauded by the youth-led Sunrise Movement and other advocacy groups.
We don't agree with @JoeBiden on everything but we're glad to see him putting the spotlight the climate crisis.
— Sunrise Movement (@sunrisemvmt) September 14, 2020
While Trump in recent weeks has come under fire for his silence and then lies about the current conditions on the West Coast, Biden has faced mounting pressure to prioritize the climate crisis—and especially how his proposed policies stack up against the Trump administration's anti-science agenda—on the campaign trail.
"Here's the deal: hurricanes don't swerve to avoid Red States or Blue States. Wildfires don't skip towns that voted a certain way," Biden said in his Monday speech, which also touched on the pandemic. "The impacts of climate change don't pick and choose. That's because it's not a partisan phenomenon, it's science, and our response should be the same. Grounded in science."
"We need a president who respects science, who understands that the damage from climate change is already here. And unless we take urgent action, it will soon be more catastrophic," he added. "A president who recognizes, understands, and cares that Americans are dying, which makes President Trump's climate denialism, his disdain for science and facts, all the more unconscionable."