I’m a scientist who has gotten death threats. I fear what may happen under Trump.

Michael Mann, a professor of atmospheric science and director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State, recently wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post. Here’s an excerpt:

“My Penn State colleagues looked with horror at the police tape across my office door.

Michael Mann

Michael Mann

“I had been opening mail at my desk that afternoon in August 2010 when a dusting of white powder fell from the folds of a letter. I dropped the letter, held my breath and slipped out the door as swiftly as I could, shutting it behind me. First I went to the bathroom to scrub my hands. Then I called the police.

“It turned out to be cornstarch, not anthrax. And it was just one in a long series of threats I’ve received since the late 1990s, when my research illustrated the unprecedented nature of global warming, producing an upward-trending temperature curve whose shape has been likened to a hockey stick.

“I’ve faced hostile investigations by politicians, demands for me to be fired from my job, threats against my life and even threats against my family. Those threats have diminished in recent years, as man-made climate change has become recognized as the overwhelming scientific consensus and as climate science has received the support of the federal government. But with the coming Trump administration, my colleagues and I are steeling ourselves for a renewed onslaught of intimidation, from inside and outside government. It would be bad for our work and bad for our planet.”

Read the full op-ed at WashingtonPost.com.

WorkZone: Your boss’s politics could affect how much you get paid

Forrest Briscoe, an associate professor of management and organization, and Aparna Joshi, Arnold Family Professor of Management, were recently quoted in an article about their research in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Here’s an excerpt:

Forrest Briscoe

Forrest Briscoe

Aparna Joshi

Aparna Joshi

“Is your boss a liberal or conservative? If you’re a woman, you may want to find out.

“New research by two Penn State professors found that how much you get paid could depend on your boss’s political views.

“Professors Forrest Briscoe and Aparna Joshi of Penn State’s Smeal College of Business analyzed performance-based bonuses received by male and female attorneys over a six-year period at one of the nation’s largest law firms.

“Using campaign contributions as a guide, they found that for associates working for liberal partners in the firm, there was no gender gap in pay. But for those working under conservative partners, the males got bigger bonuses. The partners who supervised the associates were responsible for determining the size of bonuses.”

Read the full story at post-gazette.com.

Trump did better in areas where ‘deaths of despair’ were highest

Donald Trump speaks at a December 2015 campaign stop at Mid-America Center in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Photo Credit: Matt A.J./Flickr

Donald Trump speaks at a December 2015 campaign stop at Mid-America Center in Council Bluffs, Iowa. According to new research, Trump found significantly more support in areas with high drug, alcohol and suicide mortality rates during the 2016 Presidential election. Photo Credit: Matt A.J./Flickr

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — President-elect Donald Trump found significantly more support in areas with high drug, alcohol and suicide mortality rates during the 2016 Presidential election, according to a Penn State rural sociologist and demographer.

Economic factors seem to explain most of the relationship between Trump’s success and drug, alcohol and suicide deaths — or deaths of despair — in these areas, said Shannon Monnat, assistant professor of rural sociology, demography and sociology.

Shannon Monnat

Shannon Monnat

“Counties that once had strong manufacturing and extraction industries, but then experienced significant decline in those industries over the past three decades are areas that have higher rates of deaths of despair,” said Monnat. “Trump also overperformed most in these types of counties.”

Trump garnered more support in many areas where former Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney struggled against President Barack Obama in the 2012 campaign. He outperformed Romney in 2,469 of the 3,106 counties included in the study. He did better than Romney in 89 percent of counties in the Industrial Midwest, 91 percent of counties in Appalachia and 69 percent of counties in New England.

These regions also have high and increasing rates of death of despair, Monnat added. Nationally, the average drug, alcohol and suicide mortality rate is 36 deaths per 100,000 in the least economically distressed counties and 49 deaths per 100,000 in the most economically distressed counties. In the Industrial Midwest, there were an average of 16.3 deaths per 100,000 more in the most economically distressed counties compared to counties in that region that were least economically distressed and in Appalachia, there were more than 13 deaths per 100,000 more in the most economically distressed counties than in the least economically distressed counties. The most economically distressed counties in New England had an average of 10 deaths per 100,000 more than the least economically distressed counties.

Trump’s anti-free trade and anti-immigration rhetoric seemed to resonate best with people living in those areas, even though Obama carried many of those areas in the prior Presidential election.

“It’s not that these types of mortality, in and of themselves, are driving an increased share of votes for Trump, but that they are underlying more systemic economic and social problems in these counties,” said Monnat. “A large share of this relationship nationally is explained by economic factors like economic distress and large concentrations of working class voters.”

Economic distress is a composite index of six economic factors, including the adult poverty rate, the unemployment rate, the disability rate, the percentage of families with children headed by a single parent, the percentage of households receiving public assistance and the percentage of adults age 18-64 without health insurance.

Economic distress and the presence of working class voters explained about 44 percent of the relationship between deaths of despair and Trump support nationwide, but it explained much more of the relationship in these specific regions, according to Monnat.

“I think Trump’s anti-free trade message resonated in these places and his rhetoric was very simple — Make America great again,” said Monnat. “And you have to understand that in some of these places that have experienced widespread decline in manufacturing and extraction and the types of jobs that pay livable wages, people there really feel like America is not so great anymore. I think the message that he was the change candidate really resonated with people in these places.”

Monnat, who released her findings online in a working paper, used data from the Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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