What will Trump mean for science?

In a shocking twist of events, Donald J. Trump has been elected as the next president of the United States after a long and divisive campaign in which science was rarely mentioned. Many scientists now have to consider what a Trump administration will mean for their work and are understandably worried at the outlook.

Trump will be the first- anti-science president we have ever had. As a young graduate pursuing a career in science communication, the possibly severe consequences are extremely worrying. With an already crumbling scientific infrastructure in the US, funding for science will only take a massive hit, with the US being less equipped to recruit the world leaders on scientific issues to progress their fields of study.

Trumping on the planet

Chief among many concerns in the scientific community are Trump’s views on climate change. There’s no way around it. Donald Trump is going to be a disaster for the planet. As a candidate, Trump vowed to ‘cancel’ the Paris climate agreement that was signed earlier this year and pledged to eliminate environmental regulations. He called global warming a Chinese hoax. He wants to scrap all major regulations put in place by President Obama to reduce US carbon dioxide emissions, including the Clean Power Plan. He  wants to repeal all federal spending on clean, sustainable energy sources. He wants to pull the United States out of the Paris climate deal altogether and has also hinted at wanting to get rid of the Environmental Protection Agency altogether.

 

So what happens if Trump gets his way? It’s unlikely he’ll stop the progression of renewable energy whatsoever, but his proposals are likely to increase CO2 emisions: Lux Research estimated Trump’s policies would lead to an extra 3.4 billion tons of CO2 emitted:

There is now real concern in the scientific community what it might mean that the public scientific method isn’t embraced by Trump and how he may view other science in other fields.

Funding scientific research

Although Trump has pledged to cut federal spending, he hasn’t explained how this will affect funding for scientific research. The majority of academic researchers rely on grants from government agencies, such as the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation. It means for a lot of early research scientists, there is a lot of uncertainty facing their careers and what a reduction in funding would mean for their ability to have a career as a scientist.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science is the country’s largest society of scientific researchers and have been urging Trump to appoint a respected scientist as his next science adviser. This would allow them to make major scientific issues, such as climate change and research investment a central part of Trump’s agenda.

However, one thing to consider is how research will be affected in terms of skilled scientists immigrating to the US for work or education. They would still be welcome, but would they want to go?

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