People all over the world have been stunned by Donald Trump’s historic victory against Hillary Clinton to become the next president of the United States.
Among those people are scientists, many of whom have been concerned about statements Trump has made in the past about science and research. Some are even worried about their jobs in their fields, as well as Trump’s impact on the scientific opinions of the country.
These are some of the beliefs Trump has stated in the past which are worrying for the scientific community.
For starters, he has said publicly that global warming is a Chinese hoax designed to hamper other economies.
The Paris climate agreement — the international deal signed by world leaders in 2015 to keep global warming under 2 degrees celsius — is now in Trump’s hands, and he has pledged to leave it because it is “bad for US business.” He does not even need Congressional approval to do so. Pulling out would mean that any chance of denting our global emissions would be doomed, as the USA is the second largest emitter of carbon dioxide in the world behind China.
Trump has also suggested he wants to do the opposite of what would be required to keep the earth’s temperature rising further, such as eliminating the US Environmental Protection Agency, which is responsible for regulating greenhouse gas pollution in the US. He has since backed away from this plan, but has recommended none other than Myron Ebell as the new Administrator — a famous climate change denier.
The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 6, 2012
In reality, there is overwhelming scientific evidence that our planet is warming.
Secondly, he has frequently claimed that vaccines can cause autism.
A lot of people are sceptical of vaccination in the US, despite the fact that Andrew Wakefield’s paper claiming autism was induced by the MMR jab was retracted from The Lancet and widely discredited in the scientific community. These claims have also been repeatedly debunked, and Wakefield is currently barred from practising medicine in the UK. Nevertheless, Trump has jumped on this belief time and time again, playing into the fears of many parents.
This is a dangerous belief, because it means people feel justified in not getting their children inoculated altogether, or they spread jabs out too long, exposing their kids to diseases for longer. This anti-vaccine hysteria has also led to rises in diseases that should have long been eradicated, like measles and polio.
Healthy young child goes to doctor, gets pumped with massive shot of many vaccines, doesn’t feel good and changes – AUTISM. Many such cases!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 28, 2014
Thirdly, he’s open to massive funding cuts to research.
Many analyses of Trump’s budgets look like a disaster, and this could have a bad impact on scientific funding. Deficits are likely to explode, and Trump hasn’t identified any areas of science that he thinks are worth supporting.
Many scientists contacted Nature to voice their fears about the future of their research:
“This is terrifying for science, research, education, and the future of our planet,” tweeted María Escudero Escribano, a postdoc studying electrochemistry and and sustainable energy conversation at Stanford University in California. “I guess it’s time for me to go back to Europe.”
“I do breast cancer research for my PhD,” tweeted Sarah Hengel, a graduate student at the University of Iowa in Iowa City. “Scared not only for my future but for the future of research and next years @NIH budget.”
The new Vice President also has some questionable views on science.
It could be said that Mike Pence’s conservative and religious views have coloured his perceptions of science. In 2009, he wrote in The Hill that embryonic stem cell research is “obsolete”, after President Obama lifted federal restrictions on such research.
He also claimed back in 2001 that smoking doesn’t cause cancer.
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