Last month, before anyone could have been certain that Donald Trump would win the presidency, one of the most reputable scientific journals, Nature, published an article in clear support of Hillary Clinton’s ability to fuel American science that also showed Trump’s complete disregard for the entire scientific enterprise. Online comments and social media both showed intense backlash toward the fact that Nature, a purely scientific entity, would pierce into the political world with such an arguably opinionated piece supporting a liberal presidential candidate. Whether you agree with Nature’s clear stance in support of Clinton or not, Trumps rhetoric against science cannot be disputed.
Now that Trump has won, uncertainty looms among a plethora of big issues concerning Americans, one being the future of science in our country.
It’s no surprise that Trump just doesn’t have his facts straight. When Nature did a test between Trump, Clinton and the third party candidates to determine which had a better grasp of science, Trump, not surprisingly scored a 4 percent (the lowest) and Clinton scored a 36 percent (the highest).
Time and again, Trump broadcasted his negative views on science, proclaiming both global warming and climate change are hoaxes conjured by the Chinese. He led many Americans to believe that vaccination causes autism in children. He renounced the EPA, which is responsible for regulating America’s destruction of the environment, and he has shown no indication that he will value scientific funding in budget decisions concerning the national deficit.
The truth is that an overwhelming majority of the world’s scientists, 97 percent, according to a 2006 article in Environmental Research Letters, agree with clear and reliable data showing that human activity on our planet is indeed accelerating the warming of the planet, causing unprecedented and dangerous climate change. World leaders, including President Obama, signed an accord in Paris last year promising to work toward preventing an average warming of more than two degrees Celsius globally. As the new president, Trump said he will and is likely to pull out of the agreement, a decision with which he can move forward without the approval of Congress.
Whether Trump is right or wrong about the unfounded theory that vaccinations cause autism, in the end the theory is simply unfounded. One study by a British scientist provided some evidence, but was quickly discredited and retracted after other scientists reviewed the findings. A 2015 study of 95,000 patients concluded that vaccination wasn’t associated with autism. Yet, Trump consistently insists that he is right, brandishing ideas that are completely detached from reality.
America is home to many of the brightest minds in research, with many from other countries. Some of researchers have said online that they are contemplating leaving the country. Researchers in other countries are unsure and uneasy about the future of their collaborations with U.S. institutions.
Whether funding for science remains the same or does not, Trump’s presidency will indeed put negative pressure on scientific progress.
Perhaps the most decisive issue at stake is the environment. Can the U.S., the second largest fossil fuel emitter in the world, really afford to move backward on climate policy? Can the country lead as a future economic powerhouse when green energy and sustainable development are accelerating in other countries like China? How will the country lead if it falls behind?
Diler Haji is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.