Science Under Trump

By Jeffrey Ho ’20

Many were shocked and astonished — some celebrated — when Trump was elected President. People were scared about immigration policy, about his sexist, racist, homophobic and xenophobic rhetoric, about his foreign and domestic policy. But something that rarely mentioned in this year’s election cycle entirely is science policy. Other than Trump’s anti-climate change remarks, science has taken a backseat during this election. However, scientific research and science itself is incredibly important in the upcoming years: climate change policy, space exploration policy and funding, health policy (including sex ed and funding for Planned Parenthood), and environmental policy. It is important to start analyzing the scientific consequences of a Trump presidency.

First and foremost, NIH and NSF funding will probably go down. Trump has commented on the NIH, “I have heard so much about the NIH, and it sounds terrible”. He has vehemently argued for defunding planned parenthood. Under previous Republican Presidents, while funding for NASA, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation have gone down, funding for NIH, NSF and the Department of Agriculture have gone up. However, due to Trump’s very high anti-science stance, including anti-abortion and anti-vaccine beliefs, lead many scientists to believe that NIH and NSF funding will go down as well.

In addition, Trump will begin to phase out many climate change initiatives the Obama administration has put into place. He has vowed to leave the Paris Agreement, though the legal process can take up to four years. However, many “local” climate agreements made with Mexico, China, etc. will be severed. This will ironically place China as worldwide leader for climate change reform. In addition, Trump has expressed interest in continuing the Keystone Pipeline, despite American and Canadian companies halting construction after numerous protests.

Trump’s immigration policy also led to speculation that interest in scientific research across all disciplines in the United States will go down. Many academics have expressed concerns in pushing away potential talent from the US. Due to the high amounts of excellent institutions in the US for scientific research (MIT, Stanford, Harvard, etc) our nation has historically been the hub of great scientists worldwide. Due to Trump’s rhetoric, the scientific community may become increasingly fragmented, until another nation, such as the growing institutions in China or the academic strongholds in Great Britain take over the US as innovators in science.



Filed in: Featured content, Science

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