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Science takes a backseat as Donald Trump Administration settles into the White House

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When the United States’ government updated their website after Donald J Trump’s inauguration, they wiped every mention of science, especially climate science, from the pages. Considering Trump’s previous comments on climate change, and his pick for secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, was the CEO of petrol-giant Exxon Mobil, it was no big surprise to see that the climate science would be quickly and quietly dismissed from the new president’s agenda – namely reopening coal mines in West Virginia and backing out of the U.S.’ prior commitments to COP21. But dismissing science as whole can have devastating effect, as Dr James Conca writes in Forbes:

“Unfortunately, America has a growing movement against science, and against experts in any field, that is threatening the foundation of America’s power, both military and economic. […] This is not just an academic fight. Severe weather over the last few years has shown weaknesses in America’s aging electrical infrastructure during events like a Polar Vortex. Climate science not only addresses global warming but has made ordinary weather prediction much more accurate, and has prepared us to better to handle extreme weather events, to better use of our water resources, even to increase crop yields.”

So far, many major science institutions such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are facing a large cut in funding and budgetary allotment, whilst federal programs like the Department of Energy are facing an uncertain future. Indeed, axing climate science – and likely, renewable energies – is a net loss for the United States, who saw a growing renewables market employ more people than all fossil fuel industries combined, last year according to the U.S. Energy and Employment Report.

Apart from climate science, NPR’s Barbara J. King notes that Donald Trump also has his crosshairs trained on vaccines and the (false) notion that they cause autism, whilst several high-ranking members of his cabinet have shown disregard towards sustainable development and proper natural resource management. As Sarah Kaplan from The Washington Post relays, scientists generally strive to stay apolitical, but the threat of seeing decades of research and development undone is too much for many scientists, who have decided to speak up about the issues America, and the world, could face the apparent purging of scientific thought be carried out. As Dr. Coca exclaims in Forbes:

“Unfortunately, the natural world doesn’t care whether you understand it or not. The wise saying is still true:

“Stupidity will kill you more surely than your opponent’s blade.”

“I hope we are not so stupid as to destroy the greatest scientific community in history.”

 

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