Monday, November 21, 2016

The Implications of the Trump Administration's Disdain for Science

Prior to the Trump administration, science informed government policy decisions. Nowhere is a science-based approach more necessary than in the realm of climate action. However, president-elect Trump has made it clear that he has a very little understanding of both science and scientists.

Consequently, climate scientists working for government agencies in the US are bracing for budget cuts and interference from the incoming administration.

Michael Lubell, director of public affairs for the American Physical Society in Washington DC said, "Trump will be the first anti-science president we have ever had...The consequences are going to be very, very severe."

Despite the views of the Trump administration, with 97 percent agreement among climate scientists the veracity of the research on anthropogenic warming is clear. However, there is well-warranted concern among scientists about the incoming administration.  Many of these scientists are calling Trump's presidency a disaster for the planet.

As reported by Oliver Milman in the Guardian, "Leading scientists say the climate denier’s victory could mean ‘game over for the climate’ and any hope of warding off dangerous global warming....never before has the arrival of a White House administration placed the livability of Earth at stake."

Milman quotes leading climate scientists as saying some pretty frightening things.

"A Trump presidency might be game over for the climate,” said Michael Mann, a prominent climate researcher. “It might make it impossible to stabilize planetary warming below dangerous levels." Kevin Trenberth, a senior scientist at the US National Center for Atmospheric Research, added: "This is an unmitigated disaster for the planet."

"Millions of Americans voted for a coal-loving climate denier willing to condemn people around the globe to poverty, famine and death from climate change," said Benjamin Schreiber, climate director at Friends of the Earth US.

The Trump administration is also likely to have dire implications for federally funded scientific research in the U.S. Scientists at Nasa and NOAA are expecting cuts, particularly those research programs related to climate change.

"As president, Donald Trump will pretend climate change does not exist," said Prof Tom Lyon of the University of Michigan’s business school. "This is an increasingly untenable position, even for committed climate skeptics...His energy policy will encourage investment in high-carbon energy sources that will look foolish in retrospect. And he will anger much of the rest of the world by reneging on policies designed to address global challenges."

Scientists working in federal science agencies are concerned about budget cuts and interference from the Trump administration. As reported by Ian Johnston in an Independent article, a senior Nasa scientist told Trump that he is wrong about climate change. He tweeted a graph of October's record-breaking temperature, along with the following words: "Global warming doesn’t care about the election."

Dr Gavin Schmidt, is the director of Nasa’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies said that government scientists are "not going to stand" for any interference with their work. He threatened to resign if Trump tries to manipulate the agency's findings.

"The science doesn’t go away, the evidence doesn’t go away, just because you refuse to look at it," Schmidt said.

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