By the end of the year, either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will be the President-elect of the United States of America.
Frankly, the idea that Donald Trump is just one popular vote away from being the most powerful person in the world is a terrifying idea for a cornucopia of reasons, but one particular facet of this ludicrous demagogue that doesn’t get enough attention is his flagrant disregard for science.
Let’s take a look at all the scientific theories and facts that The Donald claims not to believe.
Several decades ago, the Republican Party that he is now the de facto leader of was quite pro-science. However, spurred on by its support of the fossil fuel energy industry, it rapidly shifted into a political organization that considers climate change nothing more than lies fabricated by conspiring scientists and environmental zealots.
Of course, this is a ridiculous line to take, but Trump has embraced it wholeheartedly. He considered man-made climate change a conspiracy long before his election campaign began, infamously espousing that it was a hoax conjured up by the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive.
This would seem like a rather elaborate joke for the Chinese government to pull, particularly considering that they have signed up to the groundbreaking Paris agreement designed to mitigate man-made climate change. It appears that a whole host of scientific organizations, including NASA, are also in on the prank – after all, they constantly produce data demonstrating how clear the link between greenhouse gas emissions and climate change actually is.
As the second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases on the planet, the US needs to work with China – the more prolific contributor to global warming – to lead the way on climate change mitigation. The Paris agreement is a great framework to work from, but Trump wants to pull out of it. This would doom both the natural world and the global economy.
Trump likely doesn’t believe his own conspiracy theories on the subject – after all, he wants to build a wall around a golf course of his to stop rising sea levels eroding it away. However, he is a known fan of using coal to produce energy, simply because it’s currently cheaper to do so in the short-term than to invest in revolutionary clean energy sources.
So really, his climate change denial is likely one motivated by immediate monetary savings, rather than far more significant long-term gains in terms of new jobs, better infrastructure, energy independence, and a better environment for the next generation. Mind you, his comments on climate change are often so incoherent that it’s almost impossible to know what he really thinks about the issue.
“I believe global warming is the single biggest problem in our country, but it’s made of the nuclear variety,” Trump said at a campaign stop in Indiana this May. “That’s the one we have to be careful of.”
When asked which government departments he would eliminate to save money, he told Fox News: “Oh absolutely. The Department of Environmental, I mean the DEP is killing us… environmentally. It’s just killing our businesses.”
As pointed out by Stephen Colbert, the DEP doesn’t exist, and even if it did, the P in that acronym doesn’t actually stand for anything. Presumably, Trump was referring to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which aims to conserve the natural world, keep water and air quality high, and to protect human health – clearly, things that Trump doesn’t care about.
Trump would restart construction on the Keystone XL oil pipeline that President Obama effectively shut down, and he’s quite the fan of fracking, a controversial method of getting natural gas. Both are environmentally destructive, but to Trump, this is irrelevant.
The Donald also seems to firmly believe that vaccines cause autism. This is a thoroughly debunked idea that gained steam thanks to the unscrupulous Andrew Wakefield, who published a paper in the Lancet falsely linking the condition with the MMR jab, and Trump seems to use his own anecdotal evidence to corroborate this viewpoint.
“People that work for me, just the other day, two years old, beautiful child went to have the vaccine and came back and a week later, got a tremendous fever, got very, very sick, now is autistic,” Trump told a televised Republican debate last September.
The link between vaccines and autism is utter nonsense, of course, but spreading these views means that people who would be about to inoculate their children sometimes don’t “just in case” they get autism from it. As a direct consequence of various politically-motivated – or otherwise brainwashed – organizations spreading these lies, there have been disease outbreaks like measles in the US and abroad.
Trump has proudly declared multiple times that he doesn’t need much sleep at all. “You know, I’m not a big sleeper,” Trump said last November. “I like three hours, four hours, I toss, I turn, I beep-de-beep, I want to find out what’s going on.”
Research has shown that this little sleep reduces a person’s ability to think rationally, to control their emotions, and to even distinguish between moral and immoral choices. Their long-term memory is severely hampered. One study shows that around 18 hours without sleep impairs your cognitive functioning so much that you might as well be inebriated.
So if Trump genuinely only sleeps for three hours a night, then he’ll essentially be constantly drunk as he makes world-changing decisions in the White House. Drunk Trump, with his finger on the nuclear button – “mortifying” doesn’t even come close.
Remarkably, Trump doesn’t think the Earth is flat, or that the Moon landings didn’t happen. However, he doesn’t seem that keen on NASA’s attempts to conquer the stars, even if he did refer to NASA as “wonderful” in a recent Reddit AMA.
Last November, a 10-year-old-boy asked Trump what he thought of NASA. “Space is terrific, space is terrific,” he said, impersonating an echo chamber. “Right now, we have bigger problems – you understand that? We've got to fix our potholes. You know, we don't exactly have a lot of money.”
The US is the wealthiest country in the world, with a GDP of $17.9 trillion, nearly twice that of second-place China’s. Since about 2009, its economy has gone from strength to strength, and a part of that is thanks to NASA. The venerable space agency makes $10 for every dollar spent on it.
So funding NASA doesn’t just help us explore the universe – it boosts the economy. Currently, the federal budget for NASA is 0.4 percent of the total. Defense, on the other hand, makes up 12.6 percent of the total, which means that it could pay for 29 NASAs.
There’s clearly enough money to go around to fund NASA. In fact, its funding should clearly be increased.
A Wall of Ignorance
Although one of the most renowned pollsters think that there is just around a 38 percent chance that Trump will occupy the Oval Office, the prospect of a Trump presidency is looming large, and these scientific standpoints reveal the damage he’d likely do to the world should he win the ultimate prize.
Trump once wrote that “controversy, in short, sells.” For the love of science, folks – don’t buy into it.