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.
Back in November 2015, 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.
You might also know that NASA spends billions of dollars each year on earth science research, particularly climate change. So it’s a crying shame that Trump’s administration is set to completely defund the agency’s earth science research division, with the President’s space advisor claiming that it’s all just “politically correct” science.
A Wall of Ignorance
So, Trump has won the ultimate prize. From January 20, we are all in deep trouble. It’s hard to tell how much of these standpoints he actually buys into, and how many he’s been saying just to generate buzz amongst his supporters.
As we wrote back in November, Trump is a unique threat to America’s scientific legacy. He’s set to do plenty of damage, but you are not powerless to stop him.
Whenever you can, vote for lawmakers that actually care about science. Make your voice heard, support researchers in any way you can, and shut down anti-intellectualism whenever it rears its ugly head. We, for one, are with you.
Remember, Trump once wrote that “controversy, in short, sells.” For the love of science, folks – don’t buy into it.