President-Elect Trump Is An Existential Threat To America's Scientific Legacy

President-Elect Donald Trump campaigning in New Hampshire back in August 2015. Keith Bedford/The Boston Globe/Getty Images


Trump has said very little on space, whether that be on NASA’s funding or the role of private space companies. He has previously indicated that he thinks the money spent on space science should be spent on “fixing potholes,” but as we’ve previously reported here, NASA is spectacularly underfunded as it is, and there’s plenty of money to go around.

NASA invests a lot in Earth Science, but Republicans tend to hate this because this involves climate change research, and they are violently allergic to facts that prove them wrong. This will likely be severely defunded, with the money probably being diverted to human space exploration instead – something most Republicans think should be the main focus of space agencies.

Medical Research, Education and Healthcare

Clinton had a robust plan for expanding healthcare coverage, investing in disease prevention research, giving billions to scientists investigating neurodegenerative diseases, supporting mental health and sexually-transmitted infection (STI) mitigation, ad boosting the promotion and investment in STEM education, particularly for women and minorities.

Trump has barely mentioned any of this at all. He has claimed that “there are a host of STEM programs already in existence” and indicated that he dislikes and distrusts the Department of Education. His past comments hint that he wants to see increased “market influences,” perhaps privatization, of educational systems.

The next Secretary of Education? Albert H. Teich/Shutterstock

Terrifyingly, BuzzFeed is also reporting that Ben “the pyramids were built to store grain” Carson – yes, that guy – is top pick for the Secretary of Education. The appointment of this profoundly anti-scientific creationist would really represent the lunatics taking over the asylum.

Trump has offered no specifics on mental health other than the confirmation that it does exist. It afflicts 40 million adults and 17 million children in the US alone, so spotting that this is a problem doesn’t get you any points, we’re afraid.

The only thing he is determined to do is repeal or severely cut down Obamacare, which could rob over 22 million people of health insurance coverage. When it comes to public health and disease prevention, he told Scientific American that “in a time of limited resources,” this may not provide “the greatest bang for the buck.”

Don’t expect funding for disease prevention, including STIs, to shoot up anytime soon. Funding for birth control and sexual health-providing groups like Planned Parenthood – who have recently been given a legal lifeline by President Obama – will be threatened.

With the like of Mike Pence and the Republican establishment in power, it’s very likely that woman’s reproductive rights will be at risk, and even rolled back if a particularly right-wing appointment is made to the Supreme Court.

Clinton considered the growing opioid problem in the US as a health problem, something many drug experts and officials agree with. Trump barely mentions this, but seems to consider it primarily a crime issue. If you want to see how effective that viewpoint is, look at the catastrophic history of the War on Drugs.

Oh, and lest we forget, he isn’t sold on vaccines. In fact, he specifically links them to autism, something that is demonstrably untrue. Expect anti-vaxxers to become emboldened by his viewpoints, and for eliminated diseases like measles to begin making a comeback.

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