Concern for national science funding in the face of the new administration

Scientific coalitions nationwide, including the Society for Freshwater Science, The American Geophysical Union, and the American Association of Geographers, are concerned that the Trump administration poses not only a threat to research dependent on federal funding, but also objectivity in the face of topics such as climate change based on his past comments. “There is currently a great deal of uncertainty in whether funding for scientific research will be increased or decreased,” said Dr. Sean Schoville, a molecular ecologist at the University of Wisconsin, “and whether the Trump administration will advise on these decisions.”

In light of the Trump administration’s track record on science issues, Dr. Schoville and his colleagues, along with the members of many organizations publicly opposed to Trump’s policies, are awaiting the finalization of the federal budget in the spring of 2017. Schoville says he is “concerned about the administration’s policies that dismiss such research or limit scientists abilities to report and speak freely about such research.” Trump has proclaimed global warming a hoax fabricated by the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing noncompetitive. This statement still displays under Trump’s twitter account, @realDonaldTrump on November 6, 2012. On the campaign trail, in May of 2016, Trump promised to withdraw America from the Paris Climate Agreement in which a coalition of 132 countries resolved to combat climate change and its effects. Despite Trump saying that he has an “open mind” over the US involvement in the Paris Climate Agreement in November of 2016, his campaign promises tell a different story about the measures the administration could take in May when discretionary spending is decided.

In an interview with  the New York Times, Chris Warren, a spokesman for the Institute for Energy Research, said, “What do you expect? A new administration is coming in with a very different view of the world.”

While Dr. Schoville remains confident in his “objective, evidence-based research,” he is concerned with “policies that dismiss such research or limit scientists abilities to report and speak freely about such research.” In an interview with the Washington Post, Rush Holt, the Chief Executive of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, said “I’ve never seen the scientific community so concerned… this goes way beyond funding. When fake news is accepted as just one of the alternate approaches, then there are serious problems to be addressed.”

Schoville agrees that action must be taken, saying “I think scientists have a duty to engage in public discourse surrounding free speech, education and the use of scientific evidence in policy making. These key issues are fundamental to scientific inquiry and scientific discourse.”