"White House South Facade" by Matt H. Wade / CC BY-SA 3.0

Science Under Attack: How Trump Is Sidelining Researchers and Their Work

Dec 30, 2019

By Brad Plumer and Coral Davenport

In just three years, the Trump administration has diminished the role of science in federal policymaking while halting or disrupting research projects nationwide, marking a transformation of the federal government whose effects, experts say, could reverberate for years.

Political appointees have shut down government studies, reduced the influence of scientists over regulatory decisions and in some cases pressured researchers not to speak publicly. The administration has particularly challenged scientific findings related to the environment and public health opposed by industries such as oil drilling and coal mining. It has also impeded research around human-caused climate change, which President Trump has dismissed despite a global scientific consensus.

But the erosion of science reaches well beyond the environment and climate: In San Francisco, a study of the effects of chemicals on pregnant women has stalled after federal funding abruptly ended. In Washington, D.C., a scientific committee that provided expertise in defending against invasive insects has been disbanded. In Kansas City, Mo., the hasty relocation of two agricultural agencies that fund crop science and study the economics of farming has led to an exodus of employees and delayed hundreds of millions of dollars in research.

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2 comments on “Science Under Attack: How Trump Is Sidelining Researchers and Their Work

  • Appalling, but not catastrophic.  Just as all the good scientists and technicians left Germany before and after the war, and mostly went to the US, so an opposite flow is likely to take place – mostly to Europe I imagine, where things are generally more liberal and open, and where learning is still sometimes valued and respected for its own worth.  I’m not saying that Europe is perfect by any means, but I’d far rather be here than there.

    Another good knock-on is that with a surplus of  scholars, and the growing unpleasantness of life in the US, there might be a moderation in the vast salaries which America uses to drain the universities and research establishments of the world of their best talents.


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