Scientists Across the World Are Nervous About Trump, Survey Says

Seventy-five percent of the scientists surveyed said Trump will be the first “anti-science president”.

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Nov 25 2016, 10:00am

Image: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

With Donald Trump set to step into the Oval Office this January, we've reported before that scientists are concerned his policies could mean an attack on America's scientific prowess and integrity.

In fact, 72 percent of scientists surveyed in a recent worldwide poll said the results of the election would have a negative impact on research and science in the US. The survey was conducted by the Science Advisory Board, a panel of over 75,000 doctors, researchers, and scientific experts. It polled 3,289 scientists from every continent, except Antarctica. Of the American scientists, 85 percent said they voted for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, and about 10 percent said they voted for Trump.

The survey also showed 70 percent of those polled felt that Trump will be the "first anti-science president we have ever had."

The results cut to the heart of the scientific concern about a Trump presidency. During the course of his campaign, Trump indicated he denies the existence of anthropogenic climate change (though he's since tempered that stance a bit), wants to dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency, may be eyeing a climate denier as EPA director, and plans to remove the US from its UN climate change agreement. One of the only pro-science arguments he's made is the promise to bring more space-related jobs back to Florida's east coast (though that too may come with a cost—with recent reports suggesting Trump wants to scale back NASA's climate sciences efforts in favor of deep space exploration).

All of that sets up Trump as a presumed anti-science president, and researchers abroad and in the US are bracing for what that will mean going forward—but they aren't optimistic.

"Our biggest concern about Trump from a scientific standpoint, is that by pulling back on globalization the United States will attract less foreign talent and will lose some of its best researchers to other countries," said Quentin Kreilmann, manager of the The Science Advisory Board.

And more than a few are worried about their own work. About 31 percent of those surveyed said electing Trump as president has made them more likely to leave the US to pursue research or scientific work. And 76 percent said a Trump presidency will marginally or significantly decrease the number of international scientists who will seek work in the U.S, and 85 percent feel that immigration is necessary to maintain high standards of scientific research.

Read more: Scientists' Top Concerns in Trump's America

Meanwhile, some scientists also lamented the loss of Obama's various science initiatives, noting that less than 13 percent of scientists felt President Barack Obama's three major biomedical research campaigns—The Precision Medicine Initiative, the BRAIN Initiative, and Vice President Joe Biden's cancer "moonshot" initiative—will continue as planned. The rest expect these projects will lose some funding or will be shut down entirely.

It will indeed be a whole new world.

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