The 2016 Presidential Election was a stressful time for millions of Americans, and caused concern among people all over the world as well. The election of Donald Trump for president of the United States has left many people worried for their safety and rights. Women, immigrants, politicians, LGBTQ people, and now scientists have all expressed concern over a Trump presidency.
Over 2,300 scientists, 22 of whom are Nobel Prize recipients, have signed an open letter to Donald Trump. The letter has representation from all 50 states, and calls on the upcoming Trump administration to offer sufficient funds to scientific research and to support the field as it pertains to public policy. The Union of Concerned Scientists wrote this letter with their main concern being how Trump will address environmental issues and global warming.
President-elect Trump has said numerous times to the media that he believes global warming was created “by and for the Chinese.” This disregard for the real effects of climate change has concerned people all over the world, especially scientists. Members of Trump’s planned administration have even called for NASA to avoid the politics that often go into science, and to stop monitoring climate change.
Representative Tom Price was just chosen to lead the team that will transition into the Department of Health and Human Services during the Trump presidency, and has already stated he plans to cut funding to research funding.
For all these reasons, the Union of Concerned Scientists and the director of the Concerned Scientists’ Center for Science and Democracy, Andrew Rosenberg, have created this letter to implore Trump to respect science. The basic point of the letter is to prevent scientific progress from being ruined, instead of trying to fix the aftermath of some of Trump’s proposed plans. The biggest principle being advocated for in the letter is that government researchers should be allowed and able to follow where the evidence leads, and that the communication of their findings should be freely expressed with the public.
As well-meaning as the letter may seem, several people have an issue with the tone and form of it. Mark Harkins, a senior fellow at the Government Affairs Institute at Georgetown University, expressed his concerns over the manner of the letter.
The letter offers no congratulatory opening or closing to president-elect Trump, and the Union of Concerned Scientists states it will “closely monitor” Trump’s administration and will “stand ready to hold accountable any who might seek to undermine it.”
Harkins, and others, believe this statement translates roughly to “We’re putting you on notice that we’re watching.”
“That’s not a partner – that’s not what your buddy does,” Harkins said. “That’s what your nemesis does.”
Some have also criticized that the letter reads as a wish list, and that in reality it’s probably nothing more than that. The Trump administration hasn’t made a comment on the letter yet, and has also clearly shown that they do not much credit to scientific findings when deciding on policies.