2016 Election and Energy Outlook

Scientists do not live in a vacuum and there is no such thing as utopia. I have came to a full understanding of how big of a role politics plays in science since the election. The new president-elect, D.J. Trump, has given me a new view of the world. Unlike some people, I have not and will not unfriend my Trump supporter friends on Facebook, because creating an echo chamber is not good for either views. I have tried to be as unbiased as I can to listen to what people on both sides have to say, and I have yet picked a side and will not pick one. Here I will only talk about the outlook of energy and science under the new presidency.

I remember learning about the cessation of building the Superconducting Super Collider (SSC) in Texas in 1993, even when it was already 1/4 done. I gained a first impression of the government’s power over scientific advances. This time is similar in some aspects, in the sense that scientists fate change when a new president is in office, but what we face for the next four years is much more severe compared to the SSC.

Trump “does not believe in science”. This is obviously very scary for the scientific community as most of the scientific R&D funding comes from the federal government agencies, NSF, DOE, NIH, etc. For someone anti-science, he may found the money funded for science as unnecessary and reallocate it to issues that he find more important, e.g., building a wall, deporting illegal immigrants. I had conversations with a couple of professors today (in both blue and red states), asking their view on the outlook of science under Trump’s presidency. Although they tried to comfort me that the reality may actually not be that bad, as Trump is not the only man to make decisions, they did acknowledge that it would be truly sad if things go as what Trump envisioned, America losing its science front in the globe.

I am more concerned with his take on energy policies myself. Scientific data has shown that climate change is real, and any logical man who is willing to sit down and look at the trend of global warming will acknowledge its existence. It is quite unintelligible that Trump view global warming as a “hoax created by the Chinese government”. I cannot seem to understand his logic and I have to disagree with him here. furthermore, he said he would cut funding for clean energy R&D, and promote coal and petroleum as main energy resources. This decision, if executed, will bring the US back many decades, and more importantly it will result in irreversible consequences in the environment.

It is clear that Trump will opt out of the Paris Agreement, since he believes the issue of global warming will not become importantly for another 100-200 years. I don’t know where he got his information, but whether we can control our temperature rise within 2 degree C by 2030 is critical. Because if not, the atmosphere will be permanently damaged and there will be no way to get better. It is also sad that US is one of the countries that produce the largest amount of CO2. If clean energy solutions do not show up and no penalties for overly emitting CO2, our planet earth will be at stake and I don’t believe it is the route any of us would want to take.

Last remark, we can see that most of the protesters are high school to college students, mainly in CA and MA. And also many of the best universities are at these states. Our future generation of scientists will wanting to leave country if they vehemently disagree with Trump, and they will also leave when there is simply no funding for science under his presidency. From a science perspective, I firmly believe that if Trump were to seriously execute what he has commented on science and technologies, he will drive out the most brilliant scientists out of the country and more importantly, from the big picture our planet earth will face an environmental massacre.


3 thoughts on “2016 Election and Energy Outlook”

  1. Hi Emma, this is Hong. I never expected I can read your article here! I agree with what you concern about the future energy policy. For people believe in science, this year election phenomenon may be a hard time for them.

    I still remember I had a representation about global warming in my speech class when I was in the community college. At that time, I found people were not very interested in my topic. I thought it may be my bad English language, which can’t attract my classmates. From this year election, I think it back again. I realize that there is nothing wrong about my presentation. In my opinion, many people don’t know or don’t care about the big change in our living environment.

    I just read this month Physics Today magazine. There is an article about President Obama’s legacy on climate change and clean energy. Even though he has ambitious plans on these things, he still can’t do too much. His power is restricted by the GOP-led Congress. Because of this, I think the challenges of climate change and clean energy are not only scientific problems, but also social problems. It’s related to economy, culture value and education. My native roommate complained that many Americans are not educated well and can’t make the right decision, which creates the blocks for solving climate change problem.

    I also think there may be lack of effective communication when scientists talk about their research. In this massive information world, many people don’t want to go to read reports about their research projects. So it is still another big challenge to have a concise way to let more people know about science in our daily life.


    1. Hi Hong. I am flattered that you found this article somehow and took the time to comment. I started this website not long ago, many pages still need to be filled in and polished, because of this I have not told anyone about it..

      Some very recent news on this matter: Rick Perry will be leading the DOE and Scott Pruitt will be leading EPA, although the latter is yet fully official. This is definitely bad news for the science community as those people are anti-science and anti-climate change, just like Trump himself. As you said, scientists need to come up with a more effective way to communicate important science issues with the general public, and only then we can convince authorities who do not possess science backgrounds to work with us on matters that we care.


      1. This is not a reasonable action when Trump picks two biased persons to run the technological position in this country.

        I also check some news medias this afternoon about Rick Perry. According to New York Times, he said he wanted to scrap the DOE when he was seeking for president nomination. From Dallas Morning News, he also expanded the wind power and allowed more crude oil production at the same time when he was the Texas Governor ( I guess that’s the reason Texas can be rich and the State can offer good financial aid to the college students). Due to these different news reports, I am a little confused about what this new DOE secretary will do in the future.


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