I’d like to take a bit of a break from my series ‘What is Science Fiction’ to talk a little about the impact of the recently announced White House budget for 2018 on science. (Don’t worry, the final installment of “What is Science Fiction” will be posted this week.)
This is Donald Trump’s first budget and shows very clearly his intent for the future of such agencies as NASA, NOAA, NSF and the Department of Energy. We already knew that the EPA and National Institute for Health were going to take a big hit and boy did they! The EPA’s budget is cut by almost a third while the NIH losses 18% of it’s funding. I guess Donald Trump doesn’t want us to know how sick we’re getting from all the pollutants industry is dumping into the environment. Still, as I said we knew those cuts were coming.
The cuts at the Department of Energy were a bit more of a surprise. While the overall reduction is only 5% the cutback in scientific research controlled by the DOE is 20%. Not many people know that the DOE runs America’s high energy physics programs and other basic research installations like the Laser Interferometer Gravity wave Observatory (LIGO) which just last year announced the first detection of gravity waves.
These cuts not only threaten America’s leadership in almost every field of scientific research but will cause many of our most brilliant and gifted young students to abandon careers in basic science. From the building of the very first atom smasher by E. O. Lawrence back in 1934 America has always led the world in physics experiments but no more! Europe has the Large Hadron Collider at CERN and the Chinese are building dozens of scientific centers while we just let them take the lead. I guess Physics is a little too complicated for Donald Trump to understand.
One complete omission from the White house budget is the funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF), it’s just simply not mentioned at all. However republicans over the last few years have begun to criticize the NSF for funding programs related to the environment and social sciences so you can bet on the NSF loosing some of it’s funding.
The one piece of good news in the budget is the fact that NASA’s funding is only cut by 0.8%. Even that silver lining has a cloud around it however as the funding for Earth research from Space is drastically cut. At the same time Trump has issued an executive order directing NASA to focus on a manned journey to Mars in the 2030s. I guess even Donald Trump is able to understand that a trip to Mars is something to brag about.
If you’d like to read more about the exact figures for Donald Trump’s science budget click the link below to read an article from ‘Nature’.
And what’s the reasoning behind all these cutbacks in the very programs that make the United States the most technically advanced nation in the world. Is it to assure health care for all Americans, please don’t make me laugh. Is it to lower the deficit, nah republicans only care about deficit spending when it’s the democrats doing the spending. It’s so that we can spend more money on a military that already costs more than the next five nations spend on their military.
Hopefully Donald Trump will have the same success with his budget that he just had with his healthcare repeal and replace. Hopefully we can force the congress to put some of the science funding back into the budget. Neil deGrasse Tyson has called the Trump budget the “Make America Weak, Sick and Stupid Budget”. I certainly agree.