Hi Olivia, thank you for your question.
Today, I have no solid answers – I have a lot of feelings, only some of which I can process right now. My initial thoughts are that it’s likely federal science programs and institutions will see a decrease in funding and support as that money will be reallocated/redistributed. If that happens, then universities that depend on federal grant support could suffer… smaller, more competitive grants, fewer positions supported, fewer students incentivized to pursue these programs… But I don’t know. I’m conjecturing.
When I made our ‘Go Vote For Science!’ video, I meant every word. I mean it when I want our viewers to understand that politics isn’t just about people arguing in D.C., it’s about policies made in D.C. that are carried out and enforced throughout the country and our world. But we elect the policymakers. We elect who we think will best represent our interests.
I fear that supporting science in a meaningful way is not a true interest for the majority of people, and in a way, that fear was realized last night.
Science needs champions to speak up for its processes, which aren’t perfect, but the field is held up to its own accountability. It’s a field that is meant to be deeply examined and its work replicated, even encourages replication, testing, and a perpetuation of question-asking and answer-seeking. But often, that process comes off as unduly rigorous, pedantic, in some ways ‘old-fashioned,’ and the questions being asked are often seen as trivial, or inconsequential by those unfamiliar with science research practices. I fear the perception that science has outside of its own community is that it only serves itself, which is not true. And I spend every fiber of my being attempting to open up those misconceptions and share how brilliant, guided, resourceful and imaginative scientific inquiry truly is, and how – thanks to the field and its scientists – we have a more coherent, better illuminated understanding for how our planet works, what it needs, and what brings it harm.
I do not know how Trump and his administration will handle environmental issues. I do know he does not have a strong history of even believing that such current issues and events – climate change being a major one – are… real. Or that they are really caused by human actions, which are really having truly negative impacts on our planet and its inhabitants. Frankly, I don’t even know if he cares.
But here is what I do know: I will not give up my goal of helping people better understand and appreciate our terrifically wonderful planet. I will not begin to entertain the idea that the work of scientists and those communicators dedicated to sharing their research is somehow unimportant or lacking in meaning. I will be vocal about issues which will negatively impact the support and funding for science, especially when it comes to topics dealing with biodiversity. I will continue to create well-researched content about these topics in a way that is easy to understand and share. I will continue striving to keep you involved, in whatever way I can.
Knowledge empowers people, and it can mobilize them in a way to take action for those causes they believe in. It’s my hope that we don’t forget the power that such knowledge and information contain, and that we don’t allow for that to be taken from us because suddenly we have a person in one of the most powerful leaderships positions on the planet who perhaps will not use that same knowledge or information to make changes for the better. We have to keep working. We have to keep seeking that knowledge, even when it’s hard, and even when it’s getting harder.
In whatever small way I can help, I will. For whatever small, positive impact I can make, I’ll make it. These are the core values I hold now, and will always hold. That is the most I can do, and even so, it’s a lot. I hope you will do the same. And we’ll take this a day at a time.