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article imageOp-Ed: What do Clinton and Trump think about science?

By Tim Sandle     Sep 21, 2016 in Science
The eyes of the world are focused on the increasingly tight tussle to succeed President Obama to the White House. While key issues have been debated, what do the major party candidates have to say about key science topics?
Searching for statements from Hilary Clinton or Donald Trump about science topics is pretty hard work. Finding anything meaningful or in-depth is harder still. To aid the general reader (and is applicable, U.S. voter) the website Science News has undertaken a detailed analysis of the statements made by the front-runners.
As overall statements go, Hillary Clinton said at one point “I believe in science”; while this declaration may not mean much, there has been nothing like this from Donald Trump. This lack of overall commitment from either candidate is a little strange given how science informs much of public policy.
Science News has examined public statements, interviews, questions posed by reporters and messages on websites to find out what the views of the Democratic and Republican Party candidates’ are on some key issues. Five of these are reviewed here.
Space exploration
Clinton has said little on this subject, though one of her goals is to “advance our ability to make human exploration of Mars a reality.” Trump, on the other hand, is more enthusiastic and has said “I love NASA, I love what it represents, I love what it stands for.” Trump has been calling for greater involvement of the private sector (such as the Space X initiative).
Clinton has apparently said nothing on genetic engineering. On the subject of genetically modified crops she is an advocate: “I stand in favor of using seeds and products that have a proven track record … scientifically provable.”
Trump also has said nothing on genetic engineering. He has also been silent on genetically modified food, although the Republican Party is not in favor of labeling food stuffs containing genetically modified foods.
Climate change
Clinton backs measures to reduce climate change. Her goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in 2025 by up to 30 percent relative to 2005 levels and ultimately by 80 percent by 2050. Trump, seemingly in defiance of the prevailing scientific consensus, does not back any measures and sees any link to climate change and human activity as false. He has stated he will undo the Obama commitments to reduce global warming.
Biomedical research
Clinton backs increased funding of Alzheimer’s disease and cancer research. For example, she recently said: “By combining new funding with creative approaches, we will not only catalyze progress against cancer: We will strengthen the nation’s entire scientific enterprise.… As president, I will take up the charge.”
Trump has said little on issues regarding biomedical research and has generally criticized government spending on medical research projects, indicating that they are a waste of resources.
Clinton has called for more funding to encourage students to study science subjects. For example, Clinton’s campaign platform pledges to “provide every student in America an opportunity to learn computer science.” In contrast, Trump has said little on science education.
While the two candidates have not exactly been banging the drum for science and are light on policy detail, some key issues have occasionally crept into their campaigns. Of the two, Clinton is slightly ahead but not in an earth-shattering way. Her acknowledgement of climate change, and her wish to act to reduce its impacts, remains her most distinct, scientific position in relation to her opponent.
More about the views of the candidates in relation to science can be found via Science News.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about 2016 presidential election, Science, Hillary clinton, Donald trump, science policy
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