The end of the Republican National Convention on Thursday officially put Donald Trump and Mike Pence on the ticket with their formal acceptance of the Republican nomination. Bloated with speeches from Trump’s children, political figures, media personalities, and business men and women, the convention was a whirlwind of emotion, encompassing the craze and dynamic energy that an election cycle brings. One of the most anticipated speeches was from the Republican nominee himself. The hour-and-15-minute speech, longer than any other since 1972, left some still with a vague view of where he will stand on many issues. With the grandiose promise of making America great again, we ask how.
While we wait for more conclusive answers on policy and reform, we must talk about Trump and Pence’s views on science. The habitats of the Oval Office are symbols for the nation and examples for the population, making their views on science crucial to understand. A little-discussed topic in the media for most presidential campaigns, we need to take a closer look at Trump and Pence’s views on science issues, hopefully giving insight into how, if elected, our world could change.
In a 2014 interview on MSNBC’s Daily Rundown, Pence was asked if he was convinced if climate change was man-made and responded, “I don’t know that is a resolved issue in science today” (it is). In 2001, he wrote an op-ed, “Global warming is a myth,” in response to the Kyoto Protocol. He cites inaccurate facts about climate change, like that the Earth is actually colder than it has been in 50 years. From there, there are multiple other instances of Mike Pence’s denial of climate change – earning him a spot on President Obama’s website as a climate change denier.
Similarly, Donald Trump has also joined the camp of climate change denial, but with a twist: It’s actually a Chinese conspiracy. Trump’s infamous tweets are where this theory broke out in 2012: “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive.” When asked about climate change last September, Trump said it was “very low on the list.” He continued, “So I am not a believer, and I will, unless somebody can prove something to me, I believe there’s weather. I believe there’s change, and I believe it goes up and it goes down, and it goes up again.”
Because of these beliefs, Trump has repeatedly spoken about renegotiating or even abolishing global climate change deals and significantly downsizing the Environmental Protection Agency.
Trump tweeted in late 2014, “I am being proven right about massive vaccinations—the doctors lied. Save our children & their future.” During CNN’s Republican debate in September of last year, Trump commented on his opinion of vaccines and their relation to autism: “Just the other day, 2 years old, 2 and a half years old, a child, a beautiful child went to have the vaccine, and came back, and a week later got a tremendous fever, got very, very sick, now is autistic.” Trump, like many, has played into the “apparent” relationship between autism and vaccination. As we must repeat again and again, correlation does not equal causation. There is no definitive proof that vaccines have any effect on the likelihood of autism in children.
It may be a surprise to see this one on the list, as it would be incredibly hard to find a doctor that doesn’t proclaim smoking as a seriously harmful habit. But Pence isn’t a doctor, he’s just a politician that could make it into the White House while never believing that smoking kills. In another one of Pence’s 2001 op-eds, he plainly states, “Despite the hysteria from the political class and the media, smoking doesn’t kill.” His support? “2 out of every three smokers does not die from a smoking related illness and 9 out of ten smokers do not contract lung cancer.” He doesn’t say that it’s safe, imploring briefly for smokers to quit, just that it doesn’t kill, implying big government is “more harmful to the nation” than smoking.
In an interview with Chris Matthews, Mike Pence was asked the simple question: “Do you believe in evolution?” After repeating the question back to Matthews in the first-person, Pence said, “I embrace the view that God created the heavens and the earth, the seas and all that’s in them.” After dodging the question of whether he believes that evolution is how we got here, Matthews concludes that Pence believes in evolution, but is afraid to admit it because his “conservative constituency might find that offensive.” Pence’s personal beliefs on evolution are still on the table, but whatever they are, it is true that Pence will not say, outright, that evolution exists. He does, however, take on the belief that all scientific controversies should be taught in schools, and let the children decide what they believe. Too bad creationism isn’t a scientific controversy.
Strangely, this is the future of our nation. These men are not scientists or doctors and cannot be judged as such. However, their lack of acceptance of commonly accepted science and their willingness to claim that it is not, in fact, accepted, shows either ignorance or deception. An acknowledgement of science is crucial, especially as a politician, as science is largely affected by government and politics. From defunding the EPA to teaching creationism in schools, the Trump/Pence presidency would change a lot—and not in a good way.