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*Note: This is an op-ed, expressing an opinion. You do not have to agree with it, but we ask that you remain respectful. While Laboratory Equipment welcomes constructive dialogue in the comments section, personal attacks are not permissible.

For years, the United States has been the world’s science and technology leader. We remain the only space program to land men on the moon, we’re home to IBM and the very first computer, and there’s a company in California working to mass produce electric cars. As of January 2017, the U.S. invests the most in research and development, produces the most advanced degrees in science and engineering and high-impact scientific publications, and remains the largest provider of information, financial, and business services.

But also as of January 2017, the U.S. is helmed by a president some characterize as anti-science. In April, more than 1 million people marched in protest of President Donald Trump’s science agenda, which just sent another shockwave through the country. 

 

Michelle Taylor
Editor-in-Chief

On Thursday, Trump pulled the U.S. out of the landmark Paris climate change agreement, a 192-nation coalition that vowed to keep global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius for the remainder of the 21st century in an effort to fight global warming.

But you’ve read about that already. And you’ve read about the cities, states and companies who plan to forge ahead with the agreement despite the president. This op-ed isn’t intended to rehash that news; rather, examine a repercussion far more glacial:

A possible exodus of U.S. scientists, resulting in the loss of science and technology leadership.

Environmental scientists in the U.S. are disappointed. There’s no denying that. They told us that much in the days and weeks leading up to their march, and they continue to voice their displeasure with how Trump has treated the environment, as well as years of their own hard work. Environmental and climate scientists have excelled in their chosen field, producing models, data and facts to help make the world a better place. With each repeal of Obama-era climate policy, Trump is essentially telling these scientists their work doesn’t matter. He’s telling them their work is no longer welcome if it doesn’t fit his political rhetoric. It’s a slap in the face, and I don’t blame them for taking it personally. It is personal.

That’s why I find it alarming when French president Emmanuel Macron speaks directly to American scientists, offering them a home devoid of judgement and full of opportunity.

Less than an hour after Trump announced his decision to leave the Paris agreement, Macron released a three-minute video addressed to American citizens, specifically scientists.

“To all scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, responsible citizens who were disappointed by the decision of the president of the United States, I want to say that they will find in France a second homeland. I call on them: come and work here with us. To work together on concrete solutions for our climate, our environment. I can assure you, France will not give up the fight,” Macron said in the video.

His thoughts echo a similar video he posted on Facebook back in February when news first broke of the extreme budget cuts Trump was proposing for federal scientific agencies.

“I do know how your new president now has decided to jeopardize your budget, your initiatives, and he is extremely skeptical about climate change. I have no doubt about climate change, and how committed we have to be regarding this issue…Please, come to France, you are welcome, it’s your nation. We like innovation. We want innovative people. We want people working on climate change, energy, renewables, and new technologies. France is your nation,” Macron said.

Does that scare you? If not, it should. The president of another free country is literally offering our scientists their dream—a home, a job, a hero’s welcome, opportunity, funding and more than anything, respect. Macron is telling U.S. scientists their work does matter. He’s telling them he needs their intelligence, their creativity, their innovative spirit. He’s telling them he needs them—which is the opposite of what their own president is saying.

If you were offered your dream in another country—after being disrespected in your own—would you take it?

One American scientist that leaves the U.S. to complete innovative work for another country is one too many.

The U.S. cannot afford to hemorrhage scientists. Researchers come to the U.S. because of scientific opportunity; they don’t leave because there isn’t any—or at least that’s how it used to be. 

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