7 ways the election will shape the future of science, health and the environment

When all the votes are cast and counted in this year’s momentous November 3 election, the results will have deep and potentially long-lasting impacts on numerous areas of society, including science. President Donald Trump and his challenger, former vice president Joe Biden, have presented vastly different visions for handling crucial issues—ranging from the deadly coronavirus pandemic to the damaging impacts of climate change and immigration policies.

The election’s outcome—not just who wins the White House but who controls Congress—will determine what laws get passed, how budgets are allocated and what direction key science-related agencies (such as NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) will take. The past four years have been marked by extensive deregulatory efforts that affect climate and public health. The Trump administration has also taken various steps that could undercut access to health care. And it has appointed industry officials to scientific advisory boards and made other moves that are likely to diminish the role and influence of scientific expertise. This approach has shown up acutely in what many public health experts see as the disastrous handling of the pandemic at the federal level—which has, in turn, undermined the reputation of storied agencies, including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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