The Biggest Loser: Science Could Be "Devastated" by Financial Crisis

By Melissa Lafsky | October 13, 2008 3:25 pm

Everyone is losing this year. Whether it be the Lehman CEO or the evicted homeowner or the aging employee with a napalmed 401K, no one—not even the supercalifragilistamega-rich— is coming out of this unscathed. But given the present and future of across-the-board pain, it’s worth looking at which industries and interests should be salvaged, or at least partially shielded from damage.

Famed paleoanthropologist and conservationist Richard Leakey is already on the offensive, telling reporters during a speech the University of Arkansas at Little Rock that the economic crisis would be “just devastating” to scientific research. He fears that as the philanthropists, foundations, corporations, and governments that fund scientific research watch their coffers empty, money for grants, endowments, and other research efforts will fizzle. Starting in 2009, donations for research and exploration will be “hugely hit,” he predicts.

Environmental researchers and activists are already worried that climate work could be tossed aside in favor of more immediate (but not necessarily less worrisome) concerns. It’s not a stretch to predict that other scientific fields will be hit as well—and that the halting or delaying of research could be as big an aggregate loss as the mortgage crisis and Dow immolation combined.

Related:

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RB: DISCOVER’s Science Policy Project

Comments (31)

  1. Is this surprising? Most science is a cost, with very few direct benefits. Oh sure, some research spins into inventions that make money, but most doesn’t.

    When times are hard, costs get cut, especially on the non-essentials.

    Like the rest of us, Leakey et al will have to tighten their belts.

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