|The government may finally be on a path to reopening, but the shutdown’s effects will linger for scientists studying everything from climate change to cancer.|
Antarctica-bound field researchers stuck in budget limbo over the past three weeks fret that decades of data on penguins and ice sheets will end up with a glaring gap, undercutting their documentation of global warming. Doctors operating federal-funded clinical studies on Alzheimer’s, cocaine addiction and heart disease worry they’ve lost the trust of patients.
Public health officials warn the country is still “flying blind” for the start of the flu season.“Even if the government opens tomorrow, a significant amount of damage has been done,” said Mary Woolley, president of Research!America, a nonprofit advocating for science-minded agencies. “This isn’t about a few people who can’t go to the labs like they’re on vacation or something. The whole research enterprise depends on operating 24/7.”
Thinking more of the big picture, there’s also the little matter of keeping the best and brightest researchers working in, and for, the United States or seeing them flee to the private sector. It’s a realistic expectation after nearly three years of stop-and-go budget battles resulting in sequestration and now the cruel reality of laboratories ordered to keep the lights out.
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