Scientists in Argentina are "very worried" that an anti-science presidential candidate could win the upcoming election.
That's according to Trinity immunologist Professor Luke O'Neill, who was speaking to The Pat Kenny Show from the South American country today.
He said the scientists and academics he has spoken to are nervous about the upcoming presidential election on November 19th, where right-wing politician Javier Milei could be successful.
“They’re calling him an Argentinian mashup of Donald Trump, Bolsonaro and Boris Johnson,” he said.
“He's extremely anti science so they are nervous – they may be out of jobs if he cuts funding.”
The most recent polls suggest Mr Milei will be in a tight race against his opponent Sergio Massa.
Climate change denial
Prof O’Neill explained the Argentinian president has “a lot" of power, including the power to appoint people to committees and “skew public funding”.
“[Mr Milei] doesn't believe humans are causing climate change and he wants to abolish the environmental protection agency there,” he said.
“He also wants to abolish the Women, Gender and Diversity committee as well.”
Mr Milei also plans to privatise public research organisations in Argentina, according to Prof O’Neill, to make more money for the Government.
“The economy is out of control here,” he said.
“One scientist was telling me they owe $43 billion (€40bn) in debt to the International Monetary Fund.
“They’ve had 10 years of economic problems and there’s real fear this man might get into power.”
Despite concerns for the Government, Prof O’Neill noted private individuals have invested in reducing the effects of climate change in Argentina.
“Kris Tompkins, she founded Patagonia, the clothing brand, and her husband set up The North Face,” he said.
“The two of them have bought a lot of land [in Argentina] - a million hectares – and they’re repopulating it with all the natural species.
“She saw the rewilding of wolves to Yellowstone and thought what if we brought jaguars back to Argentina.
“They’ve built something like Jurassic Park, allowing jaguars to reproduce and then release them into the wild.”
Jaguars in Argentina
Prof O’Neill explained without jaguars, there’s no one to hunt herbivores in the Iberá Wetlands.
“So, then the herbivores eat all the vegetation and then you get soil erosion and flooding happens,” he said.
“If you reintroduce jaguars, you have lots of knock-on effects to stop things like flooding.”