Nobel Prize winners say Trump is among greatest threats to mankind

Climate change, nuclear war and Facebook top list of existential problems

Donald Trump Eclipse
President Donald Trump watching the partial solar eclipse at the White House this week
(Image credit: Nicholas Kamm / Getty Images)

A group of 50 Nobel Prize winners have named the biggest threats facing human civilisation and President Donald Trump is one of them.

Six per cent of the Nobel Prize winners canvassed by Times Higher Education said the ignorance of political leaders was their greatest concern, with two singling out Trump as a particular problem.

Peter Agre, who won the Nobel Prize for chemistry in 2003, described the US President as "extraordinarily uninformed and bad-natured".

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He told Times Higher Education: "Trump could play a villain in a Batman movie – everything he does is wicked or selfish."

More than a third (34 per cent) of those surveyed said environmental issues, including over-population and climate change, pose the greatest risk to mankind.

"Humans are very busy with the greatest climate change experiment since the ice ages," John Mather, a senior scientist in cosmology at Nasa, told Times Higher Education.

But amid rising geopolitical tensions in East Asia, almost a quarter (23 per cent) said nuclear war was the most serious threat.

One Israeli laureate was particularly concerned about "warmonger dictators," says the New York Post, while a German participant was nervous about "populist regimes in possession of nuclear weapons."

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The experts who responded are "known as laureates and represent one-quarter of the living Nobel prize winners in chemistry, physics, physiology, medicine and economics – making them arguably some of the cleverest people in the world," says The Sun.

Here's the full list of threats with the percentage of laureates that chose them:

1. Population rise or environmental degradation (34 per cent)

2. Nuclear war (23 per cent)

3. Infectious disease or drug resistance (8 per cent)

4. Selfishness, dishonesty and loss of humanity (8 per cent)

5. Donald Trump and ignorant leaders (6 per cent)

6. Artificial intelligence (6 per cent)

7. Fundamentalism and terrorism (6 per cent)

8. Ignorance and distortion of the truth (6 per cent)

9. Inequality (4 per cent)

=10. Facebook (2 per cent)

=10. Drugs (2 per cent)

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