We are reaching a point where the US primaries are going into their last phase, and while a number of important issues have been raised and addressed, science and technology have had little coverage so far. This is nothing new, since science and technology have figured little in any US presidential election, but given how important those very issues are right now, this should change.
This is why I fully support the Science Debate 2008 initiative, first largely started by bloggers and science journalists, but now supported by what appears to be the entire scientific community in the US, with the American Association for the Advancement of Science
and the National Academy of Sciences
throwing their considerable weight behind the initiative. And it's not just scientists, business people realize the importance of these issues as well, which explains why the Council on Competitiveness
(a coalition of business executives, labor leaders and university presidents) has also joined the supporters of the initiative.
Given the fact that I am not a US citizen, one could ask why I feel that I should endorse this initiative. That's a good question, and also to a large part why I haven't spoken out in support before. However, thinking about the issue, I think it's important for everyone, and not only for people living in the US. There are several reasons for this, but the most important one is that science is a global collaboration, and we simply cannot afford to have such a major player as the US not be part of it. While science would continue without support from politicians, a large amount of science funding comes from federal sources. On top of that, the political climate has a large impact on what can and will be researched. This can either be directly, though law prohibiting certain venues of research, or indirectly, through prioritizing funds etc. While I don't think that the US will ever reach Soviet-era anti-science, there is no doubt to my mind, that the efforts of people like senator Inhofe have had a negative impact on the research on global warming.
A presidential debate on science will show citizens where the candidates stand on these very important issues, and allow them to vote accordingly.
Again, I endorse the Science Debate 2008 initiative, and concur with their statement:
"Given the many urgent scientific and technological challenges facing America and the rest of the world, the increasing need for accurate scientific information in political decision making, and the vital role scientific innovation plays in spurring economic growth and competitiveness, we call for a public debate in which the U.S. presidential candidates share their views on the issues of The Environment, Health and Medicine, and Science and Technology Policy."
Website for Science Debate 2008
Labels: 2008 Presidental Election, science, science communication, science debate 2008, US politics