Weatherdem's Weblog

Bridging climate science, citizens, and policy

Science Debate 2008 Update 6/20/08


It’s been a couple of months since I last wrote about a possible Science Debate in this election cycle. Unfortunately, no debate focusing exclusively on science policy has been scheduled between the two remaining presidential candidates.

Efforts have been underway however to push the relevance of science policy and the need for a national discussion thereof to not only presidential candidates but Congressional candidates as well. As such, 12 national science organizations have taken thousands of potential science policy questions and are working to come up with questions that will be presented to candidates: 14 for presidential candidates and 7 for Congressional candidates. The list of 7 questions has been provided and, courtesy of Scientists and Engineers for America, are presented below:

  1. Innovation. Science and technology have been responsible for half of the growth of the American economy since World War II. But several recent reports question America’s continued leadership in these vital areas. What policies would you support to ensure that America remains the world leader in innovation?
  2. Climate Change. The Earth’s climate is changing and there is concern about the potentially adverse effects of these changes on life on the planet. What is your position on the following measures that have been proposed to address global climate change—a cap-and-trade system, a carbon tax, increased fuel-economy standards, and research? Are there other policies you would support?
  3. Energy. Many scientists and policymakers say energy security and sustainability are major problems facing the United States this century. What policies would you support to meet the demand for energy while ensuring an economically and environmentally sustainable future?
  4. Education. A comparison of 15-year-olds in 30 wealthy nations found that average science scores among U.S. students ranked 17th, while average U.S. math scores ranked 24th. What role do you think the federal government should play in preparing K-12 students for the science and technology driven 21st Century?
  5. Water. Thirty-nine states expect some level of water shortage over the next decade, and scientific studies suggest that a majority of our water resources are at risk. What policies would you support to meet demand for water resources?
  6. Research. For many years, Congress has recognized the importance of science and engineering research to realizing our national goals. Given that the next Congress will likely face spending constraints, what priority would you give to investment in basic research in upcoming budgets?
  7. Health. Americans are increasingly concerned with the cost, quality, and availability of health care. How do you see science, research, and technology contributing to improved health and quality of life?

These questions are wide-ranging and I suppose by necessity pretty general. By that, I mean there is a considerable amount of wiggle room for a potential candidate to wave their hands around instead of proposing a policy. That said, I do encourage candidates to take these questions seriously and provide thoughtful answers when asked.

Speaking of which, wouldn’t it be nice to know how your candidate has answered? You’re darn right it would be. You can use SEA’s website to send a request to candidates to address these important issues.

I will continue to provide updates regarding responses to these questions by candidates, including my own once I get them.

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3 thoughts on “Science Debate 2008 Update 6/20/08

  1. Education at the K-12 level is extremely important, but adult learners need better chances too. On Roy Romer’s education blog yesterday ( ), he made a comment on how the GI Bill post WWII gave the US, for a time, a vast workforce of highly trained and educated people. We need to keep on top of providing these kinds of educational rewards to our troops, and non-traditional students as well. The good general job training strengthens the social network for everyone, and the opened opportunities gives the (scientific) cream a place to begin rising to the top.

  2. Well stated, Susan. Education shouldn’t start at Kindergarten and end in 12th grade. Learning is a lifetime exercise and should be available to any person, regardless of demographic and situation.

  3. Pingback: Rocky Mountain News Opinion Page Defends Bob Schaffer & Big Oil « Weatherdem’s Weblog

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