The presidential campaigns might finally get around to talking about science. And, maybe, just maybe, they won’t limit the discussion to stem cells.
The NYTimes’ Andrew Revkin reported yesterday that a group called Sciencedebate 2008 , comprised of some very smart people, including science bloggers Sheril Kirshenbaum and Chris Mooney, has scheduled a science debate and invited the presidential candidates.
Gee, do you think the wanna-be leaders of the free world might recognize that science is important?
Hmmmm. Let’s see. They all talk about healthcare reform. That involves, uh, health care, which usually includes medicine, and sometimes biomedical science.
How about the environment? Despite the fact that environment stories often turn into stories about Hollywood personalities, I’m pretty sure science is part of understanding why the Arctic ice cap is melting, which just might carry over to this energy, global warming stuff.
The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the perpetual war on terrorism, are top priorities. But what about the technological gadgetry that enables us to wage war and defend our military? An engineer or two might have been involved in creating drone aircraft or satellite imaging. Oh, and there’s the whole battlefield medicine and psychiatry angle, but that’s stretching it a bit.
There’s been a big fuss recently about how far behind the rest of the world the U.S. (No. 17) lags in Internet broadband speed. Korea is killing us. Canada — Canada! — is more advanced. But the Internet isn’t an important part of commerce or national security or anything like that.
And then there’s the workforce. All those people depending on medical care, manufacturing, energy … that’s inconsequential. Never mind that some of those sectors might actually improve our quality of life, much less keep us alive.
The candidates have science policies. Obama, Hillary and McCain list science topics on their “issues” pages. They all talk about healthcare reform, which is about the same for all of them. Obama’s is the only one that addresses technology. Hillary lists an “innovation agenda,” whatever that is. McCain adds the environment. Read them and draw your own conclusions.
Also check out the NSF’s wish list.
And let’s hope that science and technology come out of the shadows and take a prominent role in national initiatives.