Late last year, as the presidential primary campaigns heated up, a grass-roots group of scientists and citizens addressed the candidates: "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." Before long, Science Debate 2008, as the group called itself, had become the most powerful voice advocating for science in the race, backed by nearly 40,000 scientists, business leaders, educators, journalists (myself included) and politicians.
The response from the candidates? Silence. Before April's Pennsylvania primary, the organization invited the contenders to share their positions at a Philadelphia event. Only one candidate even bothered to send regrets.
It's sad to see the people vying to lead the free world run from the chance to talk about stem cells, climate change and the other issues that will transform our lives during their terms. It's especially sad considering that a Harris poll found that 85 percent of Americans wanted such a debate.
Fortunately, Science Debate 2008 didn't give up. In late June, it sent both nominees a list of 14 questions on topics ranging from innovation to ocean health. And this time, the candidates wrote back, submitting impressively detailed responses. I strongly encourage you to read it all at sciencedebate2008.com. (Our own dive into the essential scientific issues facing the next president begins at popsci.com/election.)
The Bush administration has been notable for its inclination to ignore, distort, or suppress the findings of leading scientists. The willingness of these candidates to engage the issues, along with their explicit assurances on a question labeled "Scientific Integrity," give me hope that we'll soon see a reversal of that approach to science, regardless of who wins the election next month.
Nice attack on President Bush, Mark. Should I just call you a pompous ass for no good reason, or should I have a good reason? Maybe you would care to give specifics on how the President has ignored, distorted, and suppressed the findings of scientists.
(I was just thinking the other day how much less science and technology we've gained over the last 8 years.......)
It looks like you've got two main issues and one small issue with your quick Google search.
1. The NASA budget. This is from 2001. And the article says the budget INCREASE was only 2% more. I would hardly call that "starving" an agency. Starving implies that he cut their budget by 20% or more.
2. Global warming. You can probably throw thousands of Google hits at me that say the Earth is about to look like Venus, and I can finds tons of Google hits that say this is just Chicken-Little talk. There are two sides in this issue, and the President is not obligated to scream "The sky is falling!", or agree with those who do. You say "ignoring the truth", but I say "bad science". In one of those articles, the President called for more studies. That's certainly a poor way to suppress information.
3. Stem cell research. Last time I checked, it is legal for any privately funded organization to do whatever they wish with stem cells. Has that changed? No, this is about using federal tax dollars. The President is not obligated to spend money on scientific studies that have ethical problems. If the next President has a differing policy, that's fine. But I do not call that suppression. And if his principle's are so wrong, Congress can easily override his veto. It is CONGRESS that decides how money is spent, not the President.
Is this the basis on which Mark calls the Bush administration "notable for its inclination to ignore, distort, or suppress the findings of leading scientists"? If true, then I hereby accuse Mark of being notable for his inclination to ignore, distort, and suppress a full accounting of the facts.
Hey Chef and Microsnake-- Go ahead and take this up in our new elections forum: http://www.popsci.com/forums/popsci-forums/election-season. This way the discussion won't get lost as the new stories push this one back.
I just happened to read Jannot's editorial and about threw up. I am so sick and tired of every ideologue spitting out his or her's opinion. From Matt Damon to Bruce Springsteen
I am simply tired of these so called experts telling me what is right. Mr. Jannot's assertion that stem cell research and climate change are going to effect me the next four years is simply embarassing. I have been hearing about the end of the world for over forty years from over-population, food shortages, killer bees, killer ants, ebola, aids, ddt,pesticide resistant insects, global warming, global cooling,sars, mad cow, I could on,. The bottom line Mr. Jannot is keep your political rantings to yourself. We don't want to hear it and I won't be renewing my subscription.
You just ruined my ability to read popular science knowing you are the editor. By the way I am not a Bush supporter and probably will be voting for Obama. I am just astonished at the main stream media's ability to be so pompous.