The essay argues that no scientific issues are going to be solved by politics (especially electoral politics under the hot lights of a televised debate), and that no political issues are properly scientific:
"The increasing tendency to conflate science questions — Are we experiencing man-made climate change? — with policy questions — What, if anything, should we do about it? — has been a damaging trend. It has helped to turn science into a political football and has muddied policy debates. At a 'science debate', candidates will try to claim that their position is the one supported by 'science', and the very structure of the debate will send voters the faulty message that these are questions that the natural sciences can resolve."
But there are an enormous number of policy questions that must be informed by the latest science—energy policy, space exploration, funding for medical and basic science research, just to name a few. The goal of any science debate would be to explore just how well the candidates understand the underlying scientific facts behind these issues. With scientific literacy at its current (depressing) level in the U.S., there's no reason to believe that our would-be leaders have a thorough understanding of the science that must go into making intelligent policy decisions. More important, even if they do possess the understanding, a science debate would force them to articulate how that knowledge would affect their actions as president. Do you understand the science? Does the science matter? That's what I'd like to know from each candidate before I vote.
Scientific questions of course need to be answered by scientists, not politicians. But the public needs to know that science-related policy will be shaped by scientific fact. That's the not-unreasonable goal of a science debate. Here's hoping we can produce the magic needed to make it happen.
The problem with the basic premise above is that scientists themselves are largely responsible for the politicizing of science. Witness the recent announcement by David Suzuki that any politician who 'ignores climate change' should be jailed. http://www.nationalpost.com/news/story.html?id=290513
This is just one example of many where scientists attempt to interpret scientific data to justify a political agenda. Climate change is an inevitability, as it has been for roughly 4.5 billion years, and likely to remain so for the forseeable future.
Notice the use of the word 'forseeable', as much of the hysteria over climate change is based on projections of what 'might' ocurr 'if'...Of course, what gets missed in all the dire predictions that climate change is purported to have in store is that even predicting the weather a week in advance is less than accurate. Remember after hurricane Katrina? When we were supposed to have nothing but monster hurricanes from here on out? 2 years later, still waiting on one.