With the Presidential election campaign heating up, and in light of Shreya’s dissection of Obama and Romney’s energy policies, I wanted to draw some attention to www.sciencedebate.org this week. In particular, their article here offers the two candidates a chance to answer questions from American scientists and engineers. Here’s a condensed synopsis of the candidates’ positions and my own reactions on three science-policy issues especially interesting to me:
On innovation and the economy:
- Double funding for research agencies
- Aim for 1 million STEM graduates over the next decade
- Attract and retain human capital
- Lower personal and corporate taxes
- Prevent agencies from creating huge regulatory burdens
- Create a “Reagan Economic Zone”
- Confront China and other IP thieving nations
- Reform K-12 education funding
- Focus funding on basic research efforts.
I couldn’t agree more with working to better retain human capital, especially after watching some very qualified colleagues at MIT go back home because of visa issues. But what the heck is a “Reagan Economic Zone”?
On climate change:
- New emissions standards for vehicles as well as carbon emissions regulations for power generation have came into force under Obama.
- America is making serious progress towards energy independence.
- This is a policy decision and science is but one input in the process.
- The US is only one part of that picture and China isn’t doing anything, so doesn’t make sense for America to adopt cap and trade or carbon tax policies.
Sure, some decent progress has been made under Obama. However, I’m not sure the administration can take credit for the development of hydraulic fracking and horizontal drilling technology, which is what ushered in the “shale gas revolution”.
- The US is committed to the International Space Station until 2020, and sending a human to an asteroid by 2025 and then to Mars by 2030.
- America is still the leader in space technology.
- The way to stay there is through investment in STEM education.
- American dominance in space is important but America is slipping behind
- Throwing money at it is not the solution. Rather, NASA needs better focus, international partners, and new markets.
I tend to agree with Romney’s implication that perhaps space travel shouldn’t be on the top of the priority list. At the same time, a project like Curiosity can’t help but get me excited and I’d like to see a human on another planet in my lifetime.
I’d encourage anyone interested in science and politics to check out the rest of this article to see where the candidates, and you, stand on more science policy issues.