Monday, February 18, 2008

So Where is Science in 08?

Sheril R. Kirshenbaum of the Intersection reported on the sad state of the science positions of the two dems:

She relates a "debate" set up in Boston between the candidates by the Association of American Universities and the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges as part of the annual AAAS meeting.


"From Clinton's camp came Thomas Kalil, Special Assistant to the Chancellor for Science and Technology at UC California Berkeley. He's also former Deputy Assistant to President Clinton for Technology and Economic Policy and former Deputy Director of the White House National Economic Council. Obama sent Alec Ross, a social entrepreneur for One Economy Corporation which is a non-profit working to bring new technology to poor communities. I immediately noticed although Ross is the younger, more charismatic speaker, it's obvious he lacks experience and familiarization with science policy."

That pretty much sums up the superficiality of the presentations from her POV.

Kalil had a preprepared slide show that emphasized bureaucratic issues such as restoring the the role of the president's science adviser and bringing back the Office of Technology Assessment. This is seemingly ignorant of the need for scientific input into the high levels of government. The idea that one science adviser can vet quantum physics, genetics, viral epidemics, pollution .. is absurd. To make this w0rse, she said Hillary would double research spending over the next decade to benefit NSF, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the Department of Energy, and the Pentagon. This looks like Bush!! Spending $$ on defence research, industrial research??? Notably missing form this pre-packaged presentation: NIH, center for disease control, environmental science,

The Obama presentation was less psecific, endorsing the !50 billion increase over five yearinstead of ten but NOT showing any sense of strategy. Apparently he also emphasized engineering over science .. issues like biofuels, hybrid cars, and the national power grid. This is NT science, it is engineering. Engineering IS important but the engine that drives productivity over the long term (e.g. recombinant DNA, supercooling, transistors, quantum computing, etc.) and that creates solutions ot the unsolveable problems.

" Claudia asked each representative whether their candidate will be at ScienceDebate2008 on April 18th in Philidelphia. 'Time will tell,' replied Kalil... to which Obama's rep reported it's being very seriously considered, followed with an enthusiastic, 'I endorse it!'

So contact the campaigns and tell them you want the presidential candidates to attend ScienceDebate2008! After all, this is our planet. Our home. Our health. Our families. Our economy. And it's imperative we make our voices heard--now more than ever--for the sake of our future."

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