If a U.S. presidential debate on science and technology sounds too wonky for words, think again. That’s the message supporters of Science Debate 2008 are trying to hammer home.
Science and technology not only contribute greatly to the nation’s bottom line (about half of U.S. gross domestic product over the past century, according to the group), but represent “what may be the most important social issue of our time,” the group’s organizers claim.
“When you think about it, nearly every major challenge the next president will face has a science or technological component,” said Lawrence M. Krauss, an astrophysicist at Case Western Reserve University and a member of the Science Debate 2008 steering committee.
Those challenges include climate change, the future of the Earth’s oceans, fresh water supplies, drought, renewable energy research, the threat of global pandemics, the rise in antibiotic-resistant bacteria, bioethics, energy policy and ensuring scientific integrity in government.
So far, nearly 75 institutions and 12,000-plus individuals have signed on as supporters of a presidential science debate. They include the National Academy of Sciences; Friends of the Earth; Science Magazine; Marcia McNutt, president and CEO of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute; and Will Steger, a polar explorer and developer of the Global Warming 101 initiative.
Science Debate 2008 organizers hope to soon start formally inviting the presidential candidates, and have tentatively scheduled a debate for sometime in mid-April.