Saturday, September 27, 2008

Science Debate 2008: pushing scientific research to the forefront

Science Debate 2008, a coalition of scientists, journalists, and concerned citizens, has formed an initiative to promote scientific research in the determination of public policy in the United States. It's an excellent forum for voicing opinions and concerns and for hearing the positions of politicians regarding policies for which science can or should play a key role.

As an example, here are portions of the responses from the U.S. presidential candidates to a question on ocean health, submitted by Science Debate 2008 (#9 of 14 questions of a scientific nature were submitted):

McCain: Ocean health and policy requires better management focus; however, we also need a better scientific understanding of the oceans. In no area is this truer than in obtaining a better understanding of the interaction of climate change and the oceans . . . Ocean science and engineering deserves greater attention and focus. (Click here to read entire response.)

Obama: The oceans are a global resource and a global responsibility for which the U.S. can and should take a more active role. I will work actively to ensure that the U.S. ratifies the Law of the Sea Convention - an agreement supported by more than 150 countries that will protect our economic and security interests while providing an important international collaboration to protect the oceans and its resources. (Click here to read entire response.)

All sounds very nice but, as the candidates are fond of saying, they have to "walk the talk." Personally, I have found that there is a considerable amount of scientific data regarding a host of ecological, environmental, and marine issues that unfortunately gets buried in the academic world and does not get sufficiently communicated to the general public in easily understandable terms - issues, implications and solutions. The more the public is "in the know" - the more pressure these constituents can put on their political leaders.

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