Nonprofit Urges Politicians to Debate Science in 2012

A nonprofit organization is challenging political office hopefuls to debate 14 crucial science questions during the 2012 election.

ScienceDebate, sponsored in part by Scientific American, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the National Academy of Sciences, among other groups, is dedicated to promoting science and engineering policy. The group has collected thousands of suggested science questions for candidates and then worked with top science organizations to narrow them down to the most important issues facing the United States today.

The questions span the gamut from climate change to biosecurity to science education. The group is now calling for public debates focused on science between congressional and presidential candidates. For instance, regarding climate change, the group urges debate surrounding the question, "What is your position on cap-and-trade, carbon taxes, and other policies proposed to address global climate change — and what steps can we take to improve our ability to tackle challenges like climate change that cross national boundaries?" And for space, they hope candidates will discuss what they think America's goals for space exploration should be; and regarding public health, debate over making vaccinations mandatory (with some exemptions) should take place in the political arena.

"Given the many urgent scientific and technological challenges facing America and the rest of the world, the increasing need for accurate scientific information in political decision making, and the vital role scientific innovation plays in spurring economic growth and competitiveness, we call for public debates in which the U.S. presidential and congressional candidates share their views on the issues of The Environment, Health and Medicine, and Science and Technology Policy," the group writes.

ScienceDebate has two lists of top issues, one for congressional candidates and one for Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. The top presidential issues, according to ScienceDebate, are as follows:

- Innovation and the economy

- Climate change

- Research and the future

- Pandemics and biosecurity

- Education

- Energy

- Food

- Fresh water

- The Internet

- Ocean health

- Science in public policy

- Space

- Critical natural resources

- Vaccination and public health

The full questions can be found at

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