During campaign season, I never get enough of the presidential candidates talking about science and science policy. Unless they’re talking about evolution vs. creation in public school science classrooms or the finer points of when a woman is legitimately pregnant (in Arizona, you’re now pregnant two weeks before conception occurs! Magic!), science and science policy are not frequently discussed.
The people at Science Debate have been working to change that. Although the organization has been unsuccessful in getting candidates to agree to a presidential forum on science, they were able to get President Obama and Mitt Romney to answer questions in writing. (Much better luck than we had during our Presidential Geek Survey Diary saga, which wasn’t nearly as important, but would have been way more fun because superheroes, sci-fi, and comics, yo.)
A lot of the responses to the twelve Science Debate questions are the sort of campaign non-statements we’re used to hearing, but seen side by side in print, without the stagecraft of a public appearance or cable news editing, those responses that are of substance show a gulf.
BTW, I was going to do this whole thing like an announcer at a fight. All, “In the left corner in the blue trunks….President Obama!” and stuff. But, that line represents everything I know about punchy sports. So, I made this instead:
Anyway….here are some excerpts:
On Innovation (summarized):
President Obama: Double funding for key research agencies to support scientists and entrepreneurs, train 100,000 new math and science teachers to train a million STEM graduates.
Mitt Romney: Cut taxes, cap funding for regulation, and vilify teachers’ unions. (It’s always the teachers. It has absolutely nothing to do with American anti-intellectual values.)
On Climate Change (summarized):
President Obama: Limited greenhouse emissions, investing in clean energy, working to set emissions limits in unison with other countries.
Mitt Romney: Yes, it’s getting warmer and human activity contributes to it. But, China and developing nations are bigger polluters, so let’s not change what we’re doing.
The whole thing can be read here. It’s illuminating, especially when they start talking about food safety and the fresh water supply. And by “illuminating, I mean scary as hell.