Obama And Romney Tackle Science’s Toughest Questions

Obama And Romney Tackle Science’s Toughest Questions

This is Giz Australia, but it’s always fascinating to hear what the next leader of a major influencer like the US has to say on subjects close to our heart like science and engineering. Even more so when Obama and Romney don’t see eye-to-eye on tech policy. Scientific American has joined forces with ScienceDebate.org to quiz the pair on their views over some of the most important scientific issues of our time.

In total Obama and Romney were asked 14 questions, covering topics as diverse as climate change, pandemics, energy, water shortages, the internet, space, and the future of innovation and the economy. The answers make for fascinating reading, not just in terms of their content but the way in which they’re answered, too. You should definitely read the full report over at Scientific American, but here are a few choice excerpts.

On the internet…

Obama: “A free and open Internet is essential component of American society and of the modern economy. I support legislation to protect intellectual property online, but any effort to combat online piracy must not reduce freedom of expression, increase cybersecurity risk, or undermine the dynamic, innovative global Internet.”

Romney: “I would rely primarily on innovation and market forces, not bureaucrats, to shape the Internet and maximise its economic, social and scientific value.”

On climate change…

Obama: “Climate change is the one of the biggest issues of this generation, and we have to meet this challenge by driving smart policies that lead to greater growth in clean energy generation and result in a range of economic and social benefits.”

Romney: “… there remains a lack of scientific consensus on the issue – on the extent of the warming, the extent of the human contribution, and the severity of the risk – and I believe we must support continued debate and investigation within the scientific community.”

On space…

Obama: “From investing in research on advances in spaceflight technology, to expanding our commitment to an education system that prepares our students for space and science achievements, I am committed to strengthening the base for America’s next generation of spaceflight. No other country can match our capabilities in Earth observation from space. In robotic space exploration, too, nobody else comes close. And I intend to keep it that way.”

Romney: “The current purpose and goals of the American space program are difficult to determine. With clear, decisive, and steadfast leadership, space can once again be an engine of technology and commerce. It can help to strengthen America’s entrepreneurial spirit and commercial competitiveness, launch new industries and new technologies, protect our security interests, and increase our knowledge.”

There is, of course, plenty to be read between the lines here. Go read the full Q&A over at Scientific American, and then let’s have it out in the comments. [Scientific American]

Images by Austen Hufford and Joe Crimmings Photography under Creative Commons license