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[edit] EniTech Blog

[edit] Entry: (January 3rd, 2008 10:03am)

[edit] Where do the 2008 presidential candidates stands on science issues? (direct link)
The journal Science just released its rundown of some of the major 2008 presidential candidates and their stance on science issues. Here’s a few of the highlights.

Mike Huckabee. The Arkansas governor who once pardoned Keith Richards tends towards personal conservativism balanced by political pragmatism. He’s doesn’t believe in evolution, but is ambivalent about pushing that belief in schools. His unexpectedly progressive policies on health care earned him liberal praise, and he’s framed climate change as a matter of religious conscience; however, his actual climate change proposals emphasize further research over concrete steps.

Mitt Romney. The pro-life Massachusetts governor opposes embryonic stem cell research and isn’t certain that people are responsible for climate change, but was instrumental in pushing for commercial biotech in Massachusetts and joined with seven other Northeastern states on a regional CO2-cutting program — the first of its kind. However, he later pulled out of the agreement and also vetoed an embryonic stem cell research bill. He’s pledged to increase energy efficiency research but is otherwise quiet on climate change.

Barack Obama. The freshman senator from Illinois promises to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050 and spend $150 billion on biofuels. He’s supported embyonic stem cell research and increased funding for avian influenza programs. He also wants to double federal spending on basic research, expand internet access and spend $18 billion on science-related education initiatives. However, he’d take money from NASA programs to pay for this. Like Hillary Clinton and John Edwards, he promises to end political interference with science; unlike them, scientists applaud him for already doing this in his work as a community activist, state legislator and freshman Senator. But in that credit, some find reason for concern: will his ideals hold up on the national stage?

John McCain. When scientists say climate change is an urgent problem, the senator from Arizona listens to them; he’s made it a central issue in his platform, and over the last several years has drawn the ire of Bush administration officials for criticizing their mishandling of climate change science and policy. He was an architect of the recently-passed energy bill. Like Giuliani, he supports embryonic stem cell research but not cloning; other science issues haven’t caught his attention.

Hillary Clinton. Science credits her with “the most detailed examination of science policy that any presidential candidate has offered to date.” Using a mix of green technologies and cap-and-trade rules, the senator from New York also intends to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050. She trumpets science as central to economic growth, wants to double the NIH budget and would establish a $50 billion green energy research fund paid for by federal taxes and energy company royalties. She plans to establish national energy council to oversee climate and greentech research, have a science adviser report directly to her and ban political appointees from altering scientific conclusions in government publications “without any legitimate basis.” But therein lies the rub: what’s legitimate?

John Edwards. Once again, an 80% cut by 2050 through cap-and-trade and an annual $13 billion green energy initiative. Edwards’ eschewment of nuclear energy earned him the endorsement of the Friends of the Earth, a prominent environmental group. He wants a low-cost “univeral internet” for rural communities, more money for autism research, and favors federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. He also wants universal, federally funded health care. Edwards says his science advisor would play “a central role as an assistant to the President” and criticizes President Bush’s “antiscience” practices. He promises not to censor research or let political appointees override agencies’ scientific findings “unless the chief White House science adviser concludes they are erroneous.” Like Clinton’s “legitimate basis” caveat, this sounds a little fishy.

What do you guys out there think? Is there a candidate who’s truly better on scientific issues?

[edit] Notes

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