Important Announcement #1:
ScienceDebate2008.com, the citizens initiative calling for a presidential debate on science and technology policy, today announced that it has formally invited the presidential candidates to a debate on April 18 at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, four days before the Pennsylvania Primary. The invitation to the candidates can be found here.
"The future economic success of the United States depends on out-performing the competition with smart people and smart ideas," said Craig Barrett, Chairman of Intel. "Without the best education system and investments in basic research and development we will become a second rate economic power."
"This is about the future of America," said Shawn Lawrence Otto, one of the debate organizers. "Most of the major policy challenges the next president will face, from climate chance to jobs and economic competitiveness to healthcare to the health of the oceans, center on science and technology. Where is the next transistor economy going to come from? Is there going to be action to address climate change? Do we need a Marshall plan for science in America? What about peak oil? Why are our school children falling behind other countries in math and science, and what should be done about it? We are trying to elevate these important policy issues in the national dialogue. We want voters to have a chance to assess candidates in terms of their visionary leadership on these big issues and others like them. It's not a science quiz, it's about policy. We're talking about the health of your family, the health of the economy, and the health of the planet. What are the solutions? We hope the candidates for president will want to explore these issues more thoroughly with the American people."
The group, started in December 2007 by two out-of-work screenwriters (Otto wrote and coproduced House of Sand and Fog; fellow screenwriter Matthew Chapman wrote Runaway Jury), two scientists and a science journalist has garnered a series of impressive endorsements in recent weeks, including 97 major universities and other organizations, and leading business executives like Craig Barrett, chairman of Intel, as well as dozens of Nobel laureates and current and former government officials, including members of President Bush's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, and Clinton Health & Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala. It is now cosponsored by the AAAS, the Council on Competitiveness, the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The list is here.
They have settled on a place and proposed a time -- April 18 -- for this to take place.
What should you do now? Well, it would be super-good if the candidates would actually show for this debate. (It is right before the Pennslyvania primary, so we are still talking primary candidates.)
How to help? Here's the recommendations from the Intersection:
1. Contact the campaigns, and tell them to attend ScienceDebate2008! A list of contact information for the campaigns can be found here (see right margin).
2. Write letters to the editor of your local newspapers, raising further awareness about this initiative. Some handy letter writing tips can be found here.
3. Tell a friend about ScienceDebate2008 (handy link here). We need to spread the word as much as possible at this critical time. We're at 13,000 supporters right now; we want to get to 15,000 supporters by the end of the week and 20,000 supporters by the end of the month. We need your help to make that happen.
At the very minimum try and sign the petition. We need to convince politicians that there is a political constituency that cares about science policy.