Friday, November 02, 2012

Red, white and blue

I have avoided politics on this blog. I have nothing to say about economics, social issues or foreign policy (although I do of course have opinions). But I will share my thinking about science policy, which you can take or leave.

To Mr. Romney's credit, as governor of Massachusetts he opposed teaching "intelligent design" in the public schools. He is on record saying that he has no problem with God using evolution to form the human "body." He does have the problem that a substantial part of his base, presumably a majority, rejects evolution and believes the world is less than 10,000 years old. I suspect the battle over evolution will continue to be with local school committees and state legislatures, with Romney twitching whichever way the political wind is blowing. Mr. Obama has signaled acceptance and support of evolutionary science. I am cautiously optimistic that he would resist any attempt by a Republican House to squeeze creationism -- and an anti-science bias -- into the schools.

Climate change got no mention in the debates, for which I fault Obama. The President has gone on record calling climate change one of the biggest issues of our time, but he has not done much to back up his words with action. Romney has indicated a woosy acceptance of anthropogenic climate change, but opposes any and all climate regulations.

Obama and Romney have tried to outdo each other over who supports fossil fuels the most. Obama, however, has been a so-so advocate of the development of green energy sources, to the occasional ridicule of Republicans.

Obama is willing to use government resources to stimulate basic science research and innovation, and has done so. Romney would leave that to the private sector.

Both candidates mouth all the right words about space. I wouldn't expect much difference here, although I can imagine Obama being more personally attuned to the magic of cosmic exploration.

Obama is a strong supporter of stem cell research, and repealed limits on federal funding. Romney has expressed reservations based on religious or ethical considerations.

Obama banners his desire to "hire another hundred thousand new math and science teachers," and beef up science education. Romney encourages school choice and voucher programs.

Science policy is only one component of the choice we must all make, and for most Americans it is probably not the decisive factor, although it indirectly bears on the economy, social issues and foreign policy. For myself, I will vote for the candidate I believe would be most comfortable in a rocking chair here on our porch at Science Musings.