Thursday, September 18, 2008

Candidate's Positions on Issues of Science and Technology

Science Debate, an ad hoc group created this year for a failed effort to develop an in person debate between the candidates for president on science and technology, has succeeded in getting each candidate to submit responses to 14 questions. Obama answered first at the end of August, which gave McCain a couple of weeks to adjust his responses to those of his opponent.

I must admit that I find the responses tend to be full of pious hopes and promises, and provide very little that I could use to differentiate the candidates. McCain seems to be running somewhat against the science and technology policy of the Bush administration, but his position on stem cells seems less forthcoming than it might be. McCain frequently refers to his naval career as if it provides a basis of scientific and technological expertise and positive attitudes toward the field; I doubt that naval officers are necessarily paragons of scientific and technological temperament.

Many of the questions deal with policies such as greenhouse gas emission reduction, energy policy, and public health and not with science and technology as I understand the terms.

An article from the Environmental News Service on the Q&As states:
Democratic nominee Senator Barack Obama of Illinois says his administration would put the United States on track to cut carbon emissions 80 percent by the year 2050. "I will restore U.S. leadership in strategies for combating climate change and work closely with the international community," Obama says.

On the other hand, Republican nominee Senator John McCain of Arizona says his administration would aim for a reduction of at least 60 percent below 1990 levels by the year 2050. He does not mention international engagement but promises a $5,000 tax credit to every customer who buys an American zero-emissions car.

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