I apologize for citing the whole article here but I felt that it was of sufficient public interest and the article was so short that cutting out parts of it would have limited its usefulness.


Candidates sketch out science policies
Karen Kaplan
Los Angeles Times

“Who will be the best president for America in a science-dominated world?”

That’s the question posed by Science Debate 2008, a group of scientists, journalists and concerned citizens who wanted to engage Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain on issues that normally aren’t addressed on the campaign trail.

Both candidates submitted written responses to 14 questions about science, technology, health and the environment, and some of their answers are excerpted below. Their complete replies are online at www.sciencedebate2008.com.

Q: What is your position on government regulation and funding of stem-cell research?

McCain: While I support federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research, I believe clear lines should be drawn that reflect a refusal to sacrifice moral values and ethical principles for the sake of scientific progress. I also support funding for other research programs, including amniotic fluid and adult stem-cell research, which hold much scientific promise and do not involve the use of embryos.

Obama: As president, I will lift the current administration’s ban on federal funding of research on embryonic stem-cell lines created after Aug. 9, 2001, and I will ensure that all research on stem cells is conducted ethically and with rigorous oversight.

… Hundreds of thousands of embryos stored in the U.S. in in vitro fertilization clinics will not be used for reproductive purposes and will eventually be destroyed. I believe that it is ethical to use these extra embryos for research that could save lives.

Q: What steps should the U.S. take during your presidency to protect ocean health?

McCain: Ocean health and policy requires better management focus; however, we also need a better scientific understanding of the oceans. In no area is this truer than in obtaining a better understanding of the interaction of climate change and the oceans. … Ocean science and engineering is a field that deserves greater attention and focus.

Obama: The oceans are a global resource and a global responsibility for which the U.S. can and should take a more active role. I will work actively to ensure that the U.S. ratifies the Law of the Sea Convention – an agreement supported by more than 150 countries that will protect our economic and security interests while providing an important international collaboration to protect the oceans and its resources.

Q: How would you prioritize space in your administration?

McCain: Current U.S. space operations policy commits the U.S. to completing the international space station by 2010 and then terminating the space shuttle flights with the completion of the ISS. I have called on the Bush administration to suspend its decommissioning of the shuttle until the next president is in office and to retain the option of continuing shuttle flights to the ISS in the interim period until the Ares/Orion vehicle is in service.

Obama: Under my administration, NASA not only will inspire the world with both human and robotic space exploration but also will again lead in confronting the challenges we face here on Earth, including global climate change, energy independence and aeronautics research.

... Between 1958 and 1973, the National Aeronautics and Space Council oversaw the entire space arena for four presidents. I will re-establish this council reporting to the president. It will solicit public participation, engage the international community and work toward a 21st-century vision of space that constantly pushes the envelope on new technologies as it … expands our reach into the heavens and improves life here on Earth.