Talk about the need for a presidential candidate science debate leads somewhere-

Back in 2008 there was mounting concern that science had always been left out of the presidential debates. This concern led to efforts to demand presidential candidates discuss these issues. Soon there was the formation of Science Debate 2008. This group, small at first, called for a presidential debate on science. The group grew quickly.

Sciencedebate.org (2012) tells what happened next. “Within weeks, more than 38,000 scientists, engineers, and other concerned Americans signed on, including nearly every major American science organization, dozens of Nobel laureates, elected officials and business leaders, and the presidents of over 100 major American universities.  See who here.  The effort grew into the largest political initiative in the history of science, representing over 125 million people.  The signers submitted thousands of questions they wanted the candidates for President to answer . . . .” [boldface ours].

Unbelievably to many of these people the two candidates refused to answer any of the science questions though they found time to hold    “faith forums” that were covered on national TV.

Planning earlier this year, the same general group of people came up with “The Top 14 Science Questions Facing America.” While there will be no science debate on television, unless the moderator asks some science questions, to the surprise of many both the President and his challenger answered the questions, with the help of a team of advisors.

Here are the answers published in the Scientific American web site. While the questions are not about wildlife management, a number of questions go right to the heart and allow you to infer what they might do. For example, take the question about water quality,

“8. Fresh Water. Less than one percent of the world’s water is liquid fresh water, and scientific studies suggest that a majority of U.S. and global fresh water is now at risk because of increasing consumption, evaporation and pollution. What steps, if any, should the federal government take to secure clean, abundant fresh water for all Americans?”

Then there is the contentious issue of climate change.

“2. Climate Change. The Earth’s climate is changing and there is concern about the potentially adverse effects of these changes on life on the planet. What is your position on cap-and-trade, carbon taxes, and other policies proposed to address global climate change—and what steps can we take to improve our ability to tackle challenges like climate change that cross national boundaries?”

So, while there will be no televised debate again this campaign, this is far more than previous candidates have done with these vital issues.

 
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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides.

50 Responses to Precedent-setting and unexpected. Obama and Romney answer science questions asked by Sciencedebate.org

  1. avatar Richie G says:

    Why won’t they answer any science questions, I would like to ask Obama if he would fire Salazar, IMHO he sucks.

    • avatar Savebears says:

      Richie,

      Asking that question, is not a science question. The title of the thread said they did answer science questions.

  2. avatar Richie G says:

    Yea SB but I still would like him fired,he has brought us bad science IMHO.P.S. dEFINATION OF BAD sCIENCE; Protecting livestock at all cost,thanks for your reply

  3. avatar CodyCoyote says:

    One cannot use ” Republican” and ” Science” in the same sentence without contorting one’s face.

    Difference being, the Dems have other issues that eclipse science issues, not that I am excusing that deplorableness. Republicans just flat out run from science , or if trapped by it somehow they deny it or deflect it. The more clever among them go to the less reputable niches of the bazaar and buy Junk Science.

  4. avatar Mike says:

    Obama is no better on science than Bush was. His hiring of Salazar is proof of that.

  5. avatar john says:

    and you really think that this administration, other than his overbearing, A>M>E church rhetoric speeches have provided you with anything to be exactly happy about. For some reason, you want to keep supporting some one you STILL don’t know a damn thing about, he keeps undermining your environmental hopes and dreams, with salazar, a host of deli stings, this disappointment and that disappointment, and yet, sit there and say, Bush is bad… ITS OVER, BUSH IS GONE, ITS OBAMA NOW, at least with Romney, you will know where your fight is, with obummer, you keep hoping, and he keeps changing the rules,, and you keep getting disappointed…and go back to blaming bush,,

    • avatar timz says:

      Be prepared John, you can expect to hear from Salle, JB and the other Obama apologists on this site soon.

      • avatar jdubya says:

        There is a difference in being a pragmatist versus an apologist.

      • avatar Jeff N. says:

        And the only time you show up is to use your clever “Obummer” reference. We get it Timz, your not a fan of the president. Do you think you are in an exclusive group of people? Last time I checked it’s about 50/50. Your sole purpose, when you visit this site is to Flame and Troll. Grow up.

    • avatar JB says:

      Salazar was a disappointing choice, as I’ve said before; however, public lands issues are a very small part of the overall environmental picture (note: none of the questions posed by scientists concerned wolves, cougars, cows or public lands’ management). Obama has been better for alternative energy development, promoted higher CAFE standards, and efforts at water conservation (I word the Rs have seem to have forgotten).

      A recent report rated the Republican-dominated House of Representatives the most anti-environment ever. I don’t relish the idea of this House with a Republican whose agenda includes decreasing regulatory oversite and increased oil and gas development (including fracking).

      Being able to discern shades of gray allows one to vote for the better choice, even when that candidate isn’t our first choice. Only children refuse “play” when they don’t get exactly what they want.

      • avatar Dan says:

        Obama has my vote again. He has made head way on many environmental fronts. I believe he has the economy on a decent path. I wish he would eliminate the ethanol subsidy for farmers. I believe his administration has completely taken the right path on wolves. He’s got the ball rolling to ensure health care for all, make social security solvent and save medicare. My one regret is that he didn’t slam the huge banks and Wall Street when he had them begging. And, lastly, he has gotten us out of the unpaid for war in Iraq and is working on getting out of Afghanistan.

        • avatar Jeff N. says:

          Not so sure about the right path on wolves down here in the southwest. We need more releases, and they aren’t happening. The science dictates that the population needs a shot of new genetics (as new as the genetics can be, based on the 7 wolves that were captured and bred to start the recovery process). It’s been a long time since a wolf as been released down here, and there are candidates that would bolster the gene pool.

  6. avatar jdubya says:

    Romney is not far from Ron Paul in thinking that the majority of public lands would be better served in private hands where they could be used for capital gain instead of just sitting there, taking up space. With Romney in power, look for a lot more transfers of desirable public lands into private hands (Koch in Colorado, Skilink in Utah etc).

    Romney is also for removing federal regulations for public land use..let the states set the regulations for coal mining, pipelines, drilling, etc. We would end up with a patchwork of regulations with states like Utah and Idaho and Wyoming in a race to the bottom of no meaningful regulations at all.

    Obama, for all his warts, is a far better choice vis a vis the environment than Romney could/would ever be.

    • avatar timz says:

      See John, told you they’d show up, no matter what they call themselves.

      • avatar jdubya says:

        You want to rebut my points or just sound like a first grarder?

        • avatar timz says:

          What’s a grarder?

          • avatar jdubya says:

            Sorry, I should have written preschooler.

            • avatar timz says:

              Rebutt your point, what points. I know what M.R. stands for, that’s why I won’t vote for him either. It’s apologists like you who act like the first grarder(sic). When the subject of Obama comes up it’s always the same, McCain would have done this, Palin said that, Bush did it, Romney’s going to do it, nah,nah,nah.

            • avatar jon says:

              Hi timz, I’m like you. I am not an Obama fan and I believe he broke most of the promises he made before becoming president and I don’t see Obama as a friend to wildlife and the environment. The question is where do we go from here? Do we give obama another term or do we give Romney a chance? Romney from what I read about him doesn’t seem to be a conservationist at all and I doubt he cares about the environment/wildlife.

            • avatar timz says:

              Frankly at this point where the country is, I don’t think it matters much. Bad is bad.

            • avatar jdubya says:

              In other words, your skull is a vacuum. Sweet. It is always good to have a place to store extra keys.

            • avatar JB says:

              Tim:

              Have you ever heard of Carter v. Carter Coal Company? It’s a case decided by SCOTUS in the mid-1930s in which the Court ruled that mining was not commerce–thus the federal governemtn had no authority (under the commerce clause) to regulate mining. Let me repeat that–the federal government had no power to regulate MINING. This was one of many decisions in which the court took a very limited view of the federal government’s enumerated powers. This all changed a short time later when one of the justices defected and New Deal legislation was upheld. Today, most of the laws that are used to protect our environment (e.g., endangered species act, clean water act) rely heavily on this interpretation of the commerce clause. Trouble is, a lot of folks don’t like it right now (it’s popular to hate government) and a another justice or two like Scalia could set us back to 1936, negating federal authority of our regulation of the environment.

              That’s what is at stake. But hey, I understand if you want to send the country to Hell in a handbasket because neither candidate absolutely represents your views. It’s your ball after all–you’re free to play by yourself.

              Preeschooler indeed.

            • avatar timz says:

              “But hey, I understand if you want to send the country to Hell in a handbasket”

              Speaking of brains, anybody that has any understands the country is already well on it’s way.

            • avatar timz says:

              “Preeschooler”
              For guys doing a lot of name calling about age, you sure seem to have your spelling issues.

            • avatar Immer Treue says:

              “Speaking of brains, anybody that has any understands the country is already well on it’s way.”

              Then by all means get behind it and give it an extra shove toward no return.

            • avatar JB says:

              “For guys doing a lot of name calling about age, you sure seem to have your spelling issues.”

              Spelling and typing, if I’m being honest. But my typing skills aren’t really at issue, your ability to comprehend the consequences of your actions (or inaction) is. But hey, who am I to critique? By all means, continue to pout and refuse to participate, it’s a free country (mostly) after all! Be sure and let us all know how that strategy works out for you?

  7. avatar Ida Lupine says:

    I’m not impressed much by this because it’s still being discussed from the standpoint of being useful to humanity and America’s economic growth only, not a give-and-take or valid in its own right – the implication being that if scientific research doesn’t benefit us in some way, it is to be disregarded. Hopefully there will be some incidental benefit to the environment and our wildlife.

    I’m disappointed to think that in this election year, any national debate or even the mere mention of climate change, conservation and environment are “dirty words” that could cost votes and thus are avoided.

    Nobody is attacking the real culprits behind the tanking of our economy and loss of jobs and homes, Wall Street and corporate policies that allow jobs to be shifted offshore and skating away from the corporate responsibility of paying taxes by the 1% and corporations back to our country, without whose help they wouldn’t be where they are.

  8. avatar CodyCoyote says:

    Ida- to expand on your point, I truely lament the lack of some keystone issues being in either party’s playbook. keystone to me, anyway . E.G. meaningful discussion of science and technology incentivizing , beyond the obvious education Sisyphus ramp that they give lip service to ( i.e. student loans ). But beyond that, the downright decay of environmental conscience since Bush-Cheney and therefore environmental policy now going backwards or sublimating , thanks to the Dems abdicatiing that . ( When will the Dems grow a spine ? ) I furtjher lament no discussion of foreign policy and our national Space program, , both beyond the purview f this blog but important to me nevertheless.

    I do have to say it’s wrong to hard-couple the appointment of Ken Salazar as Sec of DOI and any mandate to be a science promoter while in that administrative bureaucratic post. That’s for his underlings, so maybe Kopwboy Ken Salazar has let us down there by not demanding reals cience be a component of any DOI policy decisions…it sure wasn’t apparent in the case of Wyoming wolves when Salazar/DOI simply washed their hands of those damn wild dogs running loose in the Northern Rockies. Truth be told, Slazar caved when certain western Republican Senators such a smy own John ” Dr. No ” Barrasso of Wyoming was playing dirty hardball on wolves by holding up Dan Ashe’s appointment by the Senate till DOI capitualted on wolves, which Pontius Pilate—excuse me, Kowboy Ken S. —readily did, using Ed Bangs’s departing foofawraw ” Flex Zone” as the weaknscience to accomodate Judge Molloy’s court edict to restore genetic connectivity to any Wyoming wolf plan . It was all BS. But I digress.

    The is ample indisputable evidence of the GOP’s disdain for science in all cases where they can’t twist that science to their own separate mercenary agenda.

    Obama actually had quite a lot to say about climate change and job opportunities in alternative energy innovation in his acceptance speech at the DNC last night. But again , for now it’s just lip service.

    You are absolutely right in nailing the corporate Wall Street jello-balls to the wall as hefting most of the blame for American economic decay in those demographics commonly called the 99 Percenters.

    I blame both parties for not dealing with that decay: one for causing it, the other ( spineless invertebrates) for not being more strident in demanding financial reforms. At least we can all help Elizabeth Warren get elected in Massachusetts…that’s critical.

  9. avatar jdubya says:

    From the NY Times:

    “Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential nominee, took a not-too-subtle jab at President Obama in his convention speech last week, mocking Mr. Obama’s soaring 2008 campaign language about rolling back the rising seas and healing the planet. Mr. Romney’s gibe drew thunderous applause from the Republican delegates, many of whom express doubt about the existence of climate change.
    Mr. Obama jabbed back on Thursday night in his acceptance speech while detailing his energy program, which includes increased investment in renewable energy and higher mileage standards for vehicles.

    “And, yes,” the president said, “my plan will continue to reduce the carbon pollution that is heating our planet – because climate change is not a hoax. More droughts and floods and wildfires are not a joke. They are a threat to our children’s future. And in this election you can do something about it.”

  10. avatar Jeff N. says:

    Timz quote

    “Speaking of brains, anybody that has any understands the country is already well on it’s way.”

    This is the typical answer of the uninformed rightie. And trust me living in AZ, I have many friends who lean right.

    They will bash Obama for a certain policy stance, I’ll give them a counter argument that they kind of agree with, and then they’ll say something like….”it doesn’t matter who is elected, we’re all screwed anyway” or “all politicians are crooks”….the typical answer from a low information voter, and Timz seems to fit that bill.

    Timz…methinks you are full of sh#t and you will no doubt be voting for Mitt. You are not fooling anyone.

    • avatar Jeff N. says:

      Let me make a correction to my above statement:

      “this is the typical answer to the uniformed rightie”

      Should have just ended it at “uninformed”.

      In AZ there just happens to be an abundance ofTeabag Repubs and that was is a big part of my point of reference.

    • avatar timz says:

      Jeff N you don’t know any thing about me. I’ll be willing to bet I forgotten more information than a shit-for-brains like you ever knew or will know. And no I will not be voting for either canidate just as I haven’t voted for one in 20 years because there hasn’t been one worth voting for. The Arizona sun must have turned your brain to adobe.

      • avatar JB says:

        So 20 years of doing nothing (but bitching) and how’s that worked out for you? Great strategy.

        • avatar timz says:

          Actually pretty well,single digit golf handicap,upper middle class income, put kid thru school, (All the way to PHD), two cars, dog, live in the mountains, elk and deer in the yard, occasional wolf passes by. Anything else you want to know douche-bag.

  11. If you read the answers carefully in the article their are a couple of very chilling statements by Romney that even a first grader could understand . . One is the plane on of opening all federal lands for resource development and the other is deregulating those very laws that are keeping us from eating up the planet so quickly . .Romney even says openly that we should send more jobs to China . . This could end up being four more years of raiding the American tax and land riches by a group of internationally playing business men who really don’t care. I hope those black person and women hating men who vote for this man are a minority.

  12. avatar Ida Lupine says:

    We also worry that the Democrats won’t take a strong enough stance either, and the same things will happen. Or bargain with America’s wildlife and wild lands, selling them down the river for political gain and power balance.

  13. avatar Ralph Maughan says:

    Everyone, especially including the media’s “political experts,” seems to forget or ignore the fact that there are congressional elections too. Obama’s (or Romney’s) program depends on Congress passing it.

    I am amazed to hear presidential candidates, mostly Romney this election because he is the challenger, say things like “in the first hundreds days I will do this or that,” and then the candidate will say something that clearly takes a law to do.

    Unless one party has a clear majority in both houses very little will be done by either man unless the minority party shows some sudden willingness to compromise which they did not show the last 4 years. For the media to talk about what either candidate will do without considering make up of Congress, makes most of their analysis worthless. I think I deserve a 150K job talking on TV just because I know enough to talk about Congress

    • avatar Larry Keeney says:

      That’s all true but remember a lot of damage can be done to the environment by executive order.

  14. avatar Larry Keeney says:

    It has all been said above but will feel better if I add my 2 cents – Romney’s answers clearly show where we are going if he is elected. The miners will regulate themselves, the food producers will regulate food quality, ranchers will regulate ranchers, need more? We will have James Watt reincarnated in Interior Dept. I hope in the debate Romney is asked, “What changes to the tax structure would entice you to withdraw your money from overseas accounts and deposit it in the U.S.?” If he is truthful I would expect a free ride for his catagory and wage earners taking the hit. Last time I was this worried at election time was Reagan. Bad as this admin is for the environment we’ll look back and only wish.

  15. avatar jdubya says:

    And Salazar may want out anyway.
    The aide said that there’s an expectation of “widespread turnover.” Energy Secretary Steven Chu, for example, has frustrated the administration with his lack of political skills, while Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has shown interest in returning to Colorado to be closer to a young granddaughter who has autism.

    Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0912/80938.html#ixzz25tEL8AjF

  16. avatar Chuck says:

    The comment that some will say always bugs me,”if you don’t vote you have no right to complain”. But I beg to differ, every single person who pays taxes have ever right in the world to complain. A person can set down and pick apart all of the issues each candidate supports and can find flaws in them. For me the biggest issue this election is to vote no on whether hunting,fishing and trapping is a constitutional right.

  17. avatar Chuck says:

    Yes here in Idaho.

  18. avatar Richie G says:

    To JB; JB you are correct what is the key is the supreme court , citizens united proves that,so good going,the court is what is at stake here. Forgive me for any mispelled words, I’m better at math.

  19. avatar Richie G says:

    To Ralph; Even when Obama had the majority in the senate,he really did not,Liberman was a independent,and Kennedy was sick and the fillabuster all the time,so in the senate we really did not have the majority.

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‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey

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