U.S. Presidential Candidates Answer ScienceDebate 2016 Questions

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 13, 2016 —Three of the four major candidates for United States president have responded to America’s Top 20 Presidential Science, Engineering, Technology, Health and Environmental  Questions. The nonprofit advocacy group ScienceDebate.org has posted their responses online at http://sciencedebate.org/20answers. Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, and Jill Stein had all responded as of press time, and the group was awaiting responses from Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson. (Individual answers can be jumped to by appending “#1” through “#20” to the link.) 

On August 10, a blue-ribbon coalition of fifty-six leading U.S. nonpartisan organizations, representing more than 10 million scientists and engineers, called on U.S. Presidential candidates to address the questions, and encouraged journalists and voters to press the candidates on them during the 2016 U.S. Presidential election season. 

“Taken collectively, these twenty issues have at least as profound an impact on voters’ lives as those more frequently covered by journalists, including candidates’ views on economic policy, foreign policy, and faith and values,” said ScienceDebate.org chair Shawn Otto, organizer of the effort and author of The War on Science. A 2015 national poll commissioned by ScienceDebate.org and Research!America revealed that a large majority of Americans (87%) say it is important that candidates for President and Congress have a basic understanding of the science informing public policy issues. 

“Science is central to policies that protect public health, safety and the environment, from climate change to diet related diseases,” said Andrew Rosenberg, Director of the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, a consortium member. “Reporters as well as voters should use these statements on science to push the candidates for more details on how they intend on addressing these many societal challenges.”

The consortium crowd-sourced and refined hundreds of suggestions, then submitted “the 20 most important, most immediate questions” to the Presidential campaigns of Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Gary Johnson, and Jill Stein, “along with an invitation to the candidates to answer them in writing and to discuss them on television,” said Otto. The questions and answers will be widely distributed to the science community, journalists, and the general public to help voters make well-informed decisions at the ballot box this November.

In both 2008 and 2012, Democratic candidate Barack Obama and Republican candidates John McCain and Mitt Romney participated. This is important, says Otto, because “science is accelerating, and we are searching for a more robust way of incorporating it into our policy dialogue.”

“Ideally, the people seeking to govern a first-world country would have a basic understanding of everything from sustainable energy to environmental threats to evidence-based medicine,” observed the Des Moines Register in a recent editorial. “They would talk about these things… Imagine if the public — and debate moderators — pressured presidential candidates to talk about the country’s electrical grid or emerging disease threats instead of abortion and transgender bathrooms. Political discourse would be smarter. And the individuals who seek the highest office in the land might learn a few things, too.”

The list of organizations supporting the issue discussion is a who’s who of the American science enterprise.

Full list of organizational supporters of the ScienceDebate initiative

**ScienceDebate.org

*American Association for the Advancement of Science

American Association of Geographers

*American Chemical Society

American Fisheries Society

American Geophysical Union

*American Geosciences Institute

*American Institute of Biological Sciences

American Institute of Professional Geologists 

American Rock Mechanics Association

American Society for Engineering Education

American Society of Agronomy

American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists

American Society of Mammalogists

American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering

Association for Women Geoscientists

Association of Ecosystem Research Centers

Automation Federation

*Biophysical Society

Botanical Society of America

Carnegie Institution for Science

Conservation Lands Foundation

Crop Science Society of America

Duke University

Ecological Society of America

Geological Society of America

*IEEE-USA

International Committee Monitoring Assisted Reproductive Technologies

Materials Research Society

NACE International, The Worldwide Corrosion Authority

*National Academy of Engineering

*National Academy of Medicine

*National Academy of Sciences

National Cave and Karst Research Institute

*National Center for Science Education

National Ground Water Association

Natural Science Collections Alliance

Northeastern University

Organization of Biological Field Stations

Paleontological Society

*Research!America

Scientific American magazine

Seismological Society of America

*Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society

Society for Science & the Public

Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections

Society of Fire Protection Engineers

Society of Wetland Scientists

Society of Women Engineers

Soil Science Society of America

SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry

Tufts University

*Union of Concerned Scientists

University City Science Center

*U.S. Council on Competitiveness

The Wildlife Society

World Endometriosis Research Foundation America

 

*Supplied experts to the questions development process
**Lead organizer

The consortium’s list of 20 questions are available online at ScienceDebate.org/20answers.

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