As students of one of the largest public research universities in the United States, we have an important perspective on the role of science in the future of American technology and innovation. At the University of Minnesota, we’re surrounded by science — even if our majors don’t lie strictly within its broad realm. We understand it is imperative that our elected officials act on the science-driven opportunities for economic growth, environmental protection and energy independence. Taking advantage of these opportunities is necessary for the future of our nation for decades to come. But in order to do this, science must have a louder voice in politics; neither republicans nor democrats can shrink behind ideologies or shirk from scientific fact if America is serious about moving forward.
The New York Times reported on Oct. 18 that 68 Nobel Prize winners in the science field have collectively written and signed a letter endorsing President Barack Obama —including the two chemistry winners from this year (one is an alumnus from the University’s Duluth campus). One prime concern the laureates noted in their letter of endorsement was Gov. Mitt Romney’s presumed budget cuts to federal and public research institutions: “Mitt Romney supports a budget that, if implemented, would devastate a long tradition of support for public research and investment in science at a time when this country’s future depends, as never before, on innovation.”
An article in the Scientific American discussed the inherent dangers of “scientific denialism” by both parties — by finding facts to fit ideology and not the other way around, politicians misinform voters and alienate the scientific community. America has not become great by running from science; we have built a long legacy of innovation by running at full speed toward it.