Challenge to presidential candidates: Debate about science

Aug 13, 2016

By Brady Dennis

Climate change. Mental health. Space exploration. Vaccinations. The health of the oceans. Antibiotic-resistant superbugs.

These are not the typical meat-and-potatoes topics of presidential debates. Often, the candidates and people who ask them questions skip over such topics entirely.

But dozens of non-partisan groups that represent millions of scientists and engineers across the country are eager to change that. For the third consecutive presidential election, the folks behind ScienceDebate.org are asking candidates to hold a debate exclusively about major issues in science, engineering, health and the environment. Since that almost certainly won’t happen (it didn’t in 2008 or 2012, either), the organizers have put together 20 questions they are asking candidates to address in writing.


Continue reading by clicking the name of the source below.

9 comments on “Challenge to presidential candidates: Debate about science

  • @OP – For the third consecutive presidential election, the folks behind ScienceDebate.org are asking candidates to hold a debate exclusively about major issues in science, engineering, health and the environment.

    It is important to evaluate candidates views, otherwise people may unknowingly elect muppets like this nutty fringe one in Australia! – One who persistently asks for data he is too bigoted or lazy to read, or too stupid to understand – despite sporting qualifications in science-related subjects!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-australia-37091391

    Professor Brian Cox has verbally sparred with a newly elected Australian politician who believes climate change is a global conspiracy.

    The British physicist behind BBC’s Wonders of the Universe was a guest on the adversarial panel show Q&A.

    Also on the Australian TV show was senator-elect Malcolm Roberts from the anti-immigration One Nation party.

    The celebrity scientist was dumbfounded by Mr Roberts’ claim that climate change data was manipulated by Nasa.

    The Australian Broadcasting Corp. panel show puts politicians, commentators and experts from different fields in front of a live studio audience to face questions about the issues of the week.

    Mr Roberts has previously claimed that the United Nations is using climate change to lay the foundations for an unelected global government.

    A member of the audience asked Prof Cox to address Mr Roberts’ request for proof of a human element in climate change.

    “I could sit here and read out figures until I’m blue in the face,” Prof Cox said.

    “The absolute, absolute consensus is that human action is leading to an increase in average temperature. Absolute consensus. I know you may try to argue with that,” he said to Mr Roberts, “but you can’t.”

    Mr Roberts worked in coal mining and has an honours degree in engineering and a master’s degree in business administration.

    Throughout the show, the senator repeatedly called for “empirical data” proving that climate change was real.

    At one point, Prof Cox produced a graph showing global surface temperatures of the past century.

    However, Mr Roberts said the climate data had been “corrupted”.

    “What do you mean corrupted?” Prof Cox asked.

    Mr Roberts responded: “Manipulated”.

    “By who?” Prof Cox asked.

    “Nasa,” Mr Roberts said.

    When asked earlier this month if he still believed the UN was trying to impose a worldwide government through climate change policy, Mr Roberts answered: “Definitely”.

    He also wrote a report in 2013 that detailed his rejection of man-made global warming.

    Science Minister Greg Hunt was also on the show and was asked to clarify the government’s position on climate change.

    “All of these different organisations, I don’t think they’re subject to a collective folly, nor do I think that they’re subject to some sort of conspiratorial collusion,” he said.

    “I respect the right of people to have different views, but we don’t make our policy on that. Our policy is it’s real and it’s important and it’s significant.

    Given the sheer volume of data and the number of organisations (space agencies from several nations, weather stations world-wide.,physicists geologists, biologists) it is ludicrous ignorance to pretend that any one or any small group of organisations could conspire to falsify records undetected by all the others! Roberts is just another conspiracy muppet who does not do even his basic homework on the subject – not even as far as identifying the cross specialism multiple data sources!



    Report abuse

  • It comes down to honesty and reasonableness, Clinton has shamelessly used her position to sell out her country for $230M known personal (Clinton Foundation) profit. Trump the inexperienced messenger who shoots himself at least has to be known as honest to become a business success, he also must be a reasonable man to close business deals. I believe the Donald lives in our world of reality which is science based.



    Report abuse

  • Brian Breckon #2
    Aug 17, 2016 at 11:46 am

    Trump the inexperienced messenger who shoots himself at least has to be known as honest to become a business success, he also must be a reasonable man to close business deals.

    Really – ??????? What? Someone who dodges legitimate debts to banks, employees and suppliers, whose businesses repeatedly go bankrupt??????

    http://money.cnn.com/2015/08/31/news/companies/donald-trump-bankruptcy/

    Donald Trump brags about how well his businesses have fared in bankruptcy. And in fact, no major U.S. company has filed for Chapter 11 more than Trump’s casino empire in the last 30 years.

    “I have used the laws of this country … the [bankruptcy] chapter laws, to do a great job for my company, for myself, for my employees, for my family,” he said during the first Republican presidential debate on August 6.

    Trump claims that successful businesses file for bankruptcy all the time. At the debate he said “virtually every person that you read about on the front page of the business sections, they’ve used the [bankruptcy] law.”

    But the facts don’t back that comment up.

    Despite high profile examples, including General Motors (GM), Lehman Brothers and most of the nation’s major airlines, fewer than 20% of public companies with assets of $1 billion or more have filed for bankruptcy in the last 30 years, according to data from Bankruptcy.com and S&P Capital IQ.

    Trump has never filed for personal bankruptcy. But he has filed four business bankruptcies, which Bankruptcy.com says makes Trump the top filer in recent decades. All of them were centered around casinos he used to own in Atlantic City. They were all Chapter 11 restructurings, which lets a company stay in business while shedding debt it owes to banks, employees and suppliers.

    He makes no apologies for having much of his debt wiped out. “These lenders aren’t babies. These are total killers,” he said at the debate. “These are not the nice, sweet little people.”

    Ah! the people he cheated were “not nice persons” (allegedly), so that makes rip-offs OK! ?



    Report abuse

  • I concur that most politicians no little or nothing of the topics listed above. I do however think that Trump has created a Superbug / communicative disease, and his followers / believers are all stricken. I’ve coined it Donorrhea.



    Report abuse

  • It would be interesting to see the “evidence” that Senator Roberts has, that NASA manipulated climate data. I won’t hold my breath. He’s probably in the pay of Gina Rinehart, one of the richest people in the world and a climate change denier. Oh yes she also has ties to mining in general and coal mining in particular. I won’t hold my breath waiting for Senator Roberts to provide evidence for his ridiculous assertion. He has pissed on the wall and moved on.



    Report abuse

  • Brian Breckon #2
    Aug 17, 2016 at 11:46 am

    It comes down to honesty and reasonableness, Clinton has shamelessly used her position to sell out her country for $230M known personal (Clinton Foundation) profit. Trump the inexperienced messenger who shoots himself at least has to be known as honest to become a business success, he also must be a reasonable man to close business deals. I believe the Donald lives in our world of reality which is science based.

    I don’t know who this “our” is that you refer to but Trump isn’t even from the same species as me as far as I can tell. This narcissistic, sociopathic, serial debt defaulting, serial litigating nutjob with the lowest honesty score on Politifact in history isn’t fit to run a piss up in a brewery let alone a country. He has a staggering 4% true score on Politifact and has been involved in over 3000 court cases, mainly filed by people he’s stiffed in business if he thinks the legal costs are going to be less than the original debt. He has zero morals, zero integrity and is a compulsive liar and you think he’s honest and reasonable? I wonder what that says about you?



    Report abuse

  • Brian.
    Linkage to Neo nazi groups, collecting “donations” for Veterans and not turning them over, NO rational military policy, on and on. And he is NOT a honest businessman. Ask the people who are suing him. Ask the students who he fleeced.
    Lie after lie is meant to reel in the groupers. Looks like he caught one.



    Report abuse

  • If an atheist ran for President of the US, it would be good for everyone. The questions asked would include “Don’t you believe in God???” By answering a distinct NO, it would cause many others to ask the same question. Of course there would be the usual wildly emotional responses by the religious right and Catholic Bishops. In addition an atheist could not win the presidency, but it would be the uproar and clamoring that would be good for the US public and many other parts of the world for that matter.



    Report abuse

  • @OP – For the third consecutive presidential election, the folks behind ScienceDebate.org are asking candidates to hold a debate exclusively about major issues in science, engineering, health and the environment.

    Here’s an issue which many of them try to dodge in the interests of “business as usual”!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-37165712

    Most countries in the world have little capacity to deal effectively with invasive species, a study suggests.

    The spread of non-native species threatens livelihoods and biodiversity, but the issue is worsened by global trade, travel and climate change.

    Writing in Nature Communications journal, and international team forecast how the spread of species could change over the 21st Century.

    They show that one-sixth of the world’s land surface is vulnerable to invasion.

    In what the authors say is the first evaluation of its kind, the paper assesses individual nations’ abilities to manage existing invasive species and respond to new ones.

    Regan Early from the University of Exeter, Jeffrey Dukes from Purdue University in the US and other co-authors suggest that developed countries, which have been most affected by invasive species – and have the strongest management efforts – will continue to face an onslaught of new arrivals.

    However, they predict that non-native plants, animals and microbes will increasingly threaten developing countries with some of the last remaining biodiversity hotspots, due to increased air travel and the expansion of agriculture.

    This could endanger livelihoods and food security in fragile economies that are ill-prepared to deal with the expansion of invasive organisms.

    Dr Early commented: “Rampant globalisation will lead to invasions in countries with the least capability to deal with them.

    “We need more international cooperation, and the US, Australia and nations in Europe to share expertise.”

    Prof Dukes added: “Low-income countries stand to lose a lot by having their natural resources sapped by invasive species.

    “We hope this analysis can be a conversation starter for governments around the world to strengthen their protection.”

    Invasive species often travel as stowaways or contaminants in goods imported by planes and ships. They also arrive as exotic pets or plants that subsequently escape or are released deliberately into the wild.

    This can pose challenges native species that have evolved over thousands of years to be well adapted to their ecosystems. Consequently, new arrivals can quickly change the nature of a whole region and often outcompete native organisms for resources and habitat.

    In Europe, forests and woods have been transformed by introduced diseases and pests such as Dutch elm disease and Ash dieback.

    “You can think of invasive species as biological pollution – a self-replicating change,” said Prof Dukes.

    “It doesn’t take much effort or intention to bring in an invasive species that then wreaks havoc on a landscape.”

    Biological invasions in the developing world so far have included influxes of Diamondback moths, which can devastate broccoli, cabbage and other crops; Panama disease, which wiped out banana plantations in central and south America; and prickly pear, which devastated grassland in Africa, leading to cattle being malnourished.

    . . . . and that’s without accidentally inventing any biologically engineered new ones!



    Report abuse

Leave a Reply

View our comment policy.