Science is Vital in the UK

By Phil Plait | September 28, 2010 2:00 am

uk_scienceisvitalScience is facing devastating funding cuts in the UK. This has been a struggle ongoing for years — I remember chatting with Brian Cox and Gia Milinovich about it as we strolled around London almost three years ago! — but it’s getting worse.

A concerned group of people (including scientists and engineers) has started a campaign called Science Is Vital in an effort to let the government know they care about science and want to see a robust and healthy scientific community in the UK. They have a Facebook page as well.

They want people to sign a petition and then come to a London rally on October 9. I think this is a good idea; we always assume our voice is never heard, and then we guarantee that by never speaking up. So speak up! Science is critical to everything in life, and we need to make sure our governments support it.


Related posts:

- Save Astronomy!
- The fall of UK science


CATEGORIZED UNDER: Politics, Science
MORE ABOUT: Science is Vital

Comments (23)

  1. Nige

    This is the one thing the current UK government should be INCREASING during a post recession period. Science is one of the best stimulus packages we in the UK need right now, Brian Cox makes a very good argument for this in one of his TED talks. Its little wonder that other nations are actually increasing their funding. I’ve written to my MP about this, hopefully second thought will be put in to this before the UK gets thrown back in to an intellectual dark age!

  2. Paul in Sweden

    Sacrifices have to be made by everyone to achieve goals.

    Tighten your belts – it is worse than we thought.

    In related news:

    Climate change law to rip £8bn hole in budgets
    12 September 2010

    By Eddie Barnes

    In a paper obtained by Scotland on Sunday under Freedom of Information laws, officials declare that cuts to all other portfolios will “inevitably result” from the new climate change targets.

    SPENDING on schools, hospitals and other key services is set to be hit by the estimated £8 billion cost of Scotland’s world-leading climate change laws, the government have admitted.

    Officials have placed an £8bn price tag on achieving the target to reduce by 2020 emissions harmful to the environment by 42 per cent below 1990 levels. But the scheme comes as departmental budgets are set to be reduced by as much as 40 per cent between 2010 and 2014, putting unprecedented pressure on services.

    “In a paper obtained by Scotland on Sunday under Freedom of Information laws, officials declare that cuts to all other portfolios will “inevitably result” from the new climate change targets.

    Officials have placed an £8bn price tag on achieving the target to reduce by 2020 emissions harmful to the environment by 42 per cent below 1990 levels. But the scheme comes as departmental budgets are set to be reduced by as much as 40 per cent between 2010 and 2014, putting unprecedented pressure on services.

    Passed by the Scottish Parliament last year, the Climate Change (Scotland) Act was hailed as the most ambitious attempt to cut emissions anywhere in the world. Ministers will set annual targets to reduce emissions and all public bodies must comply.

    The paper on the cost of the Act, written by the Scottish Government’s Climate Change Division, sets out provisional costings on how much would need to be spent up until 2022. The biggest cost would be transport, where £3.9bn has been pencilled in for emissions-cutting measures such as moves to strictly enforce 70mph limits and to build new cycle paths and footpaths. The paper also suggests that up to £3.2bn will go on energy efficiency plans, the bulk of it on home insulation subsidies.

    A further £800m will go on planting an extra 15,000 hectares of forest every year.(USD 10.78)

    The paper notes: “Scottish government funding of action to achieve our emissions targets would, at a time of overall budget reductions, inevitably result in an impact on spend across all portfolios.”

    The £8bn estimate was published earlier this year by the Independent Budget Review group. The report said that the country’s ageing population and the climate change laws were the key extra cost pressures that taxpayers in Scotland would soon have to face.

    The IBR report noted that the “extremely ambitious” target would have “significant implications for the whole of the economy, including public sector budgets.”
    -http://news.scotsman.com/news/Climate-change-law-to-rip.6526829.jp
    ————–

    Think what is going to happen in California if AB32 isn’t delayed by the ballot initiative in November…

  3. Pete Jackson

    One thing we can do to help is to lobby Discovery Channel UK to start showing “Bad Universe”, which should help to scare up some funding! Although I live in Ireland right now, we get Discovery Channel UK via Sky TV, and they have nothing about Bad Universe on their website (although they do have other Astronomy offerings).
    To contact them, which I just did, follow links on:

    http://www.yourdiscovery.com/uk/

  4. Messier Tidy Upper

    Science is vital everywhere.

    Great Britain is, of course, part of everywhere.

    As is the USA, as is Australia, as is .. everywhere.

    All governments should spend more on science if you ask me.

  5. Paul in Sweden

    It is only natural while restructuring the economy that there will be some growing pains and as always the malcontents that feel their budgets shouldn’t be impacted. Yes the science budgets will suffer but since there is little room for science in the new green economy why should it be properly funded?

    A world financial crisis and sluggish recovery is a minor obstacle on the road to the future.

    Think of all the green jobs that will be created with just a little sacrifice.

    The Thanet wind farm will milk us of billions – Telegraph
    25 Sep 2010

    “in all the publicity given to the opening of “the world’s largest wind farm” off the Kent coast last week, by far the most important and shocking aspect of this vast project was completely overlooked. Over the coming years we will be giving the wind farm’s Swedish owners a total of £1.2 billion in subsidies. That same sum, invested now in a single nuclear power station, could yield a staggering 13 times more electricity, with much greater reliability.”
    -http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/christopherbooker/8025148/The-Thanet-wind-farm-will-milk-us-of-billions.html

  6. I wrote this on that NBC Education Nation facebook page, and I think it applies everywhere: How can the US compete in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics if there are liars and charlatans like the Texas BoE insisting that bronze age myths be taught in science, and that only their One True version of events is acceptable? Sadly, most of America seems to view willful ignorance and mental castration as some sort of virtue.

  7. Katharine

    Paul in Sweden, I can’t figure out whether you actually believe what you say or whether you’re being sarcastic.

    Because if you do actually believe what you say, you are an insane anti-intellectual-and-anti-scientific idiot, and you have no idea of the vital role science plays in even a ‘green economy’.

  8. Messier Tidy Upper

    Posting at 2 am BA? Yikes. I What’s with that? Thought I was the only one who did that! ;-)

    @Nigel Depledge :

    Ages ago (February 24th, 2009 at 8:26 am) on one of the threads linked from here (Why is Science important?) you asked whether Jim Lovell served as CapCom for Apollo 17. Well, that piqued my curiosity and I’ve answered your question here :

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2009/02/20/why-is-science-important/comment-page-2/#comment-310148

    If you’re still interested or anybody else is curious for that matter.

  9. MadScientist

    Meh; less competition from those UK folks for jobs in the USA. Also more jobs for the French and Germans – and when the pound collapses it will be cheaper to visit the UK. It’s all good news unless you’re from the UK.

    @Paul#2: Don’t believe that news. The UK government is doing absolutely nothing of significance to cut CO2. There is the EU Emissions Trading Scam which is an unmitigated failure – but look at how the bootlicks try to paint it as a successful thing. In a similar fashion, the UK government wastes money talking about the next step and cutting CO2 emissions, and yet does nothing of value to encourage industry to get on with the task. I remember dozens of announcements from the UK government over the past 5 years on how they’re going to do this and that – and nothing (at least nothing good) is happening. But perhaps there could be some truth to things – after all that’s the Scottish government and not the UK in general – perhaps the Scots have had enough of the idiots to the south blabbing about nothing.

  10. Captain Swoop

    While the Ruling Elite are Eton and Oxford types Science will always be seconf best I am afraid. Their education puts Classics first.

  11. Messier Tidy Upper

    @8. Katharine : Gee Katherine tell us what you *really* think! Don’t hold back and be so mild and non-judgemental & open to differing views there. :roll:

    (PS. yeah that was sarcastic.)

    @3. & 6. Paul in Sweden : I don’t think your comments here are terribly relevant to this topic and they could well be taken as thread-jacking. I would suggest you save them for an Anthropogenic Global Warming thread. I don’t think its appreciated by others here.

    Mea culpa speaking from past experience here – before somebody else points that out. :-(

  12. Nigel Depledge

    MTU (9) said:

    @Nigel Depledge : …

    Whoa. Posting an answer to me on the thread before I’ve even read the BA’s post! What are you, per-sychic?

    Anyhoo, thanks for looking that up.

  13. Messier Tidy Upper

    No worries. Interesting question there. :-)

  14. Nigel Depledge

    MTU (12) said:

    Mea culpa speaking from past experience here – before somebody else points that out

    Awwww, you thought of me! That’s sweet! ;-)

  15. QuietDesperation

    Don’t hold back and be so mild and non-judgemental & open to differing views there.

    Welcome to the 21st century where you can be called a Nazi for thinking it might rain a bit instead of clearing up.

  16. JAMarton

    Economies are stimulated by change and especially by innovation. Without thriving scientific inquiry innovation is retarded and economies stagnate or decline. Fund science and you fund a more prosperous future.

  17. The good news is, if we wait long enough, maybe the US won’t have to catch up to the rest of the world in education, they will slow down to us.

  18. Messier Tidy Upper

    @15. Nigel Depledge & well everybody really :

    Hey, we’re all humans, some of us are just more human than others.

    To err is human .. to really mess things up requires a computer! ;-)

    Being a bit messed up (sometimes) is part of being human methinks. Who here hasn’t posted comments they’ve later regretted or made suchlike mistakes to do with, well, common humanity?

    I think we need to make allowences for people being people..

  19. Katharine

    Messier Tidy Upper, do you REALLY think that post was a ‘mistake’? The dude didn’t come back to correct it.

    And I’m not going to handle anyone on here with kid gloves or present my opinions in a mealy-mouthed, roundabout fashion. My comments are unvarnished, raw, and I think appropriately reflective of not only my opinions but the emphaticness with which I hold some of them.

    You and he are presumably adults (and you’re probably older than me, I’m 22!); surely you can take strongly-worded criticism.

  20. Katharine

    Welcome to the 21st century where you can be called a Nazi for thinking it might rain a bit instead of clearing up.

    People who do this and people who are otherwise pollyannaish strike me as either quite fake, quite stupid, quite sociopathic, or someone who is trying to sell you something. If you can’t admit that there is a significant ugliness in the world to at least a reasonable degree, then you have a problem with reality.

  21. Katharine

    Meh; less competition from those UK folks for jobs in the USA. Also more jobs for the French and Germans – and when the pound collapses it will be cheaper to visit the UK. It’s all good news unless you’re from the UK.

    This combined with the ‘Rising Above the Gathering Storm’ report (I have to admit, offhand, that I hate the name of this report; it doesn’t sound like something a sensible human being would name it, I’d probably name it ‘Maintaining American Scientific Leadership’ or something that doesn’t sound vaguely eschatological, even though the US’s declining position is utterly horrible) causes me no end of irritation.

  22. Paul in Sweden

    8. Katharine Says:
    September 28th, 2010 at 6:57 am

    Paul in Sweden, I can’t figure out whether you actually believe what you say or whether you’re being sarcastic.

    Katharine, of course I believe in the importance of science, hospitals, schools and all of the advances our modern society gives us.

    My point is that what we see demonstrated with the budget cuts in the UK are the result of a choice. A choice which will become much more common.

    Actively suppressing economic growth and artificially inflating energy costs by many fold has repercussions.

    Welcome to reality.

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