As the countdown to the Rock Stars of Science™ release proceeds, I’ve done a piece at Huffington Post about why it matters so much that we value our scientists–because, well, the economic fate of the country is at stake:
…it’s myopia in the extreme to ignore the aging of our population right now, and the economic consequences if biomedical research doesn’t keep pace with demographics. According to philanthropist George Vradenburg, formerly a senior media executive at AOL, Fox, and CBS and now chairman of US Against Alzheimer’s, a recent report by Standard & Poors entitled “Global Aging 2010: An Irreversible Truth” says it all.
“There’s a decline in investment in research in the aging demographic at the same time that it may become the criteria on which sovereign debt is rated,” says Vradenburg, citing the report. If countries aren’t able to afford caring for their ever-older populations in the future, their entire financial picture could be clouded or undermined.
In this context, it’s vitally important to make science more glamorous, admired, respected. But the investments must follow the fame. It’s about much more than ensuring that our researchers have successful careers–it’s about whether their successes will be enough to save us from an aging-related boom in healthcare costs that could make our current, bitter debates seem mild in comparison.
You can read the full Huffington Post item here.