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.
I’ve got a piece at Huffington Post today about scientific illiteracy and public disengagement–and some possible answers. An excerpt:
Take clean energy, the industry of the future. Globally, the clean energy economy is booming–and China is now its clear leader. The U.S. fell into a distant second place last year in clean energy investment and finance, as China spent $ 34.6 billion to our $18.6 billion.
A similar story emerges in the biomedical arena, where our research investments haven’t kept pace with national health priorities. For instance, Alzheimer’s disease is now the seventh leading cause of death in the US, and accounts for 34 percent of total Medicare spending. Yet in terms of research, it’s a stepchild: Funding through the National Institutes of Health is currently less than $ 500 million per year.
How do you make Americans more focused on the centrality of science to our future? It isn’t easy given the nature of our national conversation–with serious science news vanishing from the media–and our already limited attention constantly directed elsewhere, including debating whether to elect global warming denying candidates to Congress this November 2. Read More