Election 2020: The Stakes for Science


Steve Mirsky: Election Day is November 3rd. In this week before the election we’re rolling out a special series of short podcasts in which we’ll look at how the election could affect some major areas of science. To set up what you’ll hear the rest of the week I spoke to Scientific American’s editor-in-chief, Laura Helmuth.

Laura Helmuth: There’s a lot to talk about. The election is almost upon us, people are voting already. And some of the biggest issues that will be decided by this election have to do with science and health and the environment and our future energy structure and climate change. And it’s an urgent time to talk about these subjects.

SM: And we’re not endorsing your candidate in this case. We are just laying out the terms of what the stakes are for these scientific areas in this election.

LH: Absolutely. I mean, there are a lot of reasons to vote for one candidate, or for some people the other. But really, if you’re interested in scientific subjects, there will be a lot of different directions the country will go in one, one direction or the other, depending on this election. And we just want to lay out what the stakes are.

SM: And when we say to the inevitable audience member who just doesn’t want to hear about politics, when they come to a science venue?

LH: That is a good question. And I think all of us right now, especially when there’s so much politics in the air, it’s really refreshing to come somewhere and to think about Black Holes, or the age of the universe, or how dinosaurs evolved. And we will continue to be talking about those things. If politics settles down, we’ll be doing probably more of those than we have in the past few years. But at this moment the future of the research enterprise is really on the line. And we just think it’s important for people to know how dramatically one administration or another can influence the way that scientific collaboration happens, the way science is communicated, what the priorities are for what should be studied and how.

—Steve Mirsky

(The above text is a transcript of this podcast)


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