The Top Science Questions Facing America: 2012 Edition

The suggestion portion of the process is now closed. We are now in phase two: taking your submissions under advisement and working with a panel of representatives from leading U.S. science organizations to consolidate ideas and craft the top science questions facing America in 2012.

What are the top science questions the candidates for president should answer? We’re not interested in quizzing candidates on the particulars of cell mitosis or the third digit of pi. We want to know their positions on the big science and engineering policy questions that affect all our lives. The questions we will consider most successful will probe the candidates on the broad, important issues of our day around science in an insightful and fair way.

A top science question the candidates for president should answer is:

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  1. What will you do to prepare the US for the rising sea level and the acidification of the ocean?

    Measurement shows that the sea level is rising and that the ocean is becoming more acidic, leading to major changes in coastal communities and the availability of ocean products. What will you do?

    216 votes
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      0 comments  ·  Oceans  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
    • What policies should be championed by you for our nation to develop ecologically, humanity based sustainability for the next 100 years?

      What should our policies be to ensure that our nation is still a viable entity into the 22nd Century?

      212 votes
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        1 comment  ·  Environment  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
      • 23 votes
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          2 comments  ·  Science Literacy  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
        • 95 votes
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            5 comments  ·  Space  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
          • Will you insure there is an increase in scientific funding durning your term as President and not pass the buck to future generations?

            Science is an investment in the future, our future. The idea that we can't afford to double funding at NASA and the NSF is ridiculous. We must insure that we maintain our competitiveness on a scientific level, because if we don't we'll eventually be left behind. Let us not forget that our modern world is built upon such scientific understandings. Our technological world for example is entirely a result of our past understanding of quantum physics. The space program has also had many benefits to our economy and culturally.

            Foremost, its one thing to say you're for science and keeping…

            385 votes
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              3 comments  ·  Competitiveness  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
            • What plans do you have to ensure that scientific and technological advancements are not used to harm people?

              What plans do you have to ensure that scientific and technological advances will be used for the betterment of society and not for its destruction (like nuclear power and chemical pollution)

              26 votes
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                0 comments  ·  National Security  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
              • What should be the role of the scientific consensus on any given topic in determining policy?

                Some say that the scientific consensus provides the best available information on the state of knowledge on an issue while others say that the scientific consensus is a meaningless concept. How important to you is it to make policy decisions based on scientific consensus?

                371 votes
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                  0 comments  ·  Scientific Integrity  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
                • How old is the Earth?

                  If they can't correctly answer this then they are incapable of accepting basic realities or are unable to accept that better information leads to better decisions. After all if you tell a creationist that the oceans are acidifying faster than they have in the last 300 my why do they care? They think the Earth is only 6,000 years old so to them it's just more "wrong" science.

                  245 votes
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                    6 comments  ·  Science Literacy  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
                  • Do you support the idea that every dollar spent on advertising prescription medicine be matched in price reductions of that patent medicine?

                    Prescription medicines are very expensive, and advertising on TV and radio increases that cost. Most people are not knowledgeable about the biochemical effects and results from those medicines, yet the pharmaceutical industry is targeting the patient as a consumer, not the doctor as a specifically educated dispenser of medicine. The advertising dollars are huge, but they add to the consumer cost, encouraging people to ask for patent medicines that may not help them, and indeed, may harm them. Remember the phen-phen debacle, and the ongoing Amadourin, Vioxx, Trasylol, Amiodarone, Plavex, Celebrex lawsuits, and the increasing numbers joining the lawsuits against…

                    65 votes
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                      0 comments  ·  Health  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
                    • Who would you rather have perform your bypass operation, your plumber or a heart surgeon?

                      The point is, of course, that by preferring the views of amateurs on global warming to those acquired over decades of research by 98% of the world's climate scientists, many of our politicians are effectively opting for the plumber.

                      21 votes
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                        4 comments  ·  Climate  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
                      • 115 votes
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                          0 comments  ·  Science Literacy  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
                        • 174 votes
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                            0 comments  ·  Energy  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
                          • Would you support requiring Human Papillomavirus vaccinations for students?

                            Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccinations like Cervarix and Gardasil have been proven effective at combating sexually transmitted cancer causing agents. Would you support an initiative to require these vaccines for all females in order to attend public schools, like so many other vaccinations that prevent critical illnesses?

                            40 votes
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                              2 comments  ·  Health  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
                            • 82 votes
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                                0 comments  ·  Science Literacy  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
                              • How do you know what's true?

                                I want to know what epistemology the candidates subscribe to. When a candidate says that he knows something, or states a fact, I'd like to have a general idea about how he knows those things. Was it a voice in his head, a gut feeling, a reasoned position, or what?

                                216 votes
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                                  3 comments  ·  Science Literacy  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
                                • 52 votes
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                                    2 comments  ·  Health  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
                                  • What will you do to combat the global tobacco epidemic?

                                    According to the World Health Organization, "the current tobacco epidemic is one of the biggest health threats the world has ever faced" (http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs339/en/index.html). Tobacco caused 100 million deaths in the 20th century. If current trends continue, it will cause up to one billion deaths in the 21st century. Most of these deaths will be in the developing world where multi-national tobacco companies have targeted women, children, and the poor for addiction to their deadly products. Big Tobacco, which has spent decades undermining medical science in the West, is now spreading doubt regarding the scientifically-known health risks of tobacco…

                                    26 votes
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                                      1 comment  ·  Health  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
                                    • How close is "spaceship Earth" to a situation in which our rate of energy use is the most important factor for our survival?

                                      It would be most useful if the candidates would indicate some understanding of the relative scale of energy required to provide food, clean water, and other necessities for a person and the current per-capita consumption of energy in comparison to the amount of sustainable energy that can be produced each year.
                                      The phrasing of this question is inspired in part by a scene in the movie Apollo 13, in which NASA engineer John Aaron declares "power is everything", meaning that the rate of energy use is the most important factor for the survival of the crew.

                                      33 votes
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                                        0 comments  ·  Energy  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
                                      • 43 votes
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                                          1 comment  ·  Research Funding  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
                                        • 55 votes
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                                            0 comments  ·  Oceans  ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →

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