Issue Date: May 19, 2008
Science Debate 2008
It is infinitely disappointing that both Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama participated in a "Compassion Forum" at Messiah College in Pennsylvania on April 13 instead of the proposed Science Debate 2008 that was scheduled to be held at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia on April 18 (C&EN, April 21, page 3).
Science policy decision-making is typically based on the recommendations of scientific experts who advise government leaders. In a true democracy, such a process is meaningless unless the government leaders and the citizens who elect them have a basic understanding of fundamental science. Therefore, the popular media have a responsibility to convey scientific information in a way that is accurate, unbiased, and readily assimilated by the majority of citizens. Hence, Science Debate 2008 would have been an ideal platform for the facilitation of scientific information exchange as well as its dissemination.
Contemporary society is continually confronted with increasingly sophisticated decisions regarding the relationship of humankind to the rest of the natural world. Science in general and chemistry in particular promote economic development, catalyze improvements to the quality of human life, and ensure the protection of natural resources and the environment. It is imperative that the presidential candidates and the citizenry focus on complex pragmatic concerns rather than the putative "moral" quandaries associated with abortion, religion, and same-sex marriage. Rescheduling Science Debate 2008 would be a first step in the correct direction.
John R. Stanks
Survey on Global Scientific Challenges
In December 2007, the ACS Board of Directors adopted a new strategic plan with six major goals. The board is now asking members to help shape one of its goals, to "be a global leader in enlisting the world's scientific professionals to address, through chemistry, the challenges facing our world."
Chemistry can play a major role in finding solutions to far-reaching societal challenges such as providing sufficient energy, protecting the environment, ensuring the availability of safe food and water for all people, and improving global health care. Through its capacity to convene the chemistry-related scientific community in collaboration, and harnessing that community to bring to bear expertise on critical national and global issues, the American Chemical Society plans to play a leading role in applying the power of chemistry to improve people's lives.
Please take a few minutes to respond to three questions that will help to define the focus of this campaign to advance our vision of "Improving people's lives through the transforming power of chemistry." Please go to www.acs.org/strategicplan.
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