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Science & technology policy primer

Science and engineering research and innovations are intricately linked to societal needs and the nation’s economy in areas such as transportation, communication, agriculture, education, environment, health, defense, and jobs. As a result, policymakers are interested in almost every aspect of science and technology policy. The three branches of government—executive, congressional, and judiciary—depending on each branch’s responsibility, use science and technology knowledge and guidance to frame policy issues, craft legislation, and…

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Why Is Science Suffering in the Modern Age?

A recent survey from the Pew Research Institute revealed troubling trends in how science is doing, and showed that the public and scientists are far apart on many basic questions, from whether humans have evolved over time (only 65% of the public agrees, compared to 98% of scientists), to whether it’s safe to eat genetically modified foods (88% of scientists think so, but only 37% of the public agrees). There…

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NSF launches new online STEM education, workforce tracker

It just became a lot easier for educators, students, parents, policymakers and business leaders to learn more about national trends in education and jobs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The National Science Board (NSB) today released an interactive, online resource featuring new and updated data and graphics about STEM education and workforce in the U.S. and providing facts on topics such as student proficiency, college degrees in STEM…

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New Zealand building public engagement in science

Science and the knowledge and innovation that flow from scientific progress have a critical role in creating and defining our future Many of today’s most complex decisions (e.g. on public health, natural resources stewardship and communications technology) require us all to weigh scientific evidence and our values. This will be even more so in future years as the world becomes increasingly connected and technology and knowledge advance. As New Zealanders…

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Why Congress should fund social science

“Cosmos,” the fascinating television series, tells us not only about science, engineering and mathematics but also its history. In one episode, Neil deGrasse Tyson tells the story of how, during the 17th century, the Royal Society in England funded Hisotria Piscium, a groundbreaking (at the time) book on the history of fish. When the book failed to sell, the financial loss was so severe that the Royal Society had to…

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IPCC’s outdated climate change communication won’t cut it

For almost 25 years, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has released regular assessment reports warning the world of the dangers of climate change. The scientific knowledge that has been accumulated over this time is astonishing in its breadth and scope. Compiling, collating and synthesising publications from dozens of scientific disciplines, and distilling this into a format that policymakers from across the globe can use as the basis of…

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How El Niño Might Alter the Political Climate

Source: climate.gov El Niño is coming. Above-average sea surface temperatures have developed off the west coast of South America and seem poised to grow into a full-fledged El Niño event, in which unusually warm water temperatures spread across the equatorial East Pacific. Models indicate a 75 percent chance of El Niño this fall, which could bring devastating droughts to Australia or heavy rains to the southern United States. The debate…

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Points of No Return

AP/NASA photo Recently two research teams, working independently and using different methods, reached an alarming conclusion: The West Antarctic ice sheet is doomed. The sheet’s slide into the ocean, and the resulting sharp rise in sea levels, will probably happen slowly. But it’s irreversible. Even if we took drastic action to limit global warming right now, this particular process of environmental change has reached a point of no return. Meanwhile,…

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