Why - and when - do bridges fail? How and why does veterinary usage of some medications pose a risk to humans? How important is it to be absolutely certain that global warming is causing an increase in hurricane strength before taking action on the issue? How important is space exploration? How much money should we spend on science education? Do we need to re-examine the way the federal government handles its many science research agencies?
All of those questions - and many, many others that involve science - have the potential to shape the future of the United States for better or worse. The President of the United States makes decisions (either directly from the Oval Office or through appointments) on how to address all of those questions. Science policy may not get as much attention as foreign policy or the domestic agenda, but it's at least as important a part of the President's job.
That's why I was thrilled to learn that there's a serious effort underway to push for a Presidential debate that will focus on issues of science and technology. The ScienceDebate2008 initiative was mentioned by Physicist Lawrence Krauss in a Wall Street Journal op-ed on Thursday, and formally launched today.
You'll be hearing more about this over the coming days and weeks, as more details are worked out and more people sign on to the effort. For now, go on over to the website, read the statement, and sign on yourself.