Obama's Victory Also a Win for Science Funding

Obama shoots marshmallow cannon with a competitor at 2012's White House Science Fairwhitehouse.gov/Public Domain

Obama will have four more years. The news pleases many people reliant on funds for research which has benefits for the general welfare, but is of less interest in capital markets (at least until they factor in the costs of damaging the public commons).

Science in the Service of Public Policy

Although it is certainly an exaggeration to say that a Republican in the White House would have meant an outright war on science, the party that ran on a platform of "Liberty alone fosters scientific inquiry" was not expected to promote public funding for science in the pubic interest.
And even in the cases where science research funding was not under threat of the conservative axe, or simply being delegated to the States with no clear path to funding, the promotion of science to help answer the real questions facing our next generation would have lost priority as science in the interest of corporate growth took priority.

Earth Monitoring vs. Men on the Moon

NASA serves as an excellent example. Romney's space policy paper did pledge to keep America in a position of world leadership (with few specifics on how this would be achieved). Many have picked up on and parroted the belief that the NASA's budget would not change significantly from Obama's budget if Romney stuck to his proposals.

The space race has entered a period of historic paradigm changes, including private companies entering the space race. Obama's policies have fostered this reaction to the Bush-era cancellation of the shuttle program.

But importantly for NASA, Obama's win represents security in the knowledge that priorities will continue in the current path. This doesn't neglect inspiring the astronauts of the future, and pinging asteroids. But it does focus also on projects for monitoring the health of our planet and enhancing the science needed to react to and contain the effects of global climate change.

Obama's Victory Also a Win for Science Funding
Especially environmental sciences that have less payback but more public value can expect continuing support for four more years.

Related Content on Treehugger.com