The American Need to Invest in Science and Technology

Right now, the American people are experiencing the worst natural disaster in the history of their country. A kilometer deep in the Gulf of Mexico is an entire natural reserve of oil leaking into the ocean. Over the past decade, America’s lead in producing scientists, engineers, and novel research has been declining compared to asian countries like China. The BP oil spill has exposed this achilles-heel by leaving the American government helpless. If anyone can stop this oil leak, it is the private companies who spend the most money on scientific research. During Obama’s most recent press conference, he said,

“What is true is that when it comes to stopping the leak down below, the federal government does not possess superior technology to BP.”

Maybe America’s obsession with terrorism and wars has caused its politicians to forget that America’s position in the world is due not only to its power and strength but also to its brains and scientific knowledge. This is certainly the case when it comes to public education, where children are taught hardly any science anymore, leading to the scientifically most embarrassingly  ignorant population in the Western world. As a previous elementary school science teacher, I will say that the quality of our elementary science education is pitiful. This leads most americans to learn the majority of their scientific knowledge outside of school! However it usually takes some time before such lag in education begins to affect the actual production of gadgets and research and so far we haven’t felt the  inevitable effects of this scientifically-illiterate population maturing.

Thankfully, a recent bill has been approved by the House of Representatives that is awaiting Senate approval and will grant $84 billion dollars to scientific research and technology. This bill has been derailed twice already by the Republican party (A.K.A. the party of ‘No’) but has finally been approved. It is a good start to overcoming the recent decline in the U.S.A.’s role as the world’s leader in technological research.

In the New York Times, David Brooks discusses how this recent oil spill is one of many areas in the fields of science and technology that is becoming too complex for people to handle. Steven Novella writes in his blog that one possible solution to this problem is creating robots to help combat situations where humans are inadequate to stop disasters. This is already being done with the Deepwater Horizon oil leak by using BP’s underwater robots to fix the leaking pipe. It is such robots that are missing in the governments arsenal for stopping the growing slick. If they had pumped more funding into research in this area, perhaps they would have some of their own robots to use. For now, the American people and America’s ecosystems are in the hands of BP because they are the only ones with appropriate robots at their disposal.

I hope that this environmental disaster proves to the government how important scientific research and technology is for us. If we want to help prevent this sort of occurrence in the future, we should be producing more engineers and scientists and we should do so from an early age, rather than attempting to fill our textbooks with lies and unscientific religious beliefs. That way the next time something like this happens we will not only have more scientists and engineers we can rely on, but also better tools for the job.


2 Responses to The American Need to Invest in Science and Technology

  1. I don’t know about the last statement, about filling out textbook with lies and unscientific religious beliefs, but I do defiantely agree that a larger focus on education has to be on the more important things in life rather than what will pass exit exams and tests that determine how much funding we get.

    Or,rather, more time can also be invested in the private sector to see what people can come up with since the private sector can really yield some amazing results when it comes to science and technology.

  2. CIH says:

    Another aspect of the British Petroleum oil spill is lack of the jurisdiction to coordinate the cleanup work. The initial law, so-called 1899 Refuse Act, was solely intended to regulate hazards to navigation. It was later, in 1960’ and 1979’, incorporated into the Clean Water Act, which was intended to protect the environment. Unfortunately, because the distinction between the navigable waters and other waters of the United States have not been properly defined, the US Coast Guard is responsible for spills in navigable waters, while the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates oil spills in inland. Because the Coast Guard controls also the oil spill fund, EPA has to be permitted and “invited” by the Cost Guard to participate in the cleanup. And till now EPA is waiting for this invitation. Yes! EPA has not been permitted to work on the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill ! The renowned national experts are sitting in their offices and watching on TV how less experienced Cost Guards are defending our shoreline.

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