Thursday, May 22, 2008

What I wish I knew

Published in the Long Island Advance, May 22, 2008

OK, so…I’m going to dip a toe into a pond that I would normally be afraid to venture into. Normally I stick to “writing what I know,” which is usually a good policy to have. Today it will be more like writing about what I wish I knew.

If I wasn’t working in Human Services, I’d like to think that I might have stumbled into a career as a scientist. I’m sure this revelation will come as a surprise to my family, but it shouldn’t. At one time I wanted to be a marine biologist and it was all I can remember talking about. The movie Jaws cured me of that dream. And, let’s face it, if becoming a marine biologist was really that important to me I would not have let a mechanical shark scare me away.

Although I love sitting by the ocean, or standing at the edge getting my feet wet, rarely do I go in, and the moment I do the theme song from Jaws starts to play in my head and it’s just not worth the anxiety I feel not knowing what might be swimming around under me. Hence a career spent in the water did not seem like a good idea in the end.

In my fantasy career world of today, I can envision being a geological archeologist, or some sort of environmental biologist. I’ve been able to satisfy this need by visiting places like the Museum of Natural History, by attending lectures on the arts and sciences, or just by sitting in my living room, watching the Discovery or National Geographic channels. Yet, as a rule, I don’t write about science not feeling anywhere near qualified to do so.

I do have a growing concern about our environment though, and last year I ventured into that arena and wrote about it. So, in an effort to stretch my abilities just a bit more and set out once again into uncharted waters, I’d like to tell you about Science Debate 2008.

I’m on a few science related email lists and is one of them. The people who run this website have for months been trying to engage those candidates running for the office of President of the United States in a debate to see where they stand on issues such as “healthcare, climate change and energy and how science can tackle them.” They took many, many steps in order to make their invitation to discuss these topics appealing to the candidates, yet none other than McCain responded, and he declined.

There seems to be a misconception within the mainstream media that people don’t want to hear about this, therefore having this very important invitation publicized has been almost impossible. In an effort to prove that people are interested in what those running for office think about science related issues, a poll was commissioned by Research!America and ScienceDebate2008 and conducted by Harris Interactive ® that showed that 85% of U.S. adults agree that the presidential candidates should participate in a discussion of this kind.

“’This topic has been virtually ignored by the candidates, but this poll shows that Americans of all walks know how important science and technology are to our health and way of life,’ said Shawn Lawrence Otto, CEO of Science Debate 2008. ‘We’ve heard a lot about lapel pins and preachers. But tackling the big science challenges is critical to our children’s future – to the future of the country and the future of the planet. Americans want to know that candidates take these issues seriously, and the candidates have a responsibility to let voters know what they think.’”

I don’t have room here to go into detail about what I consider a very critical issue for our country. Clearly it’s not about the political party you belong to though. We all belong to the human race and we should care about what those who want to lead our country think about climate change, global poverty, education and renewable energy.

The Long Island Advance is about as mainstream media as I can come up with in order to publicize what I think is a very important topic. If I’ve tweaked your interest even the littlest bit, please check out and see what you might do to help bring attention to something that is so important to us all. You don’t have to be a “wanna-be” scientist to have a desire to be well informed prior to casting your vote in November.

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