ScienceDebate.org

Jill Stein's Responses to ScienceDebate.org

on America's Top 20 Science, Engineering, Tech, Health and Environmental Issues in 2016

 

1. INNOVATION

Sceince and engineering have been responsible for over half of the growth of the U.S. economy since WWII. But some reports question America’s continued leadership in these areas. What policies will best ensure that America remains at the forefront of innovation?

Virtually every component of our 2016 Platform contains elements likely to have positive effects on innovation. These include our climate action plan, our free public education and cancellation of student debt proposals, and our Medicare for All plank. Vast resources will be freed for investment in public R&D by reduced Pentagon spending. Millions of people currently hobbled by poverty and underperforming schools will be able for the first time in American history to bring their talents to bear on the problems of the 21st century. A just economy, with living wages and paid sick leave, can be far more innovative than one where innovation is determined by a relative handful of corporate executives and Pentagon planners.

2. RESEARCH

Many scientific advances require long-term investment to fund research over a period of longer than the two, four, or six year terms that govern political cycles. In the current climate of budgetary constraints, what are your science and engineering research priorities and how will you balance short-term versus long-term funding?

The greatest challenge currently before us is climate change. We will place innovative breakthroughs in the science and technology associated with mitigation of greenhouse gases and the building of a resilient society that can withstand current and future climate change at the very top of our research priorities.

Presidents are able to affect long term R&D priorities by creating institutions focused on research like the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health that are to some extent insulated from short-term political cycles. We will revisit these institutions--their charge, focus, and operations-to ensure that they're performing as expected. We will look for opportunities and mechanisms whereby science policy can be made more democratic, and more responsive to the preferences and needs of average citizens.

3. CLIMATE CHANGE

The Earth’s climate is changing and political discussion has become divided over both the science and the best response. What are your views on climate change, and how would your administration act on those views?

Climate change is the greatest existential threat that humanity has ever faced. Here is how we will act to address it:

• Enact an emergency Green New Deal to turn the tide on climate change, revive the economy and make wars for oil obsolete. Initiate a WWII-scale national mobilization to halt climate change, the greatest threat to humanity in our history. Create 20 million jobs by transitioning to 100% clean renewable energy by 2030, and investing in public transit, sustainable agriculture, conservation and restoration of critical infrastructure, including ecosystems.

• Implement a Just Transition that empowers those communities and workers most impacted by climate change and the transition to a green economy. Ensure that any worker displaced by the shift away from fossil fuels will receive full income and benefits as they transition to alternative work.

• Enact energy democracy based on public, community and worker ownership of our energy system. Treat energy as a human right. Redirect research funds from fossil fuels into renewable energy and conservation. Build a nationwide smart electricity grid that can pool and store power from a diversity of renewable sources, giving the nation clean, democratically-controlled, energy.

• End destructive energy extraction and associated infrastructure: fracking, tar sands, offshore drilling, oil trains, mountaintop removal, natural gas pipelines, and uranium mines. Halt any investment in fossil fuel infrastructure, including natural gas, and phase out all fossil fuel power plants. Phase out nuclear power and end nuclear subsidies. End all subsidies for fossil fuels and impose a greenhouse gas fee / tax to charge polluters for the damage they have created.

• Support a strong enforceable global climate treaty that limits global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius and provides just financial compensation to developing countries.

• Support organic and regenerative agriculture, permaculture, and sustainable forestry.

• Enact stronger environmental justice laws and measures to ensure that low-

income and communities of color are not disproportionately impacted.

4. BIODIVERSITY

Biological diversity provides food, fiber, medicines, clean water and many other products and services on which we depend every day. Scientists are finding that the variety and variability of life is diminishing at an alarming rate as a result of human activity. What steps will you take to protect biological diversity?

Protecting biodiversity is an extremely important and often overlooked priority. Here is how we will act to protect biodiversity:

• Protect our public lands, water supplies, biological diversity, parks, and pollinators. Ban neonicotinoids and other pesticides that threaten the survival of bees, butterflies, and other pollinators.

• Label GMOs, and put a moratorium on new GMOs and pesticides until they are proven safe.

• Support organic and regenerative agriculture, permaculture, and sustainable forestry.

• Protect the rights of future generations. Adopt the Precautionary Principle. When an activity poses threats of harm to human health or the environment, in the absence of objective scientific consensus that it is safe, precautionary measures should be taken. The proponent of an activity, rather than the public, should bear the burden of proof. • Invest in clean air, water, food and soil for everyone.

• Enact stronger environmental justice laws and measures to ensure that low-

income and communities of color are not disproportionately impacted by harmful pollution and other negative environmental and health effects.

• Support conversion to sustainable, nontoxic materials and the use of closed-

loop, zero waste processes.

5. THE INTERNET

The Internet has become a foundation of economic, social, law enforcement, and military activity. What steps will you take to protect vulnerable infrastructure and institutions from cyber attack, and to provide for national security while protecting personal privacy on electronic devices and the internet?

The Internet and the access to information it provides is an extremely important resource for the entire world. Here is how we will protect and improve the Internet:

• Protect the free Internet. Oppose the Online Piracy Act and all other legislation that would undermine freedom and equality on the Internet.

• Vigorously defend net neutrality.

• Support public broadband Internet.

• Negotiate international treaty banning cyberwarfare; create a new UN agency tasked with identifying the sources of cyber attacks.

6. MENTAL HEALTH

Mental illness is among the most painful and stigmatized diseases, and the National Institute of Mental Health estimates it costs America more than $300 billion per year. What will you do to reduce the human and economic costs of mental illness?

As part of a Medicare for All universal health care system we need a mental health care system that safeguards human dignity, respects individual autonomy, and protects informed consent. In addition to full funding for mental health care, this means making it easier for the chronically mentally ill to apply for and receive Supplemental Security Income, and funding programs to increase public awareness of and sensitivity to the needs of the mentally ill and differently abled.

We must ensure that the government takes all steps necessary to fully diagnose and treat the mental health conditions resulting from service in combat zones, including post-traumatic stress disorder.

We will also release prisoners with diagnosed mental disorders to secure mental health treatment centers, and ensure psychological and medical care and rehabilitation services for mentally ill prisoners.

7. ENERGY

Strategic management of the US energy portfolio can have powerful economic, environmental, and foreign policy impacts. How do you see the energy landscape evolving over the next 4 to 8 years, and, as President, what will your energy strategy be?

Our Green New Deal plan prioritizes a rapid transition to 100% clean renewable energy. Our energy strategy will also include:

• Enact energy democracy based on public, community and worker ownership of our energy system. Treat energy as a human right.

• Redirect research funds from fossil fuels into renewable energy and conservation. Build a nationwide smart electricity grid that can pool and store power from a diversity of renewable sources, giving the nation clean, democratically-controlled energy.

• End destructive energy extraction and associated infrastructure: fracking, tar sands, offshore drilling, oil trains, mountaintop removal, natural gas pipelines, and uranium mines. Halt any investment in fossil fuel infrastructure, including natural gas, and phase out all fossil fuel power plants. Phase out nuclear power and end nuclear subsidies. End all subsidies for fossil fuels and impose a greenhouse gas fee / tax to charge polluters for the damage they have created.

8. EDUCATION

American students have fallen in many international rankings of science and math performance, and the public in general is being faced with an expanding array of major policy challenges that are heavily influenced by complex science. How would your administration work to ensure all students including women and minorities are prepared to address 21st century challenges and, further, that the public has an adequate level of STEM literacy in an age dominated by complex science and technology?

Education is critically important to the future of our world. Here is how we will ensure that our students receive the best education possible:

• Guarantee tuition-free, world-class public education from pre-school through university.

• Abolish student debt to free a generation of Americans from debt servitude and eliminate economic barriers to higher education.

• Protect our public school systems from privatization.

• Replace Common Core with curriculum developed by educators, not corporations, with input from parents and communities.

• Restore arts, music and recreation to school curriculums.

• Ensure racially inclusive, sensitive and relevant curriculums.

• Recognize poverty as the key obstacle to learning. Ensure that kids come to school ready to learn: healthy, nourished, secure and free from violence.

• Increase federal funding of public schools to equalize public school funding.

9. PUBLIC HEALTH

Public health efforts like smoking cessation, drunk driving laws, vaccination, and water fluoridation have improved health and productivity and save millions of lives. How would you improve federal research and our public health system to better protect Americans from emerging diseases and other public health threats, such as antibiotic resistant superbugs?

A Medicare For All single payer healthcare system would place health as the bottom line rather than industry profits, which is fundamental for improving public health.

A Medicare For All system would:

• allow health data to be aggregated on a population-wide scale (much of it is currently held in secret as proprietary information by private companies like health insurers) so that trends and outbreaks could be monitored.

• permit assessment of the health needs of the entire population to be determined so that priorities could be set based on areas of need and funds could be given to institutions that would focus on solutions to priority areas.

• drive public policy to pursue a greater public health and preventative approach because having a healthier population would save money.

• cover every person living in the United States and would remove financial barriers to care. This means that people with infectious diseases and other conditions that impact the population would have access to care when they need it.

10. WATER

The long-term security of fresh water supplies is threatened by a dizzying array of aging infrastructure, aquifer depletion, pollution, and climate variability. Some American communities have lost access to water, affecting their viability and destroying home values. If you are elected, what steps will you take to ensure access to clean water for all Americans?

We need a national comprehensive water plan.

Clean water is a human right. The Green New Deal's focus on infrastructure will help prevent future poisoned drinking water crises like that in Flint, Michigan.

Rejuvenating the federal Superfund program will help clean up the polluted drinking water of millions of Americans.

11. NUCLEAR POWER

Nuclear power can meet electricity demand without producing greenhouse gases, but it raises national security and environmental concerns. What is your plan for the use, expansion, or phasing out of nuclear power, and what steps will you take to monitor, manage and secure nuclear materials over their life cycle?

Nuclear fission technology is unsafe, expensive, and dirty from the mining of uranium to the disposal of spent fuel. As such we will end subsidies to the nuclear industry immediately and phase out nuclear power over a 10 year timeline. Existing nuclear waste will be handled with onsite dry cask storage of high-level waste into perpetuity. No transport of nuclear waste.

12. FOOD

Agriculture involves a complex balance of land and energy use, worker health and safety, water use and quality, and access to healthy and affordable food, all of which have inputs of objective knowledge from science. How would you manage the US agricultural enterprise to our highest benefit in the most sustainable way?

We need a food system that is healthy and sustainable. To this end, we will:

• Invest in clean air, water, food and soil for everyone.

• Ban neonicotinoids and other pesticides that threaten the survival of bees, butterflies, and other pollinators.

• Label GMOs, and put a moratorium on GMOs and pesticides until they are proven safe.

• Support organic and regenerative agriculture, permaculture, and sustainable forestry.

• Protect the rights of future generations. Adopt the Precautionary Principle. When an activity poses threats of harm to human health or the environment, in the absence of objective scientific consensus that it is safe, precautionary measures should be taken. The proponent of an activity, rather than the public, should bear the burden of proof.

• Redirect the Dept of Agriculture to meet the needs of small farmers to realize these goals.

13. GLOBAL CHALLENGES

We now live in a global economy with a large and growing human population. These factors create economic, public health, and environmental challenges that do not respect national borders. How would your administration balance national interests with global cooperation when tackling threats made clear by science, such as pandemic diseases and climate change, that cross national borders?

We need a foreign policy based on diplomacy, international law and respect for human rights. By strengthening international institutions, we lay the groundwork for greater cooperation on critical challenges such as climate change and pandemic diseases.

14. REGULATIONS

Science is essential to many of the laws and policies that keep Americans safe and secure. How would science inform your administration's decisions to add, modify, or remove federal regulations, and how would you encourage a thriving business sector while protecting Americans vulnerable to public health and environmental threats?

We will rely on evidence-based approaches to regulation. Science advisors will play a central role in our administration. We will appoint scientific review panels and committees.

Some guiding principles for our approach to regulation:

• Protect the rights of future generations. Adopt the Precautionary Principle. When an activity poses threats of harm to human health or the environment, in the absence of objective scientific consensus that it is safe, precautionary measures should be taken. The proponent of an activity, rather than the public, should bear the burden of proof.

• Redirect research funds from fossil fuels into renewable energy and conservation, as well as other technologies that promote the transition to a sustainable civilization.

• Enact stronger environmental justice laws and measures to ensure that low-

income and communities of color are not disproportionately impacted by harmful pollution and other negative environmental and health effects.

15. VACCINATION

Public health officials warn that we need to take more steps to prevent international epidemics from viruses such as Ebola and Zika. Meanwhile, measles is resurgent due to decreasing vaccination rates. How will your administration support vaccine science?

Vaccines are a critical part of our public health system. Vaccines prevent serious epidemics that would cause harm to many people and that is why they are a foundation to a strong public health system. Polio is an important example. So is H Flu—a bacteria that caused serious illness, including meningitis, in 20,000 children a year in the US, before development of the H flu vaccine. We need universal health care as a right to ensure that everyone has access to critical vaccines.

Experts like Douglas Diekema, MD MPH say that the best way to overcome resistance to vaccination is to acknowledge and address concerns and build trust with hesitant parents. To reverse the problem of declining vaccination rates, we need to increase trust in our public health authorities and all scientific agencies. We can do that by removing corporate influence from our regulatory agencies to eliminate apparent conflicts of interest and show skeptics, in this case vaccine-resistant parents, that the motive behind vaccination is protecting their children’s health, not increasing profits for pharmaceutical companies.

16. SPACE

There is a political debate over America’s national approach to space exploration and use. What should America's national goals be for space exploration and earth observation from space, and what steps would your administration take to achieve them?

We recognize the inspiration provided by space exploration and so we support:

1. the peaceful exploration of space

2. space-based systems to monitor environmental conditions on Earth

3. measures to ensure that space technology benefits all the people of Earth Space exploration and science are international scientific endeavours requiring cooperation between many nations and peoples across borders. The peaceful exploration of space provides inspiration, education, and valuable scientific knowledge. Cooperation on space science and exploration is a promising path to peace. The US has an opportunity to continue leading in space science while ending space militarization. The US can lead international collaboration in space science and exploration without privatizing outer space or turning over space science and exploration efforts to corporations.

Climate science, including the study of other planets in our solar system and beyond, is essential for understanding how to address climate change on Earth. Space science, exploration, and Earth observation provide tools, technologies, and science to help address not only climate change but flooding, drought, storms, famine, and other crises. By focusing US space efforts away from corporate and military interests, we can work to create peace here on Earth and in space, prevent the deployment of space weapons and instead focus on technologies to solve problems on Earth, not create new ones.

Here are steps we will take to advance space exploration and science:

• Funding STEM education and forgiving student debt of STEM scholars so they can focus on science and research.

• Signing of the International Treaty for the Demilitarization of Space.

• Ensuring scientists, not corporate or military interests, are driving the space exploration and science agenda

• Ensure funding of pure research, for the benefit of all humanity and our planet.

• Work closely with the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) on ensuring the peaceful exploration of space.

17. OPIOIDS

There is a growing opioid problem in the United States, with tragic costs to lives, families and society. How would your administration enlist researchers, medical doctors and pharmaceutical companies in addressing this issue?

We will end the "war on drugs” and redirect funds presently budgeted for the "war on drugs" toward expanded research, education, counseling and treatment.

18. OCEAN HEALTH

There is growing concern over the decline of fisheries and the overall health of the ocean: scientists estimate that 90% of stocks are fished at or beyond sustainable limits, habitats like coral reefs are threatened by ocean acidification, and large areas of ocean and coastlines are polluted. What efforts would your administration make to improve the health of our ocean and coastlines and increase the long-term sustainability of ocean fisheries?

Our climate action and environmental protection plans will work to conserve fish stocks and coral reefs. Rapid response to climate change is the centerpiece of the Stein administration. From plastic trash to ocean acidification, we will move smartly to address ocean health with or without Congress.

19. IMMIGRATION

There is much current political discussion about immigration policy and border controls. Would you support any changes in immigration policy regarding scientists and engineers who receive their graduate degree at an American university? Conversely, what is your opinion of recent controversy over employment and the H1-B Visa program?

We support the H1-B Visa program. However, we must look at it in the context of overall immigration policy, trade, economic and military policies. In the big picture, we are concerned about a global economy in which people have to leave their home countries to find decent jobs. We support more just international development and demilitarization, so that people don’t have to go half way around the world to find just employment.

20. SCIENTIFIC INTEGRITY

Evidence from science is the surest basis for fair and just public policy, but that is predicated on the integrity of that evidence and of the scientific process used to produce it, which must be both transparent and free from political bias and pressure. How will you foster a culture of scientific transparency and accountability in government, while protecting scientists and federal agencies from political interference in their work?

It is a major concern that many Americans don’t trust our scientific and regulatory agencies, and extremely unfortunate that there are valid reasons for this declining trust that must be addressed.

For example, the current FDA commissioner appointed by President Obama was a highly paid consultant for big pharmaceutical corporations, as Senator Sanders pointed out in opposing his nomination. In the case of Vioxx, the FDA approved a profitable pain reliever that caused up to 140,000 cases of heart disease, and even tried to silence its own scientists who discovered this deadly side effect.

The CDC actually accepts huge amounts of money from big pharmaceutical corporations, as an investigation by the British Medical Journal revealed. So many scientists, doctors and watchdog groups have flagged these clear conflicts of interest in the FDA, CDC and other federal agencies.

As President I would stop the revolving door and clean up these agencies so that the American people can trust that they’re putting people over profits, and science over lobbying interests.


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