America's Best Ally:
Science & Technology.
In order to fuel a true American restoration, we must wholeheartedly embrace science and technology research, development and education. How? With a significant funding commitment, cabinet-level leadership and greater federal coordination, the U.S. S&T infrastructure will tackle the greatest challenges of our time: from food, water and energy security to lessening the threat of future pandemics to curbing climate disruption.Endorse the Action Plan
Our nation’s future is in question. Science and technology must guide the way forward.
Our economy, national security and quality of life hang on answering these challenges.
- Combating climate change and disruption
- Confronting COVID-19 and other public health issues
- Addressing food and water security
- Securing sufficient energy production, utilization and storage
We are witnessing a period of unprecedented climate disruption and extreme weather events. 2020 was the worst fire year on record for the West Coast, with more than 10.3 million acres set ablaze, two dozen deaths, and unprecedented levels of air pollution, which evidence suggests will lead to excess morbidity and early mortality for those exposed. Simultaneously, the southern U.S. experienced one of the most intense hurricane seasons on record. Hurricane Laura, which made landfall in Louisiana in August, was the strongest hurricane since 1856.
As the biggest health crisis in more than a century, the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the importance of strengthening and reinvesting in our public health infrastructure. Decades of investment in basic biomedical research and rapid private sector innovation paved the way for speedy development of the coronavirus vaccines — the moon landing of our time. But the U.S. is still not prepared for the next widespread health emergency. From the next pandemic to the opioid epidemic, from a growing mental health crisis to chronic diseases that affect millions of Americans like heart disease, Alzheimer’s, cancer and rare diseases, our greatest health challenges will not and cannot be met without elevated, sustained funding and a national strategy.
In the last two decades, more than 50% of the continental U.S. has already experienced drought conditions. Furthermore, nearly half of U.S. freshwater basins may not be able to meet monthly water demand by 2071. This will especially impact American agriculture as it accounts for three-quarters of the annual consumption from these basins, resulting in difficult decisions on resource allocation of our most vital forms of sustenance. The U.S. must ensure that it can continue to produce enough food and provide water to meet the needs of its population.
The U.S. has fallen to 12th in energy RD&D investment and is losing ground in areas such as clean energy innovation and nuclear power generation to countries like China. This is despite a history of successful returns on this kind of investment: A recent Department of Energy report found that every federal dollar invested in energy R&D from 1975 to 2015 yielded $32 in net economic benefits. Prioritizing investment in our energy infrastructure will have a broader global impact, such as cutting CO2 emissions, and on an individual-household level, including lowering energy bills.
We can solve these crises, but only if we dramatically expand public investment in science and technology.
We Must Act Now
These three actions will move us toward a new era of innovation, prosperity and safety:
Double federal expenditure for R&D and STEM education from 0.7% to 1.4% relative to GDP over the next five years, for a total investment of $380 billion in that time span.
Endow the OSTP Director, now a cabinet-level position, with the resources and budgetary authority needed to address society’s most pressing issues.
Reinvent and reinvigorate cross-agency collaboration across the 20+ federal departments and agencies conducting R&D to harness the full power of our public science and technology enterprise.
WE MUST ALL STAND UNITED BEHIND SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY.
Academia, industry and the S&T community have endorsed our Action Plan. But Washington needs to hear from every corner of the U.S. that the existential challenges we face today can only be overcome by prioritizing science and technology at the federal level.
ABOUT THE SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY ACTION COMMITTEE
We’re a non-partisan coalition of non-profit, academic, foundation and corporate leaders working to dramatically strengthen science and technology.
The Committee is co-chaired by:
Keep up to date with our progress as we work to unleash American scientific and technical ingenuity against our burgeoning threats.
Science and technology are critical to our nation’s future, but America invests just 0.7 percent of GDP in R&D today versus 1.9 percent in 1964. The U.S. has fallen to 14th globally in public investment in science and technology as a percentage of GDP. There is, however, a growing recognition that existential societal challenges, as well as maintaining global competitiveness, demand that we dramatically elevate U.S. investment in science and technology.
Competition among scientists and nations could end Alzheimer’s disease, cancer and AIDS, keep our nation technologically secure and help us feed and power the world as we address climate change. But instead of investing in the science and technology to maintain our competitive edge, U.S. investments are waning as China’s advantage has grown.
Falling behind in R&D would hinder our ability to attract top science, technology, engineering and mathematics students and talent from the U.S. and abroad and continue to compete in the global economic arena.
The Jan. 20 news article “Biden to give White House science office Cabinet status” reported on the Biden administration’s plan to elevate the importance of science and technology to tackle the greatest challenges of our time — from food, water and energy security to the threat of further pandemics to climate challenges. President Biden should be lauded for taking this important step, which will bring rigorous scientific thinking to the highest level of government, and he should be congratulated for bringing together top scientific minds to lead the White House science team, including the nomination of Eric Lander to Office of Science and Technology Policy director.