The following remark appeared in a SEED magazine editorial, endorsing then Senator Barack Obama for president: "President Bush . . . turned the very act of defying science into an art, and in so doing diminished US competitiveness and disenfranchised the country's source of innovation." However, the facts do not support the claim that President George W. Bush defied or ignored science.
Science Budget During the Bush Administration
John H. Marburger, the science advisor to President Bush and director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, explains that federal research expenditures during the Bush years increased: Civilian Research and Development increased 31% over the Clinton years; Basic Research increased by 42% over Clinton's budget, and Research and Development's total increased also by 42%.
Stem Cell Research
Bush opponent David Corn published an article in Mother Jones magazine titled, "In Lifting Bush's Stem Cell Research Ban, Obama Removes a Bush Lie." The title alone offers a useful example of the erroneous claim that Bush banned stem cell research. Again, the facts do not support this false charge. In fact, presidents do not have the authority to ban any research. They do, however, have the authority to veto legislation that supports research that they do not deem worthy.
Bill Clinton Opposed Stem-Cell Research
According to William Hurlbut of the Stanford University Medical Center Neuroscience Institute, in 1994, President Clinton asked the National Institute of Health (NIH) to form a panel to study the issue of funding ESC research. The panel concluded that it would be appropriate to use embryos that were going to be tossed out anyway.
But the panel also added in some cases it would be fine to create new embryos for research. Clinton, however, rightly objected, and he said he would not sanction creating embryos to destroy them. He asked the NIH to set up guidelines that would resolve this dilemma; then congress passed the Dickey Amendment that prohibits destroying or even endangering embryos for research.
So this is where Bush enters: he did not ignore the issue, he could not ignore it. He actually chose a middle ground regarding federal funding of stem cell research. He vetoed funding for stem cell lines created after August 2001. There were already older lines that had been used for research, and he funded those, making him the first president to fund stem cell research. He also encouraged skin cell research, which so far has been more successful than embryonic stem cell research.
Global Warming a.k.a Climate Change
Like the Clinton administration, the Bush administration did not favor the Kyoto treaty for two main reasons: (1) it would cost American jobs; (2) it would have little impact unless China and India signed on also. And those two countries adamantly opposed Kyoto.
President Bush moved cautiously regarding this GWT (Global Warming Theory). In an October 2000 presidential debate with Al Gore, Bush said when asked about GWT: "It's an issue that we need to take very seriously. But I'm not going to let the US carry the burden for cleaning up the world's air, like the Kyoto treaty would have done. China and India were exempted from that treaty." The moderator of the debate pointed out that under the Clinton administration, the Senate rejected Kyoto, and Bush added, "99 to nothing."
The following is another October 2000 debate exchange between candidates Bush and Gore on the GWT:
BUSH: It's an issue that we need to take very seriously. I don't think we know the solution to global warming yet and I don�t think we've got all the facts before we make decisions.The complaint from Bush adversaries is that he rejected GWT, which he did not. He questioned it as a candidate, and then as president he encouraged greater use of nuclear energy and called for ways to end America's "addiction to oil."
GORE: But I disagree that we don�t know the cause of global warming. I think that we do. It's pollution, carbon dioxide and other chemicals that are even more potent. Look, the world's temperatures going up, weather patterns are changing, storms are getting more violent and unpredictable. And what are we going to tell our children?
BUSH: Yeah, I agree. Some of the scientists, I believe, haven't they been changing their opinion a little bit on global warming? There's a lot of differing opinions and before we react I think it's best to have the full accounting, full understanding of what's taking place.