A love of science, some geeky jokes, some well crafted banners, and some bad singing – Trish and I fitted in well at the Science is Vital rally on Saturday. It was organised very quickly as an emergency response to the proposed budget costs. So here are our thoughts on the issues and a link to the song (cringe).
It got me thinking about our (OK maybe ‘our government’) obsession with the short term. A lady spoke well about Alzheimer’s research. Her mother recently died after suffering for 8 years so she saw firsthand how inadequate our treatments are. If we put some of the money that currently goes to the NHS for treating people with inadequate drugs into researching better ones we’d improve lives. Yet that requires a longer term vision, and more funding for science.
The focus on medical research did, however, make me wonder if we too are guilty of short-term thinking. Our long-term wellbeing is dependent on natural resources, but medical funding seems more immediate. Are we spending our science budget in a short-sighted way?
On a lighter note, I had a stylish banner made from, amongst other things, a bamboo hoop that’s meant to inhabit my aunt’s garden but never made it beyond the kitchen. I looked good. And one of the songs is up on my YouTube channel.
The official website is: http://scienceisvital.org.uk/
Listen to the talks on a podcast at: http://poddelusion.co.uk/blog/2010/10/09/science-is-vital-protest-live-updates/
But Trish did a very good job of summing up what the key messages were:
– other countries are investing more in research in times of recession to help get out of trouble, but Britain is cutting funding.
– England doesn’t export much – the service industry (Eg Banks) is not reliable or can easily be exported, these are not sectors that we can depend on. Science is something that is world class in Britain and a sector that can drive the economy
– Researchers in England make up 1% of researchers globally and produce 10% of the good research (most cited papers). The phrase ‘punching above their weight’ was used often.
– Scientists are mobile and will move out of the country to get jobs, this will have a negative impact on the country.
– Scientists earn a fraction of what people in other educated professions receive – how many top graduates start off with a stipend of 13 grand a year?