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Como a Ciência escapou da Foice do Orçamento — até agora…

segunda-feira, 9 maio 2011; \19\UTC\UTC\k 19 1 comentário

O original, pode ser encontrado aqui: How Science Eluded the Budget Ax — For Now (DOI: 10.1126/science.332.6028.407).

É importantíssimo de se colocar esta notícia em comparação não só com os cortes oçamentários americanos, mas também com os cortes brasileiros: Brazil cuts its science budget, Brazil’s budget cut dismays scientists. De fato, duas comparações bastante interessante são as seguintes: percentual do corte orçamentário (o Brasil cortou o orçamento de Pesquisa e Desenvolvimento em ~13%), e proporção do investimento em Pesquisa e Desenvolvimento em relação ao PIB (o Brasil investe ~1.25% do PIB em Pesquisa e Desenvolvimento).

É dentro deste contexto que a crise econômica mundial foi apenas uma “marola” no Brasil…

When details of the 11th-hour budget compromise that kept the U.S. government running emerged last week, it became clear that science programs fared relatively well. True, most research agencies will have less to spend this year than they did in 2010 (see table), and the totals generally fall well short of what President Barack Obama had requested when he submitted his 2011 budget 14 months ago. But the legislators and Administration officials who struck the spending deal managed to slice $38.5 billion from a total discretionary budget of $1.09 trillion without crippling research activities. How did that happen?

US Research Funding Budget

First and foremost, both Republicans and Democrats were working off a quiet but powerful consensus on the importance of science to economic prosperity. Last fall, Congress authorized steady increases for three key science agencies in a renewal of the America COMPETES Act, and Obama’s recent statements on the 2011 negotiations emphasized the need to continue investing in clean energy and medical research as the overall budget is cut. Second, Senate Democratic leaders had crafted a spending plan in March that, although it failed to pass the full Senate, showed how it could be done. Finally, the so-called cardinals, who chair the 12 appropriations panels in the House of Representatives and the Senate that oversee every federal agency, found ways to protect research while trimming other programs to satisfy the deal’s bottom line.

“There was no magic to it,” explains Representative Frank Wolf (R–VA), whose panel has jurisdiction over the National Science Foundation (NSF), NASA, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Institute of Standards and Technology within the Commerce Department. “Science has been a priority for me and the other longtime members of the committee because you’re talking about jobs and about helping America maintain its economic leadership,” says the veteran legislator, who entered Congress in 1981. “There has not been any controversy about this.”

His appropriations counterpart, Senator Barbara Mikulski (D–MD), says she hopes that consensus will translate into “smart cuts that don’t cost us our future. I support science funding that can spur American discovery and ingenuity to create jobs for today and jobs for tomorrow.”

Of course, a passion for science wouldn’t have been enough to carry the day without the numbers to back it up. That’s clear from the actions of the commerce, justice, and science (CJS) panels that Wolf and Mikulski lead.

In February, the Republican-led House passed H.R. 1, which slashed $61 billion from current federal discretionary spending. For Wolf’s spending panel, that translated into $8 billion less than the committee dispensed in 2010. Divvied up among dozens of agencies, the $52.7 billion number forced Wolf to cut $360 million from NSF’s $6.87 billion budget, for example, and $600 million from NASA’s $18.7 billion budget.

In contrast, the 2011 spending plan devised by Senate Democrats gave Mikulski’s CJS panel $53.6 billion to work with. That $900 million difference allowed Mikulski to be kinder to the research agencies under her jurisdiction. It pared $75 million from NSF’s budget and even provided a slight boost to NASA.

“Nineteen billion dollars was authorized, and $19 billion is what I put in my appropriations bill,” Mikulski said at a hearing last week on NASA’s 2012 budget request, referring to both a reauthorization of NASA programs that was enacted last fall and the Senate plan for 2011. “But my [spending] bill died, so NASA won’t get $19 billion.”

The 8 April budget agreement resulted in a CJS allocation of $53.3 billion for each panel. And although that figure is a bit lower than the earlier Senate version, it was enough to turn the two chairs’ support for science into fiscal reality. The Senate bill was a “guide-post showing what could be done within that allocation level,” says a senior staffer at one federal research agency. “Having the Senate offer a road map made a huge difference.”

Wolf says he was happy to be able to deliver most of what science lobbyists had sought for agencies within his jurisdiction. “I thought science ended up pretty well,” Wolf says about the final bill, pointing out that it ranked with the FBI’s fight against global terrorism as his top priority. In contrast, federal support for local and state law enforcement assistance took a big hit, as did other Justice Department programs.

Mikulski believes she did the best she could under the circumstances. But she isn’t happy with the fate of NASA, which employs thousands at its Goddard Space Flight Center outside Washington, D.C., in suburban Maryland. “NASA won’t even get the $18.7 billion it got in 2010,” she said at last week’s hearing. “Simply put, NASA will be cut more.”

With the 2011 budget finally put to bed, Congress is turning to the budget for the 2012 fiscal year that begins on 1 October. In addition to the political bickering over how to reduce a $1.5 trillion annual deficit, legislators will have to deal with the domino effect of the 2011 cuts, as activities that needed increases this year to remain on schedule will be delayed. NSF’s final budget, for example, cuts $48 million from its request to continue building a half-dozen major research facilities, including the newly launched Ocean Observatories Initiative and the National Ecological Observatories Network. A shrunken 2011 budget also means even bigger headaches for NASA’s troubled James Webb Space Telescope.

Striking a positive note, Mikulski told NASA Administrator Charles Bolden last week that “NASA will need to work harder and smarter to accomplish its inspiring mission within a smaller budget.” Wolf was less sanguine. Asked what scientists should do to maintain support for federally funded research in these fiscally stringent times, he offers a one-word strategy: “Pray.”

O Movimento dos Jovens Acadêmicos…

terça-feira, 26 abr 2011; \17\UTC\UTC\k 17 Deixe um comentário

O original, pode ser encontrado aqui: The Young Academy Movement (DOI: 10.1126/science.1206690).

I have often argued on this page that scientists need to do more than simply advance their individual research projects. Maintaining excellence in the global scientific enterprise will require constant adjustments to policies and programs. In addition, much more outreach by scientists will be needed to make science better understood by the general public and by governments. Promising progress toward both of these goals comes from a movement that is forging new organizations of young scientists—the “young academies”—around the world. A few weeks ago, a new international organization, the Global Young Academy, held its initial meeting in Berlin to discuss spreading the idea to many more nations (www.globalyoungacademy.org). This effort deserves full support from of all of society.

In 2000, a new type of organization, Die Junge Akademie (the Young Academy), was created as a joint venture by two German academies. This Young Academy was described as “an organization intended to harness the resources of both academies in ways that would fertilize research fields with new ideas and bolster career pathways, as well as invigorate older academies by involving the young scientific community in critical policy-related work.”* In 2005, a similar Young Academy was established in the Netherlands. The success of these two experiments has recently inspired six other nations to create their own Young Academies: Egypt, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sudan, Thailand, and Uganda; all nations where the tolerance and rationality inherent to science will be invaluable.

I see this empowerment of young scientists as the next step in a process that began in 1993 in New Delhi, when the national academies of sciences from more than 60 nations came together to develop a coherent scientific position on world population issues in preparation for the major 1994 United Nations International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo. This first-ever meeting of the world’s science academies soon created the InterAcademy Panel (IAP), now a vibrant global network of more than 100 member academies (www.interacademies.net). The IAP functions as a mutual support organization for the existing science academies around the world.

But the empowerment of national science academies with distinguished, well-established members can leave a gap between these influential organizations and the young, dynamic scientists who represent the future in each nation. This is precisely the gap that has been filled by the Young Academies: each a group of fewer than 200 scientists, typically selected by their national science academies to serve in 4-year leadership roles. Through its connection to a prestigious national science academy, each Young Academy is empowered to exert national leadership in advancing science through projects that the young scientists themselves determine. These young scientists can often be more effective than their older peers in interactions with society and with politicians. They also bring new energy to these interactions, with a better gender balance due to the advances that women scientists have made in recent decades.

By bringing together outstanding scientists from many different disciplines, Young Academies catalyze the formation of multidisciplinary scientific collaborations that generate innovative new discoveries. Participation in a Young Academy also strengthens a nation’s scientific enterprise by training its next generation of leaders. The work exposes them to important policy issues while building networks of trusted personal relationships that can bridge disciplines for a lifetime. And by providing a shortcut for outstanding young scientists to exert national leadership, Young Academies can be highly effective in recruiting a nation’s most talented students to scientific careers—a critical issue for the future of every nation.

By fusing the promotion of the larger goals of science with an integration of young scientists into public service, the Young Academy movement is well positioned to drive the creation of the tolerant, rational societies that the world so badly needs.

A semana nos arXivs…

sexta-feira, 25 set 2009; \39\UTC\UTC\k 39 Deixe um comentário


A semana nos arXivs…

quarta-feira, 16 set 2009; \38\UTC\UTC\k 38 Deixe um comentário

A Próxima Campanha…

domingo, 15 mar 2009; \11\UTC\UTC\k 11 Deixe um comentário

Enquanto eu estou aqui, entre esperar minha roupa secar e me preparar pra levar o lixo pra fora, decidi dar uma lidinha (um pouco atrasada, é verdade) na última edição da Science que eu tenho aqui, em particular, no editorial,

Deixem-me traduzir esse editorial.

A eleição presidencial dos USA acabou, o presidente já tomou posse. Agora vem o desafio de governar. O Presidente Obama, seu time de liderança, e o 111º Congresso enfrentam problemas atordoantes. Entre os [problemas] mais teimosos dos USA estão aqueles relacionados a prover uma educação de primeiro nível a todas as crianças, atualizando os conhecimentos e habilidades dos pais [dessas crianças], e preparando todos para enfrentar as ameaças e oportunidades do século 21. A comunidade científica precisa tirar vantagem da crescente insatisfação pública com o sistema educacional atual e perguntar como o ensino e aprendizado de ciência pode ser transformado. Resumindo, os cientistas precisam montar a próxima campanha.

Em primeiro lugar, os cientistas precisam ajudar o público adulto a desenvolver um entendimento claro do que é ciência e o que deveria ser educação científica: um modo de descobrir o mundo baseado em evidências e análises lógicas. Um consenso está se formando nas comunidades científica, filantrópica e poĺitica sobre quais devem ser nossos objetivos. Pesquisas feita pela organização sem fins lucrativos “Public Agenda” indicam que os adultos se dão conta de que alguma coisa está faltando na instrução científica, apesar que não necessariamente para seus filhos. Essa tensão pode providenciar o espaço necessário para se introduzir um núcleo comum  de padrões para educação científica através dos USA; investir, enquanto nação, em procedimentos que mensuram o entendimento e habilidade científica que cada criança precisa para ter sucesso na economia global de hoje; e construir esforços vigorosos para recrutar, treinar, e reter os professores de ciências mais efetivos.

Se é para os USA atacar seus vários desafios — incluindo o desenvolvimento duma “economia verde” e fontes alternativas de energia que diminuem o impacto climático e atacam o aquecimento global como, talvez, a maior ameaça que enfrentamos como um planeta — a educação científica tem que ir para o palco e ter o foco principal. O Presidente Obama já reconheceu os desafios de recrutar e recompensar professores de ciência e matemática e de fazer da ciência, como nos anos pós-Sputnik, uma parte mais integral e inspiracional da nossa cultura. Agora nós precisamos tornar esse tipo de visão nacional de longo prazo em realidade orgânica.

Apesar da necessidade de se criar uma base de talentos para carreiras e cidadãos com base científica para o século 21 ser nacional (na verdade, global), a maioria das atividades pra se conseguir tal objetivo é local. Comunicação é necessária para se explicar as contribuições passadas da ciência para o crescimento econômico e o papel tradicional da ciência como um motor de mudança. Os trabalhadores para essa campanha devem ser recrutados, treinados, e postos para trabalhar, desde cientistas acadêmicos, indústrias e negócios, grupos da sociedade cívica, e sindicatos. Fontes devem ser extraídas a partir de filantropistas locais, entendendo a necessidade de se construir a consciência pública e apoio para uma agenda de mudanças. Apoio deve ser alistado da mídia, mas também de grupos comunitários, associações de pais e professores, e aposentados de todas as vertentes políticas. A comunidade científica tem muito a oferecer. Imaginem expandir por ordens de magnitude o número de cientistas e engenheiros aposentados trabalhando com professores e alunos em escolas ou em museus e centros de ciência como docentes; cientistas servindo em comissões educacionais estaduais e conselhos sendo reunidos por vários governadores; e em comunidades locais, cientistas advogando pela educação científica para prefeitos, comissões escolares, e superintendentes e apoiando a implementação com diretores, professores e alunos.

Nessa campanha, os cientistas vão precisar medir “ativos” (“espólios”) nacionais e locais, notando o que já deu resultado em outros lugares, como nos países Nórdicos onde a alfabetização científica é alta. Diferentemente de alguns países, os USA não têm um ministério da educação. Ao invés disso, uma estratégia para transformar a educação científica precisa unir os interesses e ações de 50 estados, 15.000 distritos locais, 3.500 faculdades e universidades, e incontáveis organizações científicas informais que constituem o sistema educacional dos USA. Incentivos federais devem fomentar a colaboração em agregar e compartilhar evidência de experimentos informados por pesquisas, guiados por um núcleo sólido de padrões nacionais para a educação científica. Os estados poderiam começar com lições de décadas de idade aprendidas pela Associação Americana para o Avanço da Ciência (AAAS) e plas Academias Nacionais, e por estados como Massachusetts ou países como Singapura, ambos os quais tiveram performances boas nos testes internacionais.

Apesar de cientistas geralmente ficarem mais confortáveis com a apresentação de fatos do que com a divulgação pública [dos mesmos], a próxima campanha pede que eles façam ambos.

Esse é um “Plano de Nação”, baseado em sólidos e robustos princípios científicos, visando melhorar todo o país: uma idéia simples (usar princípios científicos par melhorar o país, elevando seus padrões científicos e educacionais, trazendo consigo uma multiplicação econômica) com uma implementaçnao estrategicamente planejada.

Pra finalizar, só pra dar uma relaxada, eu preparo vcs pro que está por vir amanhá… Duas Culturas. 😎

Diversão garantida… 😈

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