Let the data tell the story.
Several years of economic growth have benefited investment in science, technology, and innovation. Business investment has increased and consumer spending has rebounded. This has increased demand for innovative products, processes, and services, and with it demand for scientific and technical knowledge. Improved corporate profitability has paved the way for growing investment in intellectual assets, including research and development (R&D), human resources, and intellectual property.
The Council on Competitiveness released its flagship publication, Competitiveness Index: Where America Stands, last November. While the United States remains the global economic leader, the Index makes the case that its position is not guaranteed. The data and our analysis clearly point to a changing global environment, confirming the need to revisit how the United States will sustain its past position of economic strength and dominance under these new circumstances. The growth of emerging economies will reduce the U.S. share of the global economy, but it is unclear exactly how this will affect U.S. prosperity.
Everybody has ideas about how to solve traffic congestion, but the job is trickier than it seems, as a new report examining recent trends in computing patterns makes clear. Commuting in America III, published in October 2006 by the National Academies’ Transportation Research Board, finds that commuting patterns continue to evolve in complex and often surprising ways. The difficulty of accurately predicting the future presents obvious problems for policymakers.
In his State of the Union address on January 31, 2006, President Bush called for more research on alternative energy technologies to help wean the country from its oil dependence. The proposal was not surprising: After all, R&D investment has long been a staple of government efforts to deal with national challenges.
The high level of participation of international scientists and engineers in U.S. laboratories and classrooms warrants increased efforts to understand this phenomenon and to ensure that policies regarding the movement and activities of highly trained individuals are sufficiently open and flexible to keep pace with the changing nature of research and technology.
The federal government and private industry are both reducing their investments in energy research and development (R&D) at a time when geopolitics, environmental concerns, and economic competitiveness call instead for a major expansion in U.S. capacity to innovate in this sector. Although the Bush administration lists energy research as a “highpriority national need” and points to the recently passed energy bill as evidence of action, the 2005 federal budget reduced energy R&D by 11 percent from 2004. The American Association for the Advancement of Science projects a decline in federal energy R&D of 18 percent by 2009. Meanwhile, and arguably most troubling, the lack of vision on energy is damaging the business environment for existing and startup energy companies. Investments in energy R&D by U.S. companies fell by 50 percent between 1991 and 2003.
People living in the United States or any industrialized nation take safe drinking water for granted. But in much of the developing world, access to clean water is not guaranteed. According to the World Health Organization, more than 1.2 billion people lack access to clean water, and more than 5 million people die every year from contaminated water or water-related diseases.
With prospects for economic growth improving across the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) region, renewed attention is being directed to ways of tapping into science, technology, and innovation to achieve economic and societal objectives. As OECD economies become more knowledge-based and competition from emerging countries such as China and India increases, OECD countries will become more reliant on the creation, diffusion, and exploitation of scientific and technological knowledge to enhance growth and productivity.
Alcohol use by young people is dangerous, not only because of the risks associated with acute impairment, but also because of the threat to their long-term development and well-being. Traffic crashes are perhaps the most visible of these dangers, with alcohol being implicated in nearly one-third of youth traffic fatalities. Underage alcohol use is also associated with violence, suicide, educational failure, and other problem behaviors. All of these problems are magnified by early onset of teen drinking: the younger the drinker, the worse the problem. Moreover, frequent heavy drinking by young adolescents can lead to mild brain damage. The social cost of underage drinking has been estimated at billion including billion from traffic crashes and billion from violent crime.
The global scientific landscape is changing. During the past decade, many governments, convinced that their economic futures lay with knowledge-based economies, sought to strengthen national research and education. Increased foreign scientific competitiveness may be little noticed from within the U.S. research community, whose output still dwarfs that of any other country. Nevertheless, in aggregate these shifts are beginning to have an impact on U.S. research.
Cities are home to nearly half of the world's population, and over the next 30 years most of the 2-billion-person increase in global population is expected to occur in cities and towns in poor countries. In many parts of the world, this represents a radical departure from what occurred during the past 25 years, when the pattern of growth was much more evenly divided between urban and rural areas.
A university-related research park is a cluster of technology-based organizations (consisting primarily of private-sector research companies but also of selected federal and state research agencies and not-for-profit research foundations) that locate on or near a university campus in order to benefit from its knowledge base and research activities. A university is motivated to develop a research park by the possibility of financial gain associated with technology transfer, the opportunity to have faculty and students interact at the applied level with research organizations, and a desire to contribute to regional economic growth. Research organizations are motivated by the opportunity for access to eminent faculty and their students and university research equipment, as well as the possibility of fostering research synergies.
The death of a child is a special sorrow, an enduring loss for surviving mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, other family members, and close friends. No matter the circumstances, a child's death is a life-altering experience. In 1999, approximately 55,000 children ages 0 to 19 died in the United States.
Despite the economic slowdown that spread across the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) area in 2001, investment in and exploitation of knowledge remain key drivers of innovation economic performance, and social well-being. Over the past decade, investments in knowledge--as measured by expenditures on research and development (R&D), higher education, and software--grew more rapidly than did gross fixed capital formation and played an important role in driving economic growth.
Who should control the human genes used in research? (a) George Bush, (b) Leon Kass, (c) corporate America, (d) Kofi Annan, (e) you? If you said (d) or (e) you are in tune with the views of the general public, according to a recent poll. If you guessed wrong, you may be in for more surprises. Science policy experts assume that they have a pretty good understanding of where the public stands on current science-related debates. But sometimes it makes sense to ask.
The United States is a world leader in developing and using new technology, and this is widely recognized as being largely responsible for the country's economic success. One would expect Americans to be very knowledgeable about technology and about national technological literacy. The reality is that very little is known about U.S. technological literacy. In an effort to help fill this data gap, the International Technology Education Association (ITEA), which represents the interests of technology teachers, commissioned a Gallup poll on technological literacy and released the results in January 2002. Complete results are available at www.iteawww.org.
Much of what Americans think they know about people without health insurance is wrong. National polling data and market research reveal that the popular wisdom is that the number of uninsured people is small, includes largely healthy young adults who volutarily forego coverage or are unemployed, that recent immigrants account for much of the increase in the number, and that the uninsured manage somehow to get the medical care that they need. Peer-reviewed findings from health services research, economics, and the clinical literature paint a markedly different picture: The United States has a longstanding, sizable, and growing uninsured population of about 40 million people, roughly one out of every seven Americans, and being uninsured can have serious medical and economic consequences, not only for individuals but for their families as well.
No other mode of transportation comes close to the automobile as a cause of death and injury.
How important is population growth to current global biodiversity loss? Although there is no credible numerical answer to that question, the bulk of the evidence suggests that population growth is and has been an important underlying cause of biodiversity loss. Perhaps most worrisome is that some of the most rapid human population growth is occurring in the vicinity of some of the world's biologically richest yet most vulnerable habitats.
The decade of the 1990s has seen considerable change in the career patterns for new doctorates in science and engineering. It was once common for new doctorates to move directly from their graduate studies into tenure track appointments in academic institutions. Now it is more likely that they will find employment in other sectors or have nonfaculty research positions. This change has created a great deal of uncertainty in career plans and may be the reason for recent decreases in the number of doctorates awarded in many science and engineering fields.