‘The Science Guy’ Expresses Fiscal Cliff Concerns
From dinosaurs to digestion, Bill Nye the Science Guy captivated preteens across America with his home-grown experiments and kid-friendly science perspective in the early-to-mid 1980s. On Monday, Nye was back in front of the camera, this time, to discuss what fiscal cliff cuts would mean for the future of science in America.
With the fiscal cliff quickly approaching, the potential cuts to the National Institutes of Health (nearly $2.5 billion), NASA ($700 million), and The National Science Foundation ($400 million) have scientists on edge. Of the potential $57.7 billion (8.4 percent) budget cut that federal research and development funds may see over the next five years, the chief executive officer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science said at a Capitol Hill briefing, "It would absolutely devastate the American scientific community exactly at a time when other countries are investing tremendously."
Of the 1,082,370 Americans employed in science fields, close to 31,000 could lose their jobs if sequestration is not prevented, according to the Aerospace Industries Association. That number "does not include the indirect job losses, such as subcontractors, suppliers and vendors, or the induced job impacts," Steve Fuller, director of the Center for Regional Analysis, told Discovery News.
The United States cannot afford to deal this blow to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) jobs and job creation. Some graduate students are already discouraged from pursuing academic STEM careers due to funding strains. "If that situation becomes worse, I think the impact on the future of the country in terms of our innovation workforce will be devastating," the University of Washington's vice provost for research commented.
"What makes the U.S. economy what it is is innovation—this tradition of doing new things or of ingenuity. The reason people still come to the U.S. to get educated...is because of our tradition of innovation and doing things new." Bill Nye said on Current TV.
Whatever Congress decides, Nye said, the deal will have a lasting impact on the American psyche, in addition to STEM fields and the economy.
"What space exploration really does for our society is raise our expectations of what is possible. Of what we can do," he said.
Jennifer Hicks is a Communications Intern for Campus Progress.