We need more scientists in the public arena

Now several groups are trying to change that. They want to encourage scientists and engineers to speak out in public debates and even run for public office. When it comes to global warming and a host of other technical issues, “there is a disconnect between what science says and how people perceive what science says,” said Barbara A. Schaal, a biologist and vice president of the National Academy of Sciences. “We need to interact with the public for our good and the public good.”

Dr. Schaal heads the academy’s new Science Ambassador Program in which researchers will be recruited and trained to speak out on their areas of expertise. The effort will start in Pittsburgh, where scientists and engineers who specialize in energy will be encouraged to work with public organizations and agencies…

“Just get involved, the country needs your expertise, your analytical thinking and your approach to issues,” Vernon Ehlers, a physicist who came to Congress in 1993, says in a video on the Sefora Web site. “If you can learn nuclear physics, you can learn politics.”