Intellectual infrastructure

On his DotEarth blog at the NYT, Andrew Revkin talks about the need to rebuild the nation’s intellectual infrastructure as part of the growing call to center an economic revival around so-called “green jobs”.

Rebuilding the actual physical infrastructure is all well and good, he argues, before going on to declare that so far there is very little public talk about the massive spending on non-defense research and development that would be required to make such a “green” economic revival possible.

His points all make complete sense; yes, money alone will not help the technical problems and yes, we need to reestablish science as a pillar of our educational system.

Yet with many research universities facing massive devaluations of their endowments and higher education becoming less affordable (if not impossible) for even many upper-middle-class families, I wonder if there will be enough properly educated domestic brainpower to even conduct the amount of R&D Revkin calls for.

At the risk of being called a socialist1, I don’t see any reason why part of an economic recovery plan can’t include federal grants for college students who pursue science degrees related to the green technologies being tapped as the key to an economic turnaround. That’s not to say that other fields aren’t as important, but if we’re collectively agreeing that we’re fundamentally behind in R&D in the green science we’re depending on to pull us out of recession, shouldn’t we be enabling the intellectual infrastructure by actually getting students into research programs?

  1. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time.
posted 12/11/08 at 11:36am to Our Doomed Planet, Politics, Science! · 1 reply · permalink