Why we must invest, invest, invest in science.


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British science over several centuries has seen some of the greatest minds change the face of the world.  Imagining a world where there was no telephone, no TV or perhaps even a world without the internet today and it’s not possible.  We rely so heavily on these devices that we possibly forget the trials and tribulations their creators had to endure, just to get them even slightly resembling something that could be considered profitable.  John Logie Baird, the inventor of the television was almost thrown head first out of the patient office when he entered carrying a large, rickety old box and we all know the hardship endured by Mr Charles Darwin when he published Origin of the Species.  But this world, and this country would be a far more rotten place without Bell’s telephone, Faraday’s motor, Fleming’s Penicillin, Hawking’s Theory on black holes and of course Sir Issac Newton, the founder of modern physics.

Unlike most countries over the centuries, the United kingdom has been free from political and religious freedom when it came to the issue of science.  It almost had a Buddhist view of the subject, that is, if science could prove beyond any doubt that ‘C’ really was the result of ‘A’ + ‘B’ then we must believe it to be so, and all other thoughts must be sent to the rubbish bin.  But the problem, with the continuing economic crash that seems to be affecting all government spending departments; there is a chance that science will be cut and this must not happen.

October 20th, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osbourne, is looking into the public spending review and will consider the implications of whether or not to cut science research and development, but there is a chance that he will receive pressure from other MP’s and other departments to send the tax payers money to other, more pointless areas, such as Trident.  The UK‘s science development has been one of the most viable areas for economic growth in the UK over the last decade.  We don’t have much in the way of manufacturing anymore, and why should we when other countries like China and Germany can do a much better than we ever did, but what we do have is inventors and great minds.  “I’ve got the brains, you’ve got the braun, let’s make pots of money!”

Government money into science can attract inward investment and is a true stimuli to growth.  It makes great business sense!  The Organisation for Economic Co-operation & Development (OECD) says that investment in R & D is vital to the re-growth in a weakened global environment.

Currently the UK invests 2.6% of its GDP on science, compared to 4% in Japan and 3.2% in South Korea.  Even the US has vowed to increase its science budget, with Obama saying: “Science is more essential for our prosperity, our security, our health, our environmental land or quality of life than it has ever been before.” And this, coming from a country that, according to an article in the Observer by Henry Porter, less than half of American adults agree with the statement [that] human beings developed from earlier species of animals, and only a third agreed that the universe began with a big explosion.

We don’t have the opportunity to drill down and discover oodles of oil lying beneath our shores.  Investing in research and development in science is great business that can aid the recovery more than any other industry.  We have the infrastructure to do it, and to develop the high skills needed to promote a high-tech economy of tomorrow.