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Opinion: Need to increase funding for scientific research and education

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Earlier this month, NASA released its first photo taken from the James Webb Space Telescope. Humble photographs show galaxies millions of light-years away, reminding us of how small our planet is in space.

US military spending in 2020 was $ 766.58 billion. The completion of the Webb Space Telescope was $ 10 billion and took more than 30 years. Can you imagine what more than billions of years, perhaps taken from the military budget, will do for the next space telescope?

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson wrote in his book Accessory to War, “At the speed we are doing, the United States is the main purpose of ambitious young scientists from developing countries. It will not be the earth. ”

More money is also equal to more high-end equipment that attracts the best researchers. If the scientific opportunity in the United States is not offered anywhere else, it will attract the best scientists the world has to offer.

Investing in science education is as important as research. The United States is not spending enough money to allow other countries to exceed the level of academic excellence of universities.

It is worth noting that US students pay far more to college than students from other countries implementing space programs. The United States maintains a small lead in education spending among major space flight nations. According to the World Bank, education accounted for 4.9% of US GDP as of 2018, with Russia spending 4.7% and India spending 4.5%.

Increasing funding for education, especially at the university level, will in turn increase the number of scientists the United States can produce and help the United States remain competitive with other countries.

We are no longer in the Cold War. Soviets and Americans are not the only ones fighting for space dominance. Both Russia and China have achieved manned space flight. According to the World Population Review, Italy, India, Japan and nine other countries can also complete space missions. For those interested in space education and research, the United States is no longer the only option.

This is in line with the decline in funding for space research in the United States. NASA’s federal budget share peaked between 1960 and 1975. During that time, it accounted for an average of 2.1% of the total federal budget.

Since the early 1990s, NASA’s budget share has been steadily declining, from 1.05% in 1991 to 0.48% in 2020, down more than 50%. Can you imagine the scientific progress that American scientists could achieve if they raised money at a past rate?

According to Pew Research, science has the overwhelming majority of support in the United States. 73% of adults in the United States believe that “science has almost a positive impact on society.” 82% expect to see future scientific discoveries to improve society. These discoveries only occur due to increased funding and an increase in the society of scientific literacy.

The United States is in desperate need of technological and scientific progress. If the United States wants to remain economically relevant in a post-industrial society, it needs a significant increase in science education and research funding.

Carter DeJong is a secular humanist studying journalism at IU.