Sildid

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Teaduste Akadeemia pidas oma aastakonverentsi ehk üldkogu. Põhjaliku ülevaate uue juhatuse esimese aasta otsingutest teaduse kaasajastamisel ja populariseerimisel ning selle tulemustest andis Akadeemia president Tarmo Soomere.

Külaliste sõnavõtud olid pigem kriitilised ja puudutasid teaduse vastutuse ning teadlaste, ühiskonna ja otsustajate vahelisi suhteid:

Samal teemal vt ka ajaleht Sirp:


7. novembril 2015 toimus Ungari parlamendi istungite saalist  otseülekanne Eesti Rooma Klubi liikme, akadeemik Ene Ergma ettekandest üleilmse teadusfoorumi (World Science Forum 2015) plenaaristungil

PARLIAMENTARY SESSION: SCIENCE IN POLICY MAKING

Ettekande teema oli teadlaste osa poliitikas ja poliitikate kujundamisel. Toome siin ära ettekande teksti:

Honorable Chairman, members of the panel, ladies and gentlemen,

Our moderator proposes me a role of demanding side in science advice.

In reality, I am rather in a difficult situation since the main part of my life I have spent in research of astrophysics and only last twelve years I have been in the Parliament and have served ten years as the speaker of the House. Therefore, in my heart, I am a scientist and politics has been a hobby. I suppose that in different countries different models of interaction between politicians and the science community have exercised. My point of view is reflecting the situation in my own country Estonia which only very recently reorganized its political and science systems.

Do governments ask advice from science communities? The answer is “yes” and “no”. Do governments and politicians need the advice? The answer is same “yes” and “no”. When the advice is supporting the leading party or political goals of the coalition then it is welcome. If not then it may be easily rejected.

In Estonia, we have the Research and Development Council, which is headed by the Prime Minister. In this council the leading scientists and politicians, mainly members of the government are working together. Although it is an advisory council in reality some very important decision about Estonian participation on the large scale, the infrastructure projects have been either supported or not based on the decisions of the council. However, many other issues especially concerning public fiscal policy or financial support to some ides of public interest are not very popular topics in this council.

In my opinion, there is still rather a deep gap between politicians and scientists. It mainly is due to different time scales. Since the life time of a politician is very short one – only one election cycle, which usually covers four years then if the politician hopes to get reelected he or she must show what their party has done. So short term seemingly effective projects are welcome. In the research field, especially in hard and life sciences it requires much longer time to find, determine and solve the problems and to find the solutions for the expected change.

For example in 1969, Americans detected some very strange gamma-ray bursts in space, while doing research originally with the goal on hunting possible soviet nuclear explosions. Nobody was able to explain what was really going on. It looked odd because those bursts were impossible to detect in optical, radio and on x-ray wave lengths. Only in 1997 almost 30 years later astronomers were able to locate these bursts in other wave lengths and then it was possible to propose possible origin these events in the past. Scientists are ready to work hard for long time and failure is a natural part of a scientific life. On the other hand, can you suppose that in political life you can support such a risky far-flung project? It might be possible to do it only in one occasion if it is also politically very important one as for example the “Apollo” Moon project or different manned space flights by soviets during the early space times.

How to change the situation? How to reduce the gap between politicians and science community? My solution is simple – we need good lobby group of scientists in every parliament. I think that the best candidates are senior scientists in the age of 55-60+ who already have shown themselves as prominent specialists on their field. This group must keep science issue on the priority level at all times. Please believe me – it is possible.

During my participation in the Parliament, I managed to convince the government that small Estonia also must be a player in the space. For this purpose, in 2006 we started our accession process to ESA membership. The truth being that at the very beginning the government was not very happy about those initiatives but nobody from the government was able to stop me. In February 2015, Estonia became a full member of ESA!

Unfortunately, we only had a few scientists in the parliament and it is not enough to be heard. So, dear scientists, what makes us to believe that it is the best to have in a parliament mainly persons with the juridical background? We are the living science. Even the Law, based on many acts requires nowadays society to relay on scientific thinking in policy making, not allow to build up a state just based on a pure juridical construction.

Another aspect that I would like to underline in the discussion why scientists must be more proactive: the main goal of every political party is to win elections, to have power and to gain the possibility to rule the country. Therefore, for every party the most crucial thing is the number of votes. In any given society, the science community is very small and always has been. The highest number of scientists per one million inhabitants is currently in Finland – little more than seven thousand. The same rate for Estonia for example, is about half of it – 3500. If we compare this number of scientist with the number of the most numerous voters’ class – retired people then in Estonia this number is more than 400 000. For political parties we are real minorities. Consequently, if we want to be heard, our voice has to be louder in times!

I would like to finish my short presentation quoting a famous mathematician and astronomer Emden. He said, “In large factory of nature entropy is playing role of director who is showing in which direction processes will follow. Energy conservation law is playing role of bookkeeper to keep the income and outcome in balance”. In our case, scientists in the society must play the role of entropy and politicians must honor the role of the energy conservation law.

Thank you for attention!

(pilti tegi Heli Lukner)

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