Bernie Sanders on Science & Technology
Bernie Sanders has a long record of backing pro-science stances:
Space Exploration: Bernie supports NASA’s mission and is generally in favor of increasing funding for NASA, but only after the needs of Americans on Earth are met first.
Militarizing Space: Bernie is against militarizing space and wants to prioritize domestic spending.
Global Warming: Bernie believes climate change is one of the greatest challenges facing the planet today: that it is real, caused by human activity, and a serious threat to the environment and our way of life.
Stem Cell Research: Stem cell research represents an exciting and promising line of research that could provide treatments and cures for many debilitating diseases. Bernie has voted in the past to approve further stem cell research.
Vaccinations: Bernie believes vaccines are an effective deterrent to dangerous diseases.
GMOs: Bernie supports labeling foods that contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs). People have a right to know what they are eating and are free to make their own informed choices. Since we already label most food, labeling GMOs would not be burdensome or difficult.
Does Bernie support funding for space exploration?
Bernie believes space exploration is beneficial and exciting, and generally supports the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), but when it comes to a limited federal budget, Bernie’s vote is to take care of the needs of struggling Americans on this planet first.
In a Q&A session on the online forum reddit on May 19, 2015, Bernie wrote:
“I am supportive of NASA not only because of the excitement of space exploration, but because of all the additional side benefits we receive from research in that area. Sometimes, and frankly I don’t remember all of those votes, one is put in a position of having to make very, very difficult choices about whether you vote to provide food for hungry kids or health care for people who have none and other programs. But, in general, I do support increasing funding for NASA.”
Currently NASA has ended its rocket program and is no longer launches rockets that put satellites in orbit or support the NASA astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS). Instead, supplies and astronauts are transported to the ISS on rockets launched by Russia and private rocket companies. Both commercial and U.S. government satellites are now launched on Russian rockets.
This arrangement is costly and untenable, so NASA has also contracted with commercial spacecraft/rocket companies such as SpaceX and ULA (United Launch Alliance) to resupply the ISS and develop the rocket technology needed to reconstitute the U.S. space program. Numerous contracts to fund rocket research have been awarded by the U.S. government to private companies including SpaceX, Boeing, Blue Origin, Lockheed Martin, and United Launch Alliance that are primarily interested in commercial space travel.
The commercial aspect of NASA was expanded when it announced that it will open the International Space Station to private astronaut missions and support up to two private astronaut missions to the space station each year. The missions can be up to 30 days each.
The U.S. is a signatory to the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, which lays out the principles of international space law. It does not prohibit militarizing space but it does prohibits putting weapons of mass destruction in Earth’s orbit, installing them on the Moon or any other celestial body, or stationing them in outer space. It also limits the use of the moon and other celestial bodies to peaceful purposes and prohibits establishing military bases on them, testing weapons of any kind, or conducting military exercises.
After the Outer Space Treaty was signed, the U.S. and the Soviet Union worked together to plan manned space missions.
The failed Reagan era Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), known as the Star Wars missile defense system, was in direct contravention of the Outer Space Treaty. The SDI program ended years ago but in response to recent claims by Russia that they have developed ballistic and hypersonic cruise missiles that can evade US anti-missile shields, the U.S. is trying to revamp the program. This renewed effort to put weapons in space is increasing tensions with both Russia and China.
What is Bernie’s view on the Space Force, the newest branch of the military?
On June 18, 2018, President Trump signed an executive order which directed the Pentagon to begin planning for Space Force, a 6th independent military service branch to undertake space warfare missions and operations. The U.S. Space Force is the first new military service to be created in more than 70 years. A U.S. Space Command existed from 1985 to 2002, but was disbanded. So far, the Space Force has no funding from Congress.
Where does Bernie Stand on militarizing space?
Bernie is opposed to militarizing outer space and favors solving domestic problems here on Earth.
Specifically referencing the Space Force, Bernie stated, “Maybe, just maybe, we should make sure our people are not dying because they lack health insurance before we start spending billions to militarize outer space.”
“We say to Donald Trump and the fossil fuel industry that climate change is not a hoax but is an existential threat to our country and the entire planet – and we intend to transform our energy system away from fossil fuel and into energy efficiency and sustainable energy and, in the process, create millions of good paying jobs. All of us have a moral responsibility to make certain that the planet we leave to our children and grandchildren is healthy and habitable.” – Bernie
The debate is over. The earth is warming and climate change is real. Now, we must focus on the extent of the problem and the best ways to solve it.
Does Bernie believe that global warming is a real threat?
Definitely. Bernie supports the Environmental Protection Agency and measures intended to slow global warming. He believes we should put science before politics when making decisions about climate change.
Here’s Bernie speaking about climate change in 2010:
As evident in the video above, Bernie is vocal and assertive when criticizing global warming deniers in Congress. For example, he called out Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Ok) on the Senate floor by saying: “The bottom line is that when Senator Inhofe says global warming is a hoax, he is just dead wrong, according to the vast majority of climate scientists.”
When Pope Francis called for radical changes in lifestyles, economies, politics, and unified global action to combat climate change in an encyclical release on June 18, 2015, Bernie praised the Pope, and highlighted how global warming would have the greatest impact on the least privileged populations of the world:
“Pope Francis’ powerful message on climate change should change the debate around the world and become a catalyst for the bold actions needed to reverse global warming. The pope helps us all see how those with the least among us will fare the worst from the consequences of climate change.”
What has Bernie done and what else does he propose we do to address climate change?
Bernie calls climate change the single greatest threat facing our planet. He believes that if we don’t make significant changes in the next 11 years, the human, environmental, and economic costs will be severe and irreversible.
Here is Bernie’s plan to face this real and existential threat:
- Pass a Green New Deal
- Invest in infrastructure to protect the communities most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change
- Reduce carbon pollution emissions by building out high-speed passenger rail, electric vehicles, and other forms of public transit
- Ban fracking and new fossil fuel infrastructure
- Ban fossil fuel leases on public lands
- End exports of coal, natural gas, and crude oil
The Climate Change issue page has the whole lowdown on Bernie’s record on climate change and the specific policies he’s proposing to combat it.
Stem Cell Research
How has Bernie voted on stem cell research?
Bernie has consistently voted to allow and expand stem cell research. He voted to allow human embryonic stem cell research in 2005, and to expand research into more embryonic stem cell lines in 2007. This 2004 Nature article provides some context about the discussion at the time about the ethics of therapeutic cloning.
In 2007, Bernie signed onto a statement, released by proponents of the 2007 legislation. Here’s the text of the statement:
“Since 2 years ago, the last Stem Cell bill, public support has surged for stem cells. Research is proceeding unfettered and, in some cases, without ethical standards in other countries. And even when these countries have ethical standards, our failures are allowing them to gain the scientific edge over the US. Some suggest that it is Congress’ role to tell researchers what kinds of cells to use. I suggest we are not the arbiters of research. Instead, we should foster all of these methods, and we should adequately fund and have ethical oversight over all ethical stem cell research.”
Although parents have a right to control matters relating to their child’s health, vaccinations are not just a personal or family issue — it’s also a public health issue. Interactions with unvaccinated children can impact the health of other people in the community. Bernie believes that when parents choices about their own child’s health negatively affect the health of another child, that decision becomes problematic.
What does Bernie have to say about vaccines?
Bernie believes that vaccinations are safe and effective, and that electing not to vaccinate is dangerous and wrong. In his own words:
“I think obviously vaccinations work. Vaccination has worked for many, many years. I am sensitive to the fact that there are some families who disagree but the difficulty is if I have a kid who is suffering from an illness who is subjected to a kid who walks into a room without vaccines that could kill that child and that’s wrong.”
In 2019, Bernie doubled-down on his position in a statement given to Buzzfeed News:
“Bernie believes that vaccinations work and are crucial to overall public health. Instances of serious but preventable diseases have been significantly reduced and many have been eliminated altogether as a result of vaccines…opting out can create deadly risks for children suffering from illnesses who may not be able to receive a vaccination and are then exposed to children who are not vaccinated. Any exemptions should be rare and consistent with public health needs.”
Where does Bernie stand on GMOs?
While Bernie isn’t against GMOs, he has said that “when a mother goes to the store and purchases food for her child, she has the right to know what she is feeding her child.”
He believes people have a right to know what is in their food so they can make the decision on whether or not they want to consume it. The FDA already requires the labeling of over 3,000 ingredients, additives, and processes in our food. It makes sense that people should know if their food contains GMOs.
Read more about Bernie’s stance on GMOs here.