Lesley Yellowlees letter published in The Times

21 May 2012


David Aaronovitch's petition for the geeks to inherit the Earth (Opinion, May 17) - or at least a larger role in our political debate - is a welcome clarion call to an increasing demand for giving science, evidence, and the scientific method a proper place in our national political debate. In a year of celebration for our nation's sporting and cultural achievements, we should also be celebrating our scientific achievements. Chemistry-related industries contributed 21 per cent to UK GDP in 2007 and supported six million jobs. Some of the world's great discoveries in the past - such as lithium batteries and liquid crystals, and the discoveries that are shaping the future like amlodipine, a drug that 2.2 million Britons take to ease angina, and Graphene, the material that's going to change the world - are British. 

But as we face the toughest economic climate for generations and the Government looks to investment in infrastructure to lead a way out of it, our political leaders must remember that knowledge and scientific innovation is infrastructure too. Facebook is not made of tarmac and concrete but of brains and bright ideas. 

Which is why it was important that last week a group of the leaders of Britain's scientific societies met David Willetts, the Science Minister. He knows the value of a strong, well-supported science sector. 

The geeks haven't quite inherited the Earth yet. But we can help chart a way out of the troubles we face if Government continues to recognise that, as well as blood, sweat, toil and tears, brains are key to the task ahead. 

Professor Lesley Yellowlees 
President-Elect Royal Society of Chemistry 

Related Links

Link icon Enough placebo politcs. Vote for the geeks.
There are too many lawyers in Parliament. For less rhetoric and more rigour we should take the scientific approach, says David Aaronovitch

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