On the scientific views of presidential candidate Martin O’Malley

Under different circumstances Martin O’Malley, who served as mayor of Baltimore and more recently the governor of Maryland, would be in a strong position to claim the Democratic party’s presidential nomination. Unfortunately for Mr. O’Malley his chances are looking rather bleak.

Even so, a lot can happen between now and the first primary elections, and it is worth getting to know each candidate and giving them their shot in the spotlight to convince us they are the best for the job. When I look at each candidate I want to know how science, data and evidence shape their worldview. Below are Mr. O’Malley’s views on a variety of topics that are considered controversial to the public even though the evidence is weighted very heavily in one direction over the other. If this would-be president looks to data to shape his views then he should have no trouble cutting through noise.

Climate Change

Governor O’Malley made my job of finding his stance on this topic pretty simple. O’Malley wrote an op-ed piece for USA Today about climate change in which he said

Given the grave threat that climate change poses to human life on our planet, we have not only a business imperative but a moral obligation to future generations to act immediately and aggressively

He has also proposed a fairly aggressive plan to combat climate change if he were made president. Mr. O’Malley has also made some headlines by suggesting that climate change has played a role in the chaos occurring in Syria and Iraq. That is, he suggests ISIS is a result of a changing climate. That claim may be stepping out on a limb, although it is not completely unsuported by evidence. A recent paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests there could be a link between climate change and the Syrian conflict.

Regardless, it is pretty safe to say that O’Malley accepts the science of climate change and is taking it very seriously.

The theory of evolution

Despite lengthy searching, I was unable to find any relevant quotes O’Malley has made regarding the theory of evolution. This topic tends to come up more among Republican candidates since the teaching of evolution vs creationism or intelligent design is a pet issue of evangelicals. I will update this section if any relevant information comes to my attention.

 Vaccinations

A Buzzfeed reporter asked O’Malley if he thought parents should be required to vaccinate their children and if there should be a religious excemption. A campaign spokeswoman offered the following statement on his behalf.

Gov. O’Malley believes it is critically important for every family to vaccinate their children. It is his hope that the American people take cues from medical professionals rather than pandering Republican presidential candidates.

 

Science funding

Finally I like to look at each candidate’s stance on funding for research. O’Malley signed a letter to congress urging them to increase the National Institutes of Health budget by 3.2%. As governor of Maryland, one of his signature economic policies, investMaryland, raised $84 million dollars for investment in innovation, technology and research initiatives.

All in all, Martin O’Malley is certainly near the top of the list of candidates as far as aligning his positions with evidence and being science-friendly. Kudos!