La debacle científica de Europa

Tras la Segunda Guerra Mundial, la mayoría de los europeos estaban de acuerdo con que la investigación científica no sólo impulsaría sus economías, sino que les permitiría lograr una gran autonomía tecnológica en relación con los Estados Unidos y actuaría como un catalizador del cambio social. La Real Sociedad Británica propició la creación de la Sociedad alemana Max Planck en el supuesto de que la solidaridad entre las comunidades científicas internacionales podría contribuir a la reconciliación entre los antiguos enemigos. Como resultado, se fundaron grandes proyectos como el CERN (Centro Europeo para la Investigación Nuclear), la Agencia Espacial Europea (ESA) y la Organización Europea de Biología Molecular, para ayudar a unificar las iniciativas europeas de investigación en ciencias básicas.

Sin embargo, en la actualidad la ciencia europea se encuentra en declive en casi todos los países (Suecia, Finlandia e Islandia son las excepciones), desperdiciando los talentos actuales y perdiendo atractivo para los jóvenes. En promedio, un joven científico europeo que trabaje en los EE.UU. recibe 2,5 veces más apoyo para investigación que en Europa. No es de sorprender, entonces, que se haya generado una fuga de cerebros. De hecho, Europa tiene sólo cinco investigadores por cada 1.000 habitantes, en comparación con ocho en los EE.UU. y nueve en Japón. A pesar de su sólida tradición científica, las cifras para Europa Central son aún peores, y el costo de la integración a la UE probablemente aleje aún más las prioridades de la ciencia y la educación.

La reducción de los presupuestos también está dañando a los científicos ya establecidos. Por ejemplo, en las ciencias biológicas, a las fundaciones les cuesta identificar europeos de alto nivel a quienes premiar. Esto no se debe a una menor calidad científica, sino a los mayores niveles de apoyo sostenido y constante que se encuentra a disposición de los jefes de equipos estadounidenses para que transformen las nuevas ideas en descubrimientos.

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