THE SCIENCE CHANCELLOR

– How refreshing, in a world of political stupidity, to find a national leader with a hard science background and the political acumen to push science’s POV into the decision making. 

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Angela Merkel, a physical chemist-turned-G8 leader, is putting science on the European and global agenda.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel—theoretical chemist, head of state during Germany’s upcoming EU presidency, and current leader of the G8—recently took a shot at the climate politicking of the United States. “To prevent global warming, the nations with the largest emissions of gases that are causing climate change will have to take part,” she stated. “That’s why we will make this an important issue again on the agenda during our G8 presidency.”

It was a bold move, considering the US delegation’s notorious avoidance of climate commitments during Tony Blair’s G8 leadership two years ago. But Merkel, whose direct diplomatic style has been dubbed “the Merkel method,” is capable of exploiting the potential of complex situations. Her political success has come as a result of both her analytical mind and her remarkable tenacity. Merkel is, in many ways, still a scientist, and Germany—the fifth-largest economy in the world—is her lab.

Merkel was born in 1954 in Hamburg, but she didn’t see much of it: Her father, Horst Kasner, decided that year to take his family to Soviet-held East Germany, where he became a pastor about 50 miles north of Berlin. Merkel attended church, despite the risks; in the communist society, churchgoing could make it almost impossible to gain admission to state-controlled university, get good jobs, or even rent an apartment.

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