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Science, Climate Change, and Global Warming

Union of Concerned Scientists Report on Scientific Integrity

The Union of Concerned Scientists has released a report, Scientific Integrity in Policymaking: An Investigation into the Bush Administration's Misuse of Science. The signers of the Report on Scientific Integrity (RSI) include 19 National Medal of Science signatories and 20 Nobel Laureates. The report says,

at a time when one might expect the federal government to increasingly rely on impartial researchers for the critical role they play in gathering and analyzing specialized data, there are numerous indications that the opposite is occurring. A growing number of scientists, policy makers, and technical specialists both inside and outside the government allege that the Bush administration has suppressed or distorted the scientific analyses of federal agencies to bring these results in line with administration policy.

The New York Times commented on the report on February 23, 2004, in an editorial titled Uses and Abuses of Science, declaring "no administration in recent memory has so shamelessly distorted scientific findings for policy reasons or suppressed them when they conflict with political goals."

Kevin Drum's Calpundit weblog comments on the report under the title Conservative Lysenkoism . . . The Definitive Report.

It's perfectly valid, for example, to argue for a wide variety of policy responses to global warming, including doing nothing.

But putting your head in the sand and refusing to accept the actual research itself is another thing entirely. It's hard to think of anything more corrosive to the scientific process, and the extent to which the Bush administration does this is unprecedented. Nixon didn't do it, Reagan didn't do it, and Bush Sr. and Clinton didn't do it. Only the current administration has done this on a regular and sustained basis.

Bioethics: Politics Trumps Science

On Friday, January 27, 2004, President Bush fired two members of the President's Council on Bioethics. (The Bush administration often announces mischief on Fridays to minimize media coverage.) The Washington Post covered the story January 28 with headline Bush Ejects Two From Bioethics Council, subhead: Changes Renew Criticism That the President Puts Politics Ahead of Science.

President Bush yesterday dismissed two members of his handpicked Council on Bioethics -- a scientist and a moral philosopher who had been among the more outspoken advocates for research on human embryo cells.

In their places he appointed three new members, including a doctor who has called for more religion in public life, a political scientist who has spoken out precisely against the research that the dismissed members supported, and another who has written about the immorality of abortion and the "threats of biotechnology."

The turnover immediately renewed a recent string of accusations by scientists and others that Bush is increasingly allowing politics to trump science as he seeks advice on ethically contentious issues.
It's a great article, not long, and you should read all of it, but in case you don't, here's how it ends.
Michael Gazzaniga, a Dartmouth neuroscientist who sits on the council, said he was "upset" by Blackburn's ejection.

"She was one of the basic scientists who understood the biology of many of the issues we're talking about," Gazzaniga said. "It will be a loss for sure."

The Washington Post editorialized Monday, March 8, 2004 under headline The Ethics of Science:

The President's Council on Bioethics is still one of the few institutions that could offer advice. Its chairman, its members and the Bush administration must bend even further backward to prove that they really do intend to take all views into account.

Henry Waxman fights back

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), ranking member of the House Committee on Government Reform, has a long record of using real science in legislative campaigns for clean water, clean air, tobacco control, and numerous other health and environmental issues. Politics and Science — Investigating the State of Science Under the Bush Administration reveals a plethora of distortions and subordinations of science to politics. Pursuant to directives of the Bush administration, this is happening at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Institutes of Health (NIH), Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The subordination of science to politics is affecting our national parks, our wetlands, and numerous other environments. These are just a few of the many outrageous examples Rep. Waxman reveals of Bush administration's suppression of science in favor of political considerations.

RFK Jr. weighs in

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council and president of the Waterkeeper Alliance, wrote an article titled The Junk Science of George W. Bush, which appeared in The Nation February 19, 2004.

Today, flat-earthers within the Bush Administration--aided by right-wing allies who have produced assorted hired guns and conservative think tanks to further their goals--are engaged in a campaign to suppress science that is arguably unmatched in the Western world since the Inquisition. Sometimes, rather than suppress good science, they simply order up their own. Meanwhile, the Bush White House is purging, censoring and blacklisting scientists and engineers whose work threatens the profits of the Administration's corporate paymasters or challenges the ideological underpinnings of their radical anti-environmental agenda. Indeed, so extreme is this campaign that more than sixty scientists, including Nobel laureates and medical experts, released a statement on February 18 that accuses the Bush Administration of deliberately distorting scientific fact "for partisan political ends." . . .

The Bush Administration's first instinct when it comes to science has been to suppress, discredit or alter facts it doesn't like. Probably the best-known case is global warming. Over the past two years the Administration has done this to a dozen major government studies on global warming, as well as to a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, in its own efforts to stall action to control industrial emissions. The list also includes major long-term studies by the federal government's National Research Council and National Academy of Sciences, and by scientific teams at the EPA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA, and a 2002 collaborative report by scientists at all three of those agencies. . . .

Last November the EPA cut a private deal with a pesticide manufacturer to take over federal studies of a pesticide it manufactures. . . .

Led by the President, the Republicans have gutted scientific research budgets and politicized science within the federal agencies. The very leaders who so often condemn the trend toward moral relativism are fostering and encouraging the trend toward scientific relativism. The very ideologues who derided Bill Clinton as a liar have now institutionalized dishonesty and made it the reigning culture of America's federal agencies.

These are just a few of the highlights of RFK Jr.'s article. more

Further reading

ZNet |U.S. | Science and the Bush Administration
by Peter Karagiannis  October 27, 2004

Boston.com / News / Boston Globe / Opinion / Editorials / A sacrifice of species

Getting Hotter (washingtonpost.com)
Washington Post
Monday, July 28, 2003