Friday, November 21, 2014

Science, Schmience: Two Depressing Stories This Week About Climate Change Response

A scary number of Americans think
global warming is not caused by
greenhouse gases, but "Biblical
end times."
The Washington Post today reported on a distressing poll that suggests that nearly half of Americans think climate change is at least in part due to "biblical end times" rather than us putting too much carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

With that many people thinking there's some mystical reason for climate change, rather than pretty much basic physics and meteorology, no wonder there is not much political will to do something about global warming.

There's probably a fair number of politicians who think it's "biblical end times" and not greenhouse gases causing the problem, so no wonder they're not doing anything.

Plus, other politicians don't want to offend their evangelical Christian constituencies with trivialities like science.

(Political contributions from the oil industry surely play a role in the politics, too, but that's another story.)

I admit I'm not clear on the math in this poll, as it says 62 percent say its humans causing climate change and 49 percent say it's biblical end times. It looks like some people think it's both.

I get it. Science doesn't have all the answers. You'd think, though, that people would want to at least listen to what scientists says, since their pretty much experts in their field and seem willing to share their knowledge.

But I guess it's easier to make up your own story. It's more comforting than hearing news that doesn't fit your world view.

Which brings us to the second distressing bit of news. It appears Republicans in Congress don't want scientists influencing Environmental Protection Agency rules that have to do with, um, science.

If Salon and other publications are interpreting this right, under this bill, scientists would not be able to share with Congress their own research with lawmakers:

Says Salon:

".....the bill forbids scientific experts from participating in 'advisory activities' that either directly or indirectly involve their own work. In case that wasn't clear, experts would be forbidden from sharing their expertise in their own research - the bizarre assumption, apparently, being that having conducted peer-reviewed studies on a topic would constitute a conflict of interest.

'In other words,' wrote Union of Concerned Scientists director Andrew A Rosenberg in an editorial for RollCall, 'academic scientists who know the most about a subject can't weigh in, but experts paid by corporations who want to block regulations can.'"

The legislation is presented by Republican as a bid for transparency. They say they don't want the federal Environmental Protection Agency to enact regulations unless Congress is presented with scientific studies backing up those regulations.

Which I guess would be fine, if they actually let the scientists present their information. But the bill seems to prevent that, or at least strongly discourage scientists from talking about their findings.

Oh, right! It's the industries that would be regulated who should write the rules. Scientists familiar with the issue shouldn't. That seems to be the "logic" here.

I guess education and rigor are totally passe. Mysticism and corporate lobbying, it's the American way!

I wonder what really is a bigger sign of the End Times: Global warming or the incompetence and venal wackiness of at least a good chunk of Congress.

No comments:

Post a Comment