NOTE: No better time to rejuvenate SftP inside the US.... Is there a group of youngfolks willing to take up the challenge-- this time starting off correctly around the race/gender issues of recruitment, retention and leadership?
Resisting the War on Science
By Jacob Wheeler
April 4, 2007
The Union of Concerned Scientists' "A to Z Guide to Political Interference
Sound science counts itself as one of the many victims
of the Bush administration's assault on reason, and
sound science is fighting back--finally, with support
from Congress. Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), chairman
of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and
Transportation held a hearing on Feb. 7 to explore
allegations that the government has attempted to censor
150 climate scientists by pressuring them to delete
references to "global warming" or "climate change" from
scientific papers and reports, and avoid talking with
One of the driving forces behind Inouye's hearing was a
petition signed by more than 10,000 scientists this past
December, decrying administration attempts to politicize
science. The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS)
circulated that petition along with an "A to Z Guide to
Political Interference in Science" that documents
hundreds of instances of censorship and political
interference. Signatories include 52 Nobel Laureates, 63
National Medal of Science recipients and almost 200
members of the National Academies of Science.
At the same time it has gagged scientists who warned of
climate change, the Bush administration has amplified
voices of "experts" from the oil and gas industry.
Philip A. Cooney worked as a lawyer for the American
Petroleum Institute before being ushered into the White
House's Council on Environmental Quality. Following
accusations in 2005 that he edited government reports to
raise doubts about global warming and downplay the
findings of mainstream scientists, Cooney left the White
House for a job with ExxonMobil Corp.
Tampering with science didn't begin with Bush. Under the
leadership of Newt Gingrich, in 1995 the Republican-
controlled Congress withdrew funding for the Office of
Technology Assessment, which since 1972 had provided
reliable scientific counsel.
Before that, the work of NASA scientist, and one of the
first whistleblowers about global warming, James Hansen
was censored by the first Bush administration. Last year
Hansen accused NASA administrators of trying to
influence his public statements about the causes of
"The scientist statement makes clear that while science
is rarely the only factor in public policy decisions,
this input should be objective and impartial," says
Francesca Grifo, the director of the UCS's Scientific
Integrity Program. "Sustained protest from scientists,
individual Republicans and Democrats in Congress, and
the nation's leading editorial pages has not been enough
to make the abuse of science stop."
The UCS presented its "A to Z Guide" in the form of a
mock Periodic Table of Elements with a different color
to represent each subject. The violations of scientific
integrity date back to 2002, and range from "Abstinence
Only Sex Education Science" to "Ground Zero," from "Arms
Control Advisory Panel" to "School Vouchers."
Some issues are more political than scientific--like the
Department of Justice's suppression of a racial
profiling study in August 2005--while others focus on
issues of health and safety. The guide reports that in
October 2002 "nominees selected by the staff of
scientists" were rejected from the Childhood Lead
Poisoning Prevention Panel and replaced by appointees
"with financial ties to the lead industry."
But the meat of the guide is the section on the
environment. For example, Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA) scientists criticized a 2004 EPA report
that found hydraulic fracturing ("literally pumping
water or another fluid into rock under such high
pressure that it creates new cracks around an oil
reservoir") when drilling for oil "poses little or no
threat" to drinking water, even in the midst of
aquifers. However the Bush administration and its oil
allies supported hydraulic fracturing, so the EPA
scientists were overruled.
"From airborne bacteria to Ground Zero, science
continues to be misrepresented for political gain," says
Grifo. "The new Congress should enact meaningful reforms
so decisions within federal scientific agencies and
advisory committees are based on objective and unbiased
The UCS continues to gather signatures from scientists
and laymen alike. The group's Web site, www.ucsusa.org,
provides an online form through which scientists can add
their name to the list. Non-scientists can sign a
separate statement of civilian concern.
author: "The Black Holocaust for Beginners" a Writers&Readers Publication
Treat the Earth well.
She was not given to you by your parents,
she was loaned to you by your children.
We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors,
we borrow her from our children.