Wednesday, December 13, 2006

A Scientific Basis for Public Policy

The idea of basing public policy, when possible, on the best of what we know through science seems so sensible that I can not imagine anyone who would do otherwise. Still, we have an administration in Washington that seems determined to do otherwise.

Chris Mooney
, a journalist with a bent for science, has called this "The Republican War on Science." It is hard to understand what the government thinks they are doing, but when the Environmental Protection Agency is directed to shut down their libraries and to destroy the research that is currently available there, it is just about the last straw.

A few in government are fighting back in an organized manner. An organization of governmental workers called Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) sent out a press release last week that now says the EPA is "purging records from its library websites, making them unavailable to both agency scientists and outside researchers..". If it is toxic, if it can make you sick, better to not let anyone know about it. They might panic.

It is no wonder that the people of this country have lost their faith in our government.

Scientists, on the other hand, take it seriously in their own meetings. The American Geophysical Union is holding its 2006 Fall meeting in San Francisco this week. The lunch speaker on Thursday will be Al Gore. His topic is "Climate Change: The Role of Science and the Media in Policymaking".

With the Republicans waging their War on Science, we should find that the media would be representing the citizens, showing us where the truth lies. Instead, they find two experts with differing opinions, ask them the same question and call that "balanced coverage." I call it lazy journalism. We really need someone to identify for us just exactly where policy intervenes to alter the perception of fact.

This is one time that I would be willing to sit through an unexciting Gore speech, because he just might be one who will tell the truth.

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