The Politics of Science

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    While study after study continues to reaffirm global climate change, it appears that the complex scientific language, variables, and phenomena involved in the issue of climate change has left many individuals in the U.S. bewildered and apathetic, including our country’s legislators. The problem is further compounded by an absolutely toxic political environment. For a U.S. Congress and a number of state legislatures entrenched in partisan back-and-forth’s, the possibility for a comprehensive climate change strategy appear remote. Although the odds appear stacked against the human species, there are still some areas for optimistic sentiments.

    First and foremost, the issue of global climate change is so complex that even the “expert” researchers on the issue cannot agree on a number of important issues like the roles that clouds play in the climate system. Thus, no one can say with absolute certainty that this or that dire circumstance will arise if the world continues down its present greenhouse gas intensive path. The science of global climate change is not perfect, but it is evolving. Of course, this could be as much of a positive as it is a negative.

    What is unequivocal, however, is that anthropogenic climate change will have some nasty consequences for most parts of the world. Moreover, if scientific analyses and conclusions regarding climate change have been overly conservative, these consequences could extend well beyond what even the most catastrophic climate change scenarios have envisioned.  

    What is equally unequivocal, then, is that legislators throughout the country must continue to support scientists and their vital research, not hack away the budgets which underlie so much of our nation’s scientific progress (yes, government scientists make many positive social contributions too!). It is ironic that so much of what the Republicans throughout the country say they want (i.e. economic growth, domestic security from terrorist attacks and natural disasters, etc) is directly undermined by their own calls for scientific budgetary cuts. It’s unfortunate that the irony has been lost on them, like so much else.