Saturday :: Feb 4, 2006

Bush Expresses Concern About American Scientific Competitiveness


by Mary

This morning on NPR, Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY), chairman of the House Science Committee, noted how wonderful it was that Bush had made such a strong commitment to science and math in the SOTU this year. And he is backing up this commitment with an increase in funding for science. President Bush touted his initiative in his Radio Address this morning, saying that it was essential that America has workers highly skilled in math and science:

To keep America the world's most competitive and innovative nation, we must continue to lead the world in human talent and creativity. My American Competitiveness Initiative will encourage innovation throughout our economy and give American children a firm grounding in math and science.

Of course, with Bush, it is essential to realize that just as he gets to determine what is constitutional or not, he also gets to determine what's acceptable science and what is not. In George Bush's world, science becomes unacceptable when it interfers with his pet ideas.

Sherwood Boehler discussed how he and another congressman went up to the White House this past week to talk with Joshua Bolton, the head of the Office of Management and Budget and were informed about how the new budget would solidly back Bush's initiative.

Would that be the same Office of Management and Budget that was reported to be interfering with the scientific community by directing what rules the EPA would use to set air quality regulations?

In an unprecedented action, the Environmental Protection Agency's own scientific panel on Friday challenged the agency's proposed public health standards governing soot and dust.

The Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee, mandated by Congress to review such proposals, asserted Friday that the standards put forward by EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson ignored most of the committee's earlier recommendations and could lead to additional heart attacks, lung cancer and respiratory ailments.

...Cal/EPA's air pollution epidemiology chief, Bart Ostro, charged during the teleconference that the EPA had incorporated "last-minute opinions and edits" by the White House Office of Management and Budget that "circumvented the entire peer review process."

And was it just last week that we learned that government scientists can only speak if they support Bush's science?

The top climate scientist at NASA says the Bush administration has tried to stop him from speaking out since he gave a lecture last month calling for prompt reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases linked to global warming.

Today, the scientists on the government payroll have to toe the line:

The fight between Dr. Hansen and administration officials echoes other recent disputes. At climate laboratories of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, for example, many scientists who routinely took calls from reporters five years ago can now do so only if the interview is approved by administration officials in Washington, and then only if a public affairs officer is present or on the phone.

Scientists are on notice that they will follow Bush's science or they will be shut up and shut out.

Bush's influence on American science will certainly be remembered as the time that America fell under the thrall of the Lysenko scientists who are more than willing to back the corporate line. And frankly, those like Boehlert who tout how good Bush is on math and science are contributing to the problem. As long as they continue to say that Bush is good on science they are doing their part to help destroy the scientific credibility of this nation, and they need to be reminded about that again and again.

To understand the seriousness of the situation, read Chris Mooney's book. We cannot regain our scientific credibility until scientists are once more allowed to practice science and then provide us good information for making policy.

BTW: here's an interview with Dr. James Hansen and why he continues to speak out despite the administration's attempt to shut him up.

CURWOOD: James Hansen, how concerned are you about getting fired now for speaking out?

HANSEN: (Laughs) I am concerned about it. The reason I was late for this interview was that I was checking with a lawyer what I could say and what I couldn't. But I'm more concerned about how we will be judged in the future if we don't say what we know. One fellow told me that history will not judge us very well if we pass the tipping point, the point of no return, and the public simply wasn't aware of the dangers that we were facing. I don't want my grandchildren to say 'Opa understood what was going to happen but didn't succeed in warning people about it.'

Thank you Dr Hansen. We need more people willing to show real courage in the face of the growing insanity that is facing our country.

Mary :: 4:57 PM :: Comments (6) :: TrackBack (0) :: Digg It!