Strangely, there have been questions as to whether scientists can and should advocate for public policy. Honestly, they shouldn’t have to, but given the current ‘climate’ (pardon the usage of the word!), do they have an obligation to do so? I think so – if no one else will.
Obviously, scientists have the relevant data and the expertise to contribute to the all-important conversation(s) about public policy; although interestingly enough they risk the very funding that allows them to contribute intelligent ideas if they let us – the voters/public, know. They have been placed in an interesting position by the current administration - they are being told they can’t communicate with anyone outside of the administration. (Source: e-mail sent by President Donald Trump’s administration to officials at EPA and Dept. of Agriculture.)
The “punishment” could be scientists who attempt to advocate may risk any public funding although many scientists have already lost their funding as the work topic was deemed out of bounds for the current administrations plan & beliefs. Maintaining public trust is imperative for scientists, both to be able to communicate public risks appropriately and to preserve public funding for research but alternatively, how much trust will the public have in them if they must keep quiet and yet when they go to the allowed people to disseminate, the scientific advice given is largely (or completely) ignored?
The Committee on Science, Space and Technology is the committee in the House of Representatives that presides over non-defense federal scientific R & D. The agencies included are: NASA, the Department of Energy, EPA, ATSDR, NSF, FAA, NOAA, NIST, FEMA, the U.S. Fire Administration, and USGS.
Representative Don Byer (D-Va.) is one who has become fed up with the Committee on Science, Space and Technology and what has been deemed as ‘anti-science nonsense’. With this in mind he has launched a project called the “FactCheck Project” and began partially as a result of a hearing on Climate Change on March 29, 2017 where Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) brought 3 climate change skeptics. Apparently he wanted the scientists to mirror his facts not rely on their facts. Representation by the 97% who ‘believe’ in Climate Change was handled by one person, Michael Mann – Climate Scientist at Penn State. Funny thing is the final result of the committees query; Are the roughly 97 percent of scientists correct in their consensus that it is real and that humans are the primary cause. It is inconceivable to me that the opinion of a few can beat out the scientific evidence that has survived peer reviews and many other manners that the scientific community puts evidence to the test so that we can consider it fact. Yes, sometimes fact one day gets expanded and apparently that is one of the arguments of deniers. I’m not going to go into each of the reasons that might occur but I will dare to say that it is not going to change the measurements of various gases etc. in the atmosphere and that is where the problem lies. Deal with the problem, argue if you want about where it comes from, but deal with the situation that is currently at hand as tomorrow will be too late!
There was a tweet that the House of Representative’s Science Committee sent out that seemed to mock Climate Alarmists. (below)
What this was referring to was not exactly what it expected as the tweet was based on a Briebart tweet which referred (erroneously) tp the following:
Presently we are more accustomed than we would prefer to ‘alternative facts’ so perhaps we should just allow the first part to go by, but if we do, where do we come down on this?
A hearing title was the following: “Affirming Congress’ Constitutional Oversight Responsibilities: Subpoena Authority and Recourse for Failure to Comply with Lawfully Issued Subpoenas,” a mouthful, certainly, but it’s purpose was to lend credence to the committee’s investigative effort ExxonMobil. The attorney General of each of the following states - New York, California, Massachusetts and the Virgin Islands, to lok into the stories within InsideClimate News and the Los Angeles Times reports that express that Exxon scientists knew about the dangers of burning fossil fuels, even as the company worked to undermine climate science. As an investor in Exxon, I have always been supremely pleased that they seemed to understand Climate Change and also spend a good amount of money investigating the other options (vs. fossil fuels).
So you perhaps might be forgiven for misunderstanding the scientific process if you were say the Chairman of some obscure Congressional committee dealing with taxation or waste management. However is it too much to expect that the Chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology -Congressman Lamar Smith — should understand how science works?
So that we all understand, scientists carry out their research, discuss same research with results with colleagues, go through write up their results and finally submit them for publication. The editor of the scientific journal then takes the same paper and sends the paper to (name withheld for this step, usually) then reviews the evaluations of the research and with any criticism, returns the paper for required revisions. If these are addressed in the appropriate manner, the scientific journal editor can then decide that the paper is acceptable and publish it or continue to require more updates to the investigation. Rocket science? Not exactly.
So I am then struck by how an individual committee member can challenge the scientific community as if he knows better!
While not entirely related but speaks to another angle – the Pope, you know the pope – speaks (according to the catholic faith) infallibly and recognizes the apparently obvious fact that our climate is changing. James Inhofe, chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, actually said the following: “We should be good stewards of the earth God gave us” because climate change science “isn’t settled.” Odd that Inhofe invokes god, for which there is faith but no evidence, while remaining unconvinced of climate change, where there is an abundance of evidence but for which he has no faith.
The Pope, who is not a scientist, is simply acknowledging that the science is overwhelming and compelling, and so there is a moral obligation to act.
One final point; Science is acceptable by all EXCEPT when it refers to Climate Change. The current administration accepts the development of space, but apparently that science is different than accepting science that won’t allow the going into space and gleaning profits from resources located there
I don’t expect everything to be believed as that would be Utopia, but there are concerns that affect our borders, water that is raising and will ultimately cause 1000’s or even 10,000’s of refugees (some from the United States of America!) Basically affecting so many other areas that to not be concerned would seem to cause the USA to be less great!