Politics Trumps Science

Politics Trumps Science

There has been a lot of climate change news with the recent issue of yet another climate change report underscoring the dangers of anthropogenic climate change due mainly to release of CO2 into the atmosphere by the burning of fossil fuels. Short-sighted politicians swayed by even shorter-sighted oil men recently shot down in the state of Wyoming for political reasons a new set of science standards despite unanimous recommendation by a committee of state science educators who studied the proposal for eighteen months. (With thanks to Paolo Bacigalupi for calling the article to my attention.

No surprise there. Remember, this is the state Dick Cheney made his home. Oil is big business in Wyoming. Big Oil has a great deal to lose if the nation ever decides to get serious about reducing carbon emissions. They are, as the IPCC is fond of saying, business as usual.

There are two very serious issues here. The first is climate change denial, an agenda pushed heavily in the United States by the Koch Brothers, corporations with a lot hanging on that business as usual, and the Tea Party movement of the GOP. Google “Climate Change Hoax” and you’ll get nearly 3 million hits, including sources like Forbes Magazine.

The Climate Change Problem

Back in the days when climate change evidence was far less conclusive, I was a climate change skeptic. It wasn’t until I saw the data that I became convinced. Despite total solar radiation falling, a change that should drive us toward a cooler climate, the climate has warmed, and that change correlates exactly with a huge increase in atmospheric CO2 caused by us. Before you ask how we know what happened 400,000 years ago,let me answer: we have the ability to measure gas content of ice core air bubbles.

Politicians: We Know Better than You Do

The second issue is even more problematic, and that is politics going against the recommendation of experts in the field of science education. Few politicians have any real knowledge of the sciences. After all, congress is composed mainly of lawyers. Here’s a scientifically illiterate politician buying a load of crap from some guy with a British accent selling such crap.

If you don’t understand just how incredibly stupid this entire premise is, stay tuned. I’ve sworn to start attacking the anti-science in this country and we’ll get to some of these details in future posts. For now, let’s just say you’d better like it hot.

Politicians imposing themselves into education is nothing new. Sadly, it seems the sciences (including mathematics) is generally the victim. There are a lot of explanations for that, but the one that seems to always be in the spotlight is the community of Bible-thumpers. Want to know about science? As Ken Ham says, “There’s a book!”

The attempts to force that book into an area where evidence does not support its ascertains is a discussion for another day. Today, it’s about the politicians of Wyoming. Fear is a great motivator and it’s the only explanation that makes any sense. Despite my opposition to any standardized test oriented education agenda, if a panel of state science educators unanimously support a proposal, perhaps the pols might think about listening to the experts in the trenches.

Fear, baby. Fear of implementing policy that damages the wallet of your support base? Fear of change? Fear of an educated population? Fear of science itself? It’s bad policy to ignore science, and it’s even worse policy to force-feed children unsubstantiated science simply because it supports politics.

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