Policy-driven science distorted | TheUnion.com

Policy-driven science distorted

President Bush petitioned the National Research Council (NRC) for a report on climate change in May 2001. The report’s conclusion: “Greenhouse gases are accumulating in Earth’s atmosphere as a result of human activities, causing surface air temperatures and subsurface ocean temperatures to rise.”

One of the NRC board members, Dr. Richard Lindzen of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, complained this conclusion was too dramatic. Energy industry lobbyists and their political supporters were thrilled by his complaint. In the same statement however, Dr. Lindzen commended the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for doing a good job of keeping scientific research separate from political biases and pressures. The NRC board drew heavily from the IPCC’s findings.

Protecting scientific research from politics benefits everyone in the long term. There are plenty of good reasons to avoid overly empowering government to set potentially misguided policies. Distorted, policy-driven science should and need not be among the reasons.

Compromising research standards only increases government’s ability to set misguided policies. Over a dozen Nobel laureate scientists recently signed a report warning the Bush administration has an unprecedented and dangerous tendency to engage in just this kind of misguided policy setting.

Mike Flanner

Nevada City

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