Tuesday, May 26, 2009

We’re clearly in an anti-science age!


On another front, even after the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the National Academy of Sciences and dozens of the major science organizations around the world have repeatedly agreed that the effects of global climate change have, in large part, been caused by human activity, the population still seems split between believers and deniers.
The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press released a national survey earlier this year that showed that of the 20 major issues people cited as most important for the Obama Administration to address, global climate change was dead last with only 30 percent of the public including it as important.
Recent Rasmussen polls showed that only 41 percent of the public think that humans are at fault for global warming, while 44 percent believe the climate change is caused by long-range planetary trends. In a related poll, 54 percent of the public blamed the news media for making global warming seem worse than it is.
And even though the American Meteorological Society, which certifies many local weathercasters on television news stations, supports the idea that humans are involved in climate change, a sizeable proportion of those weathercasters are outspoken in their opposition to the idea that humans have played a major role in its cause.
Lastly, and perhaps of less significance, The Scientist newspaper reported that Senator John

McCain has recently been using the social media engine Twitter to lambast some of the research funding slated to come from the stimulus bill. He’s specifically targeted research aimed at blueberry production, catfish genetics, switchgrass genetics, grape production and fish management as supposed boondoggles unworthy of support.

The publication’s readers were quick to point to the direct economic implications of such research to the states where it will be done. But the whole episode reeks of a return to Senator William Proxmire’s attacks on research in the 1970s and ‘80s with his Golden Fleece Awards given for what he saw as nonsensical research funded by government money.

Ultimately, science is an easy target. Inherent in its practice is its openness to critiques. The “facts” of science will always be corrected, changed, modified, enhanced and altered over time as our understanding improves. Opponents of science recognize this and use it to their advantage.
Researchers and research institutions need to understand this sad truth, and prepare accordingly.

__ Earle Holland

No comments: