Overcoming the ‘cavalier attitude toward science’

Most scientists of merit remain convinced that global-warming trends are popping up all around the globe. These rapid ecological changes, most believe, are escalating in intensity and are the subject of detailed studies, international treaties and great concern all around the world. And yet, despite the best efforts of many, the emissions that cause global warming are still on the rise.

Dr. Jonathan Pershing, distinguished researcher with the World Resources Institute, recently said in a rare public statement: “The latest scientific reports indicate that global warming is worsening. Unless we act now, the world will be locked into temperatures that would cause irreversible harm.”

WRI predicts that emissions causing global warming will grow another 50 percent by 2020.

The U.S. government-probably off fogging “clean skies” and logging “healthy forests”-is responding irresponsibly.

Instead of reducing the estimated 25 percent of the world’s total greenhouse gas emission that we cause, our government refuses to even officially negotiate on international treatises and protocols relating to climate change. As long as the Bush administration occupies the White House, we Americans will continue ignoring the rest of the world.

Even more disturbing, global warming isn’t the only concern at stake.

On March 9, the Cuban Academy of Sciences announced that the Bush administration is stepping up its hindrance of scientific research in all fields.

This prestigious body condemned Bush for two reasons. First, Cuban scientists are virtually barred from publishing their research in U.S. journals and U.S. scientists cannot edit or collaborate with any Cubans.

Equally as disturbing, the Bush administration denies travel visas to Cuban scientists and denies American doctors and researchers visas to travel to Cuba, no matter what the research goal.

“Only the free flow of ideas and knowledge between scientists and academics of the whole world,” the CAS says, “can advance science for the benefit of all humanity.”

Most unfortunately, the administration’s disregard for scientific research extends far beyond just issues and regions-it’s profoundly systematic.

On Feb. 18, a bipartisan collection of 62 of the nation’s leading scientists-including 20 Nobel laureates and 19 recipients of the National Medal of Science-joined together in condemnation of Bush’s abuse of science. Their statement, issued by the Union of Concerned Scientists, was so compelling that thousands of additional scientists added their signatures just days before its publication.

“The Bush administration’s unprecedented suppression and distortion of scientific analysis on a wide range of issues,” states the UCS report, “presents a serious threat to our health, environment and security.”

The New York Times summarized the main points, saying that the Bush administration is guilty of “repeatedly censoring and suppressing reports by its own scientists, stacking advisory committees with unqualified political appointees, disbanding government panels that provide unwanted advice and refusing to seek any independent scientific expertise.” USA Today added that the Bush administration is forbidding government scientists from speaking publicly.

Why?

The UCS report solidly states that the administration suppresses, distorts and manipulates any “science-based information that conflicts with its policy agenda.” Ahh, logging “healthy forests” and fogging “clean skies” indeed.

Dr. Kurt Gottfried, professor of physics emeritus at Cornell University, told The New York Times that the administration has “engaged in practices that are in conflict with the spirit of science and the scientific method,” which “could place at risk the basis for the nation’s long-term prosperity, health and military prowess.”

Joining the chorus of condemnation is Sir David King, one of the world’s greatest living scientists. Recently writing in Science magazine-after writing that climate change is the most serious threat to the world today-King chastised the Bush administration for refusing to even discuss it.

I believe it is in the profound interest of our great country for you and me, as citizens, to campaign against any incumbent (Like “W” or Russia’s Putin) that deceives, distorts, ignores or otherwise endangers information and people in any way.

The systematic approach that “W” and his regime are guilty of in this instance is simply intolerable-he should be impeached.

Second, we must praise leaders like Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Mayor Rocky Anderson, who believe that it is in our interest to study trends like global warming and take action to address them.

Third, because we must preserve this beautiful world for our grandchildren, each of us must take more steps to reduce harmful emissions (like riding our bikes) and to reduce our resource consumption (like going veg).

And most importantly-so long as governments have the potential to act with such self-absorbed disregard for life-we the people must band together with other citizens. Whether it’s www.moveon.org, a bicycle collective or a local community garden, we must truly “think globally and act locally.”

In an era where the threat is global, it is up to us to stop what Gottfried calls a “cavalier attitude toward science.”

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