1/26/2005

"I'm Not A Geologist!"

Chris Mooney of The American Prospect:
Dear President Bush: Americans don't want you to be a geologist. We only want you to talk to geologists when it becomes necessary for your job. In fact, as a general matter, we would prefer in the future that you consult relevant experts before you go before the cameras -- and (this is the tricky part) even before you decide on your policies.
...Unfortunately, Bush’s party has a long tradition of disregarding expertise, which often goes hand-in-hand with putting policy decisions ahead of the science...But if we have four more informationally challenged years ahead of us, there's little doubt that the greatest tensions will arise surrounding global climate change. This scientific, environmental, economic, and international mega-issue won’t go away. Rather, in all likelihood, it will continue to rear its head as more evidence coalesces suggesting that global climate change is caused by humans.
Thus far, the administration's inclination has been to spin or to downplay each new, major study that shows that humans are destabilizing the climate -- frequently by selectively citing remaining scientific uncertainties rather than accepting what scientists know with confidence. But what will the administration do when the fourth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change -- the leading global body charged with weighing the evidence on this issue -- emerges, as scheduled, in 2007? In each of its successive reports so far, the IPCC has grown more confident in the conclusion that humans are partly responsible for rising temperatures. If the fourth assessment also fits this pattern, the Bush administration’s strategy of hyping uncertainties, as a way of ducking the core conclusion from the scientific community, will become still more untenable.
Of course, at the beginning of a new term, perhaps we shouldn't prejudge Bush on science. Maybe the tune will change and the 48 Nobel Laureates who opposed his reelection will simmer down. On the other hand, many of the special interests that thronged Washington for the inaugural bash -- and contributed a heck of a lot of money to it -- will now be seeking special dispensations from the administration, often relating to science-based areas of public policy. If the past provides any indication, they’ll get them.

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