Uh-oh – Another P*d-off Group Speaks Up

Scientists Mobilizing to Fight President Bush

More than 12,000 government scientists (including 20 Nobel laureates) have formed the Union of Concerned Scientists. From their site:

“An unprecedented level of political interference threatens the integrity of government science. Because policy makers depend on impartial research to make informed decisions, we are mobilizing scientists and citizens alike to push for reforms that will protect our health, safety, and environment.”

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  1. sphyrnatude

    Coupla things: the union of concerned scientists (or very similar groups) have existed ofr decades. I was a member of in graduate school back in the late 80s – I’m pretty sure this is even the same group.

    Also, every scientist in the world that relies on government grant money realizes and accepts that politics is part of science. There are many very succesfull science rpgrams at major research universities that started (and in some cases continue) with plain old-fasioned pork barrell funding. The fact that government scientific funding comes form the government ensures that politics will always play a role in who, what subject, and what location get funding.

    A great example is the shift in funding that occured when AIDS research took off. Non-aids related research funding essentially collapsed as the resources moved into aids the aids programs. Yes, aids was (and is) an imoprtanat area of research, but the important point is that the funding did not shift to aids research when the scientists wanted it to, it shifted about a decade later when the PUBLIC was screaming for answers, and puttin gpressure ontheir elected officials to provide those answers.

    If you want science without politics, you’re going to have to find some other way to pay for it.

  2. illa morales

    Thought this was of interest, since we’re on the topic of the Union of Concerned Scientists. Oil companies creating skeptic groups and confusion. Skeptic groups and confusion, Oh My Goodness, I felt most oil companies were, FAIR AND BALANCED, cough cough.

    January 3, 2007

    Scientists’ Report Documents ExxonMobil’s Tobacco-like Disinformation Campaign on Global Warming Science
    Oil Company Spent Nearly $16 Million to Fund Skeptic Groups, Create Confusion
    ExxonMobil Report
    Full Report (PDF)
    Appendix C (hi-resolution PDFs)
    Part 1 (hi-resolution PDF)
    Part 2 (hi-resolution PDF)
    Part 3 (hi-resolution PDF) WASHINGTON, DC, Jan. 3–A new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists offers the most comprehensive documentation to date of how ExxonMobil has adopted the tobacco industry’s disinformation tactics, as well as some of the same organizations and personnel, to cloud the scientific understanding of climate change and delay action on the issue. According to the report, ExxonMobil has funneled nearly $16 million between 1998 and 2005 to a network of 43 advocacy organizations that seek to confuse the public on global warming science.

    “ExxonMobil has manufactured uncertainty about the human causes of global warming just as tobacco companies denied their product caused lung cancer,” said Alden Meyer, the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Director of Strategy & Policy. “A modest but effective investment has allowed the oil giant to fuel doubt about global warming to delay government action just as Big Tobacco did for over 40 years.”

    Smoke, Mirrors & Hot Air: How ExxonMobil Uses Big Tobacco’s Tactics to “Manufacture Uncertainty” on Climate Change details how the oil company, like the tobacco industry in previous decades, has

    raised doubts about even the most indisputable scientific evidence
    funded an array of front organizations to create the appearance of a broad platform for a tight-knit group of vocal climate change contrarians who misrepresent peer-reviewed scientific findings
    attempted to portray its opposition to action as a positive quest for “sound science” rather than business self-interest
    used its access to the Bush administration to block federal policies and shape government communications on global warming
    ExxonMobil-funded organizations consist of an overlapping collection of individuals serving as staff, board members, and scientific advisors that publish and re-publish the works of a small group of climate change contrarians. The George C. Marshall Institute, for instance, which has received $630,000 from ExxonMobil, recently touted a book edited by Patrick Michaels, a long-time climate change contrarian who is affiliated with at least 11 organizations funded by ExxonMobil. Similarly, ExxonMobil funds a number of lesser-known groups such as the Annapolis Center for Science-Based Public Policy and Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow. Both groups promote the work of several climate change contrarians, including Sallie Baliunas, an astrophysicist who is affiliated with at least nine ExxonMobil-funded groups.

    Baliunas is best known for a 2003 paper alleging the climate had not changed significantly in the past millennia that was rebutted by 13 scientists who stated she had misrepresented their work in her paper. This renunciation did not stop ExxonMobil-funded groups from continuing to promote the paper. Through methods such as these, ExxonMobil has been able to amplify and prop up work that has been discredited by reputable climate scientists.

    “When one looks closely, ExxonMobil’s underhanded strategy is as clear and indisputable as the scientific research it’s meant to discredit,” said Seth Shulman, an investigative journalist who wrote the UCS report. “The paper trail shows that, to serve its corporate interests, ExxonMobil has built a vast echo chamber of seemingly independent groups with the express purpose of spreading disinformation about global warming.”

    ExxonMobil has used the laudable goal of improving scientific understanding of global warming—under the guise of “sound science”—for the pernicious ends of delaying action to reduce heat-trapping emissions indefinitely. ExxonMobil also exerted unprecedented influence over U.S. policy on global warming, from successfully recommending the appointment of key personnel in the Bush administration to funding climate change deniers in Congress.

    “As a scientist, I like to think that facts will prevail, and they do eventually,” said Dr. James McCarthy, Alexander Agassiz Professor of Biological Oceanography at Harvard University and former chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s working group on climate change impacts. “It’s shameful that ExxonMobil has sought to obscure the facts for so long when the future of our planet depends on the steps we take now and in the coming years.”

    The burning of oil and other fossil fuels results in additional atmospheric carbon dioxide that blankets the Earth and traps heat. The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere has increased greatly over the last century and global temperatures are rising as a result. Though solutions are available now that will cut global warming emissions while creating jobs, saving consumers money, and protecting our national security, ExxonMobil has manufactured confusion around climate change science, and these actions have helped to forestall meaningful action that could minimize the impacts of future climate change.

    “ExxonMobil needs to be held accountable for its cynical disinformation campaign on global warming,” said Meyer. “Consumers, shareholders and Congress should let the company know loud and clear that its behavior on this issue is unacceptable and must change.”

  3. illa morales

    political interference in science

    The United States has an impressive history of investing in scientific research and respecting the independence of scientists. As a result, we have enjoyed sustained economic progress and public health, as well as unequaled leadership within the global scientific community. Recent actions by political appointees, however, threaten to undermine this legacy by preventing the best available science from informing policy decisions that have serious consequences for our health, safety, and environment.

    Across a broad range of issues—from childhood lead poisoning and mercury emissions to climate change, reproductive health, and nuclear weapons—political appointees have distorted and censored scientific findings that contradict established policies. In some cases, they have manipulated the underlying science to align results with predetermined political decisions.

    They have also undermined the independence of scientific advisory panels by subjecting panel nominees to political litmus tests that have no bearing on their expertise, and by nominating under- or unqualified individuals—some of whom have industry ties that could represent a conflict of interest. Other scientific advisory committees have been disbanded altogether.

    These activities have naturally outraged members of the scientific community, and have also drawn criticism from numerous legislators who rely on the independence of government research. The American public, which trusts its government to make well-informed decisions in the interest of public health and safety, should be concerned as well.

    UNION OF CONCERNED SCIENTISTS is working with scientists and ordinary citizens alike to spur appropriate legislative and regulatory action. Find out more information about how you can help us restore scientific integrity to federal policy making.

  4. illa morales

    Science in Bush’s Second Term
    Opportunity to Restore Scientific Integrity in Policy Making

    Statement by Kurt Gottfried, UCS Board Chair

    in Global Environment
    Restoring Scientific Integrity

    “Now that the politically charged election season is behind us, Congress should take this opportunity to assure the American people that decisions about science-related policies will be based on facts. The administration, relieved of the constraints of the campaign, should also take steps to restore scientific integrity in federal policy making.
    “People across the country, as well as scientists inside and outside government, need to hear from our elected leaders that science—while not the only consideration in policy making—makes indispensable contributions to public health, security and the environment, and will not be suppressed or misrepresented.

    “The coalition of scientists and organizations who have come together around this issue are committed to continue work towards reforms that will restore scientific integrity to federal policy making by protecting government scientists against orders that violate their personal scientific integrity; restoring independent scientific advice to Congress; restoring the stature of the president’s science advisor and strengthening the Office of Science and Technology Policy; and ensuring the independence of scientific advisory bodies.

  5. illa morales

    Some of the work of the Union of Concerned Scientists, that should be commended!!

    scientists & international security

    The continued possession of thousands of nuclear weapons by a small number of countries and the potential spread and use of these weapons are fundamentally international problems that require international solutions.
    Two things will make successful international controls and eventual elimination of nuclear weapons more likely: a well-informed worldwide public debate, and technically sound government policies that recognize the security concerns of other nations.

    UCS helps to train international scientists working on arms control and nuclear weapons issues so that they are better able to participate in a public debate and influence government policies in their home countries. Through its efforts, UCS is building an international community of technical arms control experts who can work together to develop new arms control initiatives.

    We develop technical arms control expertise in the United States and other countries through an annual international meeting of young scientists working on security policy. They get feedback on their research, gain a larger perspective on their countries’ policies, and form networks for exchanging ideas and collaborating on their work. Each year we also provide a fellowship, hosting an arms control scientist at our Cambridge office.

    In recent years, we’ve increased our arms control work in China because it has become an important participant in international arms control measures. China’s desire for broader arms control expertise and UCS’s strong relations with Chinese scientists have opened up a unique opportunity.

    We help to train Chinese scientists who are now working on arms control issues. And we’re developing a joint research project with Chinese arms control scientists. In addition, we’re building our expertise on Chinese arms control, military, and political issues. In this way, we can better understand and influence Chinese thinking on arms control as well as better inform the US domestic debate on Chinese security issues.

  6. sphyrnatude

    My point was only that this is nothing new. A researcher I know did a fairly extensive Public Health Study evaluation the relationship between small particulate emissions from power plants and asthma. After about 6 years of very detailed data colelction, the correllation was undeniable. The end result? the researcher was told that if he actually published his results, he’d never get another penny of funding, which would end his career. When did this event happen? in the early 90’s – over a decade ago.
    The funding was NSF and NIH. The folks that blocked the publication were power plant lobbyists.
    Nothing new.
    Scientist have known and accepted for a very long time that grants go to the labs that get the results that are either what the granting agency wants, or, at worst, won’t shake the granting agencies tree. The old “don’t bite the hand that feeds you” thing.
    The general public may be foolish enough to think that academic research is above politics, but any one that has ever worked in a real research lab knows better.

  7. illa morales

    Totally agree, dear Sir and I’m merely adding on to Scientists Mobilizing to Fight President Bush. I’m not replying to your statement since I did research chemistry for years, and I understand.




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