The Skeptical Teacher

Musings of a science teacher & skeptic in an age of woo.

Posts Tagged ‘policy’

California Takes on Climate Science Deniers

Posted by mattusmaximus on August 19, 2012

In a welcome development, the state of California has taken climate science deniers head on.  At the website of the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, there is a link titled “Climate Change: Just the Facts”.  The thing which makes this such a welcome development isn’t that the California governor, Jerry Brown, is promoting the science of climate change and global warming, but this website also takes on the climate science deniers and their claims directly.  Take a look and encourage your state government to act in a like manner:

Climate change poses an immediate and growing threat to California’s  economy, environment, and to public health. California’s groundbreaking efforts  are helping reduce greenhouse gases emissions, which are warming the planet.  The state is also taking action to prepare for the unavoidable impacts of  climate change, including the increased likelihood of both flooding and  drought.

While California is taking action, some of those who oppose the move to  renewable energy and cleaner transportation have mischaracterized the science  of climate change in an effort to create artificial uncertainty about the  existence and causes of climate change.

The fact is that on the key  issues, the science is clear: climate change is real and happening now;  human-made greenhouse gas emissions are affecting our planet; and we need to  take action. Just as we reached a point where we stopped debating whether  cigarette smoke causes cancer, we need to end the climate change debate and  focus on how to solve the problem.

We have compiled the key facts about climate science, the expert  consensus, and some of the common arguments from and responses to those who  spread doubt and confusion to prevent action:

The Climate Science

The Scientific  Consensus

The Deniers

Common Denier Arguments

 

Posted in global warming denial, politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Classic April Fools’ Joke from Scientific American

Posted by mattusmaximus on April 1, 2011

This is a fitting post for April Fools’ Day 🙂

A friend reminded me of a wonderful Scientific American editorial which appeared in the popular magazine a few years back on – you guessed it – April 1st.  In the spirit of science, skepticism, and a little fun, I share it with you here. Enjoy…

Okay, We Give Up

We feel so ashamed

By The Editors | April 1, 2005

There’s no easy way to admit this. For years, helpful letter writers told us to stick to science. They pointed out that science and politics don’t mix. They said we should be more balanced in our presentation of such issues as creationism, missile defense and global warming. We resisted their advice and pretended not to be stung by the accusations that the magazine should be renamed Unscientific American, or Scientific Unamerican, or even Unscientific Unamerican. But spring is in the air, and all of nature is turning over a new leaf, so there’s no better time to say: you were right, and we were wrong.

In retrospect, this magazine’s coverage of so-called evolution has been hideously one-sided. For decades, we published articles in every issue that endorsed the ideas of Charles Darwin and his cronies. True, the theory of common descent through natural selection has been called the unifying concept for all of biology and one of the greatest scientific ideas of all time, but that was no excuse to be fanatics about it. Where were the answering articles presenting the powerful case for scientific creationism? Why were we so unwilling to suggest that dinosaurs lived 6,000 years ago or that a cataclysmic flood carved the Grand Canyon? Blame the scientists. They dazzled us with their fancy fossils, their radiocarbon dating and their tens of thousands of peer-reviewed journal articles. As editors, we had no business being persuaded by mountains of evidence.

Moreover, we shamefully mistreated the Intelligent Design (ID) theorists by lumping them in with creationists. Creationists believe that God designed all life, and that’s a somewhat religious idea. But ID theorists think that at unspecified times some unnamed superpowerful entity designed life, or maybe just some species, or maybe just some of the stuff in cells. That’s what makes ID a superior scientific theory: it doesn’t get bogged down in details.

Good journalism values balance above all else. We owe it to our readers to present everybody’s ideas equally and not to ignore or discredit theories simply because they lack scientifically credible arguments or facts. Nor should we succumb to the easy mistake of thinking that scientists understand their fields better than, say, U.S. senators or best-selling novelists do. Indeed, if politicians or special-interest groups say things that seem untrue or misleading, our duty as journalists is to quote them without comment or contradiction. To do otherwise would be elitist and therefore wrong. In that spirit, we will end the practice of expressing our own views in this space: an editorial page is no place for opinions.

Get ready for a new Scientific American. No more discussions of how science should inform policy. If the government commits blindly to building an anti-ICBM defense system that can’t work as promised, that will waste tens of billions of taxpayers’ dollars and imperil national security, you won’t hear about it from us. If studies suggest that the administration’s antipollution measures would actually increase the dangerous particulates that people breathe during the next two decades, that’s not our concern. No more discussions of how policies affect science either-so what if the budget for the National Science Foundation is slashed? This magazine will be dedicated purely to science, fair and balanced science, and not just the science that scientists say is science. And it will start on April Fools’ Day.

Posted in humor | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Update on Restoring the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment

Posted by mattusmaximus on June 8, 2010

Last March I posted about a growing movement among scientists to restore the defunct U.S. Congressional Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) which has been spearheaded by the Union of Concerned Scientists. I wanted to just pass along a quick follow-up about the progress made so far on this front & the work yet to be done.  Please consider passing this along!

Restoring the Office of Technology Assessment
Update on our efforts to bring the facts back to CongressThanks so much for speaking up in support of the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA). I’m writing to give you an update on our progress.

Your efforts are reinforcing the message we’ve delivered in visits to more than 30 congressional offices to date. The fact that district offices are hearing from constituents greatly strengthens our influence in Washington.

Recently, I met with Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) in her home district, along with several of her constituents. As the chair of the subcommittee that can fund the OTA or keep it dormant, Representative Wasserman Schultz has a crucial role to play. She remarked several times how refreshing it was for her to hear about the OTA outside of Washington, and how valuable it was to hear that its restoration would contribute to quality of life in her district.

In May, we delivered a letter supporting the OTA to members of the House of Representatives signed by 90 organizations ranging from Consumers Union and the United Auto Workers to the ACLU and Republicans for Environmental Protection. We also delivered the statement of support for reviving the OTA signed by you and more than 3,100 other scientists. And dozens of other citizens throughout the country brought smiles to the faces of representatives and their staff by delivering mousepads featuring an OTA-themed editorial cartoon to district offices around the country.

Learn More
Learn more about UCS’s efforts to restore the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA).

Read More
Related Links
Our OTA themed cartoon
OTA organization letter (pdf)
Tell A Colleague
Please encourage your colleagues to sign up and help increase our effectiveness in creating a healthy environment and a safer world. CLICK HERE.
Your efforts add to the cumulative impact of all our work. We will know in a few weeks whether we’ve been able to convince Representative Wasserman Schultz to add funds to start up OTA to the legislative branch spending bill.

This is a very tough budget year. Even if we are not successful in getting startup funds this year, our combined efforts have begun the hard work of building a citizen-led push for restoring the OTA. These efforts often take more than one year to yield results, but if you remain persistently and energetically engaged, we will ultimately succeed.

I’ll continue to keep you posted and let you know if there are other opportunities to weigh in.

Learn more about our efforts to restore the OTA

Sincerely,
MichaelHalpern_jpg
Michael Halpern
National Field Organizer
Scientific Integrity Program

Posted in politics, science funding | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Revive the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment

Posted by mattusmaximus on March 31, 2010

Our friends at Science Debate have passed along to me an announcement about a political push to reopen the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment (OTA).  The OTA used to provide valuable scientific & technological advice to Congress – that is, it did before Congress, in its short-sightedness, closed the OTA in the mid-1990s.  For more information on this campaign, read on and please consider getting involved…

Most of the major challenges now facing the nation revolve around science.  Of the 535 members of Congress, how many do you suppose are scientists and engineers?  Here’s the answer: three physicists, one chemist, six engineers including a biomedical engineer, and one microbiologist.  How many do you suppose are lawyers, who often avoided science classes like the plague?  225.  It’s little wonder we see more rhetoric than facts.  It would be less of a problem if Congress had a science advisory body that gave it quality, non-partisan advice.  Advice that could save billions by preventing costly policy or spending errors that are not informed by the best available science.  They used to, and it was called the Office of Technology Assessment .  But they closed that 15 years ago to save a relative pittance.  Since then, the science-based challenges facing the nation have multiplied.  Congressional staffers need access to timely and top quality science advice on the issues before their Members.  Today, there are at least two efforts that we are aware of to revive Congress’s science and technology advisory body.  Working with Science Debate co-chair and U.S. Representative Rush Holt (D-NJ), the Union of Concerned Scientists has organized a letter from scientists supporting the revival of the OTA that is open for signature.

Posted in politics, science funding | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

 
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