Here are some examples that suggest government science policies are indeed, weird.
European Missile Shield: Scores political and media hits but experts say it’s not feasible
Turner Brinton, writing for Inside Science News Service commented on the intense media coverage on the proposed $3.5 billion European Missile Shield which the Bush administration wants in place in the Czech Republic and Poland by the end of his term — and which bitterly angers Russia.
“Recent media coverage of the United States’ plan to install a missile defense shield in Europe has largely focused on the political implications of the shield, paying little attention to the technical difficulties it faces, experts say.
The 10 midcourse interceptor missiles the United States plans on installing in Poland are an unproven defense against a long-range ballistic missile attack, said Frederick K. Lamb, who co-chaired a 2003 APS study on boost-phase intercept systems for missile defense. The existing ground-based midcourse defense system has been tested fewer than a dozen times, scoring six intercepts out of 11 trials since October 1999.
“Not a single test of this system has ever been carried out under realistic combat conditions,” said Lamb, adding, “This system has no demonstrated capability, period.”
The Arms Control Association, a nonpartisan organization that supports effective arms control policies says the tests have been “scripted scenarios performed under operationally unrealistic conditions.”
An Ottawa Citizen article calls the European Missile Shield: “An expensive solution to an imaginary threat.”
“With American spending on missile defence set to dwarf most countries’ military budgets, the profits to be made are massive. But weapons makers can’t bank on them yet.
Legions of experts think the American plan — particularly the European "missile shield" — is a mad waste of money. The technology is dubious. The strategic value is even more questionable."
Offshore drilling needs more science, less politics, according to an editorial in the Beaufort (South Carolina) gazette.com:
“Earlier this month, President Bush repealed an offshore drilling moratorium, the same one his father signed in 1990. Congressional bans on offshore drilling were enacted in 1981, and Bush is urging Congress to lift them as well. The move is unlikely.
More than risking any environmental catastrophes or destroying critical natural habitats, attempting to open additional offshore drilling fields is a great way not to come up with a long-term solution to our energy needs and, if you buy the argument that it is, then it’s a great way to win the votes of an uninformed, politically blinded or desperate American people. The argument for new offshore drilling, however, is based more on election-year posturing and political brush-offs than science and logic. Americans who believe that drilling off the Eastern and Western seaboards will get us back to $2 or even $3 a gallon gasoline are in for quite a rude awakening.
Offshore drilling won’t even make a dent.”
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer editorial board says Bush administration policies on NW fisheries are “reckless.”
“The Bush administration has decided to propose a drastic overhaul of U.S. fisheries environmental procedures.
Under the update, “Regional fisheries management councils would assume new environmental authority, even though the councils continue to have members with commercial fishing interests.”
HIV: The Worst Kept Non-Secret in Public Health
In July, David Ernesto Munar, vice president at the AIDS Foundation of Chicago and chairman of the board of the National Association of People with AIDS, wrote in POZ Magazine about the growing speculation that government officials were delaying a release of HIV prevalence data in a deliberate attempt to shield the Bush administration from criticism for its failure to prioritize HIV prevention:
“For more than a year, U.S. federal officials have attempted—sometimes in vain—to quell rumors that the number of new HIV infections in the United States is on the rise. The Washington Blade first broke the story in November 2007, reporting that the CDC was poised to raise the official estimate for the number of HIV infections believed to occur in the United States to a range as high as 58,000 to 63,000 per year—a greater than 50 percent increase over the current estimate of 40,000 annual HIV infections.”
And now in August it’s finally being reported that the HIV infection rate in the United States is much higher than estimated. The numbers were released by the CDC at the 17th International AIDS Conference in Mexico City this month.
According to an Aug. 2 NPR report:
“Kevin Fenton, who heads the CDC’s AIDS prevention efforts, says the new data give the clearest picture yet of the U.S. AIDS epidemic.”
"What the data actually show is that the 2006 estimate of roughly 56,000 new infections is substantially higher — it’s about 40 percent higher than what had previously been estimated," he says.The old estimate had been 40,000 new infections a year, 16,000 fewer.”
Newsflash! Climate change does affect public health
After withholding its findings about the public health and environmental health risks from carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from the public and Congress for seven months, the EPA finally and quietly released its mandated report, Draft Technical Support Document: Endangerment Analysis for Greenhouse Gas Emissions under the Clean Air Act in July.
The Supreme Court in Massachusetts vs. EPA ruled last year that the EPA has the authority to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act but the EPA doesn’t appear anxious or willing to work in that capacity despite its own findings:
“The challenges presented by population growth, an aging population, migration patterns, and urban and coastal development will be compounded by changes in temperature, precipitation, and extreme climate-related events. Climate change will affect where people choose to live, work, and play. Among likely climate changes are changes in the intensity and frequency of precipitation, more frequent heat waves, less frequent cold waves, more persistent and extreme drought conditions and associated water shortages, changes in minimum and maximum temperatures, potential increases in the intensity and frequency of extreme tropical storms, measurable sea-level rise and increases in the occurrence of coastal and riverine flooding. In response to these anticipated changes, the United States may develop and deploy strategies for mitigating greenhouse gases and for adapting to unavoidable individual and collective impacts of climate change.”
The public comment period for the report remains open until September 4.
The Bush administration keeps resisting science
J. Thomas Butler, Camden, Del., provides a litany of examples in his LTTE in delawareonline.com:
“The Bush administration announced that the Environmental Protection Agency will not issue regulations to control greenhouse gases. [described in an entry above.] ….This is consistent with the Bush-Cheney approach to science. They insist on pouring money into abstinence-only sexuality education, despite research that shows it does not delay sexual activity, reduce disease or the number of teen sex partners, or increase the use of condoms.
The Bush budget annually omits funding for the Safe and Drug-free Schools and Communities program, which requires that most funding go to programs shown to be effective.
Bush has blocked research on stem cells from human blastocysts, on ideological grounds. The amount of death and suffering because of eight years of lost research is immeasurable.”
In his SfGate.com blog Thin Green Line, Cameron Scott asked, with a hint of hope: “Weird Science On The Wane?
“A federal judge granted environmental groups led by the NRDC issued a temporary injunction against the Fish and Wildlife’s plan to delist gray wolves as an endangered species. The ruling basically called bulls—t on the science the Bush administration relied on to justify the move. A key passage of the ruling [PDF] reads:
(1) the Fish & Wildlife Service acted arbitrarily in delisting the wolf despite a lack of evidence of genetic exchange between subpopulations;
and (2) it acted arbitrarily and capriciously when it approved Wyoming’s 2007 plan despite the State’s failure to commit to managing for 15 breeding pairs….”
This can be an on-going list. Share your favorite.