‘Political’ Science: The Rise of Junk Science and the Fall of Reason

From ENNDemocracy depends on information and good science. And in a democracy that faces a dizzying array of threats and challenges, the need for sound knowledge has never been more important. Our national security, environmental well-being, and personal health rest on a true understanding of critical issues, like climate change, water shortages, and industrial pollution…

Unfortunately, in recent years, the creation of deceptive science and false information has become a thriving industry at a time when independent government research budgets are being threatened and cut. And this economy of lies is being supported by major corporations, laundered through seemingly independent organizations, and served to the American public as truth.

One of the most important examples of this kind of scientific abuse can be seen in the arguments over climate change. Climate scientists have, for decades, understood the fundamental relationship between the composition of the atmosphere and what we put into it, and what will happen as a result. There are plenty of scientific uncertainties around climate change, as all good climate scientists readily acknowledge (sometimes to the frustration of media, the public, and policymakers). The climate, as one of the most complex geophysical features of our planet should and will engender legitimate scientific debate and research for decades to come. But this ongoing dispute about the details of impacts, the costs and benefits of mitigation and adaptation policies, and appropriate national and international policy should not be used to obfuscate the overwhelming consensus that exists among climate scientists. Climate change caused by human activities is real, is already well underway, and poses an unprecedented threat to human health and well-being.

Despite this historic consensus, bolstered by thousands of studies and decades of research, a tiny group of well-funded climate “contrarians” has managed to stall decisions about climate policy action in the United States with reams of junk “science,” misleading arguments, and outright obfuscation funded, almost entirely, by corporations and political interests…

As a result of this strategy, a proper and difficult debate about values and policy is being delayed and sidetracked. It is time to move on. Rapid climate change is a real problem. Humans are causing it. It will get worse as we continue to produce greenhouse gases. The vital and difficult questions of what we should do about climate change, what it will cost, and in what time frame must be answered through a public debate on values, priorities, and policy. That debate must be full, fair, transparent, and it must happen now.

2 thoughts on “‘Political’ Science: The Rise of Junk Science and the Fall of Reason

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  1. What disturbs me most is that thier continues to be ongoing debate about whether Global Warming is true or not, like two philosophers that debate whether or not the material world is real or not while an avalanche tumbles upon them.

    We can do things to be more sustainable, let’s do them. We know enough now to act and to provided with the assurance that ‘whether it’s true or not’, we’ll be living on this planet in a smarter way.

    The idiots are the ones that sit around in lush hotel rooms at conferences on global warming then get in airliners/SUV’s/trains/cruise boats and leave the conference not having committed to doing anything but adding more GHG’s.

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