“SCIENCE is politics.”
Those are the words of Dr. Claude Wischik, who believes Alzheimer's disease is caused by buildup of tau protein on the brain. A competing theory focuses on a different protein, beta amyloid. Those exploring beta amyloid currently get more funding.
Whether Wischik or his critics are right may not be known for years. But Wischik's words, cited by The Wall Street Journal, are worth keeping in mind. Science doesn't exist independent of political considerations, even in its most basic research applications. When science is used to actively foster a political agenda, things can get even worse.
Currently, environmentalists are pushing for tax policies to discourage the use of fossil fuels, citing the “science” of global warming. President Barack Obama has declared himself “a firm believer” in manmade climate change generated by carbon emissions. However, proposed tax-based solutions would be decidedly negative for the average family, while doing little to benefit the environment. Some want a carbon tax (a fee on greenhouse-gas emissions) while others prefer a “cap-and-trade” system requiring producers to purchase an allowance to emit certain greenhouse gases.
The Heritage Foundation notes 9 million Americans work in the oil and natural gas industry; another 550,000 work in coal mining. In Oklahoma, about 3.38 percent of state jobs in October were in mining and logging, which includes oilfield work. A 2009 Congressional Budget Office report predicted a cap-and-trade system would reduce national gross domestic product growth by as much as 3.4 percent and that oil-and-gas extraction industries “would probably suffer significant employment losses over time.”
Consumers also would feel the direct impact through higher prices for energy and indirect impact through higher prices for goods and services. The CBO predicted compliance costs of a cap-and-trade system would result in lost income for all earners, particularly the low income, unless offsetting government subsidies were provided.
Even if mankind is to blame for climate change, there's little reason to think a U.S. carbon tax or cap-and-trade system would have meaningful impact. Past analysis has shown unilateral U.S. action on carbon dioxide emissions would largely be offset by international production. If the United States wants to commit economic suicide in the name of environmentalism, the Chinese don't seem eager to join us.
Furthermore, scientific evidence for global warming remains muddled at best. The United Kingdom-based Daily Mail recently noted data compiled from more than 3,000 measuring points on land and sea showed the world stopped getting warmer nearly 16 years ago. Before that, temperatures rose from 1980 to 1996, but had been stable or declined for the 40 years prior to that period. Some scientists believe those temperature changes are a product of natural variability and non-manmade causes. Definitive proof remains elusive for all sides.
Those who claim science is “settled” don't understand science. In 1854, cholera was tied to contaminated water. It took nearly 30 years before that explanation was accepted over theories blaming bad vapors for outbreaks.
When politics taints science more than science improves and informs policy, the results can be distressing. Should we wipe out countless jobs and increase economic hardship for families in the name of global warming theories that could ultimately prove no more valid than the cholera-vapors link?