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Rewriting Environmental Science

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the more-reasons-to-privatize dept.

500

Aqua OS X writes to tell us CBS News is reporting that government scientist James Hansen recently spoke out against the White House in an appearance on 60 Minutes. From the article: "Hansen is arguably the world's leading researcher on global warming. He's the head of NASA's top institute studying the climate. But this imminent scientist tells correspondent Scott Pelley that the Bush administration is restricting who he can talk to and editing what he can say. Politicians, he says, are rewriting the science."

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500 comments

interesting (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14962368)

LUKE: No, my father didn't fight in the wars. He was a navigator on a
spice freighter.

BEN: That's what your uncle told you. He didn't hold with your
father's ideals. Thought he should have stayed here and not gotten
involved.

LUKE: You fought in the Clone Wars?

BEN: Yes, I was once a Jedi Knight the same as your father.

LUKE: I wish I'd known him.

BEN: He was the best star-pilot in the galaxy, and a cunning warrior.
I understand you've become quite a good pilot yourself. And he was a
good friend. Which reminds me...

I have something here for you. Your father wanted you to have
this when you were old enough, but your uncle wouldn't allow it. He
feared you might follow old Obi-Wan on some damned-fool idealistic
crusade like your father did.

LUKE: What is it?

BEN: Your fathers lightsaber. This is the weapon of a Jedi Knight. Not
as clumsy or as random as a blaster.

An elegant weapon for a more civilized time. For over a thousand
generations the Jedi Knights were the guardians of peace and justice
in the Old Republic. Before the dark times, before the Empire.

LUKE: How did my father die?

BEN: A young Jedi named Darth Vader, who was a pupil of mine until he
turned to evil, helped the Empire hunt down and destroy the Jedi
Knights. He betrayed and murdered your father. Now the Jedi are all
but extinct. Vader was seduced by the dark side of the Force.

LUKE: The Force?

BEN: Well, the Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It's an energy
field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us.
It binds the galaxy together.

imminent scientist? (3, Funny)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 8 years ago | (#14962371)

But this imminent scientist tells correspondent Scott Pelley that the Bush administration is restricting who he can talk to and editing what he can say. Politicians, he says, are rewriting the science.

Is that better than eminent?

Re:imminent scientist? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14962420)

imminent - adjective, "about to happen" or archaic, "overhanging"

so, the scientist in question is... what, exactly?

Re:imminent scientist? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14962454)

Imminent scientist, huh? So he's not even a scientist at all; only a soon-to-be scientist. Why are we giving this FRAUD the light of day?

Re:imminent scientist? (4, Insightful)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 8 years ago | (#14962595)

I thought that this was down to the semi-literate submitter abetted by the carefree editors, but actually this malapropism was cribbed from the CBS article. Seems like no one gives a shit these days.

Re:imminent scientist? (1)

ucsckevin (176383) | more than 8 years ago | (#14962661)

Seriously, can't you guys hire a community college student or something to fix posts up?

Parallels with Easter Island (5, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 8 years ago | (#14962375)

When the Polynesians found Easter Island, they found a paradise. Seas teeming with porpoises, huge edible palm trees, bountiful flightless birds and tillable soil from coast to coast.

Unfortunately, they also brought rats with them on their canoes.

The rats ate the birds and bird eggs. The trees were cut down for timber and kindling. The land was farmed to exhaustion. And the entire civilization that arose there quickly collapsed under its own weight.

The whole time, people thought things would last forever, but they couldn't see the end coming.

We have our rats too.

Re:Parallels with Easter Island (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14962391)

Don't know much about what actually happened on Easter Island, do you?

Re:Parallels with Easter Island (2, Informative)

kfg (145172) | more than 8 years ago | (#14962441)

Actually, he's up on the latest proposed model:

http://www.livescience.com/history/060309_easter_i sland.html [livescience.com]

KFG

Re:Parallels with Easter Island (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14962600)

Nope, clearly not. From your link:

"The researchers also dispute the claim that Easter Island's human inhabitants were responsible for their own demise [...]
Lipo thinks the story of Easter Island's civilization being responsible for its own demise might better reflect the psychological baggage of our own society than the archeological evidence.

'It fits our 20th century view of us as ecological monsters," Lipo said. "There's no doubt that we do terrible things ecologically, but we're passing that on to the past, which may not have actually been the case. To stick our plight onto them is unfair.'"

Re:Parallels with Easter Island (5, Funny)

hazem (472289) | more than 8 years ago | (#14962401)

We have our rats too.

Do you think the Polynesians elected theirs too?

Re:Parallels with Easter Island (5, Funny)

aichpvee (631243) | more than 8 years ago | (#14962480)

Of course not, they used diebold to rig their elections just like we do!

Re:Parallels with Easter Island (3, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 8 years ago | (#14962402)

The whole time, people thought things would last forever, but they couldn't see the end coming.

A couple of years ago I read about a large permanent settlement which Archeologists discovered here in Australia. It was occupied by Aboriginal people for a period of time and then abandoned.

The implication was that indiginous Australians tried to follow the natural progression from hunter gathering to large scale settlement, but it somehow failed.

I too wonder if this will happen here again.

Re:Parallels with Easter Island (1)

tbulka (900587) | more than 8 years ago | (#14962497)

It may not be too late if we can enslave the world's extrovertz. But alas, they are powerful and quite well-spoken.

Indian Wisdom: "The Earth Does Not Belong to Man." (2, Insightful)

reporter (666905) | more than 8 years ago | (#14962424)

Timeless wisdom from the Native Americans [barefootsworld.net] states, " The earth does not belong to man; man belongs to the earth ."

ExxonMobile and its supporters in Washington state, " The earth belongs to man; he can wreck the earth in any way that he sees fit ".

Before 2050, we will know which bit of wisdom is the right wisdom. By 2030, we will have burned up all easily retrieved oil. Significant portions of Artic and Antartic ice shelves will have melted away.

Unless we do something now to create carbon-neutral energy processes and to achieve zero-population growth, we -- rich and poor alike -- will face a miserable future of unstoppable climatic catastrophes.

Re:Indian Wisdom: "The Earth Does Not Belong to Ma (2, Insightful)

thedletterman (926787) | more than 8 years ago | (#14962458)

Why would we need to limit population growth, and how would you ever propose we do this?

Re:Indian Wisdom: "The Earth Does Not Belong to Ma (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14962482)

Because the Earth has finite surface area and finite resources?

There are plenty of ways to limit population growth, they're just all uncomfortable for the modern man to swallow.

Of course who cares? It doesn't matter now. We can just let our progeny suffer the consequences.

Re:Indian Wisdom: "The Earth Does Not Belong to Ma (4, Funny)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 8 years ago | (#14962549)

There are plenty of ways to limit population growth, they're just all uncomfortable for the modern man to swallow.

If you want to cut birthrates, it's not the men who are going to have to swallow.

Re:Indian Wisdom: "The Earth Does Not Belong to Ma (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14962680)

Clearly you haven't heard about the new male Pill.

You take it the morning after sex and it changes your DNA!

Re:Indian Wisdom: "The Earth Does Not Belong to Ma (2, Interesting)

arrrrg (902404) | more than 8 years ago | (#14962532)

Why would we need to limit population growth, and how would you ever propose we do this?

Environmentalists say that the best thing you can do for the earth, the best way to conserve resources, is to not have more than two children. In retrospect, this is obvious ... the earth can barely handle the 6 or so billion people here now; try 60 billion on for size. As for the how ... well people aren't gonna like it, but its gonna have to happen one way or another.

Re:Indian Wisdom: "The Earth Does Not Belong to Ma (3, Informative)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 8 years ago | (#14962546)

As for the how ... well people aren't gonna like it, but its gonna have to happen

Actually, if not for immigration, most of the first world would already be in population decline. When people get reasonably comfortable, and childhood mortality is negligible, children are deferred and one or two are sufficent for most to satisfy their need for procreation. We've got one and that was enough for us.

Re:Indian Wisdom: "The Earth Does Not Belong to Ma (3, Interesting)

LionKimbro (200000) | more than 8 years ago | (#14962583)

Not necessarily; Developed countries undergo population implosions.

Schools in Japan are shutting down in a wave, starting with the first grades, and then pushing onward through the school. Sometimes, they just shut down entire floors in their schools.

This is happening elsewhere, as well.

People are seriously freaked out about this. [japanesestudies.org.uk]

The thing I find amusing, is that many environmentalists have problems with this.

In the 1990's, a bunch of environmentalists got together, and said, "What do we need to do? We need to seriously do something, so that people will be more environmentalist." The strategy, they decided on, was to mythologize environmentalism. That is, to get people to worship the Earth Mother, to shun technology, to get in psychic harmony with nature, and so on, and so forth.

And that strategy is totally being played out.

So when you tell them, "Hey, in Japan, they're freaking out, because people aren't having kids, and it seems to be because they're developed," it tends to not go over so well.

Re:Indian Wisdom: "The Earth Does Not Belong to Ma (1)

killjoe (766577) | more than 8 years ago | (#14962640)

There are more then 10 million people in tokyo alone. You really think Japan can support the population it has now? Of course not. Japan has eaten through it's tree population and is not having to import every square inch of wood.

Unfortunately they have painted themselves into a corner. The future of mankind is exactly like japan today. This pyramid scheme where the young work to finance the old is going to collapse sooner or later. We can hold if off for a while by opening up the floddgates and letting the dark people work to support us but even that's going to collapse sooner or later.

If japan is to run itself sustainably it probably needs to have something like four or five million people tops.

Easy Way to Limit Population (4, Insightful)

Danger Stevens (869074) | more than 8 years ago | (#14962613)

At first thought it might seem like the only way to limit the birthrate would be draconian or orwellian methods - nothing palatable to be sure. However, the truth is much simpler than that.

There is a long-observed direct corrolation between poverty and birth rate. Societies with greater poverty have higher birthrate. Even in China it's commom for city-dwellers to observe the 1-child rule, but poor farmers still have families of 6 or 7 simply because they need all the labor to help create an income. The same is true in the slums of Calcutta where children are needed to rifle through trash piles looking for recyclable goods. This happens across all the great poverty centers: Manilla, Bangkok, Mumbai, Calcutta, Nairobi, Cairo, etc.

Japan is a perfect example of the opposite. They have a NEGATIVE birthrate because the affluence of their society has led many to chose not to have children.

The solution to overpopulation will come hand-in-hand with our solution to many other injustices: great a fair distribution of resources and we'll be able to live sustainable on our planet.

Thanks for the laugh (2, Insightful)

Vlad2.0 (956796) | more than 8 years ago | (#14962465)

I don't think I've ever seen anyone try to write off a geoshities site as a credible source of information (or as any source of information, for that matter).

I'm a hair over 20 years old and I've heard people bitch and moan about the end of the world, global warming, WW3, etc, since I was born. And frankly, I'm a lot more afraid of WW3 than global warming. While I'm all for alternative energy, recycling, minimizing fossil fuel consumption, and what not, all the bullshit from BOTH SIDES of the global warming argument have made me extremely cynical of wether or not it should be taken seriously.

Frankly (and I have absolutely no credentials to back up my opinion) I think the sea levels rising several meters of more in the next 20-30 years has about as much chance of occuring as Bush resigning from office so he can star in the next gay cowboy movie. Maybe if people would stop bitching about nuclear power and accept the fact it's 19233274928734 times better than burning shit loads of carbon compounds, the world would be a better place.

Re:Thanks for the laugh (2, Informative)

Stephan Schulz (948) | more than 8 years ago | (#14962508)

...And frankly, I'm a lot more afraid of WW3 than global warming. While I'm all for alternative energy, recycling, minimizing fossil fuel consumption, and what not, all the bullshit from BOTH SIDES of the global warming argument have made me extremely cynical of wether or not it should be taken seriously.

Frankly (and I have absolutely no credentials to back up my opinion) I think the sea levels rising several meters of more in the next 20-30 years has about as much chance of occuring...

...except that noone serious proposes that. I would suggest to get some information about the state of the science. The IPCC Third Assessment Report [grida.no] gives a good overview. It is a bit dated now (published in 2001), but available online for free. The Fourth Assessment Report should come out next year. And no, the IPCC is not some front organization of Black Helicopters United, but an organization whose reports are generally supported by the scientific community, including most individual researchers as well as formal bodies like the national academies of science. Wikipedia also has a number of good articles - start at global warming [wikipedia.org] .
...as Bush resigning from office so he can star in the next gay cowboy movie.
Now there's a thought!

Re:Indian Wisdom: "The Earth Does Not Belong to Ma (1)

Gunnut1124 (961311) | more than 8 years ago | (#14962517)

Careful taking this guy's point-of-view seriously.... if you don't want to take my word for it, read the smoke and mirrors his sig links to...

ah, the noble savage myth again (1)

penguin-collective (932038) | more than 8 years ago | (#14962619)

I fully agree that Washington politics on the environment sucks. But why bring Native Americans into this? Like pretty much all other societies, they caused extinctions, destroyed the environment, and didn't keep their population in check (at least not by choice).

Native American sayings are not a good guideline for modern policies. Tackling issues of sustainability will require science and technology.

Re:Parallels with Easter Island (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14962562)

"We have our rats too."

Better to shoot the rats than wait for the house to fall down. Isn't it long time?

T Minus 5 minutes (3, Funny)

Rooked_One (591287) | more than 8 years ago | (#14962379)

until this story doesn't exist

Re:T Minus 5 minutes (3, Funny)

strider44 (650833) | more than 8 years ago | (#14962437)

Oh no it will remain, just be edited somewhat. Observe:

Editing Environmental Science
Posted by ScuttleMonkey on Tuesday March 21, @02:36AM
from the nothing-to-worry-about dept.
Aqua OS X writes to tell us CBS News is reporting that government scientist James Hansen recently spoke out against the White House in an appearance on 60 Minutes. From the article: "Hansen is a disgraced researcher on global warming. He was the head of NASA's top institute studying the climate before resigning under controvercial circumstances. But this scientist tells correspondent Scott Pelley that the Bush administration may have been restricting who he may talk to and editing what he might have wanted to say. Politicians, he says, could be editing minor insignificant sections of science."

There - that's better.

Re:T Minus 5 minutes (4, Insightful)

orthogonal (588627) | more than 8 years ago | (#14962624)

Comrade Stalin believes in Lysenko and Lysenkoism makes Soviet Science the vanguard of Socialist Biology! [skepdic.com]

Comrade Lysenko believes in Michurianism, and Michurin believes in Lamarckism! So don't try to fool us with Darwin, the People's Science teaches that acquired traits can be inherited. It is by this inheritance of acquired traits that the Proletariat will triumph over the Bourgeois Revanchist "science"!

We will win with out half-human, half-ape battalions! [mosnews.com] (Seriously, the Soviets really did try to breed human-ape crosses for "super-soldiers".)

From the first link: Lysenko called Mendelian genetics "reactionary and decadent" and Mendelians or Darwinists "enemies of the Soviet people". It wasn't until 1965 that soviets were allowed to even begin to catch up in biology.


The Nazis proposed their own "German Science" in reaction to what they called the "Jewish Science" of, among others, Albert Einstein and (the ironically non-Jewish) Werner Heisenberg. The "Jewish Science" was nothing other than modern physics, of course. [reference.com]

And when the Jewish scientists fled Nazi Germany, many came to America to work on the atomic bomb -- a bomb originally intended for use against Germany.


So as the Bush Administration and the Kansas school board repress honest science in America in favor of ideology and religion, ask yourself where we'll be in five or ten or fifty years.

Will any great biologists come out of Kansas if they need, at best, several semesters of remedial training to disabuse them of the lies of "Intelligent Design"? Will the breakthroughs in stem-cell research -- breakthroughs that could cure numerous diseases and extend human life for decades -- happen here, under the Christian eyes of Dr. Frist, or in freer and more open lands like India and Korea?

Or will that not matter at all, as global warming and environmental collapse literally drown America for the profit of the oil companies?

For a hundred years or more, America has been at the forefront of scientific research and development. Scientific leadership has been a pillar supporting our country's wealth and power. Will you let that pillar be chopped down so a few plutocrats can profit while science-hating fundamentalists cheer?

In the next several elections, you'll be voting not just for Representatives or a President -- you'll be voting on the future, or the future decline, of your country. Will you emulate the courage of Dr. Hansen, or will you surrender to an American Lysenkoism of ignorance, ideologically-fettered science, and superstition?

Science section? (-1, Flamebait)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 8 years ago | (#14962395)

I'm ashamed that this appears in the "Science" section. It belongs in "Politics", and no other.

Re:Science section? (1)

Aqua OS X (458522) | more than 8 years ago | (#14962414)

Not to sound like an ass, but I find this post a tad ironic... especially when the article linked above is talking about the problems of filtering science though politics.

Re:Science section? (3, Insightful)

ortcutt (711694) | more than 8 years ago | (#14962452)

The politicization of science is an important issue for science. Why don't you think this is a science story?

This is all throughout the scientific community (1, Insightful)

SteelV (839704) | more than 8 years ago | (#14962400)

I recently spoke with an important public health official who told me it is his job to argue for science. Now I'm not sure of his political views and he may love the Bush administration for all I know, I found that interesting and think it applies a lot to what's going on right now with NASA.

That recent Bush appointee that tried to go against the Big Bang theory is just the sort of problem, as is recent funding cuts to NASA. I don''t just blame the current administration however--because it is the scientist's job to convince the public and politicians of the importance of their work, and it is clear that they are currently largely failing at this.

Re:This is all throughout the scientific community (1)

PrinceAshitaka (562972) | more than 8 years ago | (#14962417)

I thought it was a scientists job to find the truth.

YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH! (5, Funny)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 8 years ago | (#14962434)

Son, we live in a world that has myths, and those myths have to be guarded by men with guns. Whose gonna do it? You? You, PrinceAshitaka? The President has a greater responsibility than you could possibly fathom. You weep for the Big Bang Theory, and you curse the Baptists. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know. That the Theory's subversion, while tragic, probably saved souls. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves souls. You don't want the truth because deep down in places you don't talk about at parties, you want us on that wall, you need us on that wall. We use words like God, Intelligent, Design. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very mythology that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said thank you, and went on your way, Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a Bible, and stand a post. Either way, I don't give a damn what you think you are entitled to.

Re:This is all throughout the scientific community (1)

SteelV (839704) | more than 8 years ago | (#14962444)

That's true. But in order to get funding and actually make progress, a scientist has to convince people and politicians that his/her work is worthwhile.

Re:This is all throughout the scientific community (4, Insightful)

kisak (524062) | more than 8 years ago | (#14962547)

How can you not blame the bush administration when they are deliberately lying about science?! How can you blame scientists for not explaining science properly to politicians that are deliberately lying and misrepresenting scientific knowledge? How are scientist to blame for politicians spreading misinformation and FUD in the so-called free press while at the same time trying to limit scientists ability to explain the current scientific theories to the public?

I am all for listening to both sides of a story, but where did scientists worried about the future of the planet exactly do wrong? If someone except the politicians are to blame here, it is the sheep public who lets this happen. Or write posts like yours.

Re:This is all throughout the scientific community (2, Insightful)

otie (915090) | more than 8 years ago | (#14962668)

From TFA:
But if it is that simple, why do some climate science reports look like they have been heavily edited at the White House? With science labeled "not sufficiently reliable." It's a tone of scientific uncertainty the president set in his first months in office after he pulled out of a global treaty to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
I suppose the fundamental uncertainty of scientific results is just not as marketable as religious Truths.

Privitization? (5, Insightful)

Elrond, Duke of URL (2657) | more than 8 years ago | (#14962411)

Why is this under a "more-reasons-to-privitize" department? I'm all for private ventures going into space, but you're quite delusional if you expect there to be any large scale investment in global warming research by the private sector. Yes, I know there might be some exceptions, but privitization is not going to give us better research.

Better rockets, cheaper missions, maybe... but, in general, this sort of basic scientific research is *exactly* the sort of thing the government should be doing. Of course, in a perfect world, the government wouldn't be trying to stifle the scientists either...

Re:Privitization? (1, Insightful)

Toby The Economist (811138) | more than 8 years ago | (#14962421)

> but, in general, this sort of basic scientific research is *exactly* the sort of
> thing the government should be doing.

The inherent nature of the State is that it screws up what it does. State run enterprise is bloated, inefficient, expensive and a political football.

Medicare, Medicaid, spending bills, the FDA...

Research would go exactly the same way if the Government took it over.

Re:Privitization? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14962467)

Wrong. Medicare is extremely efficient. It is your mind that is inefficient.

Re:Privitization? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14962469)

Thats a dumb generalization. The market place does not have the foresight to realize that global warming is harmful and make it an economic priority.

The idea that corporations do everything better is a myth. Corporations are just as vulnerable to democratic politics as are government is. Need I rattle off names of corporations and their collosal blunders to prove this?

Re:Privitization? (2, Insightful)

NMerriam (15122) | more than 8 years ago | (#14962520)

I hate to break it to you, but Medicare is the most cost-efficient health care system in the country.

So while government may inherently screw things up, it seems to be the case that some matters are guaranteed to be screwed up even worse by any private enterprise.

Re:Privitization? (3, Insightful)

rmstar (114746) | more than 8 years ago | (#14962560)

The inherent nature of the State is that it screws up what it does. State run enterprise is bloated, inefficient, expensive and a political football.

The inherent nature of the state is that, whatever it does, there is always some smartass who thinks it is bloated, inefficient, expensive, and a politial football. Let me break it to you: the government does a lot of valuable things nobody else would do. That they always could be done better is trivially true, as pretty much everything anyone ever does could be done better.

The nature of the failings of the state are a simply consequence of the way the state works. Deeds done by the private sector have a different set of failings, also a consequence of how the private sector works. However, while we have a say in the workings of the former, we have little choice but to accept most decissions of owners of private property.

The private sector does better at some things, and at others the advantage is with the public sector.

Re:Privitization? (1)

cyber-vandal (148830) | more than 8 years ago | (#14962597)

The private sector in the UK has proved far more effective at screwing up former government-run organisations than the inefficient state sector ever could.

The shockingly poor public transport system, British Telecom actively working to slow ADSL adoption and competition to protect its ISDN investment, the 25% hikes in natural gas prices this year, the predicted water shortages in the south-east due in part to not enough investment in infrastructure improvements, ad nauseum. You could argue that they are all former government bureaucracies, but I could then point you to any of the big banks as perfect examples of bureaucratic incompetence and inefficiency that would shame the European Union.

Incompetence is not just a feature of goverment, it's just more visible than in the private sector.

Re:Privitization? (1)

orthogonal (588627) | more than 8 years ago | (#14962636)

State run enterprise is bloated, inefficient, expensive and a political football.

So was the Manhattan Project.

But that was literally a matter of life and death. Had the Nazis gotten the Atomic Bomb first, imagine the consequences.

In the case of global warming, we're faced with a environmental collapse that reasonable scientists believe could threaten the very existence of all human civilization on the globe.

An "expensive, inefficient" solution to that is infinitely preferable to no solution.

Re:Privitization? (1)

krouic (460022) | more than 8 years ago | (#14962673)

Private companies aim at maximizing their revenues in the short and middle term range and are more efficient in that timeframe. Government is better for activities whose return on investment can only be expected in the long term range.

that's what they do. (0)

PrinceAshitaka (562972) | more than 8 years ago | (#14962425)

"Politicians, he says, are rewriting the science." Well, that's what scientists to. As they search for the truth they refine thier views. Things change with new evidence. Politicians have to realize how science works.

We must act now to save the scientists!! (0, Flamebait)

thedletterman (926787) | more than 8 years ago | (#14962432)

"Scott Pelley that the Bush administration is restricting who he can talk to and editing what he can say. Politicians, he says, are rewriting the science."

You would think if this person was being censored, he wouldn't be able to tell people he was being censored... or is this his cardboard "KIDNAPPED" sign in the back of the passing stationwagon? Either way, what's scientific about this article? Please file this under hysterics, conspiracy, and politics.

Re:We must act now to save the scientists!! (3, Interesting)

Aqua OS X (458522) | more than 8 years ago | (#14962478)

Or, you could actually -read- the article.

Specifically the parts that note he was permitted from discussing a number of things and he had to give the interview with a NASA watchdog recording and overseeing the interview.

NASA == USAF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14962457)

Isn't NASA a branch of the USAF? Wouldnt everyone working for them then be under military juristiction within which they actually *can* tell you what you can and cannot say publicly?

Scientific Morality (1)

mysterystevenson (859520) | more than 8 years ago | (#14962460)

This all falls within what I would term as "scientific morality" and while that term has some scary images, the lack of a well laid out definition to scientists and the public could lead to disaster. Consider current trends in science showing : (a) Political control over science and publication of findings.b) Skewed guidelines involving the morality of scientists and science.(c) Lack of backbone in scientists in general to speak up in countries that are technically "free", many times just due to regard for a steady income, and intimated threats. In other words; what are the scientist's responsibilities to society ?(d) The potential for experiments to be conducted in Dangerous areas of research that could end up destroying humanity. (this would have been laughed at before the atom bomb)Included but not limited within this last category would be such things as; Artificial Black Holes,Worm Holes, Vortex theory, Biological Warfare, Nuclear Weapons; (bigger and better), Nano Gray Goo, Global Warming, on and on...Scientific Morality; could be simply defined somewhat as;Having enough wisdom not to destroy our world with knowledge that is beyond our mental ability to use.Responsibility to use said knowledge within certain guidelines, regardless of political influence.Here is a further link to other nightmare potentials of science; http://www.exitmundi.nl/exitmundi.htm [exitmundi.nl] Mystery

Re:Scientific Morality (1)

Vlad2.0 (956796) | more than 8 years ago | (#14962548)

This falls under what I'd call "public stupidity." Your post lightly touches on an issue that's been bugging me for some time.

There's a growing gap between the public and the edge of scientific research. As this gap widens, the public (and through them, politicians) have become increasingly critical of science in general. And naturally, anything they don't understand, they fear, and must therefore control.

Examples of this gap are plentiful: nuclear power, genetic engineering, evolution, big bang theory, environmental science, etc, have all sparked huge debates among an uninformed public who have *no* understanding of the science behind the issues, and instead respond with their feelings/morals/'un'opinions/religion. Science has become less "look, using this lever makes your work easier!" and more "I turn it out and music plays, it must be magic!" in the eyes of the public.

This is an Extremely Bad Thing(TM). Situations like this one are the reason that the Great Library doesn't exist anymore, why humanity spent hundreds of years in the Dark Ages, and why we let people raise their children in a scientific vacuum (do you hear me, bible belt?).

I'd say one of the root causes of this breakdown is due to America's higher education system. For example, I attend one of the Universities of California. As a budding engineer, I'm required to meet a number of liberal arts requirements to receive my degree, and, consequently, engineers have one of the highest unit limits (read: we have to take a shitload of classes). While most of us insist that this is merely a ploy to make our lives more difficult, they pass it off as a "broadening of your education." So be it.

If you reverse the situation, however, and look at your average communications/psych/poli sci/lit major, they barely require any hard science/math/eng. And thus they have a much lower unit limit (to the point where some of these majors are considered three or even *two* year majors!).

Which leads me to my point: the majority of people leaving schools are not being trained in hard science/math/engineering and consequently have little to no understanding of how or why things work, which leads to terribly uninformed, not-critically thought out opinions (just read myspace or google for some blogs). Their opinions are based on whatever propaganda they read and their previously instilled biases. Until science, math, and engineering education is forced onto the masses, the problems you mention will remain problems and not solutions.

Re:Scientific Morality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14962598)

I completely agree with you, but as a scientist I have to say the blame lies with us for not bringing the public along with us. The gap you speak cannot be allowed to exist. Both possible scenarios, the one where ignorant luddite lynch mobs tear down science, and the one where insane unfettered scientists destroy the world are undesirable. I think the problem is not so much with the rapid advancement of science, but rather the rapid decline in common knowledge.
60 years ago science was much more communal. Mainstream popular science jouralists were better eductaed and free to report issues of the day. Ordinary people haven't sudenly got dumber, they are just less informed than they used to be. And the reasons for this are largely the usual political paranoiacs and profiteers who have turned science against the human race. It isn't science per se that people fear, it's the secrecy and power surrounding science. Science can only be conducted in the open and we need laws that ensure that, commercial interests, patents and private profitability be damned.

In other news... (-1, Troll)

Macdude (23507) | more than 8 years ago | (#14962470)

But this imminent scientist tells correspondent Scott Pelley that the Bush administration is restricting who he can talk to and editing what he can say. Politicians, he says, are rewriting the science.

In other news the sun is hot, darkness is caused by a lack of light and the universe is big.

Safe Havens (2, Insightful)

sane? (179855) | more than 8 years ago | (#14962479)

This is part of a more general turning away from science in society. In the past Universities and government departments have been safe havens for scientists - willing to fund long term research with the only downside being the paperwork needed.

However we now live in an age when even this is being eroded and where the forces of politics, never the most rational of disciplines, feel safe in attempting to pervert its path. Will anyone really care? Will anyone notice? Scientific learning is looked down on. You are more likely to be admired in society for your knowledge of baseball scores than buckyballs.

I would suggest to our american colleagues that they look elsewhere for those that will value their work. The US isn't going to get better any time soon, whatever the shade of the next party in power. It's either that or organise your own political party and take control...

Re:Safe Havens (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 8 years ago | (#14962536)

I would suggest to our american colleagues that they look elsewhere for those that will value their work.

That is already happening. Just last week, University of Colorado (CU) lost a nobel laureate physics prof(Carl Wieman) who loves science. He went to Canada. Why? Funding and the hassles of fighting the state. But mostly funding.

In Colorado, our gov. (owens) cut back state support of state schools, while at the same time allowing the christian colleges to be able to get funding from the state.

In addition, he is now trying to play with the definition of tenure at the universities. In light of this article, as the witch hunt against Churchill, it is no wonder that premer American scientists are leaving.

Re:Safe Havens (1)

Vlad2.0 (956796) | more than 8 years ago | (#14962593)

In addition, he is now trying to play with the definition of tenure at the universities. In light of this article, as the witch hunt against Churchill, it is no wonder that premer American scientists are leaving.

I hear this a lot on Slashdot, that scientists are just migrating out of America en masse. My university professors seem to disagree. Do you (or anyone else for that matter) have any sources to back up your claims? Does anyone have any professors who say that other countries are kicking America's ass at engineering (or science in general)? Leave any rhetoric aside, please :)

Re:Safe Havens (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 8 years ago | (#14962664)

I did not say that scientists are migrating out of america en masse. Nor did I say that we are having our ass kicked. What I did say is that scientists are STARTING to move away. That will have a long term impact. It takes years to build up programs and universites.

As to sources, well google them. There have been plenty of sources that speak of USA losing its edge. Personally, I do not think that we are losing it yet. But I do see that we are erroding the base that is needed for it.

I did talk about a CU phsics prof. But I have seen something more telling. I have done research for various companies and instititions ( in biological and computer science). During this time, I have worked with a number of people from various origins. Only in recent times, have I observed is that a number of them have left to return to their countries. Why? Partially because they say that the econ is better back in their countries then it was 10-20 years ago. More so, they say that their own country is doing a better job of supporting their work (science). A couple said that they just did not feel like this was home. They would have left on their own. But most have left to teach, research, or start their own company back in their original country. These are high end researchers that it would have been preferable to keep here.

Personally, I am in agreement with Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, and Andy Groves on this one.

Grammar aside... (1)

Sargeant Slaughter (678631) | more than 8 years ago | (#14962484)

The Bush administration has made so many unsettling power consolidating moves since 2000 that a claim like this really isn't very suprising.

I highly recommend a documentary called "Why we fight"...

forget the politicians, we can't wait (0)

bzipitidoo (647217) | more than 8 years ago | (#14962495)

Let them have their fun crossing out words.

We've got 10 years to get our emissions down, or we could be be looking at a flood that will compare to the legends of Atlantis and Noah as New Orleans does to an overflowing kitchen sink. If true, and I tend to think so, that's seriously scary. What are we doing about it? What can we do? Telecommute more? Better home insulation? Switch to subcompact cars? Use clotheslines instead of dryers? Replace coal plants? 10 years isn't much time. Like, not enough time for changes in zoning laws to reduce urban sprawl. We sure can't wait for the next election to throw the idiots out of office.

Re:forget the politicians, we can't wait (1)

Tlosk (761023) | more than 8 years ago | (#14962588)

While dire, the time frame isn't quite as bad as you imply. He is suggesting that if we continue as we are we run a high chance of crossing a tipping point in a decade. Slowing emissions will lengthen the time to the tipping point which will give us hopefully enough time to not just slow the rate of emissions but being to reverse the damage that has already been done up to that point.

So basically the worst thing we can do right now is nothing (as you point out 10 years isn't long at all).

I guess a heck of a lot is riding now on what the big countries do in the next couple years, China, US, etc. And start heading for high ground if you live on the coasts.

Re:forget the politicians, we can't wait (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14962653)

What are we doing about it? What can we do?

Buy property in the Rocky Mountains!

interesting counterpoint... (2, Insightful)

zogger (617870) | more than 8 years ago | (#14962501)

...in TFA. He mentions in passing that the previous executive branch crew tried the same thing, but in an opposite manner, he was encouraged to overstate findings.

Re:interesting counterpoint... (1)

top_down (137496) | more than 8 years ago | (#14962535)

Why would you call that a counterpoint? It is no counterpoint, it supports his case. It tells us that the disease is not limited to the Bush administration and some fundamental changes will have to be made to root it out.

Some notable quotes and comments from the article (5, Informative)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | more than 8 years ago | (#14962506)

You can't spin this as a liberal versus conservative thing, this is science versus politics:
Politically, Hansen calls himself an independent and he's had trouble with both parties. He says, from time to time, the Clinton administration wanted to hear warming was worse that it was. But Hansen refused to spin the science that way.
The Clinton administration, however, didn't go so far as to muzzle the scientist:
"In my more than three decades in the government I've never witnessed such restrictions on the ability of scientists to communicate with the public."
One of the worst ways to interfere with communications is to put words in someone's mouth. The article says that before Hansen's reports were published the Council on Environmental Quality's chief of staff would rewrite them. What credentials did the chief of staff have for changing the work of a climatologist? He used to be a lobbyist for the American Petroleum Institute. He's at Exxon Mobil now.

The other important, if not newsworthy, quote was

"Even to raise issues internally is immediately career limiting," says Piltz. "That's why you will find not too many people in the federal agencies who will speak freely about all the things they know, unless they're retired or unless they're ready to resign."
An organization with a culture like that might be right about something someday, but only by coincidence.

Meh (2, Insightful)

gowen (141411) | more than 8 years ago | (#14962515)

The problem isn't because the politicians are rewriting the science.
It's because the scientists are rewriting the theology.

Re:Meh (2, Insightful)

sumday (888112) | more than 8 years ago | (#14962567)

Right... Killer logic there. I suppose you'd consider it a stretch to say religious leaders are rewriting the politics?

Re:Meh (2, Insightful)

gowen (141411) | more than 8 years ago | (#14962645)

Killer logic there. I suppose you'd consider it a stretch to say religious leaders are rewriting the politics?That was actually my point (sort of. It's hard to make a subtle point in one line). The present Powers-That-Be find it easy to run down science because science is at odds with religion. And that dismissal of evolutionary science on dogmatic grounds makes it easy to dismiss other science, without any consideration for facts or evidence.

The argument goes :
Axiom: Creation is true
Axiom: Scientists don't believe in Creationism
Therefore: Scientists are fools and/or liars
Therefore: Global Warming is a myth, and the foolish scientists should stop spreading their lies about it.

Not to sound like a grammar nazi, but ... ;) (0, Troll)

Lightman_73 (183090) | more than 8 years ago | (#14962541)

... it's "eminent scientist", not "imminent" ;)

From m-w.com :

Main Entry: imminent

: ready to take place; especially : hanging threateningly over one's head


Main Entry: eminent

3 : exhibiting eminence especially in standing above others in some quality or position : PROMINENT


It's always nice to see how much attention /. puts in thoroughly cheking the submitted stories... ;)

Re:Not to sound like a grammar nazi, but ... ;) (1)

Kredal (566494) | more than 8 years ago | (#14962559)

if you haven't already, tag the story with "typo". One that I tagged actually had the typo stealth-fixed!

Scientific censorship (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14962564)

Wasn't this the way that the aliens in the 'V' miniseries prevented the humans from figuring out what they were up to? Sounds like a pretty certain parallel to me. I bet Bush has a lizard face underneath that rubber mask.

Administration only finges beeing ignorant... (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14962568)

...while they KNOW exactly that scientists ARE absolutely right. The awful truth is you will be greatful for that... because US government is preparing for worst case scenario - they know that world is facing imminent ( hey, there's that word again :) ) turmoil, which will produce large scale of instabilities, disasters (floods, storms), hungers, wars, probably even epidemies of tropical diseases hitting heavy populated former mild climate belts, and all this is already UNSTOPABLE, whatever we do now (too little, too late). So, they are counting on taking as much advantage as possible from this change, instead of attempting to stop it in vain. "Accepting responsibility" and "Doing something about it" would be noble thing to do, of course, but not much too wise.

Therefore, the 9/11 set of peculiar events are just excuse for fortifying against torrent of refugees that will pour "fore walls and gates", just warming up of engines for greater threats that are soon to come. Likewise is the frantical hunt against WMD - not because of the "mad dictators" who could use them for political reasons, but because they could be used a tool of a blackmail to extort food and drinking water from reserves of "the fortress". Decline to respect Kyoto accord is there for sole purpose of sustaining future (unavoidable) war preparations - producing more steel (CO2 generating process all along!), continuing armed forces training (including occasional local or regional war), etc.

After the Great Extinction of less fortunate human population ceises and US survives as least damaged and still strongest nation, THEN, in World undisputably BELONGING to strongest survivor, it WILL make sense to (it will pay to) try to repair the climate, not NOW. Now... it should be ignored and disputed.

wait, I think I see the problem... (1)

penguin-collective (932038) | more than 8 years ago | (#14962584)

But this imminent scientist tells correspondent Scott Pelley

Well, when the imminent scientist actually becomes a real scientist, maybe then people will start listening to him :-)

Socialist trees (3, Insightful)

Per Abrahamsen (1397) | more than 8 years ago | (#14962591)

In Siberia, there is a forestry where the tress grows in pairs right next to each other.

While the common wisdom is that each individual trees need space around it to grow, the theory was that this was only true for capitalist trees. Rather than compete with each other for resources, socialist trees would cooperate for the common good.

Every official report from the forestry shows that the experiment was a great success.

oliticians, he says, are rewriting the science. (0, Flamebait)

Kaphin (834914) | more than 8 years ago | (#14962596)

Let me the first to make a slight correction to his statement. Republicans are rewriting the science. Republicans. Don't forget this.

Politics and Science (5, Insightful)

w3woody (44457) | more than 8 years ago | (#14962599)

With all due respect to James Hansen, the problem here is simple: just how many microseconds after scientists attempted to influence politics did you think it would take before politicians attempted to influence science?

We've seen it everywhere from the debate on Global Warming (where scientists have joined forces with ecologists to engage in massive social engineering in the form of the Kyoto accord) to the debate on evolutionary science (where fundamentalists attempted to redefine science with Intelligent Design) to the debate on gun control (where researchers have attempted to show a direct causal link between guns and crime) and pesticides (Alar, anyone?)

Now, whenever I see a news report on a political topic start quoting "scientists" or "researchers", I generally don't think "oh, good; a concerned scientist trying to weigh in on an important topic", but "whose special interest money is paying for this guy?"

It's hard to play in the mud and not get muddy yourself.

Relocate NASA labs to Siberia? (1)

Alan the Prof (916127) | more than 8 years ago | (#14962633)

In light of this and many other recent stories, I don't believe that we can believe ANY US government agencies any longer when it comes to scientific subjects.
If even the most eminent (or immanent?) scientists in a field can be censored in this way I need a whole new salt shaker (to take pinches from.)
I recall that the Soviets used to send off dissenters to spend a little holiday in the gulags. The White House seems more civilised about it, but they strive for the same effect.

How many trees would it take? (1)

janvo (639733) | more than 8 years ago | (#14962635)

How many trees would need to be planted so that if all other factors remain normal (population growth, green house gas emissions), our net CO2 emissions would start to decline ?
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