The War On Science

is being waged as aggressively by the Obama administration as it was in the GeeDubya Bush years. This particular episode involves the persecution (with the possibility of prosecution) of a researcher, Dr. Charles Monnett, who is studying the deaths of Arctic polar bears, and the objection to his work is apparently being mounted on behalf of oil companies who are about to receive Obama’s permission to begin development of the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas off Alaska. The method is raw intimidation: sending non-scientist inspectors to harass the researcher about his reported results. Two environmentalist org’s, Greenpeace and  the Center for Biological Diversity, have filed an FOIA request for Shell’s correspondence with the government regarding Monnett and his work, and have written a letter to the chairs of the EPA and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement inquiring about possible political interference in Monnett’s work. You can view the letter at the above link.

I take this very personally. I have worked for scientists and with scientists for decades, and count quite a few of them among my friends. Personal foibles aside, I have found that the overwhelming majority of scientists have a deep-seated commitment to truth that is often utterly lacking in political authority figures. In other words, scientists as a group and individually deserve better treatment than this.

It seems likely to me that if the Bush-Obama trend continues, the U.S. will cease to be a magnet for the best scientists from around the world. Indeed, if a young person shows promise in the sciences, I would advise him or her to get the hell out of here while the getting is good. The great scientific breakthroughs of the 21st century are unlikely to take place here, and restrictions on travel are liable to become even more onerous with time. Suppression of science and harassment of scientists is ugly and foolish on its face, but our loss will be some more enlightened nation’s gain. Meanwhile, welcome, everyone, to the last years of Rome!

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Comments

  • MandT  On Sunday August 7, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    Empires are not democracies. but allowing for fascism, stupidity is the end of the business. As strange as the attitude appears I take heart that all will collapse in a few decades and we will be the new Great Britain.

  • jams o donnell  On Sunday August 7, 2011 at 3:57 pm

    Shakes head in utter dismay. The new know-nothings.

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