Module 01 Environmental Controversy – Science and Politics
“Background Information” Today there are many complaints over the politicization of science. Many people believe politics should not play a role in science, but once government funds science, the funding decisions become political. In most social institutions, disagreements are settled by debate. Science in contrast, uses experiments to prove or disprove theories. Science is testable, and is self-proving. If a better explanation for a phenomenon is found, it will replace other explanations. This is why careful distinctions must be made between Frontier Science, Consensus Science, and Junk Science.
Many difficult controversies surround the environmental problems we face in the world today. Problems include: Air and water pollution, global warming, species and ecosystem biodiversity, energy, hazardous waste, population, and food supply issues. Politics control the financing of scientific research and development to help solve these issues. In politics passion wins over logic.
Science is not politics and cannot be debated in the same way politics are. Mixing politics with science produces bad science. Government efforts to fund research interfere with the maintenance of high scientific standards. The current Congress consists of 535 members. Of these members, 7 (1.3%), are scientists, and 21 others are healthcare professionals.
Do you feel that scientists should be cut out of the policy making process, particularly on environmental issues, when their research is proven and widely accepted and is being ignored and disputed? Politicians ultimately make the decisions, but shouldn’t the scientists have a voice?
Do you feel that lobbyists and special interest groups exert too great of an influence and act as an impediment to finding solutions to, and providing the funding for, research for the environmental problems we face?
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