You may not have ever heard of it, but one of the right’s more interesting think tanks dealing in matters of science is the so-called Annapolis Center, or the Annapolis Center for Science-Based Public Policy. The group does the typical global warming and mercury type stuff, but it also does one thing that’s unique: Each year it presents a science award to a politician. And each year, seemingly without fail, the chosen recipient of this award–which recognizes an individual who promotes “rational, science-based thinking and policy-making”–has been a leader when it comes to political attacks on scientific information.
In 2004, Annapolis gave the award to global warming denier James Inhofe. In 2005, it gave it to Joe Barton, the Energy and Commerce Committee chair who (as you may recall) promptly launched an attack on the authors of the famous “hockey stick” study, making an extremely burdensome and chilling demand for all of their data and funding information. Needless to say, awarding either one of these individuals for “rational, science-based thinking and policy-making” is, er, quite creative….And now, Annapolis has announced the recipient of the award for 2006: Rep. Richard Pombo, chair of the the House Committee on Resources and, yes, yet another political science abuser.
I am just finishing up updates to my book chapter on the Endangered Species Act, which Pombo for years has been trying to gut. One of the little games here (detailed in The Republican War on Science) has been to try to change the scientific language of the act in order to tie the hands of wildlife experts who have to rely on very imperfect information in order to make decisions about what will pose jeopardy to a species and what will not. By upping the scientific burden of proof that these officials must meet before taking action, you can gum up the entire works. Pombo has been leading this charge–and the reforms he’s suggesting have been opposed by literally thousands of wildlife experts.
So, it looks like the Annapolis Center has done it again. I cringe to think who they will award in 2007….