The Intersection

This isn’t a subject I blog much about any more…after all, the “war on science” argument that I helped originate has now been made in such an ad nauseum way that it has become more or less conventional wisdom.

However, it’s still worth noting when a great new piece of evidence emerges showing just how bad the administration has been when it comes to science.

In this case, that evidence comes from the Environmental Protection Agency. Not surprisingly, the EPA’s staff unions are withdrawing from their cooperation agreement with the agency’s political leadership. And what is their cited reason?

Well, let us quote some of the complaints (PDF):

“EPA boasts of the Principles of Scientific Integrity before the Congress and the
public as an example of EPA’s dedication to using only good science in its decision making, but refuses to agree to an adjudication process for resolving disputes arising from alleged violations of the PSI.”

“…EPA ignores the advice of its Labor Union Coalition and its own Principles of Scientific Integrity whenever political direction from other federal entities or private sector interests so direct. Examples include fluoride drinking water standards, organophosphate pesticide registration, control of mercury emissions from power plants, and requests for waivers to allow States to more stringently control greenhouse gases.”

The letter I’m quoting comes from unions that collectively represent over 10,000 EPA employees–and of course, a lot of those are scientists.

So this is pretty convincing evidence that a vast number of agency scientists believe that EPA has lost any claim whatsoever to scientific integrity.


  1. #1 Lance
    March 5, 2008

    Admit it Chris you’re gonna miss having old “W” to kick around. I expect that the democratic candidate will win the presidential election. I hope Obama gets in. He will never be able to live up to the expectations of the environmental left.

    Chris, I will be anxiously watching to see how you treat either Hillary or Obama in coming posts if whichever one is elected doesn’t propose initiatives that would result in drastic cuts in CO2 emissions. It is highly unlikely, in the face of a looming economic recession, that a newly elected president would implement a regimen of punitive energy measures, either in the form of taxes or caps.

    I expect that many of the loudest voices angrily denouncing the current administration will fall silent once a democrat is elected president. Of course a clever strategy would be to propose unrealistic and painful measures that a republican minority would be forced to oppose with a filibuster. This would succeed in placating the faithful while still demonizing the republicans.

    I kind’a hope, if that happens, that the republicans won’t rise to the bait. If the democratically controlled congress passes sweeping carbon reduction legislation that ends up harming the economy and not lowering atmospheric CO2 there will be severe political repercussions.

    Since India and China will never play along, any unilateral reductions made by the west will not stop the level of atmospheric CO2 from its upward trend. What then, economic sanctions? That would just exacerbate the economic problems and don’t forget China holds the marker for a huge amount of US debt. Just the threat of calling in that marker could push the damaged economy over a “tipping point” more frightening to the average American than any alleged shift of polar ice dynamics.

    These CO2 hold outs will give the environmental left a temporary scapegoat if temps keep increasing. If they don’t continue to increase there will be some very unpleasant questions to answer. Aerosols are not going to provide political cover from out of work industrial workers and middle class Americans strained to the edge by spiraling energy costs.

    Be careful what you wish for. There will be interesting times ahead. I’ll be waiting, Chris and Sheril, to see how you respond to the changing political climate.

  2. #2 Linda
    March 5, 2008

    I, as opposed to Lance, look forward to a new administration with better optimism and better sense. I think that all the candidates, including Senator McCain, are keenly aware of all the science and technology challenges our planet faces in todays world. Challenges, such as climate change, economic competitiveness in a global lower cost science and technology economy, clean air, clean water, green fuel technology, etc.
    We will find out their thoughts and positions, hopefully, in Philadelphia on April 18 at Sciencedebate 2008.
    I look forward to it.

  3. #3 Eric the Leaf
    March 5, 2008

    I rarely agree with you, though I enjoy your posts. Here, however, I think you are largely correct about climate change initiatives. None of them will work because they will not be politically or economically palatable in the end. The coming recession will be exacerbated, in my opinion, by the relentless increase in energy prices, and the increase in price of everything remotely related–food, city services, shipping, air travel, and just about everything else you can think of. The coming energy shock is going to dwarf any concern with climate change. The inability of many environmentalists to even acknowledge this reality is puzzling. Without evidence to the contrary, my suspicion is that they are ill-informed. Energy to them is always translated into its relationship to climate change. No, it’s all about energy, period. The problems, and solutions, such as they may be, are not the same.

  4. #4 Philip H.
    March 6, 2008

    Here’s some evidence to the contrary . . . I agree that energy production and energy pricing, particularly for petroleum fuel options – is a huge concern. I also believe that we are in for a big shock, especially since we have a President who apparently wasn’t aware we were headed to $4 and gallon for gasoline. What I take issue with, however, is the notion that the energy crisis that looms can’t be overcome, and that it isn’t climate change related.

    Consider this one idea – if the federal governement installed solar and wind power on each and every one of it’s building over the next 5 years, how many jobs would that create? How much electrical generation capacity (especially during the day, when federal buildings are occupied) would that offset? And then, how much carbon emmission would that offset reduce?

    Can it happen – you bet. Will it happen? Well, no one though Science Debate 2008 would happen, and while the three remaining candidates aren’t yet committed, their campaigns seem to be aware of its importance.

    My point, as an environmentalist, an oceanographer, a federal employee, a citizen, a father . . . is that we can do good things, big things, that both help the environment and our economy. Its just a question of will we – and that question is under the control of each and every one of us.

  5. #5 Eric the Leaf
    March 6, 2008

    How is oil depletion climate related? And why set the shock at $4 a gallon? Or did you cite that price because it was just the figure that W seemed baffled by?

  6. #6 John Mashey
    March 7, 2008

    We’re going to burn all the conventional oil & gas we can get, and some of the coal.

    As we slide down the Peak Oil curve [here or coming in next few years], there will be terrific pressure to:
    – do tar sands and shale oil
    – do coal->synfuels
    – burn more coal to replace gas for electricity

    and those are Really Bad News.

    There is a big problem, see Charlie Hall’s Balloon, and DOE report that says we should have started years ago: Hirsch Report.

    If you want to see a model of the carbon pulse and its effects, here’s Kharecha&Hansen.

    Peak Fossil & Global warming are evil twins, joined at birth, I’m afraid, and the former doesn’t happen fast enough to avoid the latte, without help.

  7. #7 Eric the Leaf
    March 7, 2008

    The Hirsch Report should be at the top of anybody’s reading list who is concerned with energy policy. The Charlie Hall Balloon graph is astounding.

  8. #8 Lance
    March 7, 2008

    I know I’m viewed as an amalgam of Montgomery Burns and Rush Limbaugh by some posters here(John Mashey pompously proclaimed, in a recent post at Deltoid, that he had banished my evilness with a grease monkey killfile. Whatever.), but I consider myself an environmentalist. I contribute to many environmental groups such as the Nature Conservancy and Heartland (a small local group dedicated to preserving regional forests).

    I am also a realist. We, meaning civilization, are going to burn all the oil, gas and coal that we can claw out of the ground so long as they are the most economically viable sources of energy available. And it looks like they will continue to be so for at least the next fifty years.

    Phillip H., while your enthusiasm and optimism are commendable there is no way that wind and solar energy are going to be feasible alternatives to fossil fuels within the next fifty years. Follow the link that my detractor John Mashey has provided to “Charlie Hall’s balloon”.

    This graphic clearly shows the reality of our dependence on fossil fuels and the likelihood that they can be replaced anytime soon. Without a drastic lowering of energy use there is no way to achieve the goal of reducing CO2 emissions by 80%. There is simply no possible way that current alternatives can provide the energy needed to power our modern society especially since the same political forces that demand we abandon fossil fuels also oppose the building of nuclear power plants.

    If energy use was curtailed by the amount necessary to facilitate this reduction it would result in a precipitous drop in the standard of living of the developed world. It would also forestall the efforts of the developing world to move out of the abject poverty that is the day to reality of the majority of people living there today.

    I will not drag the question of whether there is a rational reason to limit CO2 into this post. The fact is that India and China will not commit to substantial reductions in carbon based energy. This ensures that atmospheric CO2 will continue to increase for the foreseeable future.

    The political dynamics cannot ignore these facts, well at least not if the resultant policy is to be reality based. This will result in a very interesting political climate that will present real consequences for punitive carbon mitigation. We shall see if the candidates, once elected, will be willing to take responsibility for these consequences in the name of climate change mitigation.

  9. #9 Caledonian
    March 9, 2008

    It will certainly be interesting to see whether the pundits who have failed to acknowledge that the corruption of our government is far older than Dubya’s reign will continue to speak out about the war on science once a Democrat steps into the office of President.

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