Pharyngula

We shouldn’t be surprised when the Bush administration jiggers the scientific books:

In short, Oregon State University scientists reported in Science magazine that some logging practices may contribute to forest fires, rather than curbing them as conventional wisdom leads us to believe. The report ran contrary to current federal policy under the Bush administration, and the funding for the research group was suspended.

When reality conflicts with your ideology, it must be reality that’s in error.

Comments

  1. #1 DW
    February 27, 2006

    No, I don’t think this one is religion. Try this:

    When reality conflicts with your ideology, reality must be de-funded. Or sometimes reality must be declared classified.

    Their real beef with you science types is that you stick your nose into everything and then you want to go tell the whole world about it. Where’s your respect for power?

  2. #2 Gene
    February 27, 2006

    When reality conflicts with your ideology, it must be reality that’s in error.

    Why do you think we’re still in Iraq?

  3. #3 NatureSelectedMe
    February 27, 2006

    I think this is the best part:

    The report ran contrary to current federal policy under the Bush administration, and the funding for the research group was suspended.

    What policy?

    Walden accused Donato, 29, of having failed to tell his federal research supervisor about the findings of his study, as is required by the terms of his research contract with the federal government. Donato conceded that he had not known about the requirement for consultation and that he knows more about it now.

    Where’s the black mark? Donato failed a requirement. End of story.

  4. #4 George
    February 27, 2006

    This does quite tell the whole story. Professors at OSU wanted to suppress the paper. In reality the only reason for this desire was fear that … funding will be lost from timber industry and government sources.

    Forestry is clearly a study that works to get the desired answer not to do real science. You must get the next research grant.

    Is it any wonder we have no idea how manage our forests or that the proper definition for most, is not forest, but farm.

  5. #5 ekzept
    February 27, 2006

    i may be paranoid, but ideological orientation and putting loyalty first achieves new highs with this administration. i monitor the Secrecy Project at the Federation of American Scientists closely. there’s a bunch of stuff going on that really makes you wonder.

    there’s an idea that the President doesn’t need to follow laws passed by Congress, not only with respect to war-making authority, but with respect to anything, even if he doesn’t veto them. he can sign them and provide an “interpretation” of the written law as the Executive understands it, and supposedly they believe that’s all they’re bound to follow.

    there’s a massive “reclassification” effort going on at the National Archives, where declassified materials, even things released to the Web and published in books because they were declassified are now being withdrawn and reclassified.

    there’s a court case where the administration is pressing the interpretation that mere possession of classified information, even if you are a journalist or scientist and did not know it was classified, can be prosecuted under the secrecy statutes.

    there’s a new vigorous push to create a class of “unclassified but sensitive” information which cannot be released and discussed.

    and there’s been talk, back and forth, mentioned in a public Senate committee hearing, that military areas around the country are constructing and provisioning special barracks and holding areas to be used in case of another attack against the United States as a place to detain “fifth columnists”. Daniel Ellsberg has commented he thinks per the Sedition Act type stuff of Red Scare times, they could be used to hold “dissenters”.

    this is bad.

  6. #6 NatureSelectedMe
    February 27, 2006

    Forestry is clearly a study that works to get the desired answer not to do real science.
    That’s pretty damning. But is it forestry or the administration? Is there more than just the one study on the Biscuit fire for you to come to this conclusion?

  7. #7 NatureSelectedMe
    February 27, 2006

    ekzept, let me help you out here. You ARE paranoid.

  8. #8 ekzept
    February 28, 2006

    well, NSE, explain these actions, then.

  9. #9 NatureSelectedMe
    February 28, 2006

    ekzept, how can I explain your delusions?

  10. #10 ekzept
    February 28, 2006

    so, NSE, you’re on record as denying the reality of each and every one of my claims. okay.

  11. #11 John C. Randolph
    February 28, 2006

    Well, that’s life when you’re living on the government teat. If they don’t like what you say, they can snatch that money away in a heartbeat.

    -jcr

  12. #12 NatureSelectedMe
    February 28, 2006

    Ekzept, that’s really harsh. But these aren’t really your claims – its the Secrecy Project at the Federation of American Scientists claims isn’t it? You just believe them. Hook. Line. and Sinker.

  13. #13 Skemono
    February 28, 2006

    But these aren’t really your claims – its the Secrecy Project at the Federation of American Scientists claims isn’t it?

    Well, and MSNBC and the New York Times….

    Oh, and the Washington Post.

  14. #14 T_U_T
    February 28, 2006

    I see, NSM has been victim of really twisted neurosurgical experiment – all inputs into his broca’s area have been inverted, so that the poor guy always says the opposite of what he means…. for example, he wants to tell “speciation is common”, but he’ll say “no speciation ever occurred”. So, if he says, that ekzept’s fears are just delusional, he actually means that they are something frighteningy real.

  15. #15 Dan S.
    February 28, 2006

    “NatureSelectedMe”

    Hey, everybody makess mistakes . . .

  16. #16 Dan S.
    February 28, 2006

    Us silly reality-based people . . .

  17. #17 Discordo-Pastafarian
    February 28, 2006

    Forestry is clearly a study that works to get the desired answer not to do real science. You must get the next research grant.

    Is it any wonder we have no idea how manage our forests or that the proper definition for most, is not forest, but farm.

    So, you look at one university on the west coast, and make an incredibly biased statement about silvics in general?

  18. #18 NatureSelectedMe
    February 28, 2006

    he wants to tell “speciation is common”, but he’ll say “no speciation ever occurred”.
    What? King tut, you’re too clever. Can’t we stick with my current ramblings? Now you have to admit that the list ekzept wrote sounds paranoid, doesn’t it? He’s got everything but the Administration authorizing microphones under beds.

  19. #19 Caledonian
    February 28, 2006

    Paranoia is a perfectly normal reaction to the government being out to get you.

    You’re relying on that absurdity fallacy — claims that sound “too extreme” to an individual are perceived as absurd, therefore they cannot be correct.

  20. #20 Keith Douglas
    February 28, 2006

    Forestry of course includes applied science and technological aspects, beyond the basic science. That said, the technological aspect should have the values implicit therein debated, not hushed up …

  21. #21 mark
    February 28, 2006

    I wish there would be another State of the Union speech again real soon so I could hear how important science is and how support will be increased.

    If people are descended from monkeys, how come it’s Bush who flings the feces?

  22. #22 Loris
    February 28, 2006

    I’m going to have to agree with Caledonian. If the government is out to get you you’re not paranoid, you’re right!

    Ya’ll remember back in the first W presidency when the Republicans were going on and on about how if we didn’t build roads in pristine forests, we couldn’t take care of the forests? That’s what all this is about.

    The Republicans are trying to sell over 175,000 acres of National Forest, 21,566 in Missouri alone. This is to put a dent in the rural school budget.

  23. #24 Fire Ant
    February 28, 2006

    As far as the link between logging and wildfires goes, it’s quite real. Some of the worst wildfires in this Country’s history originated in logged/slash-filled sites. An increase in access/logging roads increases the chance for wildfires through the decrease in micro-site humidity, increase in road edges where fires often start, and just better access for pyromaniacs! Larger, old-growth trees do not fuel fires, it’s the slash left over from logging operations that is not marketable, and therefore left behind to dry. Stuff doesn’t rot too quick out west, which is why fire is nature’s recycling service.

  24. #25 Joseph O'Brien
    February 28, 2006

    And yet one of the largest fires in modern American history was the 1988 Yellowstone fire, which burned 45% of the park, despite the fact that logging has been unheard of for 100 years. Forests are complex ecosystems, and logging is one disturbance agent that affects them. Logging can have detrimental effects, or can help to regenerate a stand that has been “devastated” by fire. Yes, the area in question had good regeneration, and another forest would apparently have grown up just fine among the burned trees. The real question is: how much is it worth–not only to the timber companies–but to society, to recover the useful wood that would have otherwise rotted in place? Salvaging that wood definitely entails trade-offs including the planting of additional trees to replace the young regeneration trampled by the salvage activities, and mitigation of any slash left on he ground, but I don’t understand why people denigrate forestry in knee-jerk fashion, when they prize their books, toilet paper, and timber-frame houses. Wood does grow on trees people! Get over it.

  25. #26 Caledonian
    February 28, 2006

    I believe the problem in Yellowstone was that all fires had been put out there for decades, resulting in a massive buildup of the garbage that minor fires would eliminate. That garbage then fueled the massive fires.

    Don’t mess with Mother Nature.

  26. #27 Joseph O'Brien
    February 28, 2006

    Not quite true…natural fires at Yellowstone were allowed to burn, as long as they didn’t exceed 300,000 acres. In 1974 the “let burn” area was increased to nearly the entire park boundary, exclusive of the campgrounds and administrative facilities. The problem at Yellowstone was a drought that was in the 1-in-100-year category or worse, coupled with a mountain pine beetle outbreak that killed thousands of trees during the years leading up to the 1988 fire.

  27. #28 trostky
    February 28, 2006

    It’s worth pointing out that the BLM reinstated Donato’s “suspended” funding within the week. Helped no doubt by a Democratic congressman’s call for an investigation, but nevertheless…

  28. #29 Chris Clarke
    March 1, 2006

    Joseph, your reflexive anti-environmentalism is about fifteen years out of date. Most forest activists these days support sustainable timber harvests, and most federally funded forest scientists – and some timber companies – admit quite readily to the value of dead wood left standing in place. Stop taking your talking points from Ron Arnold and Maxxam.

  29. #30 Joseph O'Brien
    March 1, 2006

    There is nothing “reflexive” about what I said, I don’t have talking points, and I’m expressing my own opinion. I’m one of those federally funded forest scientists–in fact I’m a Forest Service plant pathologist (not involved in any way with the Biscuit fire issue and speaking only for myself here), and I know better than almost anyone the value and risk of dead timber, standing or down. I was in a bit of a hurry when I composed the last message I sent. If I had had more time, I would have said that the fire at Yellowstone was the best thing that happened in that park for a long time, with regard to its forested landscape. But the Forest Service has a different mandate from the Park Service, and most people either don’t understand that, or won’t get involved enough to get congress to change the FS mandate. That agency is compelled to provide for multiple uses on the nation’s national forests, and to help to provide wood products for the country. Salvaging about 4% of the Biscuit fire burn–none of it in wilderness, of course–to recover over a billion board feet of wood, while still providing plenty of woody debris and regenerating trees on those lands,is a good thing, in my opinion. This issue is much more complex than most people can understand from a few blog blurbs, and without reading the final EIS and the preferred and implemented option that the Forest Service chose for this project, most of the opinions posted here and about the Internet are substantively uninformed. The study by Donato et al. raises some interesting issues, and although I’m willing to allow what they wrote may be (mostly) factual, it’s really not the whole story. It’s not a black-and-white world, and this is not a simple issue with a single morally defensible solution.

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