Tuesday, January 30, 2007


Are the times changing?

I apologize for my long absence. I hope this is the start of a regular posting pattern from now on.

The setup of this one will be a bit long, I'm afraid, so please bear with me. I promise that the punchline will be short.

Bush Admin acts to take control of regulatory activity.

In an executive order published last week in the Federal Register, Mr. Bush said that each agency must have a regulatory policy office run by a political appointee, to supervise the development of rules and documents providing guidance to regulated industries. The White House will thus have a gatekeeper in each agency to analyze the costs and the benefits of new rules and to make sure the agencies carry out the president’s priorities.

As a former, professional participant in a regulated industry and contributor to the regulation-development process (public testimony, etc.), I can state without hesitation that the analysis of cost and benefit is a part of the legislative process, not the regulatory process. I'm not saying they do it particularly well in all cases, don't get me wrong on that.

Climate scientists who are also federal employees assert that scientific findings are being changed or suppressed by Bush Admin.

The Union of Concerned Scientists distributed a survey to over 1,600 federal climate scientists, which asked for information about the state of federal climate research. Responses were received from 279 scientists. Results of the survey include:

* Forty-six percent of respondents perceived or personally experienced pressure to eliminate the words “climate change,” “global warming,” or other similar terms from a variety of communications.
* Forty-three percent of respondents reported they had perceived or personally experienced changes or edits during review of their work that changed the meaning of their scientific findings.
* Forty-six percent of respondents perceived or personally experienced new or unusual administrative requirements that impair climate-related work.

I have to wonder: did the over 1,300 non-respondents not respond because someone was looking over their shoulders, or because they were in some way afraid for their jobs? What margin of error do we need to use these findings on the larger population, in light of the large non-response?

So, my question is this: are we seeing the symptoms of a theocracy, an anti-science mentality that refuses to acknowledge facts and evidence as well as the considered analyses and opinions of those who are accounted experts in those analyses and opinions?

It could be, instead, a garden-variety attempt at cronyism and influence peddling. I like asking the edgier question, is all. :-D

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