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I HAD PLANNED today to highlight the 2016 Breakthrough of the Year, as identified by Science, the weekly magazine of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, December 23, 2016. However something more important was in that same issue: the U.S. federal government assault on science.
Why must this be so?
The implications of this are staggering. In fact, future investigations of gravitational waves, Science’s choice for 2016’s most significant breakthrough, may well be hampered by a Know Nothing attitude exhibited by both the U.S. Congress and President-in-Wanting Donald Trump.
According to Science, it does not augur well that Trump “has dismissed the scientific consensus on climate change as a ‘hoax,’ said he would scrap dozens of science-based environmental regulations, and offered numerous fact-free observations on issues of the day.”
I’ve been a member of AAAS for decades and do not recall the organization expressing such strong views before. Regardless of one’s views on complexities of the science involved, current events do not appear promising.
Notes Science, “The nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency has sued the agency to block regulations… the incoming Trump team demanded the names of Department of Energy employees and contractors involved in climate change research and policy.”
And, come to think of it, the nominee for DoE secretary is on record as wanting to dismantle this department, when he manages to remember its name.
Also offered is Science’s view that “Trust between several embattled research communities and senior Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives reached a new low….” At issue are subpoenas forcing researchers, universities and nonprofit groups to turn over personal emails, unpublished data and bank balances.
All this is more disturbing when the President-in-Waiting reminds us that, in an unprecedented manner, he is not obligated to share his own tax returns.
Science reports, “One set of subpoenas targeted researchers working with human fetal tissue obtained from abortion providers including Planned Parenthood. Republicans leading a special investigation committee claim some tissue may have been sold, which would violate federal rule, but have released no evidence backing that allegation. Federal judges blocked some of the subpoenas after Planned Parenthood and others argued the panel had overstepped its authority.”
Climate research, energy research, stem cell research and other areas of science are complex and not without controversy. But science is an on-going process, not one to be controlled by political agenda. ds
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2017