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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Bush administration must embrace science

Published: February 9, 2007
Section: Opinions

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change came out with a report last week that hopefully put to rest any of the unexplainable hope that some in this country had about our role (as humans) in contributing to the now noticeable trends in Global Warming. Basically, there is absolutely no way that anyone can justify future ignorance to the problem by stating that there is some sort of controversy within the scientific community about Global Warming, as definitive proof of this disturbing future of the planet has now been put before us. I would take comfort in this development, but somehow I believe the Bush Administration will find a way around this blatant fact and plunge our nation blindly into a tract of complete ecological destruction. Why is this an almost certain future? Does Bush hate Polar Bears and the residents of Shanghai? Actually, the exact reasoning behind why the Bush Administration adheres to this specific irrational policy (because when speaking of irrationality and George Bush, you have to specify one out of the many) is grounded in its complete ignorance and lack of reverence for scientists and the larger academic community.

Now I have to sympathize with the President here (to a degree). I am somebody whose skills are not applicable towards scientific achievement, and once somebody includes math in a particular subject, I completely loose interest. But, unlike the President, I hold a high level of respect for those engaged in the sciences. My colleague Miles Ketchum wrote in an editorial that was responding to a column lambasting pre-meds, I mean, if I need heart surgery, Id certainly want a doctor to do the operation. That statement can be applied to basically every facet of modern life. I may not understand science personally, but I am glad that some people are using their knowledge of science to solve the myriad of problems facing us today. The President and his compatriots, however, have a very different view on how to address our shared contemporary issues. They hold beliefs that are based more on corporate economics and a fervent religious philosophy then the scientific method.

Throughout Bushs term in office, there have been four major examples of this consistent disdain for the entire scientific community. The first example is evident in the aforementioned controversy over global warming. Al Gore might be a clueless campaigner, but one thing that he has always been consistent on is his environmentalism. His recent movie is not the partisan, Michael Moore-esque film that Glenn Beck has deemed it, but rather a more approachable version of the same warnings that have continually been provided by the scientific community to the American people. This weeks weather aside, it is completely obvious now that there is something amiss in the environment, and unless emissions are some sort of magical punishment from God, we are responsible for the current impending disaster. But what has Bush done about this problem? His administration has supported such industry-friendly legislation as the Clear Skies and Healthy Forest initiatives, which have done nothing but weaken the landmark Clean Air Act (of the Nixon Administration by the way). There have also been reports of scientists being bullied into ignoring the evidence of the warming trends and siding with the administration, furthering the sense of doubt in the outright fact that humans and industry are perpetrators in the crimes against our planet.

But the complicated ecology and geology data associated with the Global Warming problem is not the only science that has confused our current President;

biology has also proven to be rather difficult for George Bush. Evolution especially has seemed to anger the commander in chief, and as recently as August of 2005 he has suggested that so-called Intelligent Design (the new buzzword for creationism or the simpler God did it) should be taught with Evolution during science class. This particular assertion of our dear leader is based in Bushs evangelical Christian beliefs. Not only does this issue raise the obvious problem of the separation of church and state, it is also completely wrong. Has a there ever been a single Nobel Peace Prize winner in the field of Intelligent Design? Obviously not, as science has worked as a modern barrier against religious extremism.

The Terry Schiavo and stem cell controversies are the final symbols of Bushs disdain for the academic sciences. In examining these recent debates, a strange definition of life has risen from Washington. Our President is a stern believer in the culture of life (meaning that he does not support the right of a woman to control her own reproductive system, yet executions and destructive wars are completely fine), and as such he tried his best to circumvent the constitution in 2005 to prevent a person whose brain had been reduced capacity of a sponge to finally be at peace. This obsession with the protection of every living cell has also extended itself into the stem-cell issue. Bush has put a hold to the development of research on new stem-cell lines, meaning that our scientists are being hampered by inadequate materials in the battle against Alzheimers, Multiple Sclerosis, and who knows how many more diseases.

But why does this all matter? Why must we be concerned by a President who does not care to acknowledge what he does not understand? Simply put, the reason that our nation is the superpower that it is today is based on the efforts that our scientists made throughout the 20th century. Science is the reason that our industry, military, and economic forces have been resilient and powerful, besting the challenges of Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, and (hopefully) the threat of global terrorism. We are a country that has always valued academic achievement and scientific progress, and it is nothing less then shameful that we have allowed a politician to subvert these sacred institutions over the last 6 years.