I’ve been talking with my niece about the doubts she sees in students (and parents) around basic science and how those doubts seems to be growing rather than shrinking. Some of this, in my view, is due to the attacks on scientific conclusions and the scientists who do the research that lead to those conclusions. I think cigarettes and the tobacco companies was one of the big cracks in science vs policy. Tobacco companies knew and hid the health implication of their products as well as the addictiveness of it and there was a corresponding political effort to protect those companies over the health of the individuals. It was a decades long effort and that same machine was turned against climate scientists.
I’m not going into much detail instead I want to focus on my personal observations.
I worked for the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research which manages the National Center for Atmospheric Research. It is one of the places that is deeply involved in climate research and that, of course, includes climate change. The program that I worked for – the COMET Program (www.meted.ucar.edu) – was focused on education and training and as a member of management I was very involved with the organization so I know how it works. As a side note if you want to learn more about climate change or weather do go to the MetEd Website – it’s a great resource if you want to learn about climate change and meteorology in general.
I’m a business manager not a scientist – through my work at UCAR I met a lot of scientists including those who do the real work in studying the science of climate change and I know with certainty that it is real. It also means that I’ve watched the attacks against the scientists and the science up close.
There are no grand conspiracies going on within the weather and climate world. No one is getting rich off of climate change research or any kind of research. The President of UCAR for the vast majority of the time that I worked there was the lowest paid head of a major research complex. You don’t get rich going into weather and climate research. Yes, good scientists make good money but it’s no different than any other basic research and they aren’t getting rich. Yes, we were all working hard for funding but if accelerated climate change wasn’t a research topic something else would be.
Republicans/Conservatives/Oil Companies together have spent years (decades now) attacking the scientists, attacking science, attacking facts because they didn’t want to deal with the policy decisions that came with that science.
We have to reverse this attack on our scientists, on science, on facts… and I honestly don’t know how to do it until we get our politicians to accept the facts. If they want to stand up and say that their policy is to ignore accelerated climate change but attacking the science is bad policy and bad practice.
Already, we are seeing renewed (though familiar attacks) on scientists. Early in my career I was surprised when a Republican in Congress suddenly was asking for personal information about me (and everyone else I worked with) simply because I worked for a place that did climate research. It was a startling introduction into the politics of science. I’ve watched it over a 20+ year career and it is very disturbing. I’ve watched as scientists that I respect have gone from presenting their conclusion to determining that they have to find ways to advocated for the world because the science is not being believed. It is very simply that Republicans don’t like the conclusions they draw and these honorable men and women see their science being disregarded not through reasoned policy discussions but through unreasonable attacks that say that they are somehow collaborating in the biggest, most stable hoax in the world.
It’s the Chinese says Donald Trump
It still snows says Senator Inhofe
I’m not a scientist…
Well, the scientists do know. If you aren’t a Dr. you go to a dr. If you aren’t a scientist – go to a scientist.
It’s common sense…