Environmental controversy – science and politics

Each week throughout this course you will explore both sides of an environmental controversy. This week you look at the issue of science and politics. Review the background information. Then, using the References along with resources from your own research, write a 1-2 page response to the questions that follow. Remember to cite your sources using proper APA format.

Background Information

Today there are many complaints over the politicization of science. Many people believe politics should not play a role in science, but once government funds science, the funding decisions become political. In most social institutions, disagreements are settled by debate. Science in contrast, uses experiments to prove or disprove theories. Science is testable, and is self-proving. If a better explanation for a phenomenon is found, it will replace other explanations. This is why careful distinctions must be made between Frontier Science, Consensus Science, and Junk Science.

Many difficult controversies surround the environmental problems we face in the world today. Problems include: Air and water pollution, global warming, species and ecosystem biodiversity, energy, hazardous waste, population, and food supply issues. Politics control the financing of scientific research and development to help solve these issues. In politics passion wins over logic.

Science is not politics and cannot be debated in the same way politics are. Mixing politics with science produces bad science. Government efforts to fund research interfere with the maintenance of high scientific standards. The current Congress consists of 535 members. Of these members, 7 (1.3%), are scientists, and 21 others are healthcare professionals.

References References

Use these references along with resources from your own research to help answer the questions that follow.

Lamb, G. (2005, September 27). Science and politics: a dangerous mix. Christian Science Monitor, 97(213), 11-13. Retrieved April 10, 2009, from Academic Search Premier database.

Link to article

Pielke Jr., R. (2006, Spring2006). When Scientists Politicize Science. Regulation, 29(1), 28-34. Retrieved April 10, 2009, from Business Source Complete database.

Link to article

Questions

Do you feel that scientists should be cut out of the policy making process, particularly on environmental issues, when their research is proven and widely accepted and is being ignored and disputed? Politicians ultimately make the decisions, but shouldn’t the scientists have a voice?

Do you feel that lobbyists and special interest groups exert too great of an influence and act as an impediment to finding solutions to, and providing the funding for, research for the environmental problems we face?

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