Junk Science Returns to the White House
Regardless of your tribal affiliations, were you cautiously optimistic when our new president promised to "restore science to its rightful place" in the formulation of public policy? Were you embarrassed by the prior occupant's politicization of issues that should have been decided on a more scientific basis? Did you assume that Barack Obama would surround himself with apolitical science advisors unencumbered by embarrassing anti-science baggage and free of culture-war axes to grind?
To paraphrase a once famous mayor of New York - So how's he doing so far?
You're probably aware that the H1N1 swine flu vaccine supply has fallen dangerously short of the level required to protect the most vulnerable among us. In the spring Federal officials predicted that as many as 120 million doses would be available by now, as opposed to the 16 million doses that actually arrived. Flu vaccine is tricky to make under the best of circumstances, but there are scientifically safe and proven ways to stretch supplies. Are you aware that the Federal Government refuses to allow the use of adjuvants that can be used to produce twice as many doses from the same vaccine stock? This despite the fact that over 40 million doses of flu vaccine containing adjuvants have been dispensed in Europe over the past dozen years without any indication of a safety issue. Some people denied shots because of this decision are going to die. Does this policy sound scientific or political?
You're probably aware that a mercury-containing preservative called thimerosal was removed from children's vaccines in 2001 to mollify activists promoting the theory that thimerosal causes autism. According to the Centers for Disease Control, there was then and is still now no scientific evidence linking thimerosal to autism. Despite numerous peer-reviewed studies as well as the empirical fact that autism rates have not plunged since the 2001 thimerosal ban, as one would expect if the preservative were a leading cause of this heart breaking illness, the administration recently made a decision that further reduced the supply of H1N1 vaccine. It switched our country's emergency H1N1 vaccine order from multi-dose to single-dose vials, causing production chain backups as vendors scrambled to accommodate the last-minute switch. Why the change? Because single-dose vials contain a lower concentration of thimerosal. Some people denied shots because of this decision are going to die. Does this policy sound scientific or political?
Did you know that despite the melting ice cap there are estimated to be five times as many polar bears wandering the northern regions of our planet today than there were fifty years ago? Studies indicate that the biggest threat to polar bears are not present climate conditions but forecasts of future conditions made by climate models. These are the same models that have been unable to explain why the hottest year on record was actually 11 years ago despite increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide and that the world's oceans appear to be cooling. This has not stopped the administration from proposing that 200,000 square miles of land, sea, and ice along the northern coast of Alaska be designated as "critical habitat for this iconic species." Does reading this statement make you wonder whether polar bears are genuinely endangered or merely charismatic? Does this policy sound scientific or political?
Did you catch the recent peer-reviewed article by Princeton's Tim Searchinger in Science magazine on the impact of biofuels on global warming? The authors found that "corn-based ethanol, instead of producing a 20% savings, nearly doubles greenhouse emissions over 30 years and increases greenhouse gases for 167 years. Biofuels from switchgrass, if grown on U.S. corn lands, increase emissions by 50%." Has the White House called for a halt on ethanol subsidies and blending mandates? Is Obama asking legislators to heed the scientific evidence and pull back from this widely recognized economic and ecological blunder? No. Does this policy sound scientific or political?
Have you looked at the background and track record of the chief scientist the president chose to advise him? In a book co-authored earlier in his career with Population Bomb alarmist Paul Erhlich, Presidential science advisor John Holdren discussed the merits of adding a sterilant to public drinking water supplies to reduce population growth. The book goes on to note that "compulsory population-control laws, even including laws requiring compulsory abortion, could be sustained under the existing Constitution." You see we, dear readers, are not citizens meant to be served by our government. We are pollutants. Does this policy sound scientific or insane?