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Lawrence Krauss: Congress Is Trying To Defund Scientists At Energy Department 342

Posted by samzenpus
from the let-the-science-flow dept.
Lasrick writes Physicist Lawrence Krauss blasts Congress for their passage of the 2015 Energy and Water Appropriations bill that cut funding for renewable energy, sustainable transportation, and energy efficiency, and even worse, had amendments that targeted scientists at the Department of Energy: He writes that this action from the US Congress is worse even than the Australian government's move to cancel their carbon tax, because the action of Congress is far more insidious: "Each (amendment) would, in its own way, specifically prohibit scientists at the Energy Department from doing precisely what Congress should mandate them to do—namely perform the best possible scientific research to illuminate, for policymakers, the likelihood and possible consequences of climate change." Although the bill isn't likely to become law, Krauss is fed up with Congress burying its head in the sand: The fact that those amendments "...could pass a house of Congress, should concern everyone interested in the appropriate support of scientific research as a basis for sound public policy."
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Lawrence Krauss: Congress Is Trying To Defund Scientists At Energy Department

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    But it's not in the sand.

  • by Karmashock (2415832) on Thursday July 24, 2014 @07:58PM (#47526855)

    You get involved in politics... you take sides... and there are consequences.

    NPR for example is under similar threat of being defunded for the same reason. They took sides and when they stopped acting in the interests of all sides they became the enemy of sides they did not support... or the allies of sides they did support... and via the friend of my enemy is my enemy logic which is standard in politics... they became enemies.

    Here someone is going to bitch at me like I had any part in any of these consequences.

    Don't get mad at me. I didn't do anything one way or the other. All I'm doing is explaining what happened.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 24, 2014 @08:07PM (#47526917)

      Scientists taking sides? They took the side of reality. It's unfortunate for Conservatives that this reality doesn't line up with their views, but you can hardly blame that on the scientists.

    • by fermion (181285) on Thursday July 24, 2014 @08:20PM (#47527025) Homepage Journal
      I don't think any serious person thinks that Galileo woke up one morning and said lets do politics. No, he was at church, the story goes, say the chandeliers swinging, and ended up being persecuted by the politicians of the time.

      Most scientists don't take political positions. They make observations, and when a consensus is reached, they sometimes take actions. For instance, when it became pretty clear that lead was dangerous, there was a movement to remove it from gasoline. This became political because some interests were only interested in quarterly profits, not long term costs to taxpayers. Fortunately the taxpayers won. For instance, there is really good science linking the buildup in the environment of lead to the increase in crime, and the decrease in crime of the past decade or so to the decrease in lead. It is not just correlation, cut actual causation.

      Now, as far as NPR is concerned, compared to Fox News of course it looks biased. NPR is not going to invite John McCain on the air to talk about when he was a kid you could kill black people, and know he has to deal with a black man, as he has been saying this past week. But the thing about NPR is it probably does a better job of using the public air waves than other.

      Here is the rub. Fox News can say and do whatever it wants because it does not use free public resources. This is the key. Free public resources, not funding by the government. The government funds lots of things, and that does not necessarily absolutely limit speech. For instance, many churches take money for schools, which frees up money that they then use to do stuff like encourage people to attack people going about their day to day business. For instance, one church in my area bought cameras so they could photograph people going into a gay club. But radio stations were given public bandwidth and were supposed to use it responsible ways. I think NPR is responsible and balanced compared to some of what I hear on the AM stations. AM stations are using free resources. We could take it back and make a great deal of money leasing it to other agents. We don't. They agree to use it, and should be more responsible.

      • by Karmashock (2415832) on Thursday July 24, 2014 @08:38PM (#47527137)

        I don't think any serious person thinks that Galileo woke up one morning and said lets do politics. No, he was at church, the story goes, say the chandeliers swinging, and ended up being persecuted by the politicians of the time.

        Actually that's exactly what he did. If you know anything about the story with him, you'll know that the man attacked his rivals in science for decades. Humiliated them with insults and insinuations.

        When Galileo presented his theories, he used as the evidence, many of the scientists he had been undermining for years.

        A large part of the reason he had a problem was that he gone out of his way to be an asshole for many years. And when he was in a vulnerable place his enemies descended upon him to take their revenge.

        And to further underscore the point since you're clearly totally ignorant on the issue... what happened to him? He was protected by the Pope. A much more powerful station then today.

        Consider while you're saying it wasn't about politics, that the man flew in very ratified political circles and he did so on purpose. You think he didn't like politics or power or wealth or fame? Get real. Learn something about the man before you hold him up as evidence of anything.

      • Scientists should be political, scientists are not separate from the world, nor is science separate from what it is to be a human being. Scientists need to take part in a democracy, and that does not just mean voting, it means participating. They should be sharing science to educate the public on issues, they will have a different perspective even if the science isn't the whole story.

        Second point is Fox News can say anything they want for two reasons; they don't have to tell the truth because they and
        • by Sarius64 (880298)
          Boo hoo. Start your own network. It wouldn't be hard to do better with ratings with literally anyone but Fox. But it's easier to whine, eh?
    • NPR has been the whipping boy of conservative politicians for decades. They have been threatened with defunding many times. Because of this NPR has developed alternative sources of funds.

      At present only about 10% of its revenues come from the Federal Government. NPR generally uses these attempts by Republicans to defund as a fund raising motivators.

      I have heard some NPR employees say they wish the Feds would defund them. It would allow them more independence in their editorial content and would likely incre

    • by geekoid (135745)

      NPS has never taken sides. They are hated by the Pubs because NPR reports actual facts.

    • When did NPR "take sides"? They've always been very fair and balanced, sometimes going too far to let both sides get their silly viewpoints hear.

      And most certainly, the scientists have never chosen sides. Although some sides seem to think that not choosing it is equivalent to choosing the other side (which is why moderates are the enemies of all).

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The DOE was established to decrease American reliance on foreign energy (oil, etc).They completely failed in their efforts towards taht and every other goal they established. They are only successful at milking the government gravy train of all they can get their hands on.

  • by Chas (5144)

    Our politicians are a bunch of pork-minded, short-sighted luddite political hacks more concerned with their privileges than with doing what's best for the American public?

    Color me shocked!

    SHOCKED I SAY!

    Oh wait, I'm wearing my wrist strap and a neoprene suit.

    So I guess I'm not shocked at all!

    I propose August 10th as International Politician Assassination Day (IPAD).

    Sure, riddling your local political climber may not immediately make the world a better place, but in the long run it will. And in the mean time

    • If anything happens to anyone connected to the US government on August 10th, you're in for a lot of torture.

      • by Chas (5144)

        Ooh! I loves me a good waterboarding in the morning...and the afternoon...not so much in the evenings though...but they'll be accommodating I hope... ;-)

  • They don't care (Score:4, Insightful)

    by WeeBit (961530) on Thursday July 24, 2014 @08:08PM (#47526923) Homepage
    Even if the facts are true the bottom line is money trumps over common sense. They will be long buried before the shit hits the fan.
  • by viperidaenz (2515578) on Thursday July 24, 2014 @08:12PM (#47526951)

    The summary makes it out that the decision to repeal Australia's carbon taxes was a bad one.
    It was a horribly broken system that didn't work.

    If you accept that, then this "He writes that this action from the US Congress is worse even than the Australian government's move to cancel their carbon tax" becomes the same as "He writes that this action from the US Congress is worse even than a spark of sanity from the Australian Government"

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 24, 2014 @11:08PM (#47528199)

      "It was a horribly broken system that didn't work."
      Quite the contrary. It worked quite well - emissions dropped 12% since it came into effect.

    • by aybiss (876862)

      Yeah yeah. It was that horrible tax that was sucking heaps of money out of our economy. The one that was so hopeless it wasn't even sucking any money out of the economy.

      Make up your mind.

      • It was a horrible tax because it didn't do what it was set out to do.
        I never mentioned sucking money out of the economy.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      Except it wan't actual broken or horrible. That's what an anti science politician keeps saying.

    • Note you are being moderated "interesting", not "insightful". Your statement is a matter of opinion, and demonstrably not backed up by the numbers. Also, you fail to point out that the Coalitions alternative to a Carbon Tax/ETS, of giving away tax payer money to polluters rather than levying them for their emissions is demonstrably a step backwards, and also you are ignoring the fact that the "Carbon Tax" was due to transition to a ETS in 2015.
    • Citation please (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Namarrgon (105036) on Friday July 25, 2014 @01:15AM (#47528737) Homepage

      The only people claiming the carbon tax wasn't working were Coalition politicians (and their apologists), and the companies who didn't want to have to cover the external costs of their businesses. Fact is, it was starting to work quite well [smh.com.au], despite the damping effect of Abbott attacking it with all the FUD he could muster.

      And now we have economists scratching their heads [yahoo.com] as to why a conservative government would attack a market-based climate solution while favouring a big direct-action spending program instead:

      Roger Jones, a Research Fellow at the Victoria Institute of Strategic Economic Studies, called the repeal "the perfect storm of stupidity".

      "It's hard to imagine a more effective combination of poor reasoning and bad policy making," he said.

      "A complete disregard of the science of climate change and its impacts. Bad economics and mistrust of market forces."

      • You mean how electricity consumption has been going down?
        That doesn't have anything to do with the huge subsidies Australia has had up until now for home solar? 10% of Australian homes have solar now. A large portion of home energy is spent on aircon during hot summer days there too.

  • That should be the Departments of Commerce (NOAA), Interior (USGS) & Defense.

  • by statemachine (840641) on Thursday July 24, 2014 @08:47PM (#47527201)

    The Republicans, who currently hold a majority in the US House, are the ones who voted to strip the science funding.

    Saying "Congress" makes it sound bipartisan. It's only the Republicans.

    • by will_die (586523)
      Accordin to Democrates it was bipartisan.
  • by MrKaos (858439) on Thursday July 24, 2014 @09:32PM (#47527555) Journal

    I watched Krauss on Q&A and WOW, what a great scientist he is. I thought to myself, this is one of the reasons people look up to America, because they have all these great thinkers that we can learn from.

    Unfortunately Australia sometimes takes the lead in being backwards thinking and it's no secret here that many of our accomplished leaders in creating solar energy are now in America. Now it seems American politician are looking to Australia for methods to embed the status quo. This looks a lot like the Australian government scrapping the independent Climate Commission (made up of scientists), but legislating to avoid, what happened here, a relaunched Commission funded by the public as citizens instead of as taxpayers,.

    And like a dying animal the status quo tries to kill the future. This is not a generational issue because some of the older generation know what the issues are and trying to make things better to minimize the consequences and costs the younger generations that will experience. However, the people controlling energy and its future, now, will be dead by the time the effects are here, so for them why wouldn't they have all the benefits of cheap power when they will never experience the downside of it.

    They struggle for 50's thinking to be relevant in the 21st century, but have compunction imposing it and since the science is so convincing the only thing left to do is muzzle the scientists. It's madness.

  • prohibit scientists at the Energy Department from doing precisely what Congress should mandate them to do—namely perform the best possible scientific research to illuminate, for policymakers, the likelihood and possible consequences of climate change.

    I'm in favor of more research, but we already have several different departments that are researching that. The DoE is a department that has suffered from scope creep, they are in charge of unrelated things like genomics research. I'm in favor of genomics research, but once again, it's not really something you'd expect to see in the DoE.

  • by reboot246 (623534) on Friday July 25, 2014 @05:04AM (#47529497) Homepage
    Congress consists of the House of Representatives AND the Senate.

    Most people (even the politicians) have a habit of calling the House of Representatives "the Congress", but it's not. It's only half of Congress.

    Right now we have different parties controlling the two halves. I kinda like it when they don't get much done. It's better to have no laws passed than bad laws getting passed.

    So, when the House passes something nowadays, you can bet that the Senate won't pass it, nor will the President sign it.

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