Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?

Slashdot videos: Now with more Slashdot!

  • View

  • Discuss

  • Share

We've improved Slashdot's video section; now you can view our video interviews, product close-ups and site visits with all the usual Slashdot options to comment, share, etc. No more walled garden! It's a work in progress -- we hope you'll check it out (Learn more about the recent updates).

United States Earth Government The Almighty Buck Science

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."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

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

Comments Filter:
  • by Karmashock (2415832) on Thursday July 24, 2014 @06:58PM (#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 @07:01PM (#47526871)

    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 Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 24, 2014 @07:07PM (#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.

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

    by WeeBit (961530) on Thursday July 24, 2014 @07:08PM (#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 fermion (181285) on Thursday July 24, 2014 @07:20PM (#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 Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 24, 2014 @07:32PM (#47527087)

    Now you're going to sit there and attempt to be smug by claiming that the scientists are only doing their jobs and only pushing out the facts.

    Well, that is IN FACT what they're doing. I'm sorry if you find this unpleasant, but that's the reality of the situation.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 24, 2014 @07:46PM (#47527195)

    Actually, it's Republicans (well, Conservatives) who think it's possible the kill the government and make the world better. That's why they've been practicing starve the beast, stripping out revenue, privatizing all they can, and they think if the system collapses, it'll be better, so they think they have no responsibility to do things efficiently or reasonably. If anything, the more hysterical and outrageous they can be, the more likely it'll be to happen, so a net gain for them if there is a collapse.

    This is supported by their base, which prefers a strong stand to a compromising one, case in point, their affection for Putin. And why don't you go over the dozen people and organizations the Republicans/Conservatives went over the last decade for no greater reason than they opposed something that the right-wing was trying to do and thus had to be nuked? It's not all been birther nonsense, though even that continuing fuckup has been demonstrative enough that they can't be trusted.

    Responsible people wouldn't even tolerate that kind of horseshit being used. And no, despite attempts to blame it on Hillary Clinton, the responsibility for it is in the hands of the Right-wing that has pushed it and kept pushing it.

    Now you're bitching over the Department of Energy being involved in improving the US's use of energy? I think that pretty squarely falls under the mandate. And you know who came up with half the ideas the Republicans are upset about? The Bush Administration. Yeah, that program Solyndra was involved in (and do note it wasn't just Solyndra, but you never hear the Republicans talk about any of the OTHER companies, heck they tried to get us to believe that Solyndra committed fraud, when the factory they made was actually built and producing solar panels), was a Republican idea. Same with most of the PPACA. And Common Core for that matter. So yeah, you want to know who attacks government? Republicans. Even when it's their own jobs.

    And really, little industry we have left? US manufacturing may have fallen under China, but the net growth? Has still been upwards. Sure, employment has fallen. Why? Because productivity has gone up. Industry doesn't get ahead by keeping people around who do nothing. (That's politics, not business!)


    I don't know why people like you believe the US is some collapsing economy. You may as well believe the US is bankrupt, and has no possibility of paying its debts, when the US actually still has a greater value to its economic production than its deficits AND several times the assets as debts.

    But the fact is, the US can't sustain itself on manufacturing as it currently is going. But neither can Japan, India, China, or Korea. We're too good at automation and due to the way wealth is getting concentrated, consumption can't keep going up to lead to more jobs. Germany has more hope than we do. They're supporting their people over their oligarchs.

  • by statemachine (840641) on Thursday July 24, 2014 @07:47PM (#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 Cyberax (705495) on Thursday July 24, 2014 @07:52PM (#47527243)
    Yeah, let's see how the natural experiment with tax-cutting goes in Kansas compared to tax-crazy California.
  • by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Thursday July 24, 2014 @07:53PM (#47527259)

    Give me a break. This is all about climate change, something which has a solid scientific consensus. Conservative denial of this is just as bad as their desire to push Creationism and Intelligent Design into schools. These threatened researchers are not doing politically motivated work.

    Face it, if these goons had their way they would be defunding anything that wasn't explicitly endorsed in the Bible.

  • Re:Good (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Cyberax (705495) on Thursday July 24, 2014 @07:54PM (#47527273)

    Get back to actual science. I don't yet have a fusion reactor in my home. What the fuck am I paying you clowns for?

    For not having to breathe sulfuric acid (acid rain)? Or not having your river catch a fire? Yeah, all those damn progressives ruin everything.

  • by Karmashock (2415832) on Thursday July 24, 2014 @07:55PM (#47527279)

    That's fine. You're playing politics and it is in your political interest to make that point. I'm being honest, unlike you... and am willing to tell you why things are the way they are... and I'm trying to show you how things could change.

    But you don't care about that. You just want to keep playing your political games. And that's fine. You're not the only one that can play and in situations where its more serious the opposition isn't going to be honest with you either. Because you use honesty against people. You use openness against people. These are weaknesses in the world you're supporting.

    And so you challenge us to come up with lies, misinformation, and distortions to counter yours.

    Like all good lies, most of what you're pushing are half truths. The point of which is to hide the lies in the clothes of reason and good sense.

    Its an ancient rhetorical tactic. It fools none but the fools.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 24, 2014 @08:14PM (#47527395)

    I remember the lies the Right-wing told about Solyndra and the rest of the Loan Guarantee Program. They tried to convince us that Solyndra failed because they were frauds and didn't even build a working factory. When the reality is...somewhat different. The program overall is doing fine. Solyndra did have a working product. Their factory did produce their solar panels. Yet you would never hear the Right-wing talk about that.

    And if you want to know why US Coal Exports have fallen, it's because the price of coal has dropped on the global market. Why would anybody sell coal for a low price when it's not going anywhere? What's the hurry? Why are you trying to get them to sell off their coal now? What's your agenda? Is it just like Keystone, where the plan is NOT to supply domestic needs, but to find an advantage for personal gain?

  • Re:Good (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Cyberax (705495) on Thursday July 24, 2014 @08:17PM (#47527417)
    Nope, I'm not confusing them. DoE provided necessary data on sulfur emissions and monitored the power plants. EPA was the one enforcing regulations, based on DoE data.
  • by Copid (137416) on Thursday July 24, 2014 @08:32PM (#47527549)
    I'm not clear on the claim here. It seems to be, "You guys are using facts to support a position the other guys disagree with, so don't be surprised when they start directly attacking facts and the gathering of facts." I agree that this is typically what happens. I'm not so sure that it's fair to say that both sides are doing equally bad things when it happens, though.
  • Re:Good (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Copid (137416) on Thursday July 24, 2014 @08:34PM (#47527567)

    The DoE should be focused on shit that works.

    The thing about shit that works is that you don't really have to do any science or engineering to it. Because it already works.

    Scientists and engineers focus on the shit that doesn't yet work for a reason.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 24, 2014 @08:39PM (#47527615)

    Revenue == taxes, not spending. Starve the beast means cutting taxes (people happy because taxes are lower), keeping spending the same (people happy because they still get government service), and then letting the whole system pile up in debt and collapse (people don't care, because it'll be someone else's kids' problem. But not my kids, because I'll leave them a bunch of money when I become rich, which is bound to happen any day now).

  • by Karmashock (2415832) on Thursday July 24, 2014 @08:57PM (#47527769)

    No, I'm saying you used a scientific organization as a puppet for a political program that hurt a lot of people and is in the process of destroying industries, communities, and ways of life. And as a result, the political allies of the people you hurt are reaching out to disrupt, break, and punish those that did that.

    The science is irrelevant to the issue. You hurt people and they respond. You disrespect people and they respond.

    Why would you think you could go after all these people and destroy them with no consequences? Who do you think you're dealing with here? We're every bit as smart as you are sport. Even our grasp of science is much the same despite your probable assumptions on that issue.

    What seperates us is not our education or ability to reason. It is our intentions and interests. You are trying to fuck people over and you used a federal agency to do it. You are now apparently shocked that those people you tried to fuck or actually fucked are going after that federal agency.

    And you think we are stupid? Of course we're going after it. You're going to have to defend it now and have fun trying to get funding for the DoE now that you've turned it into a political pawn.

    You've undermined the country with that shit. These agencies must remain impartial and neutral or they can't be tolerated. These organizations must be for EVERYONE. All sides. Mutual. Or they are undeserving of common funds.

  • by thrich81 (1357561) on Thursday July 24, 2014 @09:42PM (#47528055)

    Care to explain why carbon taxes are bad? Every economist I've read who acknowledges that there are negative externalities with burning carbon based fuels says that the most efficient and non-market distorting way to get the users to pay the cost of the externalities is to impose a carbon tax. Anything else distorts the market for carbon based fuels or you just let the general population bear the cost of the negative externalities irregardless of how the gains from use of the fuels are distributed.

  • by Copid (137416) on Thursday July 24, 2014 @10:46PM (#47528389)
    OK, one more time. Can you state your position clearly? Because the best I can read is something like this:

    Congress wanted to stimulate green technology growth so it approved a bunch of loans and had the DOE administer them. The DOE did so, losing money on some ventures (but far less than Congress allocated for expected losses on a program that wasn't supposed to be profitable) and ending up with something like 3% of their portfolio in failed ventures. Therefore, we should defund the science work that the DOE does.

    There's a jump in there somewhere that I'm not fully following. I mean, I missed the part where the American way of life was destroyed, industries collapsed, and cats and dogs began to live together. But even if that was the case, why are we gutting the science funding again?
  • And? a company failed. So what? happens all the time. In this case they failed becasue china flooded the market with solar panels they where selling below cost in order to stop american business's.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 24, 2014 @11:22PM (#47528527)

    Unfortunately, you don't seem to get it. The actual model in place is not tax and spend. The model in place is "strip revenues and keep spending" which is intended to collapse by those who push it. As I said, the Republicans.

    It will run the risk of destroying the country in the process.

    And you seem to want just that. Really, you pretend you're trying to force others to cut spending. Yet it never really happens. Why is that?

    Perhaps because you don't intend it to actually happen.

    Your own words, in reply to another:

    If the US government needs to go bankrupt to short circuit your parasitic political games then so be it.

    That's your justification. Right there. Because you think it'll destroy a system you despise. Never mind that it's not actually in place. But you believe it is, so regardless of what happens as a result, you'll let things burn down. You want a crisis. You want a cataclysm. You want the fires to come in and purge the structure that's around you.

    And no, the founders probably didn't think such nihilism was likely to happen. Sure, they may have known of the various doomsday cults in the Middle Ages and even Ancient Rome, but I'm sure they believed man was too enlightened to fall for it. They didn't have much experience with the later anarchists, let alone the modern sovereign citizens. Or how deceptive certain powerbrokers and oligarchs could be. Or maybe they did know. Hard to say, we can't dig them up. It is interesting what party cloaks themselves in the power of the founding fathers though. Come to think of it, that happened in Rome too. The worst enemies of the Republic and even the Empire were often the ones pretending to save it.

    But you're right, the best hope for this country is for somebody to wise up. You. Or the people who believe the lies like you. Or for you to be exposed for the deceitful and destructive fraud you are.

    Because you see...the real cancer is you. You are the rat eating away the tree. You are the one proclaiming that you must destroy the village to save the village. You are Emperor Palpatine.

    Well, not really. You're more like one of his clones obeying his commands, as you've been raised to do. You're drinking the Kool-Aid, and pretending you're special. That you're the hope for the Republic.

    At best. At worst? You're one of the clever ones who knows what you're doing. Who knows the lies. But is smart enough to keep using them, because you know how seductive they are, how easy it is to demonize the other side as "Tax and Spend" that way you can blame them for the debt crisis eventually exploding. Then like John Galt, you can pretend you're the savior. That probably appeals to your psychology, it lets you think you're the hero even as you destroy everything that you claim matters to you.

    PS, what brought the Roman Empire down is widely debated, ranging from internal problems with the environment, uncontrolled climate changes, some of which they may even have helped cause, and even a lack of infrastructure development as they could no longer seize the wealth of their neighbors and put a lot off to the barbarians at the borders. And more than a few nihilists, I'm sure. Though some of those were the ascetic kind, rather than the hedonistic kind. Don't be so quick to blame it on giving into the mob, and appeasing them. That's the easy choice, and convenient for those who have a particular agenda to push.

  • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Thursday July 24, 2014 @11:43PM (#47528609) Homepage Journal

    Which is exactly what it does. It informs. Just right now the people being informed don't like what the science shows, so they claim science is not being 'fair'.

    The scientific community is under attack by the pubs.

    When to argue against solid scientific facts, yes, they are being anti-science, regardless of their degree.

    I've never heard anything more wrong the a scientist speaking outside their expertise.

  • by khayman80 (824400) on Friday July 25, 2014 @12:38AM (#47528845) Homepage Journal

    @ClimateRealists That's the first I had read about O'Sullivan's rebuttal of the Greenhouse Effect. He makes a compelling argument. [Lonny Eachus, 2012-02-23] [archive.today]

    @GreatDismal See John O'Sullivan's "Slaying the Sky Dragon", for instance. If you think there is solid science behind AGW you are mistaken. [Lonny Eachus, 2012-02-23] [archive.today]

    The 2010 fantasy novel Slaying the Sky Dragon - Death of the Greenhouse Gas Theory claims the second law of thermodynamics disproves the greenhouse effect. At first this seemed like a parody of creationists who claim the second law disproves evolution, but the Slayers seem very serious. They claim warm surfaces can't absorb back-radiation (*) from cold atmospheres because they mistakenly think heat can't be transferred from cold to warm objects at all. In fact, this is only true for net heat transfer. Cold objects can slow the rate at which warm objects lose heat without transferring more heat to warm objects than vice versa. That's how the greenhouse effect works.

    (*) Also called downwelling longwave irradiance.

    "We can easily calculate what the measured CO2 increase by itself does to the global energy balance of a static system."

    This is where you are wrong. It has been shown that most of the models (at least) that are based on radiative forcings due to CO2 are based on flawed physics. See No, Virginia, Cooler Objects Cannot Make Warmer Objects Even Warmer [archive.org]. Their whole premise is based on a falsehood. ... [Jane Q. Public, 2012-04-14] [slashdot.org]

    And so I have read explanations of how the greenhouse effect [archive.today] is supposed to work. And almost all of the CO2 warming models ... rely on the concept of "back radiation" [archive.today], in which the gases radiate some of their absorbed energy back to earth. But that is in fact impossible [archive.today]. First Spencer's explanation of how back radiation is supposed to work: bit.ly/HZ04KR [archive.today] ... Spencer is a weird case, because he recently jumped the fence [archive.today] and said his research showed CO2 warming to be true. So anyway, here is physicist Pierre Latour [archive.today], refuting Spencer's explanation: bit.ly/JV9XmI [archive.org] The important point here being that most, not just a few, CO2 warming models rely on this "back radiation" [archive.today] concept. I'm not trying to pick on Spencer, it's just that he probably wrote up the best explanation of the mythical back radiation. [Lonny Eachus, 2012-05-21] [archive.today]

    Again [slashdot.org], Dr. Latour's Slayer fan fiction is fractally wrong:

    ... the absorption rate of real bodies depends on whether the absorber T (radiating or not), is less than the intercepted radiation T, or not. If the receiver T > intercepted T, no absorption occurs; if the receiver T < intercepted T the absorption rate may be as great as proportional to (T intercepted – T ab

  • by Barsteward (969998) on Friday July 25, 2014 @02:31AM (#47529259)
    perhaps stop subsidizing the fossil fuel industries too to make a level playing field
  • by MrKaos (858439) on Friday July 25, 2014 @02:49AM (#47529309) Journal

    Renewable energy and "sustainable transportation" were largely tried in the 19th century and abandoned because they were too limiting. This isn't the real future, this is what reactionary conservatives like yourself want to take us back to.

    Wow, that's interesting, I would have described myself as a radical technologist. I think left and right politics have consistently failed to deliver the important structural changes our society needs to adapt and prosper. We devalue science and engineering and try to over-over simplify things when it's just not appropriate.

    Instead of good quality debate we get low quality politicians driven by funding from corporate sources, and they want what they pay for. In reality I think that the alternative energy sources like wind, solar and geo-thermal are appropriate sources of technological development for the next 100 years while we get nuclear power engineered properly for the next 1000-5000 years. But that's close to impossible now because the debates about all of these things has become so polarized that people have forgotten things like compromise, wisdom, truth and fact.

    And the science of anthropogenic global warming was reported right here at /. before it was trendy to talk about it. The debate was considerable different too, considering the merits of the science as opposed to how convincing the lobby groups are.

    And alternative energy will mean an explosion of activity in IT to deploy control systems to manage energy. The cruel irony is countries like America and Australia are so abundantly rich with wind and solar resources that the future is practically begging us to lead the way, yet we choose to dig our heals in and forget that we used to do difficult things and solve hard problems.

    You call me a conservative, but what does that mean any more? What does a liberal mean anymore? I like capitalism because when an idea is bad or has had it's turn, it collapses and something new takes over. Well the music industry is one of many examples that show us all that the vested interests CAN halt change, so what we have isn't capitalism at all, it's corporatism.

    New ideas and thinking don't stand a chance against that sort of money.

  • by John.Banister (1291556) * on Friday July 25, 2014 @04:06AM (#47529501) Homepage

    Nobody in America argues against physics or chemistry etc; there is no "war on science".

    Have you met the people in America? Time and again I've met fine GED graduates who have told me that they know for a fact that basic cosmology is wrong and whatever they happen to believe is true, not to mention the whole collection of creationist idiots out here. It seems that more than half of everyone who isn't an authority is certain that their opinion is just as good anyways. People want what they want when they want it, and are anti anything that stands in their way. I like what you posted that wasn't in your last paragraph, but the claims you make at the end don't follow from those words. It's just rhetorical chicanery.

  • by dywolf (2673597) on Friday July 25, 2014 @07:42AM (#47530119)

    the only willfuly ignorant one here is you.
    The DOE program has hurt NO ONE, have been EXTREMELY SUCCESSFUL, and has actually REDUCED THE DEFICIT by making more money than they spent.

  • by Jeremi (14640) on Friday July 25, 2014 @10:32AM (#47531659) Homepage

    How many people does solyndra employ today? Where are the green jobs?

    Here [computerworld.com] they are. The solar industry of the USA now employs more people than the coal industry of the USA.

    Funny how you weren't aware of that fact, isn't it? It's almost as if your media sources chose not to mention it, because it doesn't fit their narrative.

    This is the recurring problem with the left. They promise everyone a world of rainbows and unicorn cheeseburgers. But when push comes to shove... you fail. You don't deliver.

    Or, they succeed, but the right-wing media bubble pretends not not notice. Cherry-picking reality might help them keep their market share in the short run, but as time goes on more and more people will realize they're full of shit.

  • by DrLudicrous (607375) on Friday July 25, 2014 @11:00AM (#47531903) Homepage
    The people writing the checks need to better understand that these scientists are the main reason that the US economy does as well as it does. We have had and to date maintain a significant advantage over other nation states in terms of our technological innovation. However, it is undeniable that other countries are fast catching up. Our technological advantage is not a given thing, we have to properly fund R&D for it to be maintained. Technological prowess leads to economic health.

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a rigged demo.