Every anti-science position adopted by the politicians on the right was immediately spun as a crisis of a kind never seen before. A few school districts didn't accept evolution? Republicans nationwide were deemed anti-science, even though a scant few percentage points separated them from Democrats regarding evolution acceptance. Didn't buy into global warming effect estimates from 2001? Republicans were anti-science - though a few days ago the IPCC already had to fix estimates they made from a report in September of 2013, that they had 6 years to work on, and that had measured data from the past to rely on. (1)
The Republicans of the 2000s being anti-science were a far cry from the 1990s, when Democrats and President Clinton cut funding for NASA, eliminated the Superconducting Supercollider and then cheered when they were able to kill nuclear energy research in America by putting an end to an advanced nuclear research experiment that could not melt down. Though the Integral Fast Reactor was not in any way able to be weaponized, all Senator John Kerry and President Clinton had to do was hint that it could be and all nuclear science was vilified in a way the Moral Majority only wishes they could have done about biology.(2)
Today, the left has swung back to such ignominious anti-science leadership again, and progressive corporate bloggers are forced to invoke a tepid claim of 'false balance' when it is noted that on food, vaccines and energy, the left is solidly against science - and those are issues that are jeopardizing lives right now, not in 50 years.
Progressive corporate bloggers are what they are, but scientists are going to call issues how they see them, and so a group of climate researchers have taken a stand against their political allies and asked environmentalists to stop fomenting fear and doubt about nuclear power.
They're not alone, but the makeup of the people complaining about the left's opposition to energy science has changed. Six years ago it was just, errrr, me and maybe three other people in America, but more recently an anti-nuclear advocate and filmmaker said the progressive war on nuclear science had to stop. And a book I wrote with Dr. Alex Berezow, called Science Left Behind, was simultaneously #1 and #2 (hardcopy and digital versions) on Amazon for environmental policy books, even though it talked about the progressive left's insidious efforts to undermine science, not Republicans.
Environmentalist arguments have changed in response to scientists turning on them. They are not anti-science, they now claim, they are pro-money. Nuclear power is just too darn expensive, after being blocked, sued, over-regulated and outright banned thanks to lobbyists for environmental corporations during the last 40 years.(3) Natural Resource Defense Council and Center for American Progress have sought to distance themselves from the more hysterical anti-science groups like Greenpeace and Union of Concerned Scientists and are cloaking themselves in free market claims that nuclear power is not cost-effective.
They are the same groups who cheered when the government wasted $72 billion subsidizing solar panel companies and wind farms, money which would have powered all of our future energy needs through 2030 if it had been spent on nuclear energy and instead was squandered due to bankruptcies. And none of them are complaining that Californians pay utility rates 50% higher than the rest of the country due to their flavor of alternative energy, they just laud California for its 'green' initiatives. Cost is irrelevant when it comes to their pet belief, only on nuclear power are they suddenly analyzing practicality.
In other words, they are scrambling to retain legitimacy, just like bloggers who invoke 'false balance' whenever it is noted that the left is anti-science.
There has been a growing undercurrent of irritation with the left by the left when it comes to energy science, even before this year - Dr. James Hansen is arguably the most famous climate scientist in the world and says that nuclear power has saved almost 2 million lives that would have been lost had CO2-emitting fuels been used.
It's just nice that a lot more progressives have swung back to being pro-science.
Read more: The Great Green Meltdown by Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger, The Breakthrough Institute.
(1) President Bush funded human embryonic stem cell research for the first time using federal money in 2001 - which made the NIH head cheer - but was still called anti-science because federal money was restricted to existing lines. I am putting it in a note, because it was sure a popular topic with Democratic bloggers - until 2009, anyway. Like with war protests, though basically nothing changed - Obama modified hESC research federal funding limitations only slightly - the complaints stopped once they got a non-Republican elected.
(2) Instead of actually being anti-science about biology, the Republican Congress and President George Bush doubled funding for the NIH. And even on hESC research, kudos to President Bush for compromising on science he was ethically opposed to, something that his successor has been unable to stomach. Bush bucked many conservatives, including Strom Thurmond, Orrin Hatch and Connie Mack, who all favored funding it without restriction.
(3) America leads the world in science and technology. Imagine the nuclear energy we would have if the kooky left had not gotten it driven out of existence. There would be no possibility of a Chernobyl or a Fukushima. Instead, they drove America to using more coal - thanks for giving the world global warming, Greenpeace.
- Neil Tyson On The Politics Of Science Denial
- The Left Is More Anti-Science Than The Right Unless The Right Is More Anti-Science Than The Left
- Climate Change: No, The Brains Of Right Wing People Are Not Defective
- Scientific American: How politics distorts science on both ends of the political spectrum
- 4 Recommendations For The Next Energy Secretary