Where Science Meets Politics
by Stuart Shapiro
Science and politics have a complicated relationship. Scientists despair when politicians don’t adopt their every recommendations. Politicians (and the public) fail to understand that science doesn’t mean certainty; it means squishier things like probability and likelihood. The New York Times series on the risks of natural gas highlights this problem.
More than a quarter-century of efforts by some lawmakers and regulators to force the federal government to police the industry better have been thwarted, as E.P.A. studies have been repeatedly narrowed in scope and important findings have been removed.
As frequent readers know, I am a big believer in the threat of global warming. And I think that natural gas provides an attractive energy option compared to coal and oil. However if, as the article indicates, Republicans from gas-drilling states and even the EPA are suppressing research into the dangerous side effects of natural gas extraction to encourage its use at the expense of fuels that are worse for climate change, then it is making a serious mistake. Better to understand the dangers of natural gas drilling, compare them to the benefits of natural gas vs. coal and oil for climate change, and regulate accordingly.Click here for reuse options!
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