Republicans: “We Don’t Need No Steenking Science!”
In the 1600s Galileo was thrown in jail when his scientific discoveries clashed with The Church. Things have sure changed since then, right?
Four hundred years later, some of the most powerful Republicans are bringing down their wrath on scientists whose findings are a threat to the Powers That Be. In 2003, the National Academy of Sciences completed a research project detailing the effects of thirty years of energy development in Alaska.
Even worse is Congressman Joe Barton, R-Texas. He’s basically a prostitute; the oil industry is his pimp. He’s trying to derail the work of three of the country’s top climate researchers. Barton is demanding that they hand over to him a complete record of all financial support they’ve ever received. This includes speaking fees, grants, organizations they’ve done research for — you name it. Barton is even demanding the “exact computer code” they used which generated their findings.
It takes a lot of time and manpower to research decades’ worth of records — how much was I paid for that speech I gave 12 years ago, what was the fine print on that grant I received nine years ago, etc. These are manhours that obviously won't be spent doing scientific research. What a clever way for Big Business to keep the messenger quiet.
When America’s top scientists get thwarted by government thugs, America’s competitiveness suffers. More and more scientific breakthroughs may start coming from other countries, while American scientists turn into Yes-men for corporations who don’t want facts getting in their way.
Two of Barton’s fellow Representatives have condemned his sleazy tactics: “We are very concerned that the tone of your letters indicate that these were not requests for hearing background materials, but rather an attempt to intimidate …and discredit peer-reviewed scientific research.”
Things will get pretty grim if scientists start keeping quiet for fear of losing their funding, or if they start spending so much time searching for subpoenaed records that they don’t have time to do research. It’ll be Paradise on Earth for a few CEOs, and a bleak hellhole for the rest of us.