Republicans Who Cut Science Budgets Are Not Stupid - They're Malicious - And Their Goal is Ignorance

The story about Republicans in committee axing big hunks of government science budgets sparked a deluge of social media and other commentary last week. Here's Elizabeth Kolbert atThe New Yorker:


Last week, the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, headed by Texas Republican Lamar Smith, approved a bill that would slash at least three hundred million dollars from NASA’s earth-science budget. “Earth science, of course, includes climate science,” Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson, a Texas Democrat who is also on the committee, noted. (Smith said that the White House’s NASA budget request favored the earth sciences “at the expense of the other science divisions and human and robotic space exploration.”) Johnson tried to get the cuts eliminated from the bill, but her proposed amendment was rejected. Defunding NASA’s earth-science program takes willed ignorance one giant leap further. It means that not only will climate studies be ignored; some potentially useful data won’t even be collected.

The vote brought howls of protest from NASA itself and from wider earth-science circles. The agency’s administrator, Charles Bolden, issued a statement saying that the bill “guts our Earth science program and threatens to set back generations worth of progress in better understanding our changing climate.” In an opinion piece for the Washington Post, Marshall Shepherd, a professor of atmospheric science at the University of Georgia and the former president of the American Meteorological Association, said that he could not sleep after hearing about the vote. “None of us has a ‘vacation planet’ we can go to for the weekend, so I argue that NASA’s mission to study planet Earth should be a ‘no-brainer,’ ” he wrote.

As Kolbert notes, the committee had previously whacked significant amounts from the budgets for the National Science Foundation’s geosciences program and Department of Energy's new energy sources program.

It's always tempting to label the politicians who take such actions buffoons, dingbats, dolts, dullards, dunces, know-nothings, simpletons, numskulls, morons, blockheads, harebrains, lamebrains or just plain brainless.

But that, accurate as it may be, lets them off the hook.

Their actions in this regard are, it's true, stupid, myopic and backward. But the intent of these mutha-fucking marionettes is perfectly in line with the fossil fuelists who pull their strings. That's not stupid when the campaign coffers are being filled.

Defunding the scientists and programs dedicated to learning more about what is the only humanly inhabitable planet in many a parsec is not just idiocy. It's meant to bolster the goals and, most importantly, the bottom line of the corporations whose products are the driving force behind the global warming that is steadily making Earth less humanly habitable.

If we don't collect data, don't dig into alternatives and don't study impacts, then who's to say we cannot continue business as usual—the oil, coal and gas business, that is?

These men and women can set back progress in climate science. They can censor scientific voices just as Rick Scott won't let public employees say "climate change" and North Carolina barred using scientific evidence of sea level rise. But no matter what Exxon and the Koch brothers pay them to vote and to say, these politicians cannot censor global warming itself.

Understand the importance of honest news ?

So do we.

The past year has been the most arduous of our lives. The Covid-19 pandemic continues to be catastrophic not only to our health - mental and physical - but also to the stability of millions of people. For all of us independent news organizations, it’s no exception.

We’ve covered everything thrown at us this past year and will continue to do so with your support. We’ve always understood the importance of calling out corruption, regardless of political affiliation.

We need your support in this difficult time. Every reader contribution, no matter the amount, makes a difference in allowing our newsroom to bring you the stories that matter, at a time when being informed is more important than ever. Invest with us.

Make a one-time contribution to Alternet All Access, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.

Click to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card
Donate by Paypal

Don't Sit on the Sidelines of History. Join Alternet All Access and Go Ad-Free. Support Honest Journalism.