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WILL THE RADICAL WAR ON SCIENCE TRANSFORM AMERICA?

The scientific confirmation of a human factor in global warming is accepted by a majority of Americans as well as scientists, yet those in power have produced only the Paris climate agreement, with fine goals but little to guarantee reaching them.

The lack of decisive leadership can be attributed to the furious counter-attack from parts of our society that are path dependent on fossil fuels and the internal combustion engine.

At the core of this counter-attack has been an effort to challenge these scientific findings themselves, sometimes referred to as a “war on science.” There have been three phases to this war: governmental (silencing scientists), corporate (challenging the findings), and now radical (seeking to restructure our society and the role of science in it).

As oil majors begin to accept the Paris goals and invest in renewable energy, leadership in the attack on science has passed to the brothers Charles and David Koch, super billionaires whose wealth is tied up with exploitation of extreme energy: the environmentally damaging Alberta tar sands. From 2008 to 2015, under Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper from Alberta, 2000 environmental scientists were fired, and decades of research were discarded, sometimes in landfill.

Scientists must take steps to insure this does not happen in America. The work of atomic scientists at international meetings like Pugwash, leading to the 1986 disarmament agreement at Reykjavik, could be a model for NASA scientists, faced with dangerous new military ventures in space, and a war at home on science itself.

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