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News Is the Age of Scientific Censure Imminent?

  1. Dec 10, 2016 #1
    Pleaes read the following. It its the material for a whole chapter in furture hisotry books or even whole books. It one ups Gov. Rick Scott of Florida who band the use of the terms "climate change" and "global warming" from all official communications back in 2011.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news...d-in-climate-meetings/?utm_term=.bd9ca2cca10c


    Choosing a senior administration who espouses your views is one thing, however this points to something more ominous.
     
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  3. Dec 10, 2016 #2

    phinds

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    There will always be idiots among politicians but the facts won't change and however screwed up things get in the short term, in the long term facts will out.
     
  4. Dec 10, 2016 #3

    Krylov

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    I "liked" your post for your optimism.
     
  5. Dec 10, 2016 #4

    phinds

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    HA ! What I always say when I feel that way, and what I assume you really are saying to me, is "I admire your optimism but not your grasp of reality" :smile:
     
  6. Dec 10, 2016 #5

    Krylov

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    Well, I admired your grasp of reality when you wrote
    There are two very true statements in that sentence.

    When I said I like your optimism, I meant that I am not sure whether the deciding powers will (in the long run, in majority) see the facts for what they are: facts (and not just "opinions").
     
  7. Dec 10, 2016 #6
    If we somehow found the solution for fusion driven energy that threated our oil economy would that also be suppressed? What about high efficiency solar cell research?
     
  8. Dec 10, 2016 #7
    The significantly monied classes don't care at all about the direct consequences of climate change. They don't have to.

    An economic Gladio, or strategy of tension.
    - 'induce stress to the current economy in order to create new economic spheres and thus ensure economic growth.' is all that matters. A crisis is merely an opportunity. In the absence of opportunity, create or nurture crisis.

    In the short term there will be a trickle down effect. People and groups across the globe who in any way advocate sustainability will be marginalised. Later this thesis will create its antithesis and so on.
     
  9. Dec 10, 2016 #8

    Vanadium 50

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    Did anyone actually read the questions? Of course not. Why let facts get in the way of righteous indignation.

    The specific question is #13: "Can you provide a list of all Department of Energy employees or contractors who have attended any Interacgency Working Group on the Social Cost of Carbon meetings? Can you provide a list of when those meetings were and any materials distributed at those meetings, emails associated with these meetings, or materials created by Department employees or contractors in anticipation of or as a result of those meetings.

    So, unlike what the article suggests, the transition team is not asking "who is doing climate change research", but rather "who prepared one particular report, and what is the basis of what's in it?" I think this is a perfectly reasonable question from the transition team (or the administration for that matter). It is certainly true that that information is not present on the report, and that's very odd. I've never shied away from having my name associated with reports I have produced, and most federal reports have that information.

    There is also question 14, which essentially asks whether DOE ran any of the models used by IPPC themselves, or if they relied on others. Does anyone think that's an unreasonable question?
     
  10. Dec 10, 2016 #9
    I agree. For an administration to compile a list of people who strongly disagrees with them on any issue definitely implies it's not a list of people to whom they intend to award medals.
    If you read the entirety of the questionnaire it's obviously digging deep into all the nooks and crannies. What that kind of detailed search forebodes depends on who is doing it. Coming from an administration openly hostile to your views makes it clear they are fishing for ways to deconstruct those of your findings they disagree with. No individual question need be deemed unreasonable. It's the source of the questions and the drift of the cumulative total that needs to be considered.
     
  11. Dec 10, 2016 #10

    Vanadium 50

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    So what? Is there any question in there that is unreasonable for the transition team - or for that matter, any member of the public to know?

    The rest of your argument is essentially
    1. We know Donald Trump is a bad person
    2. He's asking tough questions
    3. He may misuse the answer
    4. This provides more evidence that he is a bad person
    Even if this is true, it's not a very good argument.

    In any event, I wanted to clear up a misrepresentation in the article: it's one report. It's a report that is unusually influential, and unusual in that the individuals who created it and the methodology they used are not public.
     
  12. Dec 10, 2016 #11
    Repeating: No individual question need be deemed unreasonable. It's the source of the questions and the drift of the cumulative total that needs to be considered.

    No, this isn't my argument.
     
  13. Dec 10, 2016 #12

    mheslep

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    Questions 47-50 are excellent questions for the promotion of nuclear power in the US: how to protect existing nuclear plants, prevent premature closure, status of Small Modular, commercialize advanced nuclear. Those questions were formulated by somebody on the transition team who well understands both the current status of US nuclear power and its potential.

    I've seen several forms of questioning from new, incoming senior management in the private sector, though rarely were the questions so well formulated and on point. It's tragic if, as the NYT reports, that this kind of thing is unprecedented in government transition, or that some staff considers them a 'witch hunt'.
     
  14. Dec 11, 2016 #13

    Astronuc

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    Apparently, there are at least two lists of questions, one being a draft and the other being more or less final. A key difference is question 13.

    http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/...tionnaire-Energy-Dept.html?smid=tw-share&_r=0
    13. as Vanadium cited above and

    http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-...y-dept-which-employees-work-on-climate-change
    NPR cites: http://www.eenews.net/assets/2016/12/09/document_gw_06.pdf
    13. There are studies that show that your high resource and technology case for oil and gas represents the shale gas and oil renaissance far better than your reference case. Why has EIA not put those assumptions in your reference case?

    Many questions are the same, but the order may be different.

    Reading the questions, if I was in a new administration, those would be questions I'd be asking as well. I already know the answers to a number of the questions.

    Some questions would require substantial effort, if the authors want to know details like publications of staff. But the labs track publications, but not necessarily by staff member. Each staff member would have a CV that is likely to contain a list of publications.

    With regard to nuclear energy, the NPR cited questionnaire has:
    33. Are there any statutory restrictions to restarting the Yucca Mountain project?

    36. Does DOE have a plan to resume the Yucca Mountain license proceedings?

    52. How can the DOE support existing reactors to continue operating as part of the nation's infrastructure?
    53. What can DOE do to help prevent premature closure of plants?
    54. How do you recommend continuing to supporting the licensing of Small Modular Reactors?
    55. How best can DOE optimize its Advanced Reactor R&D activities to maximize their value proposition and work with investors to development and commercialize advanced reactors?

    This contrasts with numbering of Questions 47-50 cited in the NYTimes (others ?) questionnaire cited by mheslep above.

    Nevertheless, energy (and climate/environmental) policy is highly politicized with conflicting political and economic interests. When administrations change, we often see policies change dramatically, e.g., Yucca mountain used/spent fuel repository.
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2016
  15. Dec 11, 2016 #14

    mheslep

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    Yes, I meant the questions 52 - 55 in your numbering were good questions for the promotion of nuclear power. Either the order was different in my source or I was mistaken.
     
  16. Dec 11, 2016 #15

    Astronuc

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    As I mentioned above, I found two sets of 74 questions. One probably a draft, and one final. I don't know at this point which one is the 'official' set; both are cited by different media organizations. I cite both sets of questions.

    The questions on nuclear energy were the same, just numbered differently.

    Perhaps the most significant change was question 13.

    All the questions seem appropriate for a new administration, although there is concern about certain questions based on rhetoric from Trump and others. Climate change is perhaps the most sensitive issue concerning certain programs in DOE and EPA.
     
  17. Dec 11, 2016 #16

    mheslep

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    As would many other STEM professionals I expect, given a simliar task. The news in this case is the media, again, in that it adopts an absurd speculative narrative instead, e.g. from the WaPo, "intrusive... singling people out .... signal of even more intense politicization..." Questions about government work and projects from new management are 'intrusive'? How is an actual Mccarthyism to be detected if it the press is Mccarthy?
     
  18. Dec 11, 2016 #17
    What advice if any would you give to graduating seniors in the atmospheric or geophysical sciences at this point since names are being taken for some unknown purpose by an administration hostile to research in these areas. What about current graduate students?
     
  19. Dec 11, 2016 #18

    Astronuc

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    I'd say stick with it. Climate science (including meteorology) is an important area of research, particularly with respect to it's impact on infrastructure (and insurance coverage) and agriculture, and that leads to significant security and economic consequences.

    For example, parts of the northwest received rain late in the latest growing season for wheat. That meant that the wheat from certain areas has too much of an enzyme that reduces the starch content of the kernel. It's hard to detect at the initial collection points, so undesirable wheat can get mixed with desirable wheat. It's still good wheat, but not desirable in some markets, which adversely affects exports, which the US needs to improve the trade balance.

    http://nwpr.org/post/northwest-wheats-low-falling-number-means-low-prices-farmers
    Cold snaps, particularly freezing weather early in spring can have a significant and adverse impact on fruit nut trees. Orchards in NY and PA can see significant crop losses due to freezes during spring when/after fruit and nut trees bud.
    http://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-news/lateseason-freeze-to-threaten/47460447
    http://www.accuweather.com/en/weath...losses-of-fruit-crop-northeastern-us/56491741
     
  20. Dec 11, 2016 #19

    russ_watters

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    What do those questions even mean? What does it have to do with the topic being discussed? I think my answer would be: unconnected issues don't need to be discussed as if they are related.

    We'll see where this goes, but given that the Obama administration's energy department was openly hostile toward our largest source of clean energy, to the extreme of violating federal law in order to undermine it, I'd say that the energy department is due for a pretty radical housecleaning.
    http://www.nytimes.com/gwire/2011/0...-caused-by-politica-36298.html?pagewanted=all
    http://www.foxnews.com/politics/201...-agency-violating-law-on-yucca-nuke-site.html
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/busi...790929232e1_story.html?utm_term=.521ec1bd4def

    There is an irony in all of this: Obama succeeded by failing when it came to carbon reduction. Despite strongly opposing fracking and in particular pipelines associated with it, fracking caused most of the carbon emissions reductions under his watch. Trump could similarly succeed at reducing the USA's carbon output - without even trying - if he kick-starts the nuclear power industry.
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2016
  21. Dec 12, 2016 #20
    What advice would you give someone entering a scientific field toward which the government is hostile? It's well known and not in dispute that Trump and tentative members of his cabinet are so called "climate deniers." That being the case, the request for many specific names and professional histories of people in the DoE presumed to support the idea human activity is affecting the climate, is cause for anxiety. So, what advice would you give someone about to enter that field, under the circumstances?
    The topic of this thread is actually not nuclear power. Check out the thread title and opening post.
     
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