As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Inside-Outside Movement On The Restoration Of Science

After some ridiculous obstructionism, John Holdren and Jane Lubchenco finally won confirmation to the Administration positions of science advisor and head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), respectively. Lubchenco's agency conducts most of the federal government's research into climate change, and so an expanded policy role for her means better data and a better understanding of the overall challenges that accompany a warming planet. The stimulus gave the NOAA budget a 20% increase, and now that will be put to use in forming a National Climate Service.

One of her first initiatives, she added, will be to establish a National Climate Service, loosely modeled on the National Weather Service.

"NOAA has a key role to play in providing the fundamental knowledge about the climate system, providing data as to how the system is changing and taking all of that information and providing it in a way that's easy to understand in order to make decisions," she said.

Hopefully the increased data and better modeling can prove to policymakers that the costs of NOT dealing with climate change far outweigh the up-front costs. In fact, the cap and trade system proposed in the federal budget pays for itself through charging business for permits to pollute, and funnels much of that to Americans to offset increased energy prices. There is no fiscal and certainly no ecological reason to ignore climate change any longer. As Lubchenco notes, "long-term economic prosperity depends on a healthy environment."

While Lubchenco promises more institutional information on the impact of climate change, the lack of legitimate PUBLIC information poses a real danger to the political will to set policies to combat it. That's why Chris Mooney's op-ed refuting George Will's nonsensical denialism means a lot. The Washington Post didn't print Mooney's rebuttal out of an internal conscience, but because progressives and environmentalists placed real pressure on them. Getting the record on Will's lies in print at his own paper represents a big victory. We're not going to stamp out anti-science covering for industry polluters overnight, but the combination of bottom-up calls for change and a real commitment from the executive branch and the relevant agencies can be powerful.

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