Sunday, February 10, 2008

“We can evade reality, but we cannot evade the consequences of evading reality”

Do you know who said that? None other than the conservatives' hero, Ayn Rand. It's risky to assign a philosophy to a group, but conservative (at least economic) ideology generally aligns with hers, if not descends from it. This administration and all conservatives who follow Ayn Rand should think hard about what she would say about denying reality that scientific information presents and censoring it.

I think all of the Bush administration's positions on global warming could, in some sense, be considered reasonable, except for its censorship of science. The only circumstances under which censorship should be allowed is in cases of national security, and even then it should be exercised with great care. It is reasonable to argue that the US shouldn't use resources to combat global climate change or cut back on its energy use. It's reasonable to argue that global warming could be a net benefit for the US and the world. It is not reasonable, however to argue that information should be restricted and speech censored so that each American cannot form his own opinion.

What happened with the 10 million dollar "Climate Change Impacts on the United States" report was....confusing. According to PBS's "Hot Politics," the administration deleted references to the report, removed funding for it and deleted it from the government's website. The only way you could justify this if you felt that the people you selected to write the report were incapable of writing an accurate report or were deliberately misleading readers. Would the commander-in-chief like to admit that he hired people who are incapable of doing their jobs or that he hired people would would intentionally distort facts and produce a report with no value? Or, would he like to admit that asking for the report was a 10 million dollar mistake? Since those scenarios are unlikely, I think that this is what really happened: government scientists produced a scientifically sound report that came to conclusions that the president didn't like. He didn't want the public to read it because it might undermine his conservative vision for the economy, so he cut the funding and removed all records of the report. I wonder what Ayn Rand would say about a president who wasted 10 million in tax dollars? Or what would she say about a president who selected people who weren't right for the job? I imagine the conservatives' hero wouldn't much like what she saw in this administration's treatment of global climate change and science.

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