Commentary: Alaska's war on science embarrassing

Special to the Anchorage Daily NewsDecember 30, 2009 

Alaska's escalating war on science should be a grave concern to us all. On climate change, endangered species, predator control, and environmental impacts of industrial development, Alaska now has arguably the most anti-science government anywhere in the nation.

For instance, with virtually no public input, the 2008 legislature appropriated $2 million for an "endangered species conference," for which "conclusions had already been agreed upon," according to an Anchorage Daily News report. The stated objective for the appropriation was to refute federal climate science, particularly the science behind the listing of polar bears as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). In the words of its primary sponsor Rep. John Harris: "You know as well as I do that scientists are like lawyers. ... we want to have the money to hire scientists to answer Interior (department) scientists."

Many asked Gov. Palin to veto this appropriation, but being a non-believer in climate change and species protection herself, she approved it. Palin recently claimed that climate change concerns are based on "snake oil science," questioned "whether we are warming or cooling," and concluded that climate is simply "cyclical" and thus no reason to constrain fossil fuel development and use. If it takes place as envisioned, the state's "conference to nowhere" and public relations campaign to deceive the public will be a laughing stock of the scientific community.

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