A couple of weeks back, a New York Times piece prompted me to voice my concerns about the future of science funding in the US. Today I came across a news release made around the same time by the American Association for Advancement of Science (AAAS), which reflected the same concern.
A push for reduced federal spending in the wake of the U.S. midterm elections “could have a significant impact on federal R&D investment,” said Patrick Clemins, director of the AAAS R&D Budget and Policy Program.
But that is not all, folks. The AAAS news release further states:
The change of leadership within the US House of Representatives also is likely to mean increased interest in hearings related to climate change research, said Joanne Carney, director of the AAAS Center for Science, Technology and Congress, in an interview with Janet Raloff of Science News. Policy-makers may seek to “use the power of oversight to issue subpoenas to investigate a range of issues and concerns,” she noted, including policies related to climate science.
Patrick Clemins brings home the unmistakable gravity of the reality, saying:
“The hardest-hit agencies would be those that were authorized in America COMPETES Act and have seen strong increases since the Act was passed in 2007,” said Clemins. “These agencies include the National Science Foundation (-11.1% in R&D from FY 2010), the Department of Energy’s Office of Science (-14.8% in R&D from FY 2010), and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (-14.1% in R&D from FY 2010).”
Will NIH be spared? I am scared to even ask.
The picture gets even more murky here. Of the two Republican candidates seeking to head the Energy and Commerce Committee chairmanship, one (Rep. John Shimkus of Illinois) has gone on record saying that we do not have to worry about climate change because God promised in the Bible not to destroy the world again after Noah’s flood. The other (Rep. Joe Barton of Texas), who is known to have accepted monetary contributions from Oil companies and interests, and even belted out a weird apology to the BP CEO in the middle of a Congressional hearing of the catastrophic Gulf oil spill, believes that “global warming is caused by natural variances and humankind is expected to adapt to it” (Watch video of his speech on YouTube). Conflict of interest, anyone?
Elizabeth Kolbert of The New Yorker wrote a pertinent piece, titled Uncomfortable Climate, on how the current Republican leadership is planning on using their newly-gained powers to persecute the scientists who warned of the dangers of climate change. It is scary and gravely concerning, and well worth a read; the consequence of such a step isn’t likely to remain local to the US, but have a global ripple effect in the long term.
I am reeeeaally scared, and I don’t even have a vote. Whimper.