In the Arena

Palin Drone

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The Washington Post devotes valuable op-ed space today to Sarah Palin, who uses it to denounce “politicized science”:

I’ve always believed that policy should be based on sound science, not politics.

Okay. But she’s not denouncing the politicized, oil-drenched policies of the Bush Administration. She’s joining the right-wing hysteria chorus, which has launched a new attack on the science of climate change based on some embarrassing and disgraceful emails written by scientists at the University of East Anglia Climate Research Unit. For a more accurate account of the import of those emails, check out Tom Friedman’s column in the NY Times.

In the end, I’m slightly mystified by the passion this arouses on the right–although much of it, I assume, is oil- lubricated. What sort of people would be willing to place a significant bet on the lives of their grandchildren? (Answer: those more interested in short-term corporate profits.) What sort of people don’t understand that lowering our dependence on foreign oil is in the long-term national security interests of the country? (Answer: those who have no problem with an oil-based, neo-imperialist foreign policy.)

In much of the rest of the world, conservation is a conservative cause. In the United States, Charles Krauthammer and a handful of other conservatives favor a gasoline tax to lower carbon emissions (refundable in the form of an income tax break). There are, as always, semi-legitimate fears that government will overstep and use carbon emission controls as a sledgehammer to stifle private enterprise–but there are also legitimate expectations that controls will give birth to a shiny, new, job-generating green economy. And make no mistake, despite the East Anglia kerfuffle, the preponderance of real science indicates that a serious, man-made climate change problem exists; it is the preponderance of politicized science that denies it.