Skip to comments.A Tale of Two Scientific Consensuses - Look who's letting ideology overrule science.
Posted on 04/06/2007 1:59:40 PM PDT by neverdem
Environmentalists constantly reference the scientific consensus that human activity is changing the global climate.
"You have the strongest consensus we have seen in the science community about global climate change since the conclusion that tobacco caused lung cancer," asserts Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) president Kevin Knobloch. Greenpeace also argues, "There is, in fact, a broad and overwhelming scientific consensus that climate change is occurring, is caused in large part by human activities." And Friends of the Earth has gone after Exxon Mobil because it "has repeatedly attempted to undermine the scientific consensus on climate change and actively resisted attempts to limit carbon dioxide emissions through law."
Clearly when it comes to climate change, environmentalists righteously wrap themselves in the cloak of scientific "consensus." They excoriate scientists and others who doubt that man-made climate change will necessarily be disastrous, accusing some of being essentially paid liars for the fossil fuel industry. But for many environmentalist groups not all scientific consensuses are equal. Consider the case of genetically enhanced crops.
"GMOs [genetically modified organisms] should not be released into the environment as there is not adequate scientific understanding of their impact on the environment and human health," warns Greenpeace. "Genetic engineering is imprecise and unpredictable. But most testing is carried out by the very biotech companies that have the most to gain from results that say GM food is safe," says Friends of the Earth. The Union of Concerned Scientists acknowledges that "there have been no serious environmental impacts-certainly no catastrophes-associated with the use of engineered crops in the United States." In addition, the UCS admits, "No major human health problems have emerged in connection with genetically modified food crops, which have been consumed by significant numbers of U.S. consumers." In fact, no--not just "no major"--human health problems have emerged. Nevertheless, the UCS concludes "the scientific evidence available to date, while encouraging, does not support the conclusion that genetically modified crops are intrinsically safe for health or the environment." What does "intrinsically safe" mean? On what evidence can the UCS conclude that even conventional crops are "intrinsically safe"?
The scientific consensus about current varieties of genetically improved crops stands in stark contrast to these dire environmentalist assertions.
As evidence, consider a recent report issued by the International Council for Science (ICSU). The ICSU is an organization whose membership consists of 111 national academies of science and 29 scientific unions. In 2005, the ICSU issued a report based on a comprehensive analysis of 50-science based reviews of genetically modified crops. The ICSU concluded: "Currently available genetically modified foods are safe to eat." Some environmentalist critics claim that genes from genetically modified crops will "contaminate" the natural environment and conventional crops. The ICSU found, "there is no evidence of any deleterious environmental effects having occurred from the trait/species combinations currently available." The World Health Organization agrees that current varieties of GM foods "are not likely to present risks for human health. In addition, no effects on human health have been shown as a result of the consumption of such foods by the general population in the countries where they have been approved."
A 2003 position paper by the Society of Toxicology found, "The level of safety of current BD [biotechnology-derived] foods to consumers appears to be equivalent to that of traditional foods." In 2002, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) reviewed the scientific literature and sought expert advice about the safety of genetically modified foods. The GAO concluded, "Biotechnology experts believe that the current regimen of tests has been adequate for ensuring that GM (genetically modified) foods marketed to consumers are as safe as conventional foods." The experts with whom the GAO consulted also pointed out "there is no scientific evidence that GM foods cause long-term harm, such as increased cancer rates," and that "there is no plausible hypothesis of harm." GM foods might have adverse effects if they produced harmful proteins that that remained stable during digestion. However, the GAO noted that the proteins produced through genetic enhancement are in fact rapidly digested.
In 2000 the report Transgenic Plants and World Agriculture, issued under the auspices of seven national academies of science, including U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the British Royal Academy, found that "no human health problems associated specifically with the ingestion of transgenic crops or their products have been identified." Also in 2000, a American Medical Association report noted, "Worldwide, many people are eating GM foods with no overt adverse effects on human health reported in the peer-reviewed scientific literature and according to regulatory agencies."
Almost all of the previously analyses cited do suggest that more stringent regulations might be necessary if future genetic modifications significantly change the nutrition of foods. But here are a couple of rules of thumb for reasonable regulation of genetically improved crops. If a regulatory system would cover a specific trait were it in a conventionally bred crop, then it should also regulate that same trait in a GM crop. If not, then it should not be regulated in a GM crop either. Secondly, once a trait has been approved, it should be approved for all varieties and all crops. There is no need to make a trait that already been scientifically determined to be safe go through the regulatory system again and again and again.
In any case, the overwhelming scientific consensus is that current varieties of genetically enhanced crops are safe to eat and don't pose unusual risks to the natural environment. But that isn't stopping Greenpeace from waging a global "Say no to genetic engineering" campaign or the Friends of the Earth from demanding a GM Freeze. Perhaps the idea of scientific consensus is not all that it's cracked up to be. After all, scientific consensus does not mean "certain truth." Whatever the current consensus of any scientific issue is can change in the light of new research. Nevertheless, environmentalist ideologues accuse those who question the climate change consensus of bad faith and worse. But aren't they exhibiting a similar bad faith when they reject the broad scientific consensus on genetically modified crops?
Disclosure: Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote: "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines." Nevertheless, I accept both the scientific consensus on climate change and the consensus on genetically enhanced crops.
Ronald Bailey is Reason's science correspondent.
I heard on the car today (Rushs show) that next week Newt is going to debate John Kerry on the issue of global warming.
There was no further information regarding the date or the venue hosting the debate.
Newt will win this hands down. Not only because a lot of this is hype, but because Newt is brilliant and Kerry is an intellectual lightweight, to put it mildly.
but he sure can toss those medals, eh..
In the late 1940s Russian scientists had found themselves subjected to the political witch hunting by Stalin's regime. Before that such witch hunting was limited to poets, artists, writers, filmmakers, and musicians, who often saw their works assailed by communist officials on the grounds of "ideological impurity" or "bourgeois influence". That time science and scientists became the victim. In a really Orwellian style genetics, psychologists and cybernetics were fired, exiled and even killed. But the most alarming and often overlooked fact is that Lysenkoism was not an aberration or "excess" but a natural product of Stalinism. Moreover an important observation that the author is trying to communicate by writing this paper is that while the original form was a byproduct of Stalinism, the phenomenon itself is more universal and can be considered as a special, previously unknown flavor of high demand cult. For simplicity we will call if technocult. This paper tried to show that Lysenkoism was the first successful attempt to transplant high demand religious cults methods into scientific community and should be understood as such. The main point of this paper is that Lysenkoism is not only about intellectual pogrom, destruction of real science by pseudoscience committed in the name of a particular political agenda and more or less openly supported by the ruling party/government officials. It is also (and probably more important) a self-sustainable cult-like system of distortions, omissions, and lies that are designed to support faulty or fraudulent research of the selected "politically correct" pseudo-scientists. In this sense it's closely related to "cargo cult" phenomenon that is better known in the Western hemisphere as well as science distortions that are associated with the military-industrial complex....SO MUCH FOR 'ENLIGHTEN' SCIENCE
ROFLMAO! Look at who is the President of the mis-named “Union of Concerned Scientists” — not a scientist at all, but a political hack whose formative experiences are in journalism and working for such luminous scientific experts as former Sen. Tim Wirth (later of UN/Ted Turner fame).
The b.s. bio below actually cites his experience of propounding the UCS nonsense propaganda against missile defense in the late ‘80s as one of the highlights of his resume — that sordid episode of utter drivel pouring out of the political left (proclaiming that sarcastically labelled “Star Wars” could never work) is one of the absolute LOWs of the political left in a long history of dishonest, vicious onslaughts against science, reason, and decency.
UCS President Kevin Knobloch is well-positioned to weigh in on the debate about politics and scientific integrity. Knobloch began his career as a journalist, then spent six years as a legislative staffer for former Sen. Timothy Wirth (D-Colo.) and former Rep. Ted Weiss (D-N.Y.). He was UCS’s legislative director for arms control and national security from 1989 to 1992, at the height of the controversy over whether a Star Wars missile defense system would work. After earning a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard, Knobloch served as director of conservation programs for the Appalachian Mountain Club before returning to UCS in 2000 and taking the helm as president in 2003.
...Lysenkoism, a self-sustainable cult-like system of distortions, omissions, and lies that are designed to support faulty or fraudulent research of the selected "politically correct" pseudo-scientists....
Hmmmm....$CIENCE FOR DOLLARS,just follow the $$$$ trail.
The philosophical and ideological remnants of eugenics can still be easily found by searching Google:
Prior to this episode of scientific consensus, previous eras of consensus included those where the earth was flat and the center of the universe, as well as the scientific fact that crop failures and epidemics were caused by witches.
Does anyone here know how many actual scientists belong to the Union of Concerned Scientists?
How do I turn on the magnifying feature...I can hardly read font that small.
New!!: Dr. John Rays
Please ping me if you find one Ive missed.
OKSooner and I are doing the POGW
ping list while xcamel is on vacation.
Never thought of 0.1% as a large part.
If you're using Internet Explorer, click on the View menu, then on Text Size, then on Largest. Be sure to switch it back when you're done.
Who wants to take bets that Peach ignores the post about Rudy supporting global warming, and totally abandons this thread?
LOL. I am going to try and re-arrange a hairdresser’s appointment so I can see that pompous jerk get humiliated by Newt. It sounds like must see tv.
Oh, and for the people who think that only liberals believe in globul (intentional mis-spelling) warming, this is what President Bush has to say about the issue:
The issue of climate change respects no border. Its effects cannot be reined in by an army nor advanced by any ideology. Climate change, with its potential to impact every corner of the world, is an issue that must be addressed by the world.
The Kyoto Protocol was fatally flawed in fundamental ways. But the process used to bring nations together to discuss our joint response to climate change is an important one. That is why I am today committing the United States of America to work within the United Nations framework and elsewhere to develop with our friends and allies and nations throughout the world an effective and science-based response to the issue of global warming.
My Cabinet-level working group has met regularly for the last 10 weeks to review the most recent, most accurate, and most comprehensive science. They have heard from scientists offering a wide spectrum of views. They have reviewed the facts, and they have listened to many theories and suppositions. The working group asked the highly-respected National Academy of Sciences to provide us the most up-to-date information about what is known and about what is not known on the science of climate change.
First, we know the surface temperature of the earth is warming. It has risen by .6 degrees Celsius over the past 100 years. There was a warming trend from the 1890s to the 1940s. Cooling from the 1940s to the 1970s. And then sharply rising temperatures from the 1970s to today.
Newt will win this hands down.
Newt will have read Kerry's book; something Kerry has not done.
FReepmail me if you want on or off my health and science ping list.
Yep. Our CO2 output is well-exceeded by that of termites, and our livestock produce more greenhouse gasses than all our other activities combined.
Yep. Our CO2 output is well-exceeded by that of termites, and our livestock produce more greenhouse gasses than all our other activities combined.
If the global warming crusaders were really serious instead of serioslt anticapitalist, they would push to outlaw meat and leave my SUV and my electric bill alone.
Theodore Dalrymple from a recent interview"Political correctness is communist propaganda writ small. In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, nor to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies is to co-operate with evil, and in some small way to become evil oneself. One's standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control. I think if you examine political correctness, it has the same effect and is intended to."
(quoted by Former Dodger)
Thanks for the quote.
Peachie pie, you’ve posted all over other threads. Why not post again on this one?
Oh I know, it’s because you came down on Kerry for supporting global warming, when in fact your candidate, Rudy, has the same view.
Rudy has a chance... if he runs as a Dem!
“I heard on the car today (Rushs show) that next week Newt is going to debate John Kerry on the issue of global warming.”
Just wait for Newt to debate Rudy. Newt will have good practice for that by debating Kerry, since so many of Kerry and Rudy’s positions are so similar.
“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds” - well put. Remember the FEAR that the kuwaiti oil fires saddam left in his wake in 1991 would create a climate catastrophe? Didn’t happen, water films forming on the oil droplets high in the atmosphere quickly dropped them out.
Ah yes, the FEARFUL and UNBELIEVING, always trying to fetter human progress. Soon enough and they won’t be around anymore with their little FEARFUL minds...
Interesting quote. Where did it come from?
That is truly profound. Thanks to you and Former Dodger!
It boggles my mind that fools like Algore, Nancy Pelosi, and such are ready to declare that there’s a consensus about something as complex as human-driven global warming — when there are no models sophisticated enough to show this to be the case... And then, on the other hand, you have very simple models showing how Social Security and Medicare are Ponzi-Schemes whose time is coming to an end — and these same idiots refuse to recognize it or feel that anything needs to be done about it.
One is absolute fact and just a matter of time — the other is conjecture based on fear and fuzzy science. Leave it to Algore to see which one he can bamboozle the public with.
In the late 1940s Russian scientists had found themselves subjected to the political witch hunting by Stalin’s regime. Before that such witch hunting was limited to poets, artists, writers, filmmakers, and musicians, who often saw their works assailed by communist officials on the grounds of “ideological impurity” or “bourgeois influence”.
That time science and scientists became the victim. In a really Orwellian style genetics, psychologists and cybernetics were fired, exiled and even killed. But the most alarming and often overlooked fact is that Lysenkoism was not an aberration or “excess” but a natural product of Stalinism. Moreover an important observation that the author is trying to communicate by writing this paper is that while the original form was a byproduct of Stalinism, the phenomenon itself is more universal and can be considered as a special, previously unknown flavor of high demand cult. For simplicity we will call if technocult.
This paper tried to show that Lysenkoism was the first successful attempt to transplant high demand religious cults methods into scientific community and should be understood as such. The main point of this paper is that Lysenkoism is not only about intellectual pogrom, destruction of real science by pseudoscience committed in the name of a particular political agenda and more or less openly supported by the ruling party/government officials.
It is also (and probably more important) a self-sustainable cult-like system of distortions, omissions, and lies that are designed to support faulty or fraudulent research of the selected “politically correct” pseudo-scientists. In this sense it’s closely related to “cargo cult” phenomenon that is better known in the Western hemisphere as well as science distortions that are associated with the military-industrial complex....
That only works sometimes. When it doesn’t work, (and if you’re using WinXP) click on START, ALL PROGRAMS, Accessories, Accessibility, Magnifier.
The top inch or so of the screen will become a magnified window that follows your mouse pointer around.