Back during the halcyon days of the Bush administration, liberals took note of Republican positions on embryonic stem cell research and global warming and declared that the GOP was waging a “war on science” which would end when they took power.
According to the Washington Examiner’s Byron York, the Democrats have launched their own ideology-driven war on science.
“Offshore oil drilling. Recently the inspector general of the Interior Department discovered that White House officials altered a report to claim that the administration’s six-month moratorium on offshore oil drilling had the approval of the nation’s foremost engineering experts. ‘The recommendations contained in this report have been peer-reviewed by seven experts identified by the National Academy of Engineering,’ the administration declared. In fact, the experts had not reviewed, nor did they approve, the proposed drilling moratorium. The administration insists it was all a mistake.
“The ‘clean energy economy.’ President Obama speaks frequently about ‘accelerating the transition to a clean energy economy.’ Neither Obama’s promises of breakthroughs in solar, wind, and other alternative energy sources — which can supply only a tiny fraction of the nation’s energy needs — nor his claims that his policies will create hundreds of thousands of ‘green jobs’ in a new clean energy world, are supported by solid economic analysis. Numerous studies found that the president’s favored cap-and-trade program would not have led to economic growth, and the concept of ‘green jobs’ is so fuzzy as to be almost useless.
“‘They are ignoring the fact that subsidized green jobs destroy jobs elsewhere and direct capital and resources away from their most efficient use,’ says Nick Loris, an analyst at the conservative Heritage Foundation. ‘If these technologies were economically competitive and profitable, they wouldn’t need the subsidies and mandates the administration is supporting.’
“High-speed rail. The administration wants to build high-speed rail links in 13 densely populated areas around the country, at a price tag that could reach into the hundreds of billions of dollars. The president touted high-speed rail at no fewer than five campaign appearances in October. But there is virtually no hope that such projects, even if built exactly as the administration hopes, would bring the progress Obama claims. Recently Newsweek economic columnist Robert Samuelson concluded that the rail lines would not result in ‘any meaningful reduction in traffic congestion, greenhouse-gas emissions, air travel, or oil consumption and imports. Nada, zip.'”
There is, in point of fact, another example of the liberal War on Science that York didn’t mention. Last February, President Obama announced that the Bush-era Constellation program which would have taken astronauts back to the Moon and eventually beyond would be canceled. In its place, there would be a program of heavy subsidies for commercial space companies. Later, President Obama added the idea of expeditions to an asteroid as part of a vaguely defined space exploration program.
Planetary scientists, such as Paul Spudis, have pointed out that recent discoveries of massive amounts of water on the Moon make the Earth’s nearest neighbor the most reasonable destination for human explorers. Water could not only be used to sustain a lunar base or settlement, but also to create rocket fuel for spacecraft voyaging deeper into the Solar System. A lunar settlement would make expeditions to asteroids and Mars more sustainable.
The Obama administration ignored the advice of scientists such as Spudis in eschewing the Moon. President Obama himself sneered that since Buzz Aldrin has already been to the Moon; there was no need for anyone else to go.
The massive subsidies to commercial space companies have also been called into question. Just as with high speed rail and “green jobs,” if a commercial enterprise such as launching people and cargo into space is viable, it should find financing in the private capital markets. This is especially true if the government is providing incentives such as contracts to service the International Space Station. Most recently a draft document by the co-chairs of the National Deficit Commission has suggested eliminating of the subsidies.
The Obama administration seems to be more interested in ideology than in science and the facts when it comes to its space policy, just as with the other areas Byron York mentions. To the White House, “commercial” means government-financed. The Moon has become Obama’s quarantine region, not to be visited-at least by Americans.
Ironically, while the Republican stance on embryonic stem cell research was based on ethics (i.e. not wanting to destroy human embryos), its position on global warming was enhanced a year ago with the revelations of fraud and intimidation coming out of the climate change community.
Sources: Dems extol facts and science but act on ideology, Byron York, Washington Examiner, November 11th, 2010
Can NASA Get Its Groove Back? Paul Spudis, Once and Future Moon Blog, Air and Space Magazine, November 6th, 2010
National Deficit Commission: Eliminate Commercial Space Subsidies, Mark R. Whittington, Associated Content, November 10th, 2010