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The Counterpurge (de-Stalinising the US energy complex)
Bruce Sterling, Viridian Note 00481
Big Gav of Peak Energy writes:
Bruce's latest Viridian Note looks at Exxon's attempts to intimidate the IPCC and purge it of actual scientists. Bruce suggests the time is coming for a counterpurge. As usual, the formatting is atrocious - Bruce's interjections are often (when in quoted text), marked by ((())) - but not always. I've tried to make who said what a little clearer.
Bruce has always been a good futurist so it will be interesting to see if his prediction of a future de-Stalinisation of the US energy complex occurs (the dirty old one of course - not the shiny green new one emerging from the west coast)...
(8 Dec 2006)
Big Gav has provided a public service by re-formatting Bruce Sterling's essay to be more readable. Big Gav's version is part-way down his Dec. 10 post on Peak Energy.
Bruce Sterling is a futurist and science fiction writer, who started the Viridian movement, the most successful example of which is WorldChanging.
Crooked Curriculum: Oil Company Money Scandal at Nat'l Science Teachers Association Deepens
Laurie David, Huffington Post
The scandal at the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) just keeps getting worse.
Since the Washington Post published an op-ed I wrote asking if NSTA's puzzling decision to reject 50,000 free DVDs of Al Gore's global warming documentary An Inconvenient Truth might - just might - have had anything to do with more than six million dollars the organization has accepted from ExxonMobil, Shell Oil, ConocoPhillips and the American Petroleum Institute, the muck keeps piling up.
ExxonMobil, of course, remains the standout among a large group of fossil fuel companies that have done everything in their considerable power to delay, deflect, and derail any serious effort to cut global warming emissions. Funding scientific disinformation has long been one of their favorite tactics.
New evidence flatly contradicts statements NSTA has made in defense of its suspect partnerships, and efforts appear to be underway to wipe out online evidence showing that what the oil industry got in exchange was the group's imprimatur on classroom videos, teaching guides, and other "educational" materials that play down threats like global warming and play up the glories of continued oil dependence.
We also learned that NSTA is willing to sell direct access to America's schoolteachers to any Tom, Dick or Exxon that shows up with a checkbook.
And here's the icing on the cake: NSTA Executive Director Dr. Gerry Wheeler - a top figure in the world of science education, remember - confessed to at least one reporter this week that he hadn't actually bothered to see the acclaimed film before he turned it down.
(8 Dec 2006)
Related from the Nation: Can't Handle the Truth? - Updated.
Climate scientist says 'Kyoto' barred
Investigators eye censorship claims about White House
Jim Erickson, Rocky Mountain News
A federal climate scientist in Boulder says his boss told him never to utter the word "Kyoto" and tried to bar him from using the phrase "climate change" at a conference.
The allegations come as federal investigators probe whether Bush administration officials tried to block government scientists from speaking freely about global warming and attempted to censor their research.
...Pieter Tans, a senior scientist at the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Boulder laboratory, said the ban on using the word "Kyoto" was issued about four years ago.
"We were under instructions not to use the word 'Kyoto,' which of course is absurd," said Tans, who measures levels of carbon dioxide at NOAA's Global Monitoring Division. He has worked for the agency since 1990.
Tans said the order was issued verbally by his boss, David Hofmann, the division director. Another senior researcher at the Boulder laboratory, NOAA physicist James Elkins, said Hofmann told him the same thing.
..."I tell the truth," he said. "Whatever the consequences are, I will tell them (investigators) what my experiences have been. Period. Whether anyone likes it or not, I don't care.
"There is suspicion at the moment," Tans said. "And that detracts from my credibility as a scientist because people might now think, well, can we trust this guy or is he just saying things that are officially approved?"
Tans stressed that no one has ever tried to alter or suppress his research results. But besides the use of the word "Kyoto", there was a second incident with Hofmann, he said. It occurred in late 2005, while Tans was organizing the Seventh International Carbon Dioxide Conference in Broomfield.
Hofmann called Tans into his office before the September conference and told him the words "climate change" could not appear in the titles of any of the presentations, Tans said. The incident was reported by The Washington Post in April.
(11 Dec 2006)
Robert Todd Carroll, The Skeptic's Dictionary
Lysenkoism refers to an episode in Russian science featuring a non-scientific peasant plant-breeder named Trofim Denisovich Lysenko [1898-1976]. Lysenko was the leading proponent of Michurianism during the Lenin/Stalin years
...Michurin's views on evolution found favor with the party leadership in the Soviet Union. When the rest of the scientific world were pursuing the ideas of Mendel and developing the new science of genetics, Russia led the way in the effort to prevent the new science from being developed in the Soviet Union. Thus, while the rest of the scientific world could not conceive of understanding evolution without genetics, the Soviet Union used its political power to make sure that none of their scientists would advocate a genetic role in evolution.
It was due to Lysenko's efforts that many real scientists, those who were geneticists or who rejected Lamarckism in favor of natural selection, were sent to the gulags or simply disappeared from the USSR. Lysenko rose to dominance at a 1948 conference in Russia where he delivered a passionate address denouncing Mendelian thought as "reactionary and decadent" and declared such thinkers to be "enemies of the Soviet people" (Gardner 1957). He also announced that his speech had been approved by the Central Committee of the Communist Party. Scientists either groveled, writing public letters confessing the errors of their way and the righteousness of the wisdom of the Party, or they were dismissed. Some were sent to labor camps. Some were never heard from again.
...Under Lysenko's guidance, science was guided not by the most likely theories, backed by appropriately controlled experiments, but by the desired ideology. Science was practiced in the service of the State, or more precisely, in the service of ideology. The results were predictable: the steady deterioration of Soviet biology. Lysenko's methods were not condemned by the Soviet scientific community until 1965, more than a decade after Stalin's death.
Could something similar happen in the U.S.? Well, some might argue that it already has.