Unscientific Congress

After reading an editorial in the Scientific American concerning science in the United States Congress, I thought that I would determine what the makeup might be of the Congressional Science Committee. The answer was more shocking than I could have imagined.

The following are the Republican members of the Congressional Science Committee:

Todd Akin (Rep-Mz) is the brilliant Sexual Education master that believes that women seldom fall pregnant from legitimate rape. He is of the belief that the female body has ways to shut that whole thing down. How is the country supposed to have an adult conversation about reproductive processes if the members of the science committee do not understand the most basic functions of the human body? What on Earth is “legitimate rape”. It is certainly not a legal term with which I am familiar. Or perhaps he is suggesting that certain forms of rape are legitimate if the women does not fall pregnant. It would be interesting for us to determine precisely what he means.

Ralph Hall (Rep-Tx) is the climate expert who believes that we have the global warming, or global freezing, and then we have the space, the NASA program, which is enough for any one committee. If he cannot even enunciate the scientific controversy which appears to exist for Republicans. The scientific community is overwhelmingly supportive of the hypothesis that climate change is caused by the actions of man. You would imagine that a member of the Science committee was at least vaguely aware of the salient points. As for the space thing, while space exploration and its attendant scientific progress is important, there are a vast number of unanswered questions in scientific pursuits that have little to do with either climate or space. Surely this individual would have some idea what they are.

Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), believes that climate cycles are caused by solar flares rather than human activity. Naturally he is well qualified to respond to questions about climate considering his background in the sciences. Why not volcanic activity, rather than solar flares? Or bovine intestinal methane? Does he have the statistics to prove his contention, the backing by major professional scientists not bought out by large oil companies? According to his Wikipedia entry, Sensenbrenner has a BA in Political Science, and despite the name, has no direct qualification in the sciences. He also has a Juris Doctor degree (doctorate in Law). One would imagine that in his 33 years in Congress, he would have learned a few things. Alas, Congressional experience does not seem to translate to real world experience.

Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) believes that we should clear the rainforests to eliminate the production of greenhouse gases. This reminds me of an elephant cull that was scheduled for a game-park in South Africa. A surveyor was sent up in an aircraft to count the number of elephant in the park. On the first day he counted three thousand. The following day he went up again and counted another two thousand. It was determined that the park could only handle two thousand animals and that three thousand should be culled. Fortunately, private groups were outraged and another count was done. It turned out that there were only three thousand elephant in the park. Elephant, it appears, can move up to fifty miles each night. What this representative advocates would destroy the one thing that reduces greenhouse gases – plants. But he has a job. His degree? American Studies.

Paul Broun (R-GA) is our resident evolution sensei. He says that scientists the world over proclaim that global warming is  the greatest hoax perpetrated by the scientific community. I am not certain which scientists he refers to, but no-one with any relevant standing in the scientific community believes anything of the sort. Reputable scientists are solidly behind the climate change hypothesis. I would also love to know what qualifies him to speak about evolution. His advanced degree in Medicine? Which, admittedly, he does have. I would love to know how much paleontology he studied, how much evolutionary biology or ethology.

Sandy Adams (R-FL), believes that we should reduce funding for climate change research, which she claims would undercut the reason for funding NASA. Again, precisely what has NASA got to do with climate change? Admittedly, global temperature variation, cloud cover and so on can be studied extra-terrestrially, but there are an enormous number of scientific pursuits having nothing to do with NASA that study climate change. In addition, reducing funding doesn’t make climate change go away, it just means that we know less about it. If you stick your head in the sand, the lion will still get you, unless you are an ostrich.

Mo Brooks (R-AL), believes that because we have higher concentrations of Carbon Dioxide, plants will grow better. He claims that he doesn’t know about the adverse effects of CO2 on human beings. As  a member of the science committee perhaps he should find out. It is not the effect on human beings that is relevant, it is the effect that human produced CO2 has on all life, on weather patterns, on crops. The list of possible side effects of global warming is almost endless, and none of it bodes well for humans.

Lamar Smith (R-TX), on the Stop Online Piracy Act. “Criticism is hypothetical – no-one has been able to point to any language that would harm the Internet.” Clearly, criticism is hypothetical, that does not mean that it is not relevant. And there are millions of critics, from all corners of the nation and the globe that say that the bill will hamper Freedom of the Internet. Companies like Google are adamantly opposed to the bill, so plenty of critics have indeed pointed to language that may harm internet freedoms.

Republicans on the science committee are clearly not in the same room as the earths scientists, and yet they make policy that could affect the lives of billions. The incompetents should be removed from office

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