Comments about ‘Is science being misused for social policy?’

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Published: Friday, May 30 2014 12:00 a.m. MDT

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2 bits
Cottonwood Heights, UT

@Twin Lights,
All good points. A little hysterical, but I know it's sometimes good to put a good scare into people to help get them moving in the right direction.

Good warnings of doom... but no concrete solutions given. Can you tell us how we can prevent climate chaos?

If it's everybody get an electric car... we can't all afford them today. And we only have 483 days left before it's too late!

What CAN we do?


And if only Utahns (who are the only ones who will hear your solution) do it... will it work? Will we avert climate chaos?

If all America does it (but not China, Russia, Africa, Brazil, etc, etc) will it work?

How do we force third world countries to do it? How do we force China to do it? Or Russia? Or wherever?

Many people would LOVE to see the American economy collapse completely. If you put a few un-elected (and therefor un-removable) globalists in control of what we can/can't do in America... what do you think will eventually happen? Happy days and more jobs for Americans?

I doubt it...

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY

2 bits,

You’re taking the word of a French politician and I’m the hysterical one? I have no ideal about “climate chaos”. Ask Minister Fabius.

How do we move forward in the real world? We go toward more natural gas for now (the most abundant and cleanest interim fuel). We work on nuclear for the same reasons.

We put “man on the moon” type of focus on STEM in our schools and get moving on producing the technologies that will make us the world leader in renewable energy.

We provide incentives for more hybrid vehicles and then electric as they become more viable.

We put a priority on clean emissions for our manufacturing (might benefit the Salt Lake area).

Most of all we stop putting our heads in the sand about science and showing the world our stupid side. If so, then we can exercise the leadership that is ours in so many other areas. It’s not like we have no levers.

I am sure others have far better ideas. The point is simple. We do what we know we can and set about learning the rest.

seattle, WA


I did not make a judgment on the level of population of the Earth, I merely pointed out the obvious. The planet is home to billions, which is historically high. You make the leap of illogic to infer I condone population control. I did not mention, nor infer any such thing.

I did infer that the increasing billions of us on the planet are wasteful of the planet's resources. I think that is obvious as well. Resources are finite.

Maybe you should try listening and stop inferring malicious messages.

Frozen Fractals
Salt Lake City, UT

"Al Gore made a killing off being the 'green' spokesman."

The main thing is that we shouldn't be elevating non-scientists (including Al Gore) above the science and data which should be the primary focus of trying to understand the science. Of course the problem here is that there's two sides, the science and the policy discussion. Those two get conflated to the point that we seem to have few who reject a policy argument (like cap and trade) without also throwing out some of the science. This works in the reverse to some extent, claiming things for climate change that aren't actually caused by it (like an increase in tornadoes, which isn't proven at all, there's been no statistically significant trend in strong tornadoes and because of that, it's presumed that the upward trend in weak tornadoes is due to higher population and better observation of them, we aren't missing as many small ones in the middle of nowhere these days).

2 bits
Cottonwood Heights, UT

@Twin Lights,
Thanks for sharing solutions. I like those.

I especially like the "Do whatever you can".... approach. That's the approach I take. But I keep getting beat up by environmentalists, who think I'm not doing enough, because I'm not as radical about it as THEY are...

But I am doing everything I can. And I feel good about it. Although I'm sure they think I'm still the problem (because I'm not as radical as them).


Everything you mentioned are great things for Americans to be doing. But I wonder how well you think this list would be received in Algeria, Sudan, Somalia, China, Mexico, Russia, India, Afghanistan, etc....

They don't have very good access to electric cars or STEM education in these countries.

And with only 483 days to do it... I think the chances are pretty slim...


If "just do everything you can"... is good enough... then I feel good about what I'm doing. But I don't feel it's my job to make everybody else do everything MY way.

E Sam
Provo, UT

Another excellent article by Mary Barker. Well done.

Tyler D
Meridian, ID

@Twin Lights – “We do what we know we can and set about learning the rest.”

Great post!

I would add that those who claim proponents of man caused climate change are often hysterical – a bizarre charge considering the general temperament of scientists, especially those who fall on the Asperger’s spectrum - are often hysterical themselves in their economic doom & gloom catastrophes they think will be caused by mitigation.

The truth is business has always responded quite well to changes in price signals (which is what a revenue neutral carbon tax would do) and are usually more efficient & productive as a result (e.g. acid rain, ozone depletion, etc…).

We drastically under-estimate the innovative abilities of entrepreneurs with this Chicken Little talk… something I find ironic coming from the side that is supposedly pro-business.

red state pride
Cottonwood Heights, UT

I'm glad all climate scientists are as pure as the driven snow. For example, the renowned Michael Mann who created the "hockey-stick graph". He apparently has deep enough pockets to sue anyone who criticizes him. Maybe in your next column Ms Barker you could do some research and let us know who is funding Dr Mann's lawsuit against Mark Steyn and National Review. He has some big time lawyers and they aren't cheap.

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY

2 Bits,

The point of doing "what we know we can and set about learning the rest" is not as individuals but as a nation. It is also a matter of really prioritizing this and not just thinking a duct tape patch will take care of a problem forever.

We cannot and should not just throw our hands up in the air and say "what can we do, we are just one country". We still have a lot influence we can wield in the world once we get our own act together.

Most of all, we need to get serious and put it in gear. We complain all the time that we are no longer a "can do" nation. Here is an opportunity.

clearfield, UT


You seem to be inferring that I inferred that population control is a bad thing. I was just making the point that if there is a problem with climate caused by too many people, which I inferred you do, then the answer does not lie with Americans driving electric cars and living like Ed Begley Jr. My point was that if too many people chasing too few resources is the problem then the answer may be in reducing the number of people. Americans reducing their miniscule carbon footprint compared to the billions of people living in countries like India and China is not the answer to the climate problem we may be facing.

Salt Lake City, UT

World leaders are often informed of the dangers of climate change by the IPCC, a U.N. appendage, that produces regular reports based on scientific findings. A House of Representatives panel of experts on climate change and IPCC methodology met yesterday to discuss the validity of the reports. Here is the press release from the Committee meeting:

"A distinguished panel of experts involved in the IPCC and National Climate Assessment process unanimously stated that the science of climate change is “not settled,” as the President and others often state unequivocally.

Witnesses also discussed how the Obama administration’s regulatory agenda will negatively impact the economy with little to no impact on global temperature. One analysis used IPCC assumptions and found that if the U.S. stopped all carbon dioxide emissions immediately, the ultimate impact on global temperature would only be 0.08 degrees Celsius by 2050."

All of the experts involved in this meeting believe that mankind influences climate to some degree. They disagree with the alarmist, often doomsday tone of the reports. Our media almost always focuses on the exaggerated possibilities from IPCC reports rather than the actual science.

Google "Full Committee Hearing - Examining the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Process".

Omaha, NE

@ Blue,

Even if they try to be honest, there is considerable concern about bias being unconscious and unduly influencing the process.

AND More troubling is the way statistics are used. Consider the following scenario. Let's assume a p-value of 5% (or 1 out of 20 chance of the results being pure luck). Assume the theory is false actually although popular.

Now, 20 researchers investigate a theory they believe in. Like all researchers (humans) they have an innate inner bias or belief which way it will turn out. Let's assume they are honest. 19 of the researchers find though that the study results don't validate the theory. 1 does. Assuming the 20 submit their papers only one would be accepted because currently if it doesn't pass the p-value level, then it's ignored as "not contributing to the field". So... the very system claiming to be unbiased only publishes the one study that says the theory is good. We need much much more publications of studies that find non-significant results before we can trust the current system more.

Houston, TX

Climate change is good science. Carbon taxes are bad government. The problem is that politicians are using good science to support bad government.

clearfield, UT

How come it seems to be the left that wants to have everything as "settled". Benghazi is settled, climate change is settled. No more questions to be asked. No more questions to be answered. It's just "settled". That's very convienent when there are politics involved. And right now it would seem the driving force on issues like those seems to be politics. If it were not, then unanswered questions would not be treated as heretical. If people who espouse the settled position were so confident of that position they would not feel so threatened by new or unanswered questions. But they do. Me thinks the left doth protest too much.

Open Minded Mormon
Everett, 00

I'm not sure how Prof. Mary Barker slipped past the Deseret News editors,
but her last 2 articles articles would've ever made it past the DN monitors.

Anther excellent article!


2 bits
Cottonwood Heights, UT

@Twin Lights.

Re: "doing what we know we can and set about learning the rest, is NOT as individuals, but as a nation"..

I guess that's where we disagree (and it's OK to disagree).

I think we need to do it as individuals first. Because if all us individuals start doing it... then the whole nation will be doing it (by choice, not by force).

And I have ZERO control over the whole nation. But I have 100% control over what I do... so I focus on controlling what I do (Not my neighbor, or the nation).



Re: "Climate change is good science. Carbon taxes are bad government. The problem is that politicians are using good science to support bad government"...

I couldn't agree more.

We can't control the Nation, and FORCE everybody to do our thing, or be as radical about the environment as I am (or somebody else is)... We all have to pick our individual battles and win them. Government force is not the solution. Individual control... is the solution (IMO)

(last post)


Sensible Scientist
Rexburg, ID

The basic fatal flaw of this letter is it assertion that one side is righteous while the other is devious. "Big Green" puts out big money to put out its message and defend its position, just as the letter asserts petroleum companies do (which they don't on the large scale asserted). If funding corrupts one side, it also corrupts the other.

And there is tremendous incentive in the form of grants and continued employment to keep a healthy bias in the climate alarmists. I've seen it first-hand -- scientists who make their living on grant money, denying facts brought up by skeptics. I've also seen skeptics deny the facts presented by climate alarmists. No one is righteous here.

As asserted by skeptics, the motive of the climate alarmists as a movement is to centralize power and money to their own class and in the process destroy capitalism and American-style liberty. That's powerful incentive that the letter writer is evidently unaware of. I can't help but conclude that the letter writer is naive about these issues.

Virginia Beach, VA

"Is science being misused for social policy?"

"Misused?" Well, no.

Science is being USED to determine social policy.

Science is a tool. Tools should be used to their best advantage. Specifically, science is a sensor that let's us know about the physical universe.

It tells us how things are, and it's up to us to design policies to best deal with the realities revealed by science.

"Conservatives" have a problem with science because it tells them facts they don't want to hear.

And their simple-minded solution is to simply deny those facts. But of course that's not a real solution to anything, is it?


I don't think China and India are "third world countries" any more.

Kent C. DeForrest
Provo, UT


Bloodletting? Really? That's the best comparison you can come up with. I'm not sure bloodletting was much of a science to begin with, not as we define science today. And anyway, you were off by at least 70 years. The old heroic medicine was being replaced by Thomsonian medicine (herbs and such) by the 1840s, because people started figuring out that bloodletting and administering calomel were barbaric.

Yes, current science will be refined and revised over time, but I doubt that you'll ever see human-caused global warming completely abandoned as a valid theory. There's too much good science supporting it, and the evidence is accumulating rapidly.

So, please give up on your hopes that some conservative scientist somewhere will shoot human-cause global warming out of the water. It would be much more productive to start supporting ideas that will help preserve our world before it's too late. "Drill, baby, drill" just won't cut it.

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