Saturday, February 04, 2006

Why does the Bush administration want us dead?

EPA Panel Advises Agency Chief to Think Again - Los Angeles Times:
In an unprecedented action, the Environmental Protection Agency's own scientific panel on Friday challenged the agency's proposed public health standards governing soot and dust.

The Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee, mandated by Congress to review such proposals, asserted Friday that the standards put forward by EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson ignored most of the committee's earlier recommendations and could lead to additional heart attacks, lung cancer and respiratory ailments.

Cal/EPA's air pollution epidemiology chief, Bart Ostro, charged … that the EPA had incorporated "last-minute opinions and edits" by the White House Office of Management and Budget that "circumvented the entire peer review process."

He said research that he and others had conducted also had been misrepresented in the EPA's lengthy justification for the proposed new standards.

In an interview later, Ostro said he was referring to marked-up drafts of Johnson's proposals that showed changes by the White House budget office and language that was "very close to some of the letters written by some of the trade associations."
I know, you're shocked, shocked! that abuse of independent experts is occurring in this club. And that industry is allowed to rewrite standards. And that this administration would value a few dollars in a company's bank account over your life.

Given that lack of concern, we can hardly be surprised at the lengths Bush, Brownback and others have got to in keeping chemicals on the market that cause frogs to become hermaphrodites. Chris Mooney and Tom Frank have both discussed different parts of that story, and Tyrone Hayes has a new paper out describing the effect of these pesticides on amphibians.

"If you look at one of these frogs, it's probably a hermaphrodite - plus, it metamorphoses late, which means it is subject to its pool drying up before it can become a frog," said lead researcher Tyrone Hayes, professor of integrative biology at UC Berkeley. "It's also smaller, if it metamorphoses at all, which increases the likelihood it will be eaten and decreases its ability to eat. Plus, it's immuno-suppressed, so more prone to die from infection."
Many countries have banned the use of one of the compounds Hayes studied, atrazine. The EPA had planned to ban it, but industry funded research was used to amplify uncertainty and prevent a ruling. Similar pressure was used to prevent listing atrazine as a known carcinogen.

In Kansas, Sam Brownback (then the Secretary of State) made regulations on atrazine use voluntary, then his office was declared unconstitutional. Brownback had been named to

I wrote about the state of affairs in my first few weeks of blogging.

And at NASA, in the aftermath of James Hansen's refusal to be censored by administration flacks, we learn that:

In October 2005, Mr. Deutsch sent an e-mail message to Flint Wild, a NASA contractor working on a set of Web presentations about Einstein for middle-school students. The message said the word "theory" needed to be added after every mention of the Big Bang.

The Big Bang is "not proven fact; it is opinion," Mr. Deutsch wrote, adding, "It is not NASA's place, nor should it be to make a declaration such as this about the existence of the universe that discounts intelligent design by a creator."

It continued: "This is more than a science issue, it is a religious issue."
No, it's a science issue. Any discussion about the origin of the universe must explain the cosmic background radiation. NASA is not the National Aeronautics, Space and Theology Administration. It would be inappropriate for NASA to let religion influence its scientific or educational work.