One of the most damaging aspects of politics is the tendency to spread misinformation as if it were real. Many people latch onto these false facts, spreading them further in turn. Elizabeth Warren wants to stop the trend with powerful new legislation aimed at limiting what kind of scientific studies can be used to argue in favor or against the adoption of new laws. If she has her way, no one will be able to use “junk” science to argue against actual facts.
Perhaps the greatest example of a misdeed that might have been prevented had this new proposal already been law is the flood of “fake news” spread by coal and oil companies to keep their investments secure.
Decades ago, their own scientists communicated the dangers of releasing too much carbon into the atmosphere to the executives who presided over these companies. Those same executives turned around and pretended that they hadn’t heard, arguing to the public that carbon wasn’t a problem.
President Trump famously installed climate change deniers as the heads of the EPA and other important agencies that research and fight the effects of greenhouse gases and warming trends, like NASA.
Warren wrote, “It’s bad enough that the companies peddle misinformation on purpose. But the consequence is even worse when it comes to new regulations.”
The new proposal would smartly ban all non-peer-reviewed research from being used to draft new legislation. As absurd as it sounds, the Trump administration tried to do exactly the opposite in April 2018 — it proposed a rule that would ban peer-reviewed research if those peers wished to remain anonymous. The EPA called it the “transparency rule.” Warren’s proposal, on the other hand, would force non-peer-reviewed research to clarify who paid for the research being done.
In other words, no more non-peer-reviewed anti-climate change research would be allowed when drafting new legislation if that research was bought and paid for by coal and oil companies.
Which proposal sounds more sensible to you?
Kristy Dahl of the nonpartisan Union of Concerned Scientists said, “Over and over again with the Trump administration, we have seen their enthusiasm for attacking the science that underlies some of our most critical environmental rules. There’s a clear effort to put science on the sidelines, to ignore the latest science and to essentially deceive the public about the state of the science.”