Science over the last decade - particularly the last six years - has been increasing politicized by the social conservatives and corporate interests that today find their home in the Republican Party. These folks have muddled science and created controversy where none really exists on a whole host of issues - from wildlife management to birth control to evolution. [...]How ironic that Al Gore is leading this discussion instead of the the president. Bush had the chance to act like a leader, but he refused to sign the Kyoto treaty in 2001, which would have required the U.S. to sharply reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 2010. His reasoning was that it would have damaged the U.S. economy. Yet, the leaders of major U.S. corporations such as General Electric and DuPont say addressing climate change offers the technology-rich USA a chance to make — not lose — big money, and forty companies — including Boeing, IBM, John Hancock and Whirlpool — have publicly endorsed the notion that climate change is real by joining a business council organized by the Pew Center on Global Climate Change.
The tactics have created a public perception that facts are a matter of interpretation, and that expertise is less important than immovable belief. The purpose depends on the issue. In the case of evolution, the point was to break apart the concept of natural sciences and align it with Christianity. On climate change, the purpose has been to sow enough confusion to prevent action. [...]
Government has had help from conservative pundits, none of whom ever appear to have acquainted themselves with the science. Mostly, they complain about the costs to the economy, dismiss the "unsettled science" and wave off the whole thing as an issue serious adults don't worry themselves over.
Because of that, there's been no action taken for a problem that will only get worse, could ultimately cost millions of lives and billions of dollars and is the greatest long-term threat currently facing this nation.
Corporate America is starting to take this issue seriously, so why isn't the Bush administration? As Peter Darbee, CEO of PG&E said, "One can always say, 'We won't do it until everybody does it.' But leadership isn't about waiting for everybody to agree. ... Leadership is about doing the right thing and doing it early."