Great New Book on Science and the Environment

September 14, 2012

One of the consistent issues we address here is the gap between the science and Washington's environmental policy - even as policymakers and politicians claim to be following the science. Now there is a great book from the editor of Real Clear Science highlighting the many ways left-wing environmentalists ignore the science when it is inconvenient to their ideology.

"Science Left Behind," by Alex Berezow and Hank Campbell outlines a number of issues where the efforts of the environmental left are at odds with the science. Berezow is a has a PhD in Microbiology from the University of Washington and has been increasingly critical of the ways politicians on the left ignore science on key issues of health and human safety.

The book covers a range of issues and the authors address two topics we've discussed in the past:

  • The anti-vaccine movement. The authors note that environmental activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. wrote a piece for Salon.com, linking a preservative used in vaccines to autism. Berezow and Campbell note "The article was so inaccurate it later had to be retracted." The result, however, of this campaign has been to scare some parents, preventing them from vaccinating their children and putting their lives at risk. The anti-vaccine scare was dramatically debunked last year when its chief advocate was shown to have committed fraud and had his medical license revoked.
  • Plastic and BPA. A scare we've covered in Washington state regards bisphenol A, used in plastics. BPA, as it is known, is a target for the Washington Toxics Coalition and other groups who claim it is an "endocrine disruptor." The authors address the concern, saying "It is true? Sure, a little bit. But wheat, soy, and some fruits also qualify as endocrine disruptors." The authors note that a major, comprehensive review "concluded that BPA was largely safe given the current data, even for newborns."

The authors are quite honest about the fact that those on the right hold some ideas that are not scientific. They point out, however, that in a wide range of scientific areas, those who consider themselves Republicans do better than self-identified Democrats. They cite data showing that on issues ranging from the claim that "the benefits of science exceed the harms," to general scientific concepts like "lasers are not made by condensing sound waves," those who consider themselves Republican hold views more consistent with science.

One of the authors, Alex Berezow, is discussing his book on Monday at Town Hall in Seattle at 7:30 p.m. Admission is $5. I hope to see you there.