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Item #d97feb72

Sound science, sound policy, and the relationship between the two are the subject of some recent lively discussion. The new book Green Backlash: Global Subversion of the Environment Movement, by Andrew Rowell of Greenpeace, examines how anti-environmental interests exploit to their own advantage "counter-scientists" whose views differ from those of the mainstream. (See BOOKS/GLOBAL ENVIRONMENT, this Global Climate Change Digest issue--Feb. 1997.) The book was reviewed in Nature by Julian Morris of the European Science and Environment Forum (ESEF), who rejects Rowell's claim and defends scientific mavericks as essential to the scientific process. And in a letter responding to the Morris review, Clive Bates of the International Institute for Energy Conservation defends strong action on climate change based on the consensus scientific view, noting that Morris and the ESEF (which challenged the conclusions of the IPCC Second Assessment) have scant scientific evidence to support their view.

In a similar vein to Green Backlash is the report Environmental Science Under Siege, released by Rep. George Brown (Democrat-Calif.) of the House of Representatives Committee on Science. (See Global Climate Change Digest, REPORTS/GEN. INTEREST, Jan. 7, 1997.) He analyzes three hearings entitled "Scientific Integrity and the Public Trust," held in 1995 and 1996 by the Energy and Environment Subcommittee of the Committee on Science, on alleged abuses in the science of climate change and ozone depletion. The hearings implied that scientists supporting the mainstream view were part of a conspiracy with environmental regulators. Brown concluded that the hearings "constituted an unprecedented assault on the peer review system and the scientific process itself."

In a recent commentary in Chem. Eng. News (p. 30, Dec. 9, 1996), Michael Heylin reflects on the Brown report, concluding that the truth about the science of the environment will not come from a special subgroup of "skeptical" scientists, nor be found in the editorial pages of the Washington Post. Rather, it will come about as do other scientific advances, through open debate and peer review amidst mutual respect and cooperation.

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