Concerned scientists tell Lamar Smith – HELL NO – to his overreaching McCarthyistic info request #science #intimidation @UCSUSA @BadAstronomer

Phil Plait has written a scathing take down in Slate of anti-science Representative Lamar Smith and his recent request for oversight over the Union of Concerned Scientists (ironically Smith is the chair of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology). See the many, many, many previous CauseScience posts about Rep. Lamar Smith intimidating scientists and anti-science credentials.

Plait does a great job summarizing Smith’s history against climate change, as well as the recent controversy involving the  Union of Concerned Scientists – a quick and informative read:

To the surprise of no one, Lamar Smith (R-Texas) is continuing his unfounded attack on science, ratcheting it up even higher than before. This time, he’s trying to tie up the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). The good news? They’re having none of it.

 

Smith’s been ramping up a new(ish) tactic, trying to flush out what he thinks is a cabal of scientists fighting the fossil fuel industry. On May 18, 2016, he sent a letter to the UCS, an obvious attempt to create a chilling effect on their work to help scientists maintain the freedom they need to do their research.

See the ridiculous letter from Smith to UCS here. The letter and intent behind it are far overreaching Smith’s jurisdiction – as pointed out by Plait. The head of UCS responded by saying HELL NO, more or less. Below is the response… in fewer words, UCS will not be intimidated by Smith. AND UCS will not allow Smith to set a precedent of overreaching his jurisdiction when it comes to harassing scientists! Way to go UCS! Can’t wait to see the guaranteed McCarthyistic response from Smith and his Committee!

Several members of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee have sent letters to 17 state attorneys general, the Union of Concerned Scientists and other groups, requesting that they turn over documents and communications among the groups related to investigations into ExxonMobil. Attorneys general from California, Massachusetts, New York, and the U.S. Virgin Islands are investigating whether ExxonMobil lied to its shareholders and the public about the threat of climate change.

Below is a statement by Ken Kimmell, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists.

“The premise of Chairman Smith’s letter is a farce. The attorneys general are not investigating ExxonMobil’s scientific research, but rather whether the company misled shareholders and the public about the dangers of climate change in order to continue profiting from a lucrative product. Documents uncovered by UCS and others reveal that scientists with Exxon and other companies knew about the causes and consequences of climate change by the 1970s, but company leaders chose to deny, disparage and downplay this evidence to avoid sensible regulation.

“We are unapologetic about our efforts to expose this deception, and we will not be intimidated by this tactic. Record temperatures, rising seas and unprecedented flooding affects people around the globe and they rightly expect carbon producers to be held accountable for their deliberate strategy to deceive the public, shareholders and policy makers.

“It’s ironic that Representative Smith sees our work as an attempt to stifle scientific discourse, when he has spent the last 10 months harassing National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists whose research he doesn’t like. This abuse of power has been repeatedly and strongly rebuked by the scientific community.

“In keeping with Mr. Smith’s calls for transparency, the public should demand that oil companies fully disclose what their scientists knew about climate change and when. And more importantly, the public deserves to know which industry executives made decisions to mislead shareholders, policy makers and investors about the harm of their products.”

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Help make your state a clean energy leader! @UCSUSA’s quick form to contact your state governor!!

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Help make your state a clean energy leader! Start 2015 off right by asking your state’s governor to find clean energy solutions!! The Union of Concerned Scientists has an easy and quick form to send a letter here! Takes less than a minute!!

Right now, we have an unprecedented opportunity to reduce dangerous carbon emissions from power plants—the largest source global warming emissions in the United States. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has charged states with developing plans to meet the agency’s newly proposed rules to limit carbon emissions from power plants.

How your state chooses to meet this charge could depend on you.

Your governor needs to hear that residents are paying attention and want scientifically-sound plans that will prioritize clean, renewable energy and energy efficiency and ensure your state is prepared for the consequences of climate change.

Urge your governor to ensure your state is a clean energy leader today!

[tweet https://twitter.com/UCSUSA/status/552910482185940993] [tweet https://twitter.com/UCSUSA/status/552489391185477633]

Take the got science? quiz from @UCSUSA, get a sweet sticker!

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Can you tell Science FACT from Science FICTION? Take this quiz from the Union of Concerned Scientists! CauseScience got 5/5 and a free sticker! Also check out the UCS website or follow them on twitter for lots of interesting science articles and info.

 

Take the true or false quiz that pits your knowledge of climate change, energy, and other important issues against real quotes from industry-funded “experts,” corporations, and think tanks. See if you can tell who’s Got Science versus who’s spreading propaganda that’s Not Science. Complete the quiz and we’ll send you a free “Got Science?” sticker.

Is sugar the new tobacco? Industry trying to silence #science

Sugar is in the news in a big obese way. Are tobacco and sugar similar? On the surface, perhaps not that much. However, science shows that both are extremely harmful to our health, shorten our lives, and both have been sold to us by industries claiming that they are not unhealthy.

We all know that smoking and tobacco are bad for us, and that a lot of scientific studies have shown how and why tobacco is harmful. However, not too recently, tobacco companies used many tactics to silence the science showing how deadly their products were in order to maintain profits. However, following the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (MSA), it became public knowledge that the companies were actually knowingly selling a harmful product. AND advertising it to children and teenagers.

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Fast forward about 15 years to today, and it seems that we are seeing a similar situation, but this time with industries that have an interest in selling sugar. The Union of Concerned Scientists has a summary of how sugar interests are undermining science that clearly shows the harmfulness of sugar (Also see the report, Added Sugar, Subtracted Science (2014)).

A major factor that has kept us in the dark about sugar’s detrimental impacts is the role that industry has played in keeping it that way. Sugar interests—food and beverage manufacturers along with industry-supported organizations such as trade associations, front groups, and public relations firms—have actively sought to ensure Americans’ consumption of high levels of sugar continues.

The summary gives a list and explanation of how sugar interests are undermining the science.

1. Attacking the science

2. Spreading misinformation

3. Deploying industry scientists

4. Influencing academia

5. Undermining policy

Sounds really similar to the methods that tobacco companies used to undermine science, right?

This is all driven home by a new study showing that obesity has a huge impact on our life expectancy (published in PLOS Medicine). So much so, that obesity is as bad, or worse, for us than smoking (see below). And don’t forget, a huge part of the obesity epidemic involves high intake of sugar, and that sugar is a major contributor to diabetes.

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Class III obesity is associated with substantially elevated rates of total mortality, with most of the excess deaths due to heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, and major reductions in life expectancy compared with normal weight.

We found that the reduction in life expectancy associated with class III obesity was similar to (and, for BMI values above 50 kg/m2, even greater than) that observed for current smoking.

Read the full summary by the Union of Concerned Scientists for more information on how we are slowly succeeding at beating out the sugar interests, just like we did for tobacco. Science will prevail!