Rely on Scientific Information,
Not Political Rhetoric Says Governor
October 30, 2007
(SitNews) - Governor Sarah Palin on Friday called on Congressman
Brad Miller to use scientific information, not political rhetoric,
to set important public policy issues.
Miller recently tried to undermine the State of Alaska's April
2007 comments on the proposed listing of polar bears as threatened
under the Endangered Species Act. He attempted to discredit one
of 54 studies the State had cited. The study was one of many
supporting Alaska's position that polar bears should not be listed.
The State concluded the best available scientific and commercial
data do not demonstrate that the polar bear is likely to become
endangered in the foreseeable future.
In an October 17 news release and letter to ExxonMobil Corporation,
Rep. Miller (D-North Carolina) alleged that the scientific study
published in the September 2007 edition of Ecological Complexity
was just an opinion piece by unqualified individuals tainted
by industry funding. The Governor responded that Miller's unfounded
criticism could chill scientific debate.
The study that Miller questioned is a collaboration of seven
respected scientists with worldwide expertise in climate and
environmental research. None pretend to be polar bear biologists,
as Miller claimed. Also contrary to Miller's claims, the study
was published after extensive review more than a year following
its initial submittal for publication.
The study explores many variables, such as solar cycles, that
may be significant factors affecting Arctic surface air temperatures
and sea ice conditions. The climate models used by the Fish
and Wildlife Service in the proposal to list polar bears did
not adequately address these variables. The study also explains
factors affecting polar bear survival published by other scientists,
which need to be considered when evaluating how populations may
respond to climate change.
Miller also questioned the study's validity because two years
after the data analysis was completed but prior to publication,
one of the collaborating scientists received partial funding
from an oil company for additional research on temperatures and
sea ice around Hudson Bay.
"If the government is going to discredit all such scientists'
research, as Miller does, needed research will not be done,"
Palin said. "Competent scientists will no longer be willing
to undertake required studies or accept industry grants to conduct
Many federal and state agencies routinely require oil companies
to hire scientists to conduct research on the environment and
to analyze impacts of activities. If industry funding discredits
researchers and their research, then the recent USGS reports
would also be discredited. One author listed on six of the nine
USGS reports was associated with at least five other studies
from 2004 through 2007 that acknowledged partial funding from
oil companies. At least eight of the nine USGS reports had at
least one author associated with a recent study acknowledging
oil company funding.
"The United States is a world leader in science because
it encourages academic debate among scientists," said Governor
Palin. "We stand by our use of the study and by our commitment
to free and open scientific debate. Just as importantly, we
also stand by our conviction, as Alaskans, to be responsible
stewards of this Great Land and the often fragile ecosystems
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