SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Rely on Scientific Information, Not Political Rhetoric Says Governor


October 30, 2007
Tuesday AM

(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 vital research."

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 it supports."


Source of News:

Office of the Governor


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Ketchikan, Alaska