Legislators must avoid anti-science policy

Nrhari Duran

Finals week approaches and PCL reservations are getting harder and harder to come by. All across campus, Longhorns are frantically reading, studying and googling with the hope of acing their finals. While most students will stick to their course literature or do independent research, the less astute among us will take matters into their own hands and spend three hours writing about why they think alpha particles are the ones that can bench the most.

Much like these “Broscientists” who jump to false conclusions and re-imagine science, politicians often take scientific theorization into their own hands to make policy decisions. All too often conservative policy makers make their country-altering decisions based on faulty or non-existent science, making them no better than the average Broscientist.

The Republican stance on climate change is a prime example, with Senator Ted Cruz leading the charge against climate change evidence. 

Last year, Texas’ favorite Senator stuck it to John Kerry in a Senate science subcommittee hearing for having incorrect projections of when the Antarctic glaciers would melt away, then proceeded to dismiss climate change as a hoax. 

To support his argument, Cruz cited two pieces of evidence: the personal account of an unnamed group of New Zealanders and two decades of satellite data, which the researcher said Cruz took out of context. In contrast, NASA evidence utilizes some 400,000 years of atmospheric data and carbon dioxide levels. 

Evidently, the only part of Cruz’s opening statement that turned out to be true was that Kerry got it wrong. Nevertheless, the Senator That Could clings to his misquoted statement to this day. Public Policy Polling results from 2015 show that Cruz is just one of the 66 percent of Republicans who don’t believe in global warming.

Continuing the trend of Republicans Against Science, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker took a lot of heat last year for dodging a question on whether or not he believed in evolution, but quickly clarified his stance. As you may have guessed, Walker affirmed that “science and [his] faith aren’t compatible.” This would put him with the 49 percent of Republicans who don’t believe in evolution, against the 37 percent of Republicans who believe in evolution. That is to say, there were more Republicans who found Benjamin Netanyahu “favorable” than there were those who believed in evolution.

The problem is that science shouldn’t have to be compatible with someone’s personal beliefs. Anti-intellectual stances like these inhibit meaningful discourse on subjects like climate policy and space exploration, since scientific interpretations draw credibility from data. 

With Republicans having taken both houses of Congress and the White House, 2017 may see science fade further into the background, preventing meaningful progress in energy and environmental policy as the environment continues to degrade due to human activity. It’s too late to elect scientists to Congress — and we don’t want another Ben Carson — but it’s never too late to send your state senator some episodes of Bill Nye the Science Guy. Baby steps people, baby steps.

Duran is an international relations and global studies freshman from Spring. Follow him on Twitter @bboydeadfish.