Environment,  Science,  Stateside

On F. Sherwood Rowland and the politicization of science

News of the death of F. Sherwood Rowland, the scientist who first warned that chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in spray cans and air conditioners were destroying the earth’s protective ozone layer, has got me thinking again about the recent and disturbing politicization of science.

Back in the 1970s and 1980s, it was possible for scientists to report that the stuff we were spraying on our underarms was endangering the future of life on the planet, to provide evidence to back up that claim, and to get people across the political spectrum to believe them and take action.

It was after all Ronald “Government is the Problem” Reagan who championed the treaty that banned CFCs worldwide.

Fast-forward to 2012 and we have leading Republicans (including candidates for president) who once called for action on global warming now desperately playing down their former concerns. Is that a considered scientific judgment or an expedient political judgment– based largely on corporate-sponsored and even faith-based denial?

You be the judge.