Bush, science don’t mix | AspenTimes.com

Bush, science don’t mix

Dear Editor:There has been a disturbing trend in the past four years to substitute religious and political beliefs for empirical analysis. The carefully researched recommendations of scientists, State Department experts and experienced local officials have been ignored. Government decisions have been based on wishful thinking, cherished beliefs or religious dogma. Consider the following.President Bush recently appointed Dr. W. David Hager to head the FDA’s Reproductive Health Drugs Advisory Committee. This group makes crucial policy decisions for obstetrics, gynecology, hormone therapy, pregnancy termination and contraception. Dr. Hager is the author of “As Jesus Cared for Women: Restoring Women Then and Now,” a blend of biblical accounts of Christ healing women with case studies from Hager’s practice.He describes himself as “pro-life” and refuses to prescribe contraceptives to unmarried women. He recommends bible reading and praying as a treatment for premenstrual syndrome.By providing government support for faith-based medicine, President Bush is jeopardizing the health of millions of women in this country.Environmental scientists, based on careful study and research, have developed standards for the safe level of common toxins. The EPA, under White House directives, has frequently ignored these standards, citing economic considerations. Regulations have been implemented that permit dirtier air and higher levels of arsenic and lead in our water. President Bush has listened to corporate lobbyists rather than his own scientists.Despite well-documented predictions that gasoline would eventually be in short supply, the Republicans in Congress have fought miles-per-gallon standards for more than a decade. When George Bush took office he endorsed this policy. “Eventually” has finally arrived, and we are currently paying more than $2 a gallon for gas. This did not have to happen.The engineering knowledge for building more fuel-efficient vehicles has existed for more than a decade. If Congress had acted with foresight, our cars and trucks would be using less gas today, and we would be paying less. Unfortunately, our Republican lawmakers would rather pander than plan for the future.Scientists have forecast that global warming will increase the frequency and intensity of violent weather. The back-to-back hurricanes in Florida may be the beginning of an ominous trend. The Bush administration refused to sign the Kyoto Treaty, an international effort to reduce global warming. Bush denies that global warming is produced by burning fossil fuels.Biomedical experts believe that stem cell research will produce a cure for many serious diseases. Our president has limited funding and the availability of biological samples for this research. The pain and suffering that might be alleviated by this promising work is less important to Bush than the votes he expects to receive from the Religious Right. It is time for new leadership.Peter FreyBasalt

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