Aug. 23, 2008 by Wendy Wagner

Getting from Here to There(s)

As the moderator of this blog, I am the designated devil’s advocate. Read together, Rena’s and John’s entries make my assignment easy. Both write upbeat and insightful entries about their preferred approaches for the future, but they reach diametrically opposite conclusions. John suggests that the best solution for the manipulation of regulatory science is to base environmental policy on as little science as possible (or at least to be more self-conscious about whether we really need science to make environmental policy). Rena, by contrast, argues cheerfully that the answer lies in the scientific community. “You have only to look at” the work of a respected EPA Science Advisory Board – the CASAC (Clean Air Science Advisory Committee)” to see how the problems with regulatory science are being solved. “Scientists,” she concludes, “must simply step up to the challenge.”


So – at the big picture level -- who is right? Do we need less or more science for environmental regulation? Or does it depend on the regulatory program?


And, assuming both Rena and John can be right at the same time, how do we get there from here? I have no doubt that engaging more scientists in the daily work of …

Aug. 18, 2008 by Wendy Wagner

One can quickly become depressed by the problems afflicting the science used for regulation of public health and the environment, and CPR bears a substantial share of responsibility for painting a grim picture of a world where politics prevails over science. In a Cambridge-published book, Rescuing Science from Politics, and an accompanying white paper that summarizes the book, along with a second white paper on the problems of scientific secrecy, CPR offers a wide-ranging diagnosis of what ails the science used for regulation. It ultimately concludes that there is far too much manipulation of scientific research by industry; that there are far too few incentives for agencies and even interest groups who are honest about the limits of science and remaining scientific uncertainties; and that many of the processes that purport to support and nourish regulatory science (like peer review; data access; and scientific freedom) are filled …

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