Yesterday I wrote a piece covering efforts by senators Al Franken (D-MN) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) to begin to fight back against rampant climate denialism in congress.
"I asked Sheldon to do the colloquy because I saw that too many of my colleagues were either ignoring the science on climate change or flat out dismissing it," Franken told me.
He said he felt that part of the reason congress is becoming paralyzed on so many key issues is because so much of the discussion is no longer based on science or even on actual facts, something I also cover in my new book Fool Me Twice: Fighting the Assault on Science in America.
"As a society, we have to understand that science is a way of understanding the truth about the way things actually are in the physical world independent of how we wish they would be," Franken said, "and if we want public policy that actually solves problems we've got to start by basing it on what we know from science."
When discussing climate change, for example, Franken said colleagues really should be basing policy discussion not on climate deniers opinions about what scientists might have meant in a manufactured email scandal he calls climategate-gate, but on actual science that uses "the most accurate data available on global temperatures from things, again, called 'thermometers.'"
Franken and Whitehouse gave what turned into an hour-long discussion of science's role in public policymaking and especially of the current science of climate change. The video of it makes outstanding educational (and entertaining) viewing for any science or civics class:
You can download their colloquy in written form here. It is an outstanding resource for science and civics teachers across the country.
Get Shawn Lawrence Otto's new book: Fool Me Twice: Fighting the Assault on Science in America, Starred Kirkus Review; Starred Publishers Weekly review. Visit him at shawnotto.com. Like him on Facebook. Join ScienceDebate.org to get the presidential candidates to debate science.