We are under sustained attack by folks on the “progressive” side of the aisle because we “refuse” to look at “real science” when considering their legislative and social agendas. This claim is used constantly in common policy debates about issues such as “endangered species”, public lands management, and “climate change” to name just a few.
I am all in when it comes to using science as one of many tools in guiding our public policy debates. However, the problems arise when the so-called science is not science at all.
That brings me to today’s highlighted article, Supporting Owls Compatible with Managing Forests for Fire, Drought, and it starts like this:
In what is believed to be the largest spotted owl study in terms of area analyzed, remote sensing technology is providing a more precise look at habitat preferences for the sensitive species with implications for greater flexibility in forest management.
The story goes on to explain that previous research led to “the assumption” that spotted owls were in need of certain types of habitat. As it turns out the assumptions were wrong. With wrong assumptions came wrong policy:
“While land managers may have felt compelled to maintain these abnormally high densities to adhere to the 70 percent canopy cover threshold, it might also have placed forests and owls at risk,” North said.
Herein lies the consequences of environmental agendas driving “scientific exploration.” You see, when true science is abandoned in order to push a pre-determined outcome, there are too many things that can – and do – go wrong.
So we have pseudoscience pushing policy that has negative impacts on the land and upon the wildlife that are, at least according to the media, the purpose of these legislative actions.
Wildlife and wild lands are not alone in suffering negative consequences.
According to a report prepared for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2012 entitled, Economic Analysis of Critical Habitat Designation for the Northern Spotted Owl, the impact on humans was substantial. Here is just one consequence of using pseudoscience.
The report indicated that the volume of timber harvested in the 56 counties impacted by critical habitat designation dropped in the 20 years since that designation by 51%. That change in management action resulted in direct negative impact upon people living in those areas:
Between 1990 and 2000, timber industry employment in the NWFP area declined by approximately 30,000 jobs.
Yup… these are exactly the kind of results anticipated by those who fought against Endangered Species and Critical Habitat designations in this area. A loss of employment opportunities, a negative consequence to economic activity in the area, and no real benefit to the species targeted.
Pseudoscience is like pseudo-anything – fraud, forgery, deception. Of course, time proves that out.
That’s the view from here…