Monday, November 5, 2012

Remember when environmental protection was a bipartisan effort?

That's the subtitle of an interesting historical article published today in the Chronicle of Higher Education.  It reminds us that many landmark US environmental laws (the Clean Air and Water Acts, the Endangered Species Act, and the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency) were the work of the Nixon administration, and date from a time when "Democrats were trying to appropriate the mantle of environmentalism from Republicans".   Sounds strange now.  What changed?  Here's how the article begins:

A prediction: When all the votes have been counted and the reams of polling data have been crunched, analyzed, and spun, this will be clear: Few scientists will have voted for Republican candidates, particularly for national office. Survey data taken from 1974 through 2010 and analyzed by Gordon Gauchat in the American Sociological Review confirm that most American scientists are not conservatives. A 2009 study by the Pew Research Center found that only 9 percent of scientists self-identified as conservative, while 52 percent called themselves liberals. Only 6 percent of American scientists self-identified as Republicans. This state of affairs is bad for the nation, and bad for science.

It was not always this way. (Read the full article here.)

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