Sarah Palin’s Anti-Science and Anti-Environment Policies Are Worrisome

Senator John McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, just announced Alaska governor Sarah Palin as his running mate. She was a surprise pick and is relatively unknown, but what I’ve found so far is somewhat disturbing. While I haven’t made my final electoral decision, what I do know is that I don’t want another George W. Bush.

Wired Science, part of the Wired blog network, discusses her views on teaching creationism in public school science classes. (Merriam-Webster defines “creationism” as “a doctrine or theory holding that matter, the various forms of life, and the world were created by God out of nothing and usually in the way described in Genesis [the first book of the Judeo-Christian Bible].”) They refer to an article in the Anchorage Daily News covering a 2006 Alaska gubernatorial debate:

The volatile issue of teaching creation science in public schools popped up in the Alaska governor’s race this week when Republican Sarah Palin said she thinks creationism should be taught alongside evolution in the state’s public classrooms.

Palin was answering a question from the moderator near the conclusion of Wednesday night’s televised debate on KAKM Channel 7 when she said, “Teach both. You know, don’t be afraid of information. Healthy debate is so important, and it’s so valuable in our schools. I am a proponent of teaching both.”

The article goes on to point out:

The Republican Party of Alaska platform says, in its section on education: “We support giving Creation Science equal representation with other theories of the origin of life. If evolution is taught, it should be presented as only a theory.”

This stance alone is a significant strike against her. However, her anti-environment policies are also troubling. For instance, she told NewsMax, “I’m not one though who would attribute [global warming] to being man-made.” As I discussed in a previous post, all major scientific societies concur that humans are responsible for climate change. Senator McCain, as well as Democratic nominee Senator Barack Obama and his running mate Senator Joe Biden, all agree that climate change is a real threat and have proposed plans to combat it.

It’s not surprising, therefore, that her policies appear to show general disregard for the environment, especially with regards to her strong advocacy for oil drilling. For instance, she stated, “I beg to disagree with any candidate who would say we can’t drill our way out of our problem…”, as quoted in Investor’s Business Daily (IBD) and “When I look every day, the big oil company’s building is right out there next to me, and it’s quite a reminder that we should have mutually beneficial relationships with the oil industry” as quoted in Roll Call. She supports opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR, commonly pronounced “AN-war”) for drilling, a move generally opposed by environmentalists as well as Congress. Expressing her frustation, she stated to IBD, “But these lands [ANWR] are locked up by Congress, and we are not allowed to drill to the degree America needs the development…”; to Lawrence Kudlow on CNBC, “Very, very disappointed in Congress though [for not voting on drilling in ANWR]”; and so on. Both Senators Obama and McCain opposing drilling in ANWR, and she has attacked Senator McCain for this stance: “I have not talked him into ANWR yet…I think we need McCain in that White House despite, still, the close-mindedness on ANWR” (Lawrence Kudlow, CNBC).

Nor has Alaska, under Mrs. Palin’s governorship, promoted environmental issues. In Massachussets v. Environmental Protection Agency, when twelve states as well as several cities and environmental organizations sued the EPA to regulate carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, Alaska argued against them. (In a split decision, the Supreme Court largely agreed with Massachussets et al; see my previous post.)

Earlier this year, the Interior Department listed the polar bear as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Somewhat bizzarrely, Governor Palin claims that polar bears are not threatened (“In fact, the number of polar bears has risen dramatically over the past 30 years” she states). She opposed the ESA listing and Alaska now plans to sue the Interior Department. Similarly, Governor Palin is opposing plans to list beluga whales as endangered, as it could damage Alaska’s economy.

Eight years of disregard for science and for the environment is enough; I don’t think I want to see someone like this in high office, certainly not in a position where she could become president. If anyone has any examples of Governor Palin promoting science or the environment, please let me know.

13 thoughts on “Sarah Palin’s Anti-Science and Anti-Environment Policies Are Worrisome

  1. I agree. I was actually on the fence with Obama vs. McCain, but McCain’s choice of Palin tipped the scale in the other direction. In recent years, she is one of the most backward people I have seen in mainstream politics (well maybe her and W).

  2. Excellent research. I’m a proud democrat and when I see Palin’s history it makes be want to donate even more to Obama to ensure I do my part to prevent a McCain victory in November.

    I have no idea how anyone can claim Palin will be good for our country. I don’t want 4 more years of a Bush/Chaney style presidency.

  3. Her stance on political and environmental issues directly affecting Alaska is actually, by many us that live in the state, well regarded and appreciated. We don’t all approve of her every step, comment or decision, but all in all most of us are pleased with the decisions she has made and the stances she has supported as governor. She has been a good representative of the attitudes of the people that actually live here that are directly affected by the things you point out.

    A possible exception is her stance on teaching creationism in school, but hell, though I’m more or less atheist these days, I believe in presenting all sides of a story and teaching impressionable minds to decide for themselves, not spoon feeding them what some (perhaps many) of their parents and other tax payers believe is faulty logic. It seems as though that’s all she’s supporting. You disagree with that?

  4. Bebesundrop, Bob Sacamano, Michelle2005 → Thank you! Yes, while Senator McCain has been taking steps to distance himself from President Bush, his selection of Governor Palin seems like a great step backwards.

    Alex → I’m afraid I haven’t seen anything further. The quotation is from an interview with NewsMax. She was asked “What is your take on global warming and how is it affecting our country?” and responded “A changing environment will affect Alaska more than any other state, because of our location. I’m not one though who would attribute it to being man-made.”

    Rachel Drinkard → If Governor Palin were elected vice president, she would be expected to support the interests of the entire nation, not pay special interest to what provides economic opportunities to her home state. That most Alaskans may not share the environmental concerns of the rest of the country suggests that any candidate from there may have difficulty representing the entire nation. If you have any examples of her championing environmental causes, though, I would be pleased to see them.

    Science is a system of trying to understand the world through fomulating and testing hypotheses and through experimentation, subject to revision as new information becomes available. Creationism, as a fixed story, originating in religious text, lacking any evidence, and relying on supernatural explanations, is not remotely consistent with science. Whether an idea is popular or understandable by the public has no bearing on its scientific validity.

  5. Having just watched Palin’s speech at the RNC, I had tears in my eyes. We are the laughing stock of the world. My father-in-law in Germany confirmed my fears;another candidate with a hyper-conservative stance on environmental issues, human rights, and foreign policy is all we need to further isolate ourselves from the progress of globalization. We are viewed as backwoods, ignorant, arrogant and irresponsible, and McCain’s choice for Vice President is only supporting these perceptions around the globe. Lastly, I’m embarrassed that McCain would choose a candidate based on gender in a desperate attempt to swing the number of women voters in his direction. It’s days like today that I am ashamed to be an American.

  6. To: Miss Nomer,

    Many of my colleagues are still overseas. Two nights ago I got a call from one of them. He is currently in Mombasa (Kenya) along with his family. He said almost the same thing your father in-law did. Yet, some of the specific questions I was asked would have taken far too long to discuss over the phone. They aren’t due to come back to the states until April 2009.

    Those outside the USA have somewhat of a view of what we are seeing and experiencing…but not in it’s entirety. I really don’t think one could graspe the enormity of it all without benefit of actually seeing it unfold.

    While I was living overseas (almost 30 years)…it was VERY difficult to fully understand all that was taking place. This is exactly the reason I was such a stauch supporter of the RNC…then I came home permanently…now it’s a “whole new ball-game”.


  7. Palin may have some far right views but McCain would prevent anything over the top from having any effect on legislation. She is only the vice president we must remember. She is more decoration for the Republican ticket than actual power. Her goal is to capture a percentage of Hillary Clinton supporters, not push for her twisted views on the environment. Has anyone actually been to Alaska. Alaskans world view is unique, to say the least, compared to anyone in the rest of the US. This is going to be an interesting race.

  8. I teach science, and it is one of my goals to help educate people about the oxymoron “just a theory.” In order for something to be elevated to the status of theory in science, it means it has been rigorously tested and has not been disproven, and is therefore accepted as true. To call evolution a theory means it is widely accepted as true. Creationism is not a theory – in fact, it’s not even a scientific idea because it is faith-based, and therefore cannot be tested. I too agree that all sides of an issue should be presented, but only if presented accurately. Creationism is not science, and does not belong in the science classroom. It belongs in a religion class, along with the rest of the creation stories. We need a leader who understands the difference and who understands how science can help us conserve resources and act in a responsible way with regard to our precious environment. Palin scares me in so many ways; this is only one.

  9. Anonymous → Simply labeling people who hold an opinion and then using vague insults is unhelpful and will do little to convince anyone who doesn’t always agree with you. I could just as easily say that you are in the dark; without evidence or argument to back it up, such characterizations are meaningless.

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