Policy-Making Needs Science

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Science  03 Dec 2010:
Vol. 330, Issue 6009, pp. 1287
DOI: 10.1126/science.1200613

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Over the long run, any nation that makes crucial decisions while ignoring science is doomed. Consider, for example, the decision about how much arsenic should be allowed in drinking water supplies. There is no one “right answer” to this or many other policy questions, but it is critical that national legislation be based on what science knows about potential harm. It is therefore disturbing that so many lawmakers elected to the new U.S. Congress reject the overwhelming scientific consensus with respect to human-induced climate change. It will be difficult to make wise choices with such attitudes. The question now facing the United States is not only how to effectively reinject the facts of climate science back into the core of this particular debate, but also how to ensure that good science underlies all legislative decisions.