Four GOP Senators Are Mad That a Science Agency Gets Funding to Teach Science

The Republican Party doesn’t like science.

They don’t like science education. They don’t like scientific facts. They don’t like people knowing how science works.

And now four Republican senators are demanding an investigation into a scientific organization because a fraction of its government funding went to (wait for it) science education.

Senators Ted Cruz, James Inhofe, James Lankford, and Rand Paul recently sent an angry letter to the Inspector General concerned the National Science Foundation, specifically regarding two grants that represent 0.0005% of the group’s $7.8 billion budget.

What did those grants do?

Dan Spinelli of Mother Jones explains the non-troversy:

The first [grant] is for a project that tests the benefits and obstacles to using TV meteorologists “as effective informal communication vehicles for scientific information about climate change.” The second is to expand the climate education program, known as Climate Matters, with different newscasters nationwide.

In a nutshell, they helped local news meteorologists learn more about climate change so that they could pass that information along to viewers.

It’s completely sensible… and therefore contrary to the GOP’s agenda.

The senators argue that the second grant involves a partnership with a group called Climate Central, and that group has an “advocacy” agenda. They cite a 2012 article from the Washington Post: that takes climate change seriously.

… in recent months, [Climate Central] got new leadership and changed into more of an advocacy group, aiming to get people to do more about what the group now sees as “a clear and present danger” — global climate change. As its rewritten Web site now says, its mission is not just to inform people but also to “inspire Americans to support action to stabilize the climate, prepare for a hotter world, or some combination of the two.”

So… their biggest crime is that they take climate change seriously?

NSF spokesperson Sarah Bates responded to the senators’ letter by saying there was no political agenda to what the organization did or who they worked with. Their mission was evidence-based, just as it should be.

“NSF is not a regulatory or policymaking organization. NSF is the only federal agency that supports all fields of fundamental science and engineering research and education,” she said. “Each proposal submitted to NSF — including those deemed ‘troubling’ by Senators Paul, Cruz, Lankford and Inhofe — is reviewed by science and engineering experts well-versed in their particular discipline or field of expertise.”

Well, there’s the problem right there. They consult experts. No wonder Republicans don’t trust them.

There are a lot of attacks on our democratic institutions right now, and this is the sort of broadside against science that won’t get much media attention, but it shouldn’t be ignored. The NSF does excellent work, and Republicans are trying to go after them for trying to educate the country. Just because the GOP ignores the seriousness of climate change doesn’t mean experts in the field should stop doing their work.

Right now, the IG hasn’t opened an investigation. They shouldn’t. There’s nothing to investigate.

(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Brian for the link)

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