New Op-Ed about Science, Policy and Politics


I (Jessica Weinkle) have an op-ed in the Wilmington Star News Today.  

The title is a bit harsher than I would have preferred.  But the work is meant to respectfully approach the touchy subject of scientists and subtle issue advocacy work. 

The work served as a good case study to kick off the start of the new semester today!  My class didn't read the op-ed.  Instead, we used some of the materials I referenced in the op-ed to stir a good discussion about facts and values and different expectations one holds for scientists and policymakers.

You can read about it here.  An excerpt is below...
Politics is the essence of community deliberation. Inclusive political discourse is well served by a healthy democracy. Today, a resounding swath of America feel left out of the political conversation and in turn, many are skeptical America’s claims to democratic governance. 
Resolving political conflict often has more to do with addressing differences in the public’s moral consciousness than it does with advancing science. Yet, in recent decades the language of science and technology - often wrongly mistaken as free from personal values - has replaced a user-friendly moral discourse. 
North Carolina is a heated battleground for political debate played out through a haze of science. The state garnered national comedic reputation and the science community became enraged when the N.C. legislature regulated the assumptions used in producing sea level rise estimates.
The estimate is a key number in calculating erosion rates used to regulate coastal development. Those opposed to development tend to favor higher estimates of sea level rise. 
However, when estimates of risk threaten the state economy and political stability, it is common for policymakers to control the conception of risk imposed upon the public. 
Most recently, Dr. Stanley Riggs, of East Carolina University, left his long-term, respected position with the Coastal Resources Commission Science Panel due to concerns that the panel’s work has become politicized by pressure to produce information supporting a rigorous policy of growth and development. 

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