“The Science Paper”



Science plays an important role in making environmental policy.  However, the science is rarely as definitive, clear, and authoritative as we might hope.  The purpose of this paper is threefold


Your paper should address the following issues:

  1. How do different advocates use science to define/frame your environmental policy issue? Why does advocates' framing of issues matter -- that is, how might it affect policymaking?
  2. What are the scientific arguments of different groups about the extent of the problem and progress?  What are the points of disagreement among the different interests involved?  What is the debate over past successes?  Over future priorities and need for future action?
  3. What is the baseline condition and how is it established?  What are the different measures or dimensions of the environmental conditions in your issue area?  How are they measured?  How accurate are these measurements?  How much agreement about the quality and conclusiveness of the scientific data?  How do different groups propose to deal with the scientific uncertainty?
  4. What are the critiques, from the left and the right, of the other side's use of science?
  5. Can “better science” reconcile the underlying political and policy dispute?


Administrative Details:  (6-8 pages) due April 7



Sources:  Please use a variety of public and private reports and studies and feel free to includes charts, tables, and other materials in Appendices.  Just make sure to analyze whatever you include.  Some potential sources are below.  You should review both the views of both the Naysayers and Optimists on what the state of the science is. 


Official (Government) Sources  http://www.epa.gov   as well as other government agencies


Environmental Naysayers

1.      World Resources Institute, World Resources (biennial, and a treasure of reliable data on global conditions and trends).  http://earthtrends.wri.org/

  1. http://www.scorecard.org/
  2. http://www.sierraclub.org/
  3. http://www.enviroliteracy.org/


Environmental Optimists

  1. The Competitive Enterprise Institute, called "the best environmental think tank in the country" by The Wall Street Journal, (http://www.cei.org/sections/section1.cfm or http://www.cei.org)
  2. The Pacific Research Institute Index of Leading Environmental Indicators- http://www.pacificresearch.org/pub/sab/enviro/01_enviroindex/index.html
  3. http://www.pacificresearch.org/pub/sab/enviro/04_enviroindex/index.html#
  4. The Heartland Institute's Environment Issue Suite contains more than 1,000 studies and commentaries.  It advocates “common-sense environmentalism relies on sound science and free markets, not scare tactics and politics.” http://www.heartland.org/IssueSuites.cfm?issId=2
  5. The American Council on Science and Health http://www.acsh.org


Stylistic things to remember