Science is invaluable to the law. Scientific advances make enforcing the law easier. For police, advances provide new tools to catch criminals and to ensure that people don’t go to jail for crimes they didn’t commit. In regulatory law, scientific advances allow more sensible regulations; they allow the focus of these regulations to be on activities that may actually cause undesired outcomes. But these only work when people accept the science.
Certain industries that feel burdened by regulations, even those supported by nearly irrefutable science, spend billions of dollars each year to convince the easily convinceable that the science is bogus. If we are really concerned about protecting our way of life, this needs to stop.
There has been plenty of discussion in the media lately about whether climate change has been responsible for the strange weather patterns we’ve experienced over the last year or two, especially the storms that have hit the mid-Atlantic since this summer. Claims that the severity of these storms has been directly related to human use of fossil fuels are somewhat dubious. But counterclaims that climate change is fiction are worse. The first argument is an educated guess that should be presented as such; the second is a convenient misreading of facts.
Regulations should be based on clear science, not on the “science” conducted by the deepest-pocketed groups. Most regulatory agencies have divisions dedicated to research; the results of this research should support safety-, health-, or risk-based regulation. But too often, the research is diluted by lobbying from the regulated industry. Something should be done to fix this before it’s too late.