The Scientific Activist: Reporting from the Crossroads of Science and Politics: We Didn’t Start the Fire (We Just Made Some Money Off It)
This interesting story was brought to my attention by the peripatetic Scientific Activist Nick Anthis. It's always worth checking in at his blog every once in a while. The lead author of a study that just came out in the well-regarded journal Science, Daniel Donato, was brought before a congressional committee. The congressmen wanted to vent a while, and investigate, since Donato and his fellow grantees had done work discovering that the clearcutting authorized by new federal rules in order to reduce the risk of forest fires actually contributed to the risk of forest fires and wildfires. Here is another link to a short article in The Oregonian http://www.oregonlive.com/news/oregonian/index.ssf?/base/news/1139286311132730.xml&coll=7, titled "BLM [Bureau of Land Management] Freezes OSU's [Oregon State University's] Grant Behind Study." Evidently, the study mentioned a piece of legislation which is impermissible. The study authors sought to remove the mention of the pending legislation from the study before it was published, and the editor of Science takes full blame for failing to remove the mention.
When the clearcutting was authorized, the timber companies, and their sponsoring congressmen used the justification that the recent Biscuit fires had been caused by too little cutting. Decades of fire suppression and no cutting had allowed scrubby growth to build up and encourage sparks to build into flames. So, over the protests of environmental groups, the clearcutting was authorized.
Now comes Daniel Donato et al., undercutting all the rationale for the clearcutting in the first place. Uh-oh! Science is getting in the way of politics -- AGAIN! Don't you hate it when that happens?