Union of Concerned Scientists

by Tanja Haser

The Union of Concerned Scientists, or UCS, is a partnership of more than 100.000 scientists and citizens in the United States. Kevin Knobloch, who serves on the board of directors of the Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies (CERES) and the Environmental League of Massachusetts, and Kurt Gottfried, a professor emeritus of physics at Cornell University, now lead the UCS. One of the main purposes of the Union is to encourage activities that protect the environment.

 

{access view=guest}Access to the full article is free, but requires you to register. Registration is simple and quick - all we need is your name and a valid e-mail address. We appreciate your interest in bridges.{/access} {access view=!guest}Faculty members and students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) founded the Union of Concerned Scientists in 1969 because of actions the U.S. government took in Vietnam during the 1960s, for instance the massive use of "Agent Orange," a biological weapon. The concerned MIT members struggled with the misuse of science and technology in society and decided to publish a Faculty Statement that called for the redirection of scientific research to pressing environmental and social problems, rather than to military programs.
Nowadays, the UCS's core issues include studies on topics such as the impact of global warming, the risks of genetically modified food, and the search for renewable energy options. Some of the policies that the Union endorses include controls on pollution, reduction of nuclear weapons, a ban on weapons in space, federal regulation of biotechnology, and the protection of endangered species. The Union also encourages research on low-pollution vehicles and sustainable agriculture. The UCS wants to ensure that in the future all people will have clean air and water, enough energy, and will live in a world without the threat of nuclear war.

In February 2004, the UCS received a lot of public attention by publishing a report titled "Scientific Integrity in Policymaking." This report criticized the Bush administration for "politicizing" science. Some of the allegations included altering reports by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on global warming and choosing members of scientific advisory panels based not only on their qualification but also on their political view. In July 2004, the Union released an addendum to the report in which they alleged further abuses of science by the Bush administration [see article in this bridges issue "Pandora's Box - Bringing Science into Politics: the Debate on Scientific Integrity in U.S. Policymaking"]. These included altering reports on West Virginia strip mining and choosing industry-friendly scientists over well-qualified nominees such as Nobel Prize laureate Torsten Wiesel.

After publishing the report, the UCS issued a statement called "Scientists Call to Action: Restoring Scientific Integrity in Policymaking" which charged the White House with "misrepresenting and suppressing scientific knowledge for political purposes." More than 6.000 scientists, including nearly 50 Nobel laureates, have signed this statement.


Sources
- Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) - http://www.ucsusa.org
- Office of Science and Technology Policy - http://www.ostp.gov
- Eugene Russo: Scientists vow to vote out Bush. In: Daily News from The Scientist, 10/20/2004 - http://www.biomedcentral.com/news/20041020/02
- Jennifer Weeks: Political Science. In: Grist Magazine, 01/05/2005 - http://www.grist.org/news/maindish/2005/01/05/weeks-knobloch/{/access}