Several weeks ago, we highlighted the issue of politicians wanting a “solution” implemented, when the scientists did not support that solution. Now that the use of sand berms off the coast of LA has been reviewed by experts on the presidential commission, the scientists were vidicated. Not a surprise. Tragically, $220 million were spent/wasted owing to the persistent pressure from Gov. Jindal. The money came from BP, but that amount used elsewhere no doubt could have been applied more productively. See Sand islands off Louisiana stopped little oil in gulf spill, commission finds; Wash. Post, Dec. 16, 2010.
One of the most controversial tactics used against this summer’s Gulf of Mexico oil spill – the construction of large sand islands off the Louisiana coast – managed to stop only a “minuscule” amount of oil, according to a draft report from a presidential commission.
- Green: Louisiana Rethinks Its Sand Berms (green.blogs.nytimes.com)
- The Shaw Group to Provide Louisiana Coastline with Sand Berm Construction (eon.businesswire.com)
- ‘Green News Report’ – July 22, 2010 (bradblog.com)
I believe this once again demonstrates the void that exist between the political and scientific world. Clearly both parties do not have a clear understanding of the needs of the other group or the pressure which both are subject too.
Politicians must answer to the needs of the public which, is their social base and the business which, is their communities economic base. Neither group wants to spend time focused on the long term solution because it is hindering their potential now. The failure to address long term ramifications of decisions is itself problematic.
The scientific world walks the tightrope between feast and famine when it comes to research funding. When events arise, people have question, money becomes available and research is requested…to be completed yesterday! Without the event people generally are to shortsighted to ask the question or fund the research.
Lastly, most people do not understand the true nature of research. In simple terms disaster research does not solve problem. It either describe or explains an event, in general repeatable term. The value of the research to the practitioner is not the resolution of a problem but a rather clear understanding of the problem or issues. From this the individual, be it politician or practitioner has an establish foundation to apply acceptable problem solving skill to define a course of action which then solve the problem. If researcher have to provide the solution to the issue there will alway be the tendency to allow personal bias of a personally preferred solution to cloud good research.
I agree with you and think you have identified some key points. Speaker as a researcher, I think we can help bring a broader perspective to many problem areas and contribute to ameliorative measures if not full solutions.
But, research done after the fact takes many months or years. It will help the next guy, if he bothers to look for research when dealing with a problem!