Government by scientists?


Author:  Damien M. Schiff

NRDC's Switchboard blog carried yesterday a story on a letter signed by some 1300 scientists to the US Senate, urging that body not to meddle with endangered species decisions but to leave those decisions to the experts.  NRDC's gloss on the letter states: "The message to Congress is loud and clear: when it comes to managing our country’s endangered wildlife, keep politics out of it."

I find this argument to be somewhat curious.  After all, the decision to have an Endangered Species Act at all is a political one; the decision to make species preservation "the highest of priorities" is a political one; the decision to protect the grey wolf, or the Delhi sands flower loving fly, or even the bald eagle—all political.  The scientists' letter therefore must proceed on the premise (false, in my view) that species preservation is something written into the fabric of sovereignty and good government, like the natural law, that cannot be changed but only implemented (interestingly, many legal leftists advocate a similar role for the uber-spurious pseudo-common-law doctrine of the public trust).

All of this is piffle.  It may even be dangerous.  For it seems that NRDC and the 1300 scientists believe that the People shouldn't be trusted with governing themselves; rather, they need "experts" to do it for them.  Whatever the merit of endangered species protection, I'm much happier that its mandates are ultimately in the hands of Brooks-Bros.-suited politicians than labcoat-sporting scientists.