On 4 September 2017, I added a blog post here titled “On the responsibilities of engineers”. Scientists have responsibilities, too. And I am delighted to say that the National Academies have just demonstrated a proud example of how such responsibilities should be pursued.
On 18th August 2017, the Department of Interior “directed” (actually, “informed”) the Academies that “…it should cease all work on a study of the potential health risks for people living near surface coal mine sites in Central Appalachia.” It gave reasons, but the basic facts are that the Academies will proceed to pursue this study, despite the Department’s request.
As the statement from the Academies states,
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine are private, nonprofit institutions that provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions related to science, technology, and medicine. They operate under an 1863 congressional charter to the National Academy of Sciences, signed by President Lincoln.
I enclose the full text of the Academies’ statement below, obtained from their Web site. The study in question is described here. The Academies held their fact-finding public, open meetings in Hazard and Lexington, Kentucky, on 21st and 22nd August 2017.