Posted by: Dirk | August 27, 2010

The Inside Job – Atomenergie edition

Just two days ago I have voiced my concerns over the independence of science in the face of big money. Today, a variation on the theme is top news in Germany. Der Spiegel reports:

In wenigen Tagen will die Regierung ihr Energiekonzept vorlegen und über längere Atomlaufzeiten entscheiden. Doch ein von Schwarz-Gelb bestellter Gutachter gerät in die Kritik: Nach SPIEGEL-ONLINE-Informationen wird die Professur des Wissenschaftlers von der Stromwirtschaft mitfinanziert.

The new energy concept of the German government, on which among other things the lifetimes of nuclear plants are decided, was written up by three institutions, but it seems that the head of one of those (Energiewirtschaftliches Institut an der Universität zu Köln, EWI)) is a professor at a chair financed by the energy companies at the university of Cologne.

Again, my point is there is a conflict of interests. It happens all the time in academia these days, with money from the private sector flowing in and people from business moving into academic position very high up in order to gain (some, more) control of the universities. All this would be fine if there weren’t serious cases of conflicts of interest. I think as society we have to rethink whether the system as it is still holds some checks and balances, or whether this system has created a giant Sumpf (swamp) with different groups fighting each other by trying to take control of the government and its agencies, on both the local and federal level.

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