Culture & Ethics

Federal scientists could get increased whistleblower protection

Before it passed the economic stimulus bill on Wednesday, the House grafted on the text of the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act, H.R. 985, from the previous Congress.  That bill, which passed the House last year, would (among other things) have extended whistleblower protection to federal workers who reveal the dissemination of “false or misleading” scientific …

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The Bathtub Effect: A sobering assessment of where we are on climate change (but what does this mean for adaptation efforts?)

Andrew Revkin of the New York Times has posted an important essay discussing implications of the recent report by Dr. Susan Solomon and others documenting the profoundly serious impacts that will result from letting GHG concentrations in the atmosphere get too high before they are stabilized (the subject of this post below by Dan and …

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Conflicting data need not make environmental controversies worse

Anyone interested in the resolution of environmental controversies featuring conflicting or incomplete scientific accounts (and what interesting environmental conflict doesn’t fit in that category?) should read this article by Biggs et al. in the January issue of BioScience (subscription required). As the authors explain, the fact that two scientific studies produce conflicting results or lead …

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More accusations of politics trumping science and law at Interior

The Washington Post reports that officials at the Department of Interior ignored “key scientific findings” and the views of National Park Service officials “when they limited water flows in the Grand Canyon to optimize generation of electric power there, risking damage to the ecology of the spectacular national landmark.”  The Post story, written by Juliet …

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Dust Bowl Redux

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zqiblXFlZuk]According to a story in Tuesday’s New York Times: The new study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, projects that if carbon dioxide concentrations peak at 600 ppm, several regions of the world — including southwestern North America, the Mediterranean and southern Africa — will face major droughts as bad or …

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New federal appointees’ sharp differences will make EPA/OMB relationship one to watch

As Dan notes in an earlier post, Cass Sunstein has been selected to direct the White House office that oversees regulation by agencies, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs within the Office of Management and budget.   An in-depth article  in today’s Los Angeles Times discusses the controversy over his nomination among environmental and labor advocates.  From the Times: …

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New research points to the need to build resilience to climate change’s impacts

Except when he does not!

While many among us are working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the climate is already changing and will continue to change for a long while even if we do everything we can to reduce emissions. As a result, we will need to adapt to our new reality, by building the resilience to deal with changing …

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Conservation in a warming world

The latest issue of the journal Science includes another reminder that our current approach to conservation is ill-suited to a world where the climate is changing rapidly.  A study led by Phillip van Mentgem of the U.S. Geological Survey (323 Science 521 (Jan. 23, 2009), subscription required) finds that trees are dying more rapidly in …

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Hitting the right notes on science

The environmental science community is welcoming the new Obama administration with open arms.   That’s no surprise, of course — there was never any love lost between environmental scientists and the George W. Bush administration. But for the science community this transition is more than the departure of an enemy.   So far, the new president is …

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