Happy Holidays!!

December 23rd, 2004

Posted by: Roger Pielke, Jr.

Happy Holidays to All Prometheus Readers!  We’ll be back in action next week.  Meantime, a Thursday whip:

Obstacles to emissions reductions and alternative energy.  In addition to spending time looking at global legal frameworks and regimes, it may be worth also looking at policies at a slightly smaller scale.  NPR has a cautionary tale, listen here.

Living with uncertainty, part 1.  On the apparent health risks associated with painkillers, Gina Kolata has an excellent article in yesterday’s New York Times on the tradeoffs and uncertainties associated with developing and using new drugs.  She relates the view of Dr. Monica Bertagnolli, a cancer surgeon at Harvard, “science simply does not and can not have all the answers. Every drug has risks and benefits, and often it is impossible to know all of them even after a drug is being sold. But that does not mean that drugs are bad or that federal regulators are lax.  ”It’s muddy,” Dr. Bresalier said. “Even people who are experts don’t have the answers.””

Living with uncertainty, part 2.  Yesterday we learned that a recount of the election results  for governor in Washington now show a 10 vote margin for the Democratic candidate.  Consider this commentary from a few weeks ago, “The difference between Rossi and Gregoire is now less than 0.0015 percent — 1,372,484 votes for Rossi, 1,372,442 votes for Gregoire. If this were a 100-yard dash, Rossi’s lead would be slightly more than a millimeter… [Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed] said “said he expects to get an accurate and solid count back from the counties in a hand recount, but there’s an inherent variability in election results, which he called “99.9 percent accurate.””  You do the math.

Are universities special?  When it comes to protecting their patent rights, maybe not says an article in the Wall Street Journal earlier this week.  “Through legal maneuvering, Columbia [University won a new patent in 2002 with similar claims as the old ones. Soon, Columbia demanded more royalties — until 2019 — from various companies. Many balked… The Columbia case has added fuel to the debate over how aggressive universities should be in securing and protecting patents. Some argue that giving universities free rein to grab patent riches can damage academic values such as open inquiry and stifle basic research, since university scientists typically patent early-stage discoveries… Columbia and its defenders say the university is being unfairly maligned for doing what all patent holders are legally entitled to do.”  The article requires a subscription to view:  B. Wysocki, Jr. Columbia’s Pursuit Of Patent Riches Angers Companies As University Seeks to Extend A $600 Million Bonanza, Biotechs Refuse to Pay Up Debate Over Academic Values, The Wall Street Journal, December 21, 2004; Page A1.

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