A Friday Whip

December 17th, 2004

Posted by: Roger Pielke, Jr.

The Washington Post yesterday reported, “Almost one-fifth of the Food and Drug Administration scientists surveyed two years ago as part of an official review said they had been pressured to recommend approval of a new drug despite reservations about its safety, effectiveness or quality.” This seems to be a case an extreme misuse of science. This is a case worth watching closely.

The NRC released a report yesterday on “radiative forcing” of climate change. Among other interesting content, not only does the report through down some touch challenges for IPCC WGI, it raises a difficult (and ironic) policy quandary – what are the policy implications if action to reduce GHGs actually results in a magnification of climate change impacts (pp. 113-114)?

A new blog has appeared, Real Climate, which promises to restrict discussion “to scientific topics and will not get involved in any political or economic implications of the science.” This is an experiment worth watching (and we are). Its recent focus on Myron Ebell, Michael Crichton, and on areas of climate science that are politically controversial suggest that thus far this particular experiment offers plenty of support for recent a recent thesis of Dan Sarewitz: namely how science makes environmental controversies worse.

David Dickson discusses low-tech versus high-tech approaches to meeting the challenges of malaria – vaccines versus bednets, provides an excellent case study of the challenges faced in a wide range of issues.

Tremors in political perspectives seem to be shaking the foundations of some long-held beliefs on climate change, a sign of foundation-shaking earthquakes ahead? For example, over at the conservative-leaning Tech Central Station there are signs in its coverage of COP10 that while their opposition to the Kyoto remains steadfast, their justifications are shifting in striking fashion. Meanwhile, on the other side a essay titled “The Death of Environmentalism” focuses mainly on climate change and has evoked a passionate defense of the status quo. We may be entering an era where the most interesting debates are enviro vs. enviro and skeptic vs. skeptic. Stay tuned …

So much to blog, so little time ….

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