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Ogmius Newsletter

Recent Prometheus Blogs

PrometheusPrometheus, the Center’s science policy weblog, continues to serve as an online forum for discussion of a variety of issues at the intersection of science and policy.  Recent blogs include:

Is 350 The Most Important Number on Earth?
February 17th, 2009
A Guest Post by: Michael E. Zimmerman

In his recent posting “The collapse of Climate Policy and the Sustainability of Climate Science” (February 7, 2009), Roger A. Pielke, Jr. argues that the political consensus about climate policy is collapsing, because policy makers are realizing that it is unrealistic to expect that CO2 can be stabilized at 450 ppm. That such expectations are already in the realm of “fiction and fantasy” does not prevent some environmentalists from calling for even more impossible attainments, while confusing the relationship between science and policy-making.

Consider Bill McKibben’s essay in Mother Jones (November 10, 2008), “The Most Important Number on Earth.” McKibben, author of The End of Nature, maintains during the past year climate scientists have demonstrated that we are facing “the oh-my-lord crisis you drop everything else to deal with…” Claiming that we may have already reached the “tipping point” in global warming that may lead to “the collapse of human society as we have known it,” McKibben cites a recent paper by James Hansen et al. which calls for reducing CO2 from its current 385ppm to 350 ppm. For McKibben, this is the most important number on Earth. Above 350ppm, he warns us… (read more).

Obama Administration Breaks with IPCC, Focuses on Art of the Possible
March 5th, 2009
Posted by: Roger Pielke, Jr.

Todd Stern, chief US climate negotiator in the State Department, gave a speech two days ago in which he laid out some of the principles that will guide the Obama Administration’s approach to climate policy. In it he recognizes that what is politically possible will be the most important factor guiding the pace of policy implementation. He says the following:…(read more).

“Science” mischaracterized: a tale of three news stories
March 6th, 2009
A guest post by: Sharon Friedman

The recent restoration of a requirement for consultation with FWS and NMFS for ESA was correctly characterized by the Denver Post Wire Report and the Washington Post and mischaracterized by CNN (and perhaps President Obama) (see quotations and links below, the bold in each story is mine.)…(read more).

What was the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference really about?
March 13, 2009
A Guest Post by: Professor Mike Hulme

The largest academic conference that has yet been devoted to the subject of climate change finished yesterday in Copenhagen. Between 2,000 and 2,500 researchers from around the world attended three days of meetings during which 600 oral presentations (together with several hundred posters on display) were delivered on topics ranging from the ethics of energy sufficiency to the role of icons in communicating climate change to the dynamics of continental ice sheets.

I attended the Conference, chaired a session, listened to several presentations, read a number of posters and talked with dozens of colleagues from around the world. The breadth of research on climate change being presented was impressive, as was the vigour and thoughtfulness of the informal discussions being conducted during coffee breaks, evening receptions and side-meetings.

What intrigued me most, however, was the final conference statement issued yesterday, a statement drafted by the conference’s Scientific Writing Team. It contained six key messages and was handed to the Danish Prime Minister Mr. Anders Fogh Rasmusson. The messages focused, respectively, on Climatic Trends, Social Disruption, Long-term Strategy, Equity Dimensions, Inaction is Inexcusable, and Meeting the Challenge… (read more).