First up, some exciting news about ScienceDebate 2008, courtesy of Chris and Sheril at The Intersection: the steering committee is now co-chaired by Vern Ehlers and Rush Holt, on Republican and one Democrat from the House, both with PhDs in physics. There is more fun at the hotlinked Intersection post above.
Second, I've continued to update my list of Congresspeople that have a background in science, technology, and engineering. The list is still pretty paltry, so please help me add to it if possible!
This year, I'm cutting back on the number of store-bought treasures that I'm handing out. After all, I certainly don't need more stuff, and I figure that most of my friends and family don't need it, either. So instead of baubles and lotions and other knick-knacks, I'm giving gifts to help...
- End hunger and help care for the earth with trees and seedlings from Heifer International
- Reduce greenhouse gas emissions with carbon dioxide offsets from Climate Care
Given the light treatment this and other science-related issues have received in recent debates, it is painfully obvious that there is a need for a debate devoted specifically to science. Which is a perfect introduction to a project that one of my fellow former Knauss fellows is working on: a call for a Presidential science debate. Sheril and her co-conspirators have cooked up quite a plan and discussion in the blogosphere is already whirling. Check out Sciencedebate2008 for all the information.
When asked to raise their hands if they believed global climate change is a serious threat and caused by human activity, former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson said he wasn't "doing hand shows today."
Other candidates agreed. Thompson asked if he could answer the question instead, but was told no.
Arizona Sen. John McCain said he knows "climate change is real."
"I've been involved in this issue since the year 2000. I have had hearings. I've traveled the world," he said. "It's real, we've got to address it, we can do it with technology ... with capitalist and free enterprise motivation. And I'm confident that we can pass on to our children and grandchildren a cleaner, better world."
One of the questioners, former Ambassador Alan Keyes, said, "I'm in favor of reducing global warming, because I think the most important emission we need to control is the hot air emission of politicians who pretend one thing and don't deliver."
R.K. Pachauri, for the IPCC
Who can say no to a trip to Hawaii - especially when it is to celebrate one of my favorite scientific records? That's right - the global carbon dioxide record, aka the "Keeling Curve" turned 50 this year. At the end of November, I traveled to Kona, HI for a special celebration of this record. Presentations during the three-day symposium included talks by Susan Solomon, Ralph Keeling, Robert Socolow, Julio Friedman, and many others (most conveniently archived at the conference website). The conference was excellent, bringing together scientists, industry folks, Congressional staffers, and many others to discuss the importance of the record as well as where to go from here with emissions controls, carbon capture, and other options for mitigation and adaptation.
Rush Holt (NJ-12th), PhD in physics (also a 5 time Jeopardy winner, assistant director of Princeton Plasma Physics Lab, etc.)
Jerry McNerny (CA-11th), PhD in Mathematics
Bill Nelson (FL-Senator), Mission Specialist on Space Shuttle Columbia (January 1986) [does anyone have further information about his educational background?]
John Olver (MA-1st), PhD in Chemistry
Vernon Ehlers (MI-3rd), PhD in Nuclear Physics
Ron Paul (TX-14th), MD specializing in OB/GYN - bonus point for being a Presidential candidate
In February I will be off to India's Golden Triangle region to visit my friends Ian and Emera. I'm looking forward to seeing some of the places that they have been studying language and culture, and can't wait to see neelgai (left), hathi, and other Indian animals!
With water levels so low, many of the big boats can't carry full loads, and that means more cargo must move via train or truck - both of which contribute to more air pollution. Not that shipping is innocent of environmental consequences - certainly dredging accounts for a fair amount of habitat destruction and probably the "hole" at the bottom of Lake St. Clair. However, there are plenty of reasons to support shipping via water vs. land shipping - in addition to reduced air pollution and traffic tie ups caused by more trucks and trains, the boats are fun to watch (I've spent many an afternoon watching the big barges go by - and a fair amount of time dodging them while sampling fish on the St. Lawrence River) and serve as an important piece of the Lakes economy - bringing business to the port towns and providing jobs both on board and on shore. Ships can travel from the Atlantic to the heart of the North American continent via the St. Lawrence Seaway - and while this opens the door to invasive species and other problems, the benefits of the Seaway for the livelihoods of both the Americans and Canadians living in the region are hard to argue with.
- Global-Warming Deniers: A Well-Funded Machine in the August 13 issue of Newsweek
- IPCC Working Group II: Climate Change Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability
- Climate Change: A Guide to the Information and Disinformation from the Society of Environmental Journalists
- RealClimate.org and their Wiki to debunk climate nonsense
More Care2 Stickies Here!
If you aren't a scholar of Latin, aequora dulcis means "sweet waters" - as in the sweetwater seas of the Laurentian Great Lakes. Although I've moved around a bit - Michigan, upstate New York, and now DC - I still consider my homeplace to be the Great Lakes region.