"Is the Bush administration anti-science?" asks Daniel Smith in The New York Times Magazine. When Donald Kennedy, a biologist and editor of the eminent journal Science, was asked what had led so many American scientists to feel that George W. Bush's administration is anti-science, he isolated a familiar pair of culprits: climate change and stem cells. These represent, he said, "two solid issues in which there is a real difference between a strong consensus in the science community and the response of the administration to that consensus." Smith cites a number of other scientists and advocates who are fed up with the right's distortions of and interference with science, including Chris C. Mooney, author of the new book The Republican War on Science (watch for a Grist Q&A with Mooney coming up soon). But Smith also gives a fair bit of space to presidential science adviser John Marburger, who continues to defend the admin's record. Guess which side makes a stronger case.
FEMA chief Michael Brown has been widely excoriated for his pathetically and tragically inept response to Katrina. But lest you think he came to the job unequipped to lead the nation's emergency-response efforts, Kate Hale, former Miami-Dade emergency management chief, points out that his previous experience as a commissioner of the International Arabian Horse Association has come in handy: "He's done a hell of a job, because I'm not aware of any Arabian horses being killed in this storm," she told Knight-Ridder.
Amusing, as always.
Daphne Eviatar spells it out nicely in a Washington Post op-ed:
See climate change in action in a series of photos from the Anchorage Daily News (login: email@example.com, password: misteree). They accompany a lengthy article by Doug O'Harra about permafrost warming in Alaska and all heck breaking loose. Earth frozen since woolly mammoths and bison wandered Interior steppes has been turning to mush. Lakes have been shrinking. Trees are stressed. Prehistoric ice has melted underground, leaving voids that collapse into sinkholes. Largely concentrated where people have disturbed the surface, such damage can be expensive, even heartbreaking. It's happening now in Fairbanks: Toppled spruce, roller-coaster bike trails, rippled pavement, homes and buildings that sag into ruin. And the meltdown is spreading in wild areas: sinkholes, dying trees, eroding lakes. These collapses bode ill: They are omens of what scientists fear will happen on a large scale across the Arctic if water and air continue to warm as fast as climate models predict. And if O'Harra's article doesn't quench your thirst for news of drunken forests and sinking houses, read Elizabeth Kolbert's fascinating, in-depth New Yorker piece from May on climate chaos in Alaska and beyond.
Janice Rogers Brown is already proving her worth on the federal bench. Last week, she and her colleague David Sentelle of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia blocked an effort by environmental groups to halt implementation of the Bush administration's much-maligned mercury rules.
Pollutocrat nonpareil Lee Raymond, CEO and chair of ExxonMobil, today announced his resignation, effective at the end of the year. As chair and CEO of the world's largest publicly traded oil company -- and the most recalcitrant on climate issues -- he consistently appalled green observers with his steadfast denial of any need to curb greenhouse-gas emissions or work toward the goal of U.S. energy independence. From a 2002 interview with Raymond: Q: Isn't it time to join the scientific mainstream in countering the greenhouse effect? A: The mainstream of some so-called environmentalists or politically correct Europeans isn't the mainstream of all scientists or the White House. The world has been a lot warmer than it is now and it didn't have anything to do with carbon dioxide. We'll have a hard time replacing this most iconic of eco-villains. Even Bush admits that climate change is happening.
The Wall Street Journal astounded many in the green community last week when it launched a series on toxic chemicals with an in-depth page A1 story on endocrine disruptors, which, even in teeny-tiny amounts, muck up the functioning of human bodies, according to an ever-growing body of scientific studies. Now USA Today is getting in on the game with "Are our products our enemy?" Here, reporter Elizabeth Weise's delightfully melodramatic lead: Like the glint of a knife in the dark, a laboratory accident in 1998 helped scientists realize that some chemicals commonly used to make life more convenient can be health hazards. Since what they still call "the disaster" in geneticist Pat Hunt's lab, more scientists have come to suspect that, even in tiny amounts, some of the chemicals that keep our food fresh, our hair stylish, our floors shiny and our fabrics stain-free might be confusing our hormone systems and derailing fetal development. From what I can discern, there's not much real, breaking news in these stories; rather, the real, breaking news is these stories. Which news outlet will jump on board next?
Even though, really, he's not sexy. So scrawny and white-bread. PETA adherents are even nuttier than I thought. They voted Coldplay singer/guitarist Chris Martin and American Idol country crooner Carrie Underwood as the hottest herbivores. I'm taking that as an insult to us foxy veggies everywhere. My picks from the list of celebs offered up as meat-eschewing hotties: Radha Mitchell, Angela Bassett, Fiona Apple, Esai Morales, and Samuel L. Jackson. Oh, and John Cleese. (Weirdest candidates: G. Gordon Liddy and Mary Tyler Moore.)