Programs: Science and Policy
Science and Technology in Congress
Just before the end of the calendar year, Congress completed work on the FY 2010 spending bills. Six bills were put together into a consolidated appropriations ("omnibus") bill and conference report (H.Rept. 111-366), including appropriations for Transportation, HUD, and Related Agencies; Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies; Financial Services and General Government; Labor, HHS, Education, and Related Agencies; Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies; and State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs. The omnibus was signed into law (P.L. 111-117) on December 16.
A number of agencies with significant research and development (R&D) investments are contained in this omnibus bill including the Department of Transportation (4.0% increase in R&D to $949 million), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST; 9.6% increase in R&D to $603 million), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA; 0.1% increase in R&D to $701 million), the National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA; 5.3% increase in total budget to $18.7 billion), the National Science Foundation (NSF; 6.7% increase in total budget to $6.9 billion), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH; 2.3% increase in total budget to $31.2 billion).
Soon after passing the omnibus, Congress finished the appropriations process when it completed work on the Department of Defense (H.R. 3326) appropriations bill, which was signed into law on December 19. The conference report contains $82.6 billion (0.7 % increase over FY 2009) in R&D investment for the Department of Defense; $80.5 billion (0.6% increase over FY 2009) of that would go for Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation programs (excluding medical research and construction). The Science and Technology portion (6.1 – 6.3 plus medical research) accounts for $14.8 billion, a 20.7% increase over the President's request and 1.8% over FY 2009 appropriations. All percent changes in this analysis between conference reports and FY 2009 enacted appropriations do not include American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA; "stimulus") funds.
For details on the final agency appropriations, see the AAAS R&D Budget Web site.
-- Patrick Clemins
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a final endangerment finding which labels six greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6)) as threats to "the public health and welfare of current and future generations." The endangerment finding was released in the December 15, 2009 Federal Register. EPA's findings respond to the 2007 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Massachusetts v. EPA that greenhouse gases (GHGs) could fit within the Clean Air Act definition of air pollutants. EPA issued draft findings in April 2009 and held a 60-day public comment period, during which the agency received more than 380,000 comments.
Although the endangerment finding does not contain any binding mandates, it will be used as a tool to regulate emitters of these gases under the Clean Air Act. On December 7, the same day EPA Administer Lisa Jackson signed the endangerment finding, she signed a Cause or Contribute Finding claiming that gases from new motor vehicles produce dangerous GHG pollutants.
Even as she announced the endangerment finding, Jackson noted her preference for Congress to enact legislation to address climate change rather than solely rely on EPA regulation. But under the Clean Air Act, EPA must regulate substances that threaten health and welfare. Jackson cited impacts of climate change caused by greenhouse gases, including drought, food shortages, and severe storms, as a threat to human welfare.
Many in Congress would also prefer legislation over EPA regulation, as they see more opportunities to provide energy consumers and producers economic reprieve from elevated energy costs. Ranking Members Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) of House Energy and Commerce Committee have announced resolutions of disapproval in their respective chambers, which would bar EPA regulation of GHGs under the Clean Air Act. This seldom-used procedure authorized by the Congressional Review Act (CRA) allows Congress to block agency actions, but is unlikely to pass. In addition, the Competitive Enterprise Institute said it will file a federal lawsuit challenging the finding as unsubstantiated and unwarranted.
-- Kasey White and Phillip Chalker
From December 7 to 18, delegates from 193 nations gathered in Copenhagen to determine how to address climate change. Up until a few months before the negotiations, leaders from around the world hoped to create a successor treaty to the Kyoto Protocol, which is set to expire in 2012. However, leaders at the event were unable to reach agreement and had to settle for a non-binding political accord. The development of the Copenhagen Accord was led by the United States, China, India, and South Africa. The conference decided to "take note" of the Accord instead of formally approving it, which will allow it to go into effect despite the opposition of several developing countries, who feel it does not go far enough to combat climate change.
The Copenhagen Accord calls for reducing greenhouse gas emissions to keep temperatures from rising more than 2.0 degrees C (3.6 degrees F) above preindustrial levels. It contains a commitment by developed nations to invest $30 billion over the next three years to help developing nations adapt to climate change and pursue clean energy development as well as a provisional commitment to develop a long-term $100 billion global fund for developing countries by 2020. It calls for pledges by nations, including major developing countries, to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, report emissions levels, and allow international "analysis" of these emissions. Countries are to announce their targets by the end of January 2010.
A main source of contention during the talks was between developing countries, which wanted to base the outcome of Copenhagen on the Kyoto Protocol, and some developed countries, which wanted to draft an entirely new treaty. The Kyoto Protocol calls for emission reductions by developed countries, but does not hold developing countries to binding emissions reductions. Though developed countries are responsible for most of the GHG currently in the atmosphere, developing countries will be responsible for much of the future increases.
Many nations announced reduction goals prior to the Copenhagen meeting. The European Union (EU) announced they would cut their GHG emissions 30 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 if other countries made "ambitious" cuts. Following this announcement, the U.S. agreed to cut their emissions to 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, China announced plans to reduce their energy intensity - a ratio of the amount of carbon dioxide emitted per unit of economic output – 40 to 45 percent below business as usual, and India agreed to reduce their emissions intensity by 20 to 25 percent below business as usual.
The Copenhagen Accord will serve as the base for end of next year's climate talks in Mexico. Negotiations leading up the meeting will happen throughout the year. French President Nicholas Sarkozy has announced his intent to invite all signatories of the Copenhagen Accord to a meeting in the spring to focus on efforts to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions 50 percent by 2050.
-- Phillip Chalker and Kasey White
Following the October release of the Review of U.S. Human Space Flight Plans Committee Final Report, better known as the "Augustine Report" (see October STC newsletter), the House Committee on Science and Technology Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics held several hearings on key aspects of the future of space exploration. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), chair of the Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee, stated in a November 19 hearing that "Congress must use the time remaining in this Session to carry out the independent oversight necessary to assess the findings of the Augustine panel, and more importantly, to illuminate the stakes that are involved in whatever decisions the White House and Congress make regarding NASA's funding and future direction."
In October, the Subcommittee heard from representatives of the National Research Council and Mr. Christopher Scolese, Associate Administrator of NASA, about strengthening NASA's technology development programs. Rep. Giffords began the hearing by explaining that the committee is looking to revitalize programs for long-term technology development at NASA without stripping other programs of needed funding. Witnesses highlighted the plight of NASA's Institute of Advanced Concepts (NIAC), which aimed to be an independent source of revolutionary aeronautical and space concepts. NIAC received good marks from the Augustine report yet was terminated in 2007 due to budget constraints.
In November, the Subcommittee heard from international experts on the growth of global space capabilities. Witnesses testified that as space capabilities develop around the world, the U.S. is losing its leadership role. Though budget decreases were cited as the main cause, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) noted that NASA receives more money than any other foreign space agency. Witnesses added that regulations, such as ITAR (International Traffic in Arms Regulations), have hurt the American aerospace industry, leading to lost market shares in launch vehicles and commercial satellites. The panel called for innovation to revitalize American technology programs that impact the economy and future consumer technologies.
On December 2, the Subcommittee met with NASA and industry representatives to examine the safety of human space flight, including the role of safety standards, the safety certification process for space transportation vehicles, and training and experience. NASA representatives discussed safety issues such as risk analysis; safety culture; and crew escape and abort plans. The panel called for clear safety regulations to guide collaboration with the commercial spaceflight industry. Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Thomas Stafford, previous chair of the Return to Flight Task Force following the Columbia accident review and current chair of the International Space Station (ISS) Independent Advisory Task Force, urged clear authority for the NASA administrator to manage the agency, facilities, and workforce needs; a safe Space Shuttle flight schedule to complete planned missions to the ISS; cooperation with international space organizations; and sustainable funding levels.
On December 3, the Subcommittees on Investigations and Oversight and Space and Aeronautics heard from NASA's Inspector General and Ernst & Young LLP in a joint independent review of NASA. Despite improvements, NASA received a "disclaimed opinion" in their yearly independent audit, citing material weakness in their accounting processes such that their financial accounts could not be verified.
On December 10, the full Science and Technology Committee held a hearing to discuss job implications associated with the slated 2015 - 2020 gap in human space flight. At the hearing, two main concerns emerged. First, because human space flight serves as a principal aerospace recruiting tool, a gap in talented workers is expected as NASA's aging workforce begins to retire. The second concern results from an expected reduced budget during the human space flight off years. There is fear that the aerospace supply chain, which produces few high cost goods, will be damaged. In addition to the negative economic effects on the aerospace industry, the disruption of the supply chain would increase worker attrition and damage the defense industry.
The Obama Administration recently released its views on the future of space flights.
-- Jamie Wheeler and Phillip Chalker
Efforts are underway to overhaul the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), the 1976 Environmental Protection Agency authorization to test and regulate chemicals. TSCA has been plagued by backlogs: out of 80,000 estimated chemical substances, only a few thousand substances have been reviewed, about 200 tested, and just five have been banned.
In January 2009, the GAO added TSCA and "EPA's Processes for Assessing and Controlling Toxic Chemicals" to their high-risk list of programs vulnerable to waste, fraud, abuse or mismanagement. The report stated, "EPA does not have sufficient chemical assessment information to determine whether it should establish controls to limit public exposure to many chemicals that may pose substantial health risks."
In part, efforts to revamp TSCA respond to changes made to European regulations in 2007. The European "Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals" (REACH) program uses the precautionary principle, i.e. makes companies show their products are safe before they can be introduced in the market. REACH requires extensive safety data from chemical companies and identifies chemicals of concern based on bioaccumulation and environmental impact. In contrast, TSCA calls for a risk-assessment process that requires a high burden of proof for chemicals to be deemed unsafe.
This fall, the EPA released Essential Principles for Reform of Chemicals Management Legislation, outlining objectives for TSCA reform. Sound science and risk-based criteria are to be used to review chemicals hazards. Chemical manufacturers are to provide the EPA with "sufficient hazard, exposure, and use data" to determine safety standards, including "a thorough review of the chemicals; risks to sensitive subpopulations." Additionally, action on priority chemicals, promotion of green chemistry to reduce risk, public information access, and consistent funding for EPA are highlighted.
The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee examined the topic in December, with witnesses including EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, John B. Stephenson from GAO, and Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D., from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), chairman of Superfund, Toxics and Environmental Health Subcommittee, announced plans to introduce TSCA reform legislation in the new year. He said his bill will "require companies to prove that their products are safe before they end up in a store, in our homes, or in our bodies," rather than the current system that waits for a chemical to harm someone's health to trigger testing and regulation. In contrast, Ranking Member James Inhofe (R-OK) emphasized the importance of risk-based analysis and intellectual property rights protections in TSCA reform.
In her testimony, Jackson urged clear authorization for a fully-funded EPA to regulate chemicals and ensure health and environmental safety. Stephenson highlighted the need to strengthen EPA's authority to obtain chemical safety information from industry, shift the burden of safety data to manufacturers, and enhance public understanding of chemical exposure risks. Birnbaum discussed the health impacts of chemicals, citing endocrine disrupting chemicals, a topic on which Senator John Kerry (D-MA) has introduced legislation to authorize the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences to conduct research.
On December 10, the American Chemical Society sponsored a briefing to discuss advancements in chemical toxicity testing. Panelists highlighted a 2007 National Academy of Sciences report, Toxicity Testing in the 21st Century: A Vision and a Strategy, which describes a new paradigm for testing chemicals and pesticides using human cells and tissues in vitro that could help to improve efficiency, understanding of toxicity pathways, and guidance for safety standards authorized by legislation like TSCA.
-- Jamie Wheeler
Hackers obtained and posted a number of files from the UK's University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit, including correspondence between prominent climate researchers. Although some climate-change skeptics are citing the emails as a "smoking gun" that they say corrupts climate research findings, others, including a number of leading scientists, say the illegally-obtained emails have little bearing on climate science advancements.
Members of Congress have weighed in, and several hearings scheduled to examine other environmental topics have focused on the emails, including a December 2 House Energy Independence and Global Warming Committee hearing. Ranking Member James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) called the climate emails "profoundly disturbing" and said they lead to questions about all climate science. In particular, he cited text that appears to encourage scientists to delete items related to Freedom of Information Act requests. He also mentioned phrases selected from emails that discuss a "trick" to "hide the decline" in recent temperatures - a phrase scientists maintain refers to a method for resolving differences in quality of climate proxy data. In contrast, Chairman Ed Markey (D-MA) called the focus on the e-mails a distraction from the "catastrophic threat to our planet."
At the hearing, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Director John Holdren used his testimony to explain the emails did not change the overall scientific understanding of climate change. "The strength of science is that these kinds of controversies get sorted out over time… by the process of peer review and continued critical scrutiny by the knowledgeable community of scientists," Holdren said. Holdren further explained the data in question is a small part of immense data sets and that despite these emails, the consensus is that climate is changing, these changes match what theory and models expect, and we are seeing significant climate impacts already.
Several investigations have been announced into the emails. Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, has said the United Nations will conduct an investigation. The University of East Anglia has announced that it has commissioned an independent review into how the e-mails ended up on the internet and whether there is evidence of suppression or manipulation of data. Pennsylvania State University has also announced it will explore whether an investigation is warranted into email exchanges involving Penn State professor Michael Mann.
Meanwhile, some lawmakers are calling for additional scrutiny. A bicameral group of Ranking Members on relevant committees sent a letter to EPA to investigate the emails as well as halt regulatory efforts related to climate change until an investigation can be completed. In addition, Science and Technology Committee Ranking Member Ralph Hall (R-TX) and several of his subcommittee ranking members sent a letter to Science and Technology Committee Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN), requesting an "investigation into the climate change research and scientific integrity issues" of the emails. On December 8, Rep. Hall and eleven committee Republicans, introduced H. Res. 954, a resolution expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that certain scientific protocols and standards be honored prior to the U.S. considering any official actions to address climate change. Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-OK), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, sent letters to several scientists, as well as to the inspectors general of several federal agencies, notifying them to retain documents related to the release of emails. House Science and Technology Subcommittee Ranking Members sent similar letters to NASA and NOAA, asking them to retain all climate data.
The scientific community has issued responses to the emails, emphasizing that they do not change our understanding of climate science. AAAS released a statement on December 4. AAAS CEO Alan Leshner stated, "AAAS takes issues of scientific integrity very seriously. It is fair and appropriate to pursue answers to any allegations of impropriety. It's important to remember, though, that the reality of climate change is based on a century of robust and well-validated science." Twenty-five leading climate scientists sent an open letter that states, "The body of evidence that human activity is the dominant cause of global warming is overwhelming. The content of the stolen emails has no impact whatsoever on our overall understanding that human activity is driving dangerous levels of global warming." Meanwhile, more than 1700 U.K. scientists signed a statement that affirms "the utmost confidence in the observational evidence for global warming and the scientific basis for concluding that it is due primarily to human activities. The evidence and the science are deep and extensive. They come from decades of painstaking and meticulous research, by many thousands of scientists across the world who adhere to the highest levels of professional integrity."
-- Kasey White
On December 15, Reps. Solomon Ortiz (D-TX) and Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) introduced a comprehensive immigration reform bill (H.R. 4321). Although the primary purpose of the legislation is to address treatment of illegal aliens, border security and enforcement, it also includes language of interest to the scientific and engineering communities.
The Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America's Security and Prosperity Act of 2009 (CIR ASAP) would exempt international students that have received an advanced degree in science, engineering, technology or mathematics from the numerical caps that restrict the number of students who may remain in the United States after graduation. This will allow foreign-born students more time to seek employment after matriculating.
At the same time, the legislation expresses concern that the H-1B visa program for high-technology specialty workers may be having a negative impact on the number of American workers employed in the United States. Currently, the Department of Homeland Security has set the cap for H-1B visas for 2010 at 65,000 and the number of visa applications issued to the private sector has historically exceeded that level every year.
The CIR ASAP bill would require employers to meet certain requirements for recruiting American workers before being approved for requests for H-1B employees. The legislation would also authorize the Department of Labor to conduct audits of businesses that rely on H-1B visas and to investigate claims of fraud and abuse.
In related news, the Association of International Educators (NAFSA) issued a report calling for major reforms in U.S. visa and immigration policy. Among the recommendations were revising the security clearance process for visiting scientists, expediting the visa approval process for frequent low-risk visitors, and eliminating the cap on international students who can remain in the U.S. after graduation.
Immigration reform is expected to become a front burner issue during the second session of the 111th Congress. The White House has also made immigration reform a priority and held a meeting in early summer with members of both the executive and legislative branches of government to discuss mechanisms for reform.
-- Joanne Carney
Quick status reports to keep you up to date on recent S&T bills and hearings.
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved a bill (S. 782) to establish the National Volcano Early Warning and Monitoring System. The bill would authorize $15 million annually to create an around-the-clock monitoring system for the country's 169 hazardous volcanoes. The committee also approved a House-passed bill (H.R. 3276) to promote the production of domestic sources of molybdenum-99, a medical isotope used in diagnostic procedures like cancer scans and brain imaging.
Senators John Kerry (D-MA), Joe Lieberman (I-VT), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) released a framework for Climate Change and Energy Independence Legislation. The trio hopes to create enough compromise for a bill to pass the full Senate. After the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works passed S. 1733, the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act, out of committee without a Republican present it has been viewed as too partisan to pass the entire chamber. Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Susan Collins (R-ME) have introduced the Carbon Limits and Energy for America's Renewal (CLEAR) Act (S. 2877). It is a "cap-and-dividend" climate bill that will auction permits to emit greenhouse gases and return the bulk of the revenue (75%) to taxpayers to offset the higher energy costs and designates 25% of the revenue for an energy and climate fund for R&D and adaptation programs.
The Senate has confirmed epidemiologist David Michaels as the new head of OSHA.
On December 8, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee received testimony from Kristina Johnson, Undersecretary for Energy at the Department of Energy to learn the Departments opinion on various bills that sit before the committee. Of the nine bills discussed, five had already passed the House: H.R. 957, the "Green Energy Education Act of 2009," H.R. 2729, "to authorize the designation of National Environmental Research Parks by the Secretary of Energy," H.R. 3165, the "Wind Energy Research and Development Act of 2009," H.R. 3246, the "Advanced Vehicle Technology Act of 2009," and H.R. 3585, the "Solar Technology Roadmap Act." For the state of other bills, please check the Science, Technology and Congress Legislative Tracker.
The 2010 House schedule can be seen at http://majorityleader.gov/docUploads/2010Calendar.pdf.
On December 8, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) launched an Open Government Initiative requiring all federal agencies to begin crafting policies that would promote a more open government based on three principles: transparency, participation, and collaboration. According to the OMB Memorandum, each federal agency is to create an Open Government Webpage and an Open Government Plan within 120 days. OMB also will establish an interagency working group and issue a strategy for federal spending transparency.
On December 10, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) launched a public consultation on a Federal Public Access Policy. Under the Administration's Open Government Initiative, OSTP has established a public forum to engage in a stakeholder dialogue and to receive feedback on how to make the results of federally funded research more widely available. A Request for Information (RFI) was also posted in the Federal Register and public comments were initially due January 7, 2010, but has been extended to January 21, 2010.
The National Institutes of Health has issued a notice updating its policy on training in the responsible conduct of research, required for many grant programs. The notice lays out principles for the responsible conduct of research, clarifies who should participate in the instruction and what form it should take, and provides links to training materials.
The National Security Council (NSC) issued a National Strategy for Countering Biological Threats on December 9, 2009. The Strategy reinforces the important benefits of life science advances and lays out a broad vision for supporting life science research to benefit public health threats at a global level, while providing a framework for reducing the threat of a biological attack.
On December 14, 2009, President Obama's Ocean Policy Task Force released its Interim Framework for Effective Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning for a 60-day public review and comment period. Under the Framework, coastal and marine spatial planning would be regional in scope, developed cooperatively among Federal, State, tribal, local authorities, and regional governance structures, with substantial stakeholder and public input.
On December 21, President Obama named Howard Schmidt the White House Cybersecurity Chief. Schmidt previously served as President George W. Bush's White House Cyber-Advisor.
NIH has approved its first stem cell lines for federally-funded research. The current total is 40, almost double the number of eligible lines during the Bush years.
A report by the DHHS Inspector General has found that 64 percent of the experts who served on CDC vaccine advisory panels in 2007 had potential conflicts of interest that went either unidentified or unresolved by the agency, according to The New York Times. The IG recommended that CDC do a better job at screening; new CDC chief Tom Frieden says improvements are underway.
A landmark lawsuit against the USPTO will go forward thanks to a recent decision by a federal judge. It challenges patents on two human genes associated with breast and ovarian cancer (BRCA1 and BRCA2). The American Civil Liberties Union filed the suit in May. Patent holders Myriad Genetics and the University of Utah Research Foundation are also defendants in the case.BACK TO TOP
- Combating Nuclear Smuggling: Recent Testing Raises Issues About the Potential Effectiveness of Advanced Radiation Detection (GAO-10-252T)
Landscapes on the Edge: New Horizons for Research on Earth's Surface (ISBN-13: 978-0-309-14717-0)
Priorities for the National Vaccine Plan (ISBN-13: 978-0-309-14649-4)
Real Prospects for Energy Efficiency in the United States (ISBN-13: 978-0-309-14801-6)
Transitions to Alternative Transportation Technologies--Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (ISBN-13: 978-0-309-14850-4)
- Recognition and Alleviation of Pain in Laboratory Animals (ISBN-13: 978-0-309-12834-6)
CO2 Emissions from Fuel Combustion
International Energy Agency
Clean Energy for the Wild Blue Yonder Expanding Renewable Energy and Efficiency in the Air Force
Center for American Progress
RISING TIGERS SLEEPING GIANT Asian nations set to dominate the clean energy race by outinvesting the Anited States
Breakthrough Institute and the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation
How to Dispose of Unused Medicines
U.S. Food and Drug Administration
AAAS Sends Letter Supporting University Stem Cell Research
AAAS sent a letter to University of Nebraska President J.B. Milliken supporting his recommendation that the university maintain its policy of following federal and state guidelines on human embryonic stem cell research. Some members of the Board of Regents had sought to set a precedent for state research universities by further restricting stem cell experiments for University of Nebraska scientists. The proposal failed on a 4-4 vote, just shy of the necessary majority.
Presentations Available from Comparative Effectiveness Research Briefing
Slides and a webcast from the December 15 briefing Beyond Mammograms: Perspectives on Comparative Effectiveness Research are available. Panelists included Steve Pearson from the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review, Nancy Berlinger from The Hastings Center, Richard Payne from Duke University, and Steve Findalay from the Consumers Union. The event was moderated by AAAS' CEO Alan Leshner.
AAAS Reissues Climate Statement
On December 4, in response to debate surrounding hacked e-mails from key climate scientists, AAAS reissued their statement affirming the veracity of climate change science (see also article Climate Emails Draw Scrutiny).
Mark Your Calendar:
Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation
January 8, 2010
12:00 PM to 1:30 PM
Cannon Caucus Room (345): Cannon House Office Building
This briefing will examine the nature of climate impacts occurring within the United States and explore options for dealing with those impacts. Panelists include Thomas R. Karl, Director of NOAA's National Climatic Data Center and President of the American Meteorological Society; Kristie L. Ebi, Executive Director of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Working Group 2 Technical Support Unit - Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability; Katharine L. Jacobs, Professor at University of Arizona Soil, Water and Environmental Science Department; and Susanne Moser, Director and Principal Researcher of Susanne Moser Research & Consulting and Research Associate at the University of California-Santa Cruz Institute for Marine Sciences. Moderated by Paul Higgins, Senior Policy Fellow, American Meteorological Society.
AAAS Science and Human Rights Coalition
January 22, 2010
8:30 am to 7:00 pm (including reception)
AAAS 1200 New York Avenue, Washington, D.C.
Join us for the third meeting of the AAAS Science and Human Rights Coalition. The meeting will open with a panel discussion on ethical dilemmas in science practice, focusing on the relationship between science, scientists and the military, followed by presentations, training sessions, and working meetings on human rights issues central to the mission of the Coalition. Sessions will include: "In Their Own Voices: Hearing from Survivors of Human Rights Violations," "Article 15: The Right to the Benefits of Scientific Progress," and "Scientific Associations Serving Humanity: Volunteer Programs of Scientific Associations." Registration will close on January 6, 2010
Tawa hallae, a newly discovered theropod dinosaur from New Mexico has shed new light on the evolution of dinosaurs. After comparing several nearly complete skeletons of Tawa hallae to other Triassic dinosaurs, scientists believe that North American theropods were probably not endemic. Moreover, analysis suggests that dinosaurs likely originated from what is now South America where they diverged into "ornithischians (like Triceratops), sauropodomorphs (like Apatasaurus) and theropods (like Tyrannosaurus rex)" before they spread out across the world.
Nesbitt, Sterling J. et al. "A Complete Skeleton of a Late Triassic Saurischian and the Early Evolution of Dinosaurs" Science 11 December 2009:Vol. 326. no. 5959, pp. 1530-1533