Programs: Science and Policy
Science and Technology in Congress
Congress gave final approval on December 19 to an omnibus appropriations bill combining the 11 unfinished FY 2008 appropriations bills. The President’s signature on the measure a week later finally brought the process to a close, nearly three months after the start of the fiscal year. The $550 billion bill, which includes regular funding for domestic programs, emergency funding for veterans programs and other priorities, and $70 billion in emergency war funding, is a sharp retreat from congressional plans over the last several months to add as much as $22 billion to the President's request for domestic spending. Instead of allowing domestic spending to at least keep pace with inflation as planned, appropriators responded to promised and actual presidential vetoes over the extra spending by keeping overall FY 2008 funding for most domestic programs flat with last year.
The federal investment in research and development (R&D) in 2008 declines dramatically from earlier congressional plans. In jettisoning most of the $22 billion in domestic spending added in earlier appropriations bills, the omnibus bill would subtract roughly $2 billion from earlier appropriations for nondefense R&D. The AAAS FY 2008 Appropriations Summary Update shows the federal investment in basic and applied research for FY 2008 gaining just 1.1 percent to $57.5 billion, less than the 2.4 percent expected inflation rate and far less than congressional appropriations seen in committee and on the floor. Total federal R&D (including development) would increase 1.2 percent to $142.7 billion.
Funding for basic research in the physical sciences, a key element of various plans to sustain U.S. economic competitiveness, fall well short of a planned doubling path over the next decade. The omnibus bill would take away most of the requested increases for the three physical sciences agencies in the American Competitiveness Initiative (the Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Science, the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) laboratories) in order to reverse requested cuts in medical research, energy R&D, and environmental research. NSF would see only a 1 percent increase in its R&D funding instead of a larger requested increase, while most National Institutes of Health (NIH) institutes would get flat funding at FY 2007 levels instead of requested cuts. A 15 percent requested increase for DOE's Office of Science is trimmed to just 5 percent to turn requested cuts in DOE's energy R&D programs such as carbon sequestration, biomass, and solar energy into a 23 percent increase. The omnibus bill restores funding for climate change science and other environmental research in several agencies, including R&D in the U.S. Geological Survey (up 3.4 percent to $583 million) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (up 7.6 percent to $573 million). In addition, appropriators would boost climate change research in other agency budgets, including boosts for earth observing satellites and supporting research at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
The omnibus bill contains $927 million in R&D earmarks after an earmark moratorium in 2007, down from $1.5 billion in domestic R&D earmarks in 2006. The R&D earmarks in the 2008 omnibus bill would exceed the $786 million the bill would add to the President's request for nondefense R&D programs. In November, Congress approved a final Department of Defense (DOD) budget with $3.5 billion in R&D earmarks.
-- Kei KoizumiBACK TO TOP
On December 5, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee voted 11-8 to report out favorably America’s Climate Security Act (S. 2191), a bill cosponsored by Senators Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) and John Warner (R-VA) that establishes a cap and trade program for the reduction of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. The 180 amendments proposed prior to the markup led to expectation that the markup would last days. In the end, however, only forty amendments were offered and the Committee was able to complete the markup in one day. Cosponsor Warner was the lone Republican to join the Committee’s eight Democrats and its two independents to send the legislation to the Senate floor.
The bill would establish a complex trading system for emissions credits with the goal of reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions 70 percent by 2050 from covered sources, which represent approximately 80% of total U.S. emissions. The bill would create a Climate Change Credit Corporation to auction permits and distribute the proceeds as specified in the bill for technology development and to address climate change impacts on wildlife, waters, and the poor. Approximately one-quarter of the allowances would initially be auctioned (the rest given away), with that figure growing over time.
The bill would create a Carbon Market Efficiency Board, modeled on the Federal Reserve Board, to regulate the market for carbon allowances. If prices are sustained above a certain threshold, the Board could effectively reduce prices by borrowing credits from future years to expand the number of carbon permits available and allow additional offsets. The bill also includes a provision originally put forth by Senators Bingaman (D-NM) and Specter (R-PA) in S. 1766 that would require countries that are not taking comparable climate mitigation measures to submit emission allowances for certain high-carbon imports, addressing concerns about the impact of the legislation on U.S. competitiveness.
Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) provided for several changes to the Subcommittee version in her Chairman’s mark, which was taken as the underlying bill at the full committee markup. Her changes to strengthen the bill by expanding the sectors covered and speeding up the timetable for auctioning permits, rather than providing them gratis, were made to gain support of members, such as Sen. Sanders (I-VT), who voted against the bill in subcommittee.
Boxer spoke frequently throughout the markup about the “delicate balance” involved in getting the bill passed, a theme that was also present during the subcommittee markup of the bill. This concern led Boxer to oppose a Sanders amendment strengthening requirements for carbon capture and sequestration facilities which she said she supported in her heart. The committee also voted down several other amendments offered by Sanders to move to a 100% auction of permits and to further strengthen the cap in 2050.
Several other amendments were offered that Boxer opposed on the grounds that they would be “bill-killers” or “deal-breakers,” such as an amendment by Sen. Craig (R-ID) which would have opened Yucca Mountain for nuclear waste management. Republicans offered several amendments pertaining to nuclear energy, which Democrats largely opposed with pragmatic aims for moving the bill forward. The minority also targeted natural gas; a failed amendment by Sen. Vitter (R-LA) would have opened up the Outer Continental Shelf to drilling in agreeing states in an attempt to mitigate natural gas price increases associated with the bill.
Several amendments laid out future circumstances under which the Act would have to be halted, but none of these passed. An amendment proposed by Ranking Member Inhofe (R-OK) would freeze allowance reduction if the capacity of U.S. nuclear power plants does not reach 117GW by 2030. Sen. Voinovich (R-OH) offered an amendment to require an Administrator, supported by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, to certify that sufficient technology is available in order for the bill’s program to proceed. Chairwoman Boxer claimed that this type of “command and control” system runs exactly opposite the theory of the bill, which is meant to drive innovation by changing emissions pressures and letting market pressures force technology to follow.
Most of the amendments passed at the full committee markup were non-controversial issues passing by voice vote, such as a Cardin (D-MD) amendment providing funds for agencies to carry out the responsibilities enumerated in the bill or a Barrasso (R-WY) amendment providing greater flexibility to states as to how they choose to use funds from allowances. Two amendments mandating studies by the National Academies of Science passed along party lines: a Klobuchar (D-MN) amendment requires the body to study providing bonus allowances to renewables and a Lautenberg (D-NJ) amendment requires a study on greenhouse gas emissions from airplanes.
Other amendments successfully added included a Sanders amendment providing incentives for low or zero carbon manufacturing and a Lautenberg amendment providing incentives for electricity and natural gas companies to encourage reduced energy usage among consumers. In addition, an adopted amendment by Senator Alexander (R-TN) implements a low carbon fuel standard that would require transportation fuel to contain 5% less carbon by 2015 and 10% less carbon by 2020.
The success of “delicate balance” strategy will most likely be tested in 2008, when the bill is expected to be brought to the Senate floor.
-- Alexis Walker and Kasey White
Just before the Senate Environment and Public Works took up a high-profile measure to mitigate climate change, the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee advanced legislation to adapt to climate change and chart out future research directions.
At the December 4 committee markup, Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) explained that her bill, The Climate Change Adaptation Act of 2007 (S. 2355), is meant to ensure that the government plans for global warming and has the necessary tools to address its impacts. Her concerns are based in part on a recent GAO report that found most agencies are unprepared for the impacts of climate change and do not take global warming into account when managing their lands.
The bill authorizes a 5-year national strategic plan to address the impacts of climate change. Within a year of the release of the national plan, each Executive Branch department and agency must develop a detailed plan for addressing climate change impacts.
The bill also specifically addresses ocean and coastal adaptation plans. The bill directs the Secretary of Commerce to conduct regional assessments on the vulnerability of ocean and coastal resources. The bill would also require national and regional coastal and ocean adaptation plans that include tools to address impacts associated with climate change, ocean acidification and sea level rise. The bill emphasizes interactions with states and local regions, and provides grants for coastal states to develop and begin implementing adaptation programs. The bill authorizes $35,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2009 through 2013 for the ocean and coastal provisions.
The markup featured debate from Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK), who argued that current regional scale projections are inadequate to develop adaptation plans. After agreement on the need for further research on regional-scale models from Senator John Kerry (D-MA) and others, the bill advanced on a voice vote.
The committee passed with no discussion the Global Change Research Improvement Act of 2007 (S. 2307), which was the subject of a November 14 hearing. The bill, sponsored by Senators Kerry and Olympia Snowe (R-ME), restructures the federal Climate Change Science Program, calling for a new 10-year strategic plan. It would also establish a National Climate Service within NOAA and require the Secretary of Commerce to initiate programs on abrupt climate change and to develop standards and measurement technologies for calculating greenhouse gas emissions. The bill would also create a Science and Technology Assessment Service within the legislative branch.
Also passed was the Federal Ocean Acidification Research and Monitoring Act (S. 1581) sponsored by Senators Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Cantwell, which provides for a coordinated federal research program on ocean acidification. As atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide have risen, the oceans have absorbed additional carbon dioxide - changing the ocean chemistry to make the oceans more acidic. The change has effects on marine ecosystems, particularly through its impacts on plankton and coral.
The bill would establish an acidification program within NOAA to implement activities recommended by an interagency committee, including outreach activities, education opportunities, a monitoring system of acidic levels in the ocean, and research grants. The program is authorized at $10 million for fiscal year (FY) 2009, $15 million for FY 2010, $20 million for FY 2011, $25 million for FY 2012, and $30 million for FY 2013, with 40 percent allocated to NOAA and the remaining 60 percent to other agencies.
-- Kasey White
At a December meeting of the National Institutes of Health Advisory Committee to the Director (ACD), NIH Director Elias Zerhouni announced an upswing in the number of first-time applicants that succeeded in obtaining grant money from the agency: the first rise in at least nine years.
Zerhouni’s data showed a significant drop in the number of funded young investigators and successful first-time applications since 2002, the year before NIH’s budget doubling ended. In 2002 21.3 percent of first-time applications led to grants, while in 2006 the percentage dropped to 14.8. In 2007 that number was back up to 18.5.
At the same time the average age of a first time recipient of an R01 grant, which is the agency’s major research grant designation, has risen over a 25-year period from 37 to 42.
NIH officials have repeatedly stated their concerns about recruiting and retaining young investigators, and Zerhouni attributed the rise to recently instituted programs designed to foster new talent. Those programs include the Pathway to Independence Award, a program that comprises both research and training components to better enable new researchers to obtain their first R01, and the New Innovator Award, designed for novel research conducted by scientists at the start of their careers.
The young-investigator quandary is just one of many issues that may be addressed with NIH’s efforts this year to enhance its peer review system. Though the agency’s peer review system is widely considered a success, the changing nature of the research enterprise has put stress on the system. Grant applications are on the rise, and high workloads make quality reviewers difficult to recruit; in turn there has been a reported decline in the prestige and camaraderie associated with serving on review panels, also called study sections.
NIH has taken a number of steps to examine possible changes to the system. NIH named two working groups, one internal and one external, to examine the peer review system and suggest changes. It released a request for information, which garnered more than 2600 responses, and held five public meetings for stakeholders to chime in.
Keith Yamamoto, an executive vice dean at the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine who co-chairs the external working group, presented two ideas at the ACD meeting. One is a review process resembling that of an editorial board, where reviewers outsource the technical aspects of the evaluation to outside experts and then assess the merits of the grant application on its idea and impact. The aim is to reduce the size and workload of the study sections without sacrificing technical expertise. Another is a separation of research into standard fare (“innovative”) and paradigm-shifting “transformative” research, which would make up 1 percent of R01s. The latter category would be investigator-focused, like the MacArthur “genius grants,” rather than project-focused.
What is the next step for NIH? The working groups will conclude their synthesis of the feedback from stakeholders and plan to recommend pilot projects implementing some of the ideas in February.
-- Erin Heath
Energy Package Signed into Law
After months of debate, a congressional energy package was finally signed into law (Public Law No: 110-140) on December 19. The Senate passed the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (H.R.6) on December 13th with a vote of 86-8 and the House cleared the Senate bill by a vote of 314-100 on December 18.
The final version of the bill no longer includes a House-passed provision that would have required investor-owned electric utilities to produce 15 percent of their energy from renewables. After two failed cloture votes, the Senate also dropped a tax provision that would have allotted $21.8 billion dollars worth of tax incentives for renewable energy and energy efficiency. The provision, which made it through the House, was particularly contentious due to the fact that the bulk of the funds required to finance these incentives would have come from scaling back tax incentives for oil and natural gas producers. The White House had made it clear that it would veto the bill if the tax provision was not shelved. Democratic leaders vowed to try again next year to enact these provisions, as many of these tax incentives are set to expire in 2008.
Key provisions that remained in the bill include an increase in Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards from approximately 25 to 35 miles per gallon by 2020. To assist the auto industry and gain the support of House Energy and Commerce Chair John Dingell (D-MI), the measure provides grants and loan guarantees for manufacture of efficient vehicles and their parts. Also included was the renewable fuel standard (RFS) that calls for annual ethanol and biofuel production to reach 36 billion gallons by 2022, with at least 21 billion gallons from advanced biofuels. This provision was a high priority for the Energy and Natural Resources Committee's Ranking Member Pete Domenici (R-NM), who sought to insert the RFS provision into the Farm Bill when delays facing the energy conference prompted fears that the bill would not pass. The RFS amendment has since been removed from the Farm Bill.
H.R. 6 also calls for new efficiency standards for appliances, provides incentives for energy efficient buildings, and will phase out the use of conventional light bulbs. Under the bill’s mandates, the federal government will make all of its buildings carbon neutral by 2030 through the use of energy efficiency and clean energy.
The 2007 Senate version of the Farm Bill, which passed on December 14th by a vote of 79-14, also includes a number of alternative fuels and energy provisions.
Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) adamantly pushed to extend a 50 cent per gallon tax credit for coal-to-liquids production to 2010 during a Finance Committee markup of an agricultural tax bill (“Heartland, Habitat, Harvest, and Horticulture Act of 2007”) that became part of the Farm Bill. A compromise was finally struck as Sen. Bunning and Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) agreed that a tax credit would only be provided if coal-to-liquids producers capture at least 50 percent of the carbon dioxide they emit, with the requirement rising to 75% in 2010. Also approved were amendments to reduce the 51 cents per gallon tax credit for ethanol to 46 cents per gallon once production volumes reach 7.5 billion gallons and to extend the expiration date of the tariff on foreign ethanol to December 31, 2010.
Other provisions in the Farm Bill include an additional tax credit for cellulosic fuel production and the creation of a program that will buy surplus sugar for ethanol production. The bill also authorizes a biofuels life-cycle emissions study. The House passed its version of the farm bill (H.R. 2419) by a vote of 231-191 in July. The two chambers are now in conference to reconcile differences.
-- Lina Karaoglanova, Kasey White, and Erin Heath
Underground Carbon Dioxide Storage: Frequently Asked Questions (RL34218)
This report examines issues related to geologic carbon capture and storage (CCS) and identifies knowledge gaps that need further study. The report identifies reservoir types with the most potential for successful carbon dioxide (CO2) storage and estimates their storage capacity. These include unmineable coal seams, saline reservoirs, and oil and gas fields. The report also addresses the question of CO2 leakage and how to avoid it. While decades of experience in CO2 injection for improved oil recovery provides insight for improved CO2 storage techniques, long-term storage and leakage issues have yet to be resolved. The report also details the risk of CO2 leaks to humans, including unconsciousness and asphyxiation, and how such leaks can best be detected and avoided. Lastly, the report outlines existing CCS demonstration projects and suggests that large-scale injection projects taking place within the next several years should shine some light on knowledge gaps.
Selected Issues Related to an Expansion of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) (RL34265)
This report considers whether U.S. ethanol producers can meet goals set forth in renewable fuel standard (RFS) proposals that aim to boost U.S. biofuel production.The existing RFS requires 7.5 billion gallons of biofuel by 2012; the new proposals require 36 billion gallons by 2022. The Midwest produces the majority of nation’s biofuel supply, which is primarily corn-based. The report suggests that proposed RFS goals will only be met if additional corn crop is used for biofuel production. Consequently, less corn will be available for food and feedstock. The report also identifies other biofuel feedstock, including sugarcane and cellulose, which show promise but are currently not commercially viable. The report also outlines the potential issues related to infrastructure and distribution and uncertainty risks and costs associated with an “advanced biofuel” mandate.
U.S. Civilian Space Policy Priorities: Reflections 50 Years After Sputnik (RL34263)
In 1957 the Soviet Union launched the first satellite, Sputnik, and challenged the U.S. in space innovation, resulting in large-scale U.S. investment in science and technology. This report suggests that U.S. innovation and investment in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) now lacks direction and recommends that the U.S. develop a new strategy and national goal for space policy. Options include a focus on manned space exploration, unmanned discovery missions, or international efforts. The report discusses these options and notes that poll results show that space exploration is not a priority for the American people.
Climate Change: Issues Underlying Negotiations at the Bali Conference of Parties (RL34260)
This report provides background information on the climate change negotiations and discussion that took place in Bali, Indonesia on December 3-14 for United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The report discusses the scientific and economic aspects of climate change and its impacts. It also discusses the Kyoto Protocol and the progress signatories have made in reaching their targets.
State Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Comparison and Analysis (RL34272)
This report considers how a variety of greenhouse gas (GHG) emission policies impact different states. Specifically, this report compares states’ GHG emissions intensity, a ration of emissions to economic output. The report outlines the states with the highest and lowest emissions intensities and their determinants. These differences suggest that if Congress enacts policy to regulate emissions, states’ reactions will vary. For instance, states that use high-carbon intensive energy, such as coal, are likely to face higher energy prices.
Biofuels in the 2007 Energy and Farm Bills: A Side-by-Side Comparison (RL34239)
This bill compares the biofuel provisions in the Senate and House versions of the 2007 farm and energy bills, which include H.R. 3221, H.R. 6, H.R. 2419, and S. 2302, with existing laws. Key provisions include the renewable fuel standard (RFS); changes to the alternative fuel infrastructure tax credit; grants for biofuel production, research, development, and deployment; reauthorization of U.S. Department of Energy’s biofuel research and development; and various studies on a number of issues related to biofuel commercialization.
Toxic Chemical Releases: EPA Actions Could Reduce Environmental Information Available to Many Communities (GAO-08-128)
Facilities that use designated toxic chemicals are required by law to submit either a simple (if eligible) or detailed Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) form to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) every year. In 2006, in an effort to reduce the filing burden on companies, the EPA expanded the criteria for facilities eligible to submit the simple form. This report explores whether this decision has reduced the burden on companies and how this impacts toxics information available to the public. The GAO found that the TRI is widely used by a variety of government agencies, states, researchers, and the public. As a result of the new policy, over 3,500 facilities no longer need to report details about their toxic releases. The report also found that those who use the TRI would be significantly affected, as over 22,000 reports will no longer be available. In addition, the GAO suggests that the burden reduction of the policy, as estimated by the EPA, is very likely to be an overstatement.
Measuring Our Nation's Natural Resources and Environmental Sustainability: Highlights of a Forum Jointly Convened by the Comptroller General of the United States and the National Academy of Science (GAO-08-127SP)
This report summarizes the conclusions of a Forum held by the GAO and the National Academies to establish an understanding of national environmental accounts. Such accounts provide a framework for policymakers on the status, use, and value of natural resources and environmental assets, as well as on expenditures on environmental protection and resource management. The report provides potential criteria to help in developing environmental accounts, lessons learned from the international community, and strategies for overcoming challenges.
- Environmental Data Management at NOAA: Archiving, Stewardship, and Access (ISBN-10: 0-309-11209-5)
This report identifies nine principles that will help NOAA develop and improve its data management. These include: (1) environmental data should be archived and made accessible, (2) data-generating activities should include adequate resources to support end-to-end data management, (3) environmental data management activities should recognize user needs, (4) effective interagency and international partnerships are essential, (5) metadata are essential for data management, (6) data and metadata require stewardship, (7) a formal, ongoing process, with broad community input, is needed to decide what data to archive and what data not to archive, (8) an effective data archive should provide for discovery, access, and integration, and (9) effective data management requires a formal, ongoing planning process.
- Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing Research at NIOSH (ISBN-10: 0-309-11579-5)
This report summarizes the National Research Council’s review of the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety’s (NIOSH) agriculture, forestry, and fishing research program (AAF program). On a 5 to 1 scale point system (5 being the highest), the National Research Council awarded the AFF program a 4 for its research relevance and a 3 for its impact. The report outlines the program’s limitations and provides recommendations for program improvements. Limitations include a lack of leadership and long-term strategic planning, need for better coordination, and inadequate worker population surveillance. The report also identifies three categories of research that the AFF program should consider adding to its portfolio.
- Assessment of the NASA Astrobiology Institute (ISBN-10: 0-309-11497-7)
This report reviews the work and progress of National Aeronautic and Space Administration’s (NASA) Astrobiology Institute and provides recommendations for future improvement. The National Research Council concludes that the Institute has fulfilled its original mandate: it has successfully promoted interdisciplinary science, trained the next generation of Astrobiologists, and leveraged its funds to effectively impact K-12 education. The Institute has not, however, been able to provide a leadership role in NASA’s selection or execution of agency missions. It has also had mixed experiences in utilizing information technology to collaborate on research efforts.
- NASA's Elementary and Secondary Education Program: Review and Critique
This report reviews the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) pre-college education program, identifying program limitations and opportunities for improvement. The report concludes that while the program is fairly effective in raising awareness about NASA’s science and engineering, its impact on learning is less effective. In addition, NASA’s current data and feedback collection system is inadequate, which hinders effective evaluation of the program. The report recommends that NASA improve and increase its coordination with other agencies involved with science, technology, engineering, and math education and suggests that NASA partner with expert groups outside the agency to improve its understanding of K-12 education.
- ASTRA, the Alliance for Science & Technology Research in America
Riding The Rising Tide: ASTRA's 14-Point Action Agenda for Our Innovation Future...
This report provides policymakers 14 specific recommendations for sustainable U.S. competitiveness and innovation. The recommendations are aimed at strengthening federal research and development (R&D) investment, developing a workforce ready for an innovative economy through STEM education, and creating a business environment that supports innovation and competitiveness. The report notes that the new global economy will require the U.S. to compete with rising new economies, including India and China. The U.S. must increase the number of U.S. citizens that pursue science, technology, and innovation if the America wants to continue to compete in the global market. The report suggests that a favorable R&D environment will be a vital factor in keeping and increasing the number of innovative firms in the country.
- Center for American Progress
Progressive Growth: Transforming America’s Economy through Clean Energy, Innovation, and Opportunity
This report outlines a national investment plan that bases economic growth on a low-carbon economy. The report calls for heavy investment in low-carbon technologies and implementation of policies encouraging a low-carbon economy, encouraging innovation to increase productivity and job growth, and growing the global middle class with the help of international institutions. The report notes that the strengthening global economy will open up new markets for U.S. companies. The report also recommends that the U.S. restore its leadership in science, innovation, and technology and improve its workforce to compete and succeed in an innovative, new age.
- United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
Science, Technology and Gender
This report looks at the gender disparities women face around the world in the science and technology (S&T) sector. The report provides a clear breakdown of the percentage of women in the world that make up the S&T fields and shows a need to improve the current situation with more opportunities and support. The report identifies the policies and efforts currently being made to improve this situation. Women and your girls are often not given the proper science education, which puts them at disadvantage. The report also identifies strategies that policymakers can implement to improve this situation, on a national and international scale. The report suggests that more research needs to be conducted to understand all the underlying reasons for gender disparities throughout the world, including the political, economic, and social factors.
- ITIF, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation
Boosting European Prosperity through the Widespread Use of ICT
This report investigates European productivity growth, which has recently declined. U.S. productivity has increased by an average of 2.7 percent a year since 1994, while European productivity increases have dropped in recent years from 2.3 to 1.4 percent. The report attributes his decline to a lack of investment by Europe in information technology and communications use. The report suggests that the EU invest more in information technologies and encourage its use through economic mechanisms such as tax incentives and tariff reductions. The report also suggests that the EU reduce regulations that limit or hinder information technology use.
- Resources For the Future
Assessing U.S. Climate Policy Options: A Report Summarizing work at RFF as part of the inter-industry U.S. Climate Policy Forum
With the aim of providing objective analysis of critical design issues in federal legislation to address climate change, Resources for the Future organized the U.S. Climate Policy Forum in May 2006. This convening of 23 companies from across the spectrum of the U.S. economy informed RFF researchers in compiling 15 issue briefs on concerns in developing climate policy. Across a spectrum of issues, all of the briefs point to the need for a price on greenhouse gases in order to address the significant resources that will be necessary for appropriate action on climate change. The reports also focus on the need for balancing a long-term strategy for managing environmental risk with the ability to adjust over time to new information and developments.
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AAAS Disappointed with Final FY 2008 Research and Development Funding Levels
The American Association for the Advancement of Science has expressed its disappointment with the FY 2008 federal research and development funds approved by Congress. (December 20, 2007)
AAAS Encourages Action on Climate Change
On November 30, AAAS sent a letter to Members of the Environment and Public Works Committee "to take action now to enable a debate on the Senate floor on how best to mitigate and adapt to climate change." The letter draws upon the AAAS Board Statement on Climate Change. AAAS then thanked key Members for their efforts following the passage of a cap-and-trade bill by the committee. (December 14, 2007)
Warming of the ocean and ocean acidification from rising carbon dioxide levels are expected to compromise the ability of corals to grow, resulting in less diverse reef communities and carbonate reef structures that fail to be maintained. Climate change also exacerbates local stresses from declining water quality and overexploitation of key species, driving reefs increasingly toward the tipping point for functional collapse.
Hoegh-Guldberg, O, et al., “Coral Reefs Under Rapid Climate Change and Ocean Acidification,” Science, 14 December 2007, Vol. 318. no. 5857, pp. 1737 – 1742.