Periodic Tabloid

Cap and Trade: It Ain’t Over Till . . .

There’s no doubt that the momentum for cap-and-trade legislation in Congress has seriously slowed and could be in trouble. It passed the House with a margin of seven votes and now seems to be stuck in the Senate. The health-care debate has sucked away both time and any remaining reservoir of bipartisanship. Former Republican supporters appear to be bailing. New opponents are entering the fray. Meantime, an August poll taken by Hart Research Associates has shown that the public prefers the concept of a carbon tax over the idea of cap and trade. Is it still possible to go back and make a fundamental change to the regulatory approach?

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World Wide Views on Global Warming

One of the side events at COP15, sponsored by the Danish Board of Technology (DBT), reported on the results of an international deliberation among citizens from 38 countries. Specifically, the DBT organized national partners to recruit approximately 100 of their citizens, reflecting the demographic diversity of each region, to deliberate over climate change policy and advise their home country’s delegations to COP15. All deliberations were held on September 26, 2009 and the DBT immediately made available all the data on the website for World Wide Views on Global Warming. [Full disclosure: I helped to organize the World Wide Views event in Colorado and am attending COP15 through a National Science Foundation grant to study the outcomes and processes of the project].

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The Wrong Way to Close ClimateGate

Today, the scientific leaders of the IPCC held a “side event” at COP15, presenting the main conclusions from their 2007 report (AR 4), updates on their planned Special Reports on renewable energy sources and extreme climate events, and some clues about their approach to AR 5. But the emails took center stage, as everyone in the room had anticipated.

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World AIDS Day 2009

It is just a few days after Thanksgiving, Christmas is a few weeks away, and the economy and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are on the news. If you asked people about a current pandemic, they would be more likely to mention swine flu than AIDS; yet, today is World AIDS Day. Amidst the public-health hype over swine flu, it is easy to allow the AIDS pandemic to move to the back of our minds if it does not affect you directly. There are an estimated 33.4 million people living with HIV who do not have that luxury. The CDC claims that those living with HIV are at no greater risk for swine flu so long as the necessary precautions are taken, which can include the swine-flu vaccine. In 2008 there were 2 million AIDS-related deaths, whereas the WHO says that as of late November, there have been under 8,000 swine-flu deaths. 

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Public Health and Social Networking

Swine-flu vaccine was in the news again. Researchers at Novartis have started testing the vaccine, a necessary step before the public offering. Though the seasonal flu vaccine is proceeding on schedule, the H1N1 vaccine will be delayed until after the regular vaccine is released. By 31 July worldwide fatalities exceeded 1,100, and perhaps the vaccine will prevent the surge expected this fall. As the threat of swine flu slips from the forefront, are public health officials doing enough to stress the importance of vaccinating against the seasonal flu and H1N1?

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Dangerous Chemicals

We rely on a multitude of chemicals for nearly every aspect of contemporary life. In fact it’s hard to conceive of life in the 21st century without the drugs, materials, foods, fuels, and other chemicals that make it all happen. There is also general agreement that society needs to protect citizens from the toxic repercussions of chemicals.

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