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Scientific Alliance Newsletter

19.01.2007
- Climate change: two views of Stern - Energy security - Atomic scientists get in on the act   Climate change: two views of Stern Once again, climate change is the focus of our attention. This week, Sir Nicholas Stern personally launched the book version of his eponymous review called, rather unadventurously “The economics of climate change”. At the same time, a double-barrelled critique of his work became available on the internet, prior to its publication in the respected journal World Economics later this month. The contrast could hardly be greater.   On Monday, a capacity audience...
11.01.2007
- Europe's new energy policy - The business response to climate change - Admitting the truth about organic food - Shooting the messenger Europe’s new energy policy This week saw the publication of the European Union’s latest energy policy proposals. They covers a range of issues, including opening up the market to more competition, setting binding targets for the use of biofuels and, perhaps most importantly, assuring energy security. Many of the proposals are very sensible, in particular the encouragement of new nuclear generating capacity as an important part of the mix, and the move to...
05.01.2007
- Are polar bears in danger? - GM crops - The year ahead Are polar bears in danger? The polar bear is an iconic species which has been the centre of some attention recently. In particular, the US Department of the Interior (DOI) has proposed that it be put on the list of endangered species. At first sight, this is the thin end of a very large wedge, with the American government taking the first step towards acceptance that global warming is a real issue which can be mitigated by major reductions in the output of carbon dioxide. And this is how the story has generally been reported, for...
21.12.2006
- Key issues in 2006 Key issues in 2006 Looking back over press coverage this year, there are a number of issues which have emerged or reappeared. Crop biotechnology, wind power, nuclear power, biodiversity, pesticides and other chemicals figure high on that list, but there is one issue which has dominated the environmental debate: climate change. Indeed, this is surely now the defining concern of the early 21st century. Next February sees the publication of the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report, and it seems inevitable that a high profile debate will continue for some time to come...
15.12.2006
- REACHing for the impossible? - Climate records - Wind farms: beauty or the beast? - Spud-U-Don't Like? REACHing for the impossible? REACH – the Registration, Evaluation and Approval of Chemicals regulation – has this week been approved by the European Parliament on its second reading. The vote was on a compromise position previously reached with the Council, and the regulation now has to receive formal approval from Council before implementation starts next year. The new regulatory regime has been many years in the making, and has been fiercely debated by the stakeholders. At one stage...
08.12.2006
- More optimism this week - Rethinking the coach - More evidence that mobile phones are not a health risk - Pale green from Brown More optimism this week Last week, we covered the statement by James Lovelock that he expected “global heating” (his words) to decimate the human race, leaving only perhaps half a billion of us inhabiting favoured, island locations. Although a catastrophe by anyone’s standards, this represents a form of optimism in the context of Lovelock’s uniquely pessimistic view of how humans have caused harm to Gaia.   Some have taken a far more optimistic and pragmatic...
01.12.2006
- The future of European science - Meanwhile, in the UK... - New recruit at the Gates Foundation - Apocalyptic visions and optimism The future of European science The European Parliament has this week approved the plan for the next wave of EU-funded research. Framework Programme 7 (FP7 in typical Brussels jargon) will commit €54 billion to a range of R&D initiatives from 2007 to 2013. The programme is due to be formally adopted by Council on 5th December. The fact that FP7 has not even been finally agreed yet may come as a surprise to many people who are interested but not directly...
24.11.2006
- Nairobi: progress or failure? - The Big Ask: Friend or FOE? - Farming, pharming and fuel - Edible cottonseed: the end justifies the means - An apology Nairobi: progress or failure? Kenya’s capital was the venue for this year’s major international meeting on climate change, from 6th to 17th November. In the unique language of UN diplomacy, it was officially referred to as the Twelfth Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and Second Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (or UNFCCC COP 12 and Kyoto Protocol COP/MOP 2). Unpicking the language...
17.11.2006
- Alternative fuels - Thoughtful comment on climate change - Seeing the wood for the trees - No more wires? Alternative fuels With the present focus on climate change policy, alternative energy sources of various sorts have also been much in the news. Nuclear fusion, for one, is the subject of an article in the BBC’s Green Room series (Nuclear fusion: a necessary investment). The author is Kaname Ikeda, nominated as director general of the Iter project (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor) to be constructed near Marseille. This represents the next step on the road towards a...
10.11.2006
- Chaotic world of climate truth - European power blackout/IEA report - Air travel of the future Chaotic world of climate truth This was the headline for last week’s piece in the Green Room series from the BBC (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/6115644.stm). It presents an interesting viewpoint from Mike Hulme, director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research. Despite being very much in the mainstream of climate change research and believing that the evidence points to continued warming and negative consequences, Professor Hulme criticises those activists who have contributed...

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