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Scientific Alliance Newsletter

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...
03.11.2006
- Encouragement of UK science - Over-fishing versus fish farming - The Stern review - The New Scientist Encouragement of UK science It is widely reported today that Tony Blair has made a speech encouraging the country to “stand up for science”. This is good. It is important that our political leaders recognise that scientific knowledge underpins the very fabric of modern societies. However, we have a paradoxical situation where science continues to be overlooked or undervalued – even distrusted –  by many.   The good news is that the present government has overseen a significant...
28.10.2006
- Personal searching or scientific censorship? - Wood-burning stoves in the developing world - The Stern review - Correction Personal searching or scientific censorship? The ever-inventive Google is now offering the Google Custom Search Engine. Users can set up a bespoke service which only looks at certain websites, for example, or customises and presents the results in particular ways. Since we all know that there is an awful lot of dross on the Internet, at first sight this looks eminently sensible. After all, most of us look only at the first few results of a search, or fine-tune our...
21.10.2006
- Environmental issues - Benefits of fish "outweigh risks" - Environmental impact of the hydrogen economy - Carbon offsetting Environmental issues Readers of the last few editions of this newsletter could be forgiven for thinking that the Scientific Alliance was a single issue organisation, dealing only with climate change science and policy. This is actually far from the truth, but this has been the issue hitting the headlines, and we feel we have a legitimate contribution to make to the debate. So, no apologies for focussing on this recently, but we should set the record straight.  ...
13.10.2006
- Science Education - Ecological debt or ecological exuberance? - Business opportunities in climate change mitigation   First, an apology to our readers for the lack of a newsletter last week. However, we hope to continue to publish weekly, with a few exceptions.   Science Education The new CCSE science curriculum – in common with many other subjects, seemingly in a continual state of flux – is now under attack from several quarters. The BBC gives a good roundup: Critics attack new science GCSE. Sir Richard Sykes, Baroness Warnock and others have weighed in to condemn the new “...

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