Archive for December 10th, 2009

John Holdren Picks Unscientific America as a Top Read!

By Chris Mooney | December 10, 2009 1:32 pm

Foreign Policy magazine has a new “global thinkers” feature in which they’ve identified the 100 top global thinkers, and then found out what they’re reading.

john_holdren_changegov1At # 34 on the list come Obama’s science czars, John Holdren and Steven Chu–and guess what. Holdren recommends our book Unscientific America!

We’re honored and humbled that the top science policymaker in America has had a look at our work. Dr. Holdren, we really hope you liked it!

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Saving Giants

By Sheril Kirshenbaum | December 10, 2009 11:37 am

A favorite friend of mine at Duke is Dr. Andre Boustany; a marine biologist who is part of the intrepid Tag-A-Giant team and Project GLoBAL. Tag-A-Giant is an initiative made up of an incredible group of ocean scientists from across the U.S. who work with policymakers, fishermen, and the public to maintain and rebuild sustainable bluefin tuna populations–a species facing commercial extinction due to demand for sushi.

But this is a tragic story: Western Atlantic bluefin have declined by 82% since 1970 and it’s estimated there are only remaining 41,000 remaining reproductively mature individuals:

Picture 6

YOU can do something that matters to protect these magnificent giants.

Next March, an upcoming vote on a proposal will take place to stop the international commercial trade of Atlantic bluefin tuna. Unfortunately, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has also proposed a measure to increase the number of bluefin tuna that can be harvested from U.S. waters. (Proposed Rule, RIN 0648-AX85, Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Season and Retention Limit Adjustments). At a time when the world is paying attention to a species in crisis, our country is not exactly setting a good example. Of course, this a complicated issue: Catch limits are presently not being met, but the discrepancy is due to regional changes, an altered population structure, and overall stock depletion. Regardless, the solution is assuredly not to increase pressure on a dwindling stock.

The Pew Environmental Group has issued a letter asking NMFS to extend the comment period on their proposal, consider additional scientific research, and allow the international community to make important decisions regarding the future of management. I hope readers and bloggers alike will join me in signing Pew’s important letter and telling NMFS to slow down this misguided proposal.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Conservation, Marine Science
MORE ABOUT: bluefin tuna, NMFS

Rush Limbaugh's War on Science

By Chris Mooney | December 10, 2009 7:19 am

Rush is ticked because everybody told him to be afraid of swine flu, and now it turns out that as pandemics go, the current strain of swine flu is probably less like a category 3 hurricane, and more like a category 1 or tropical storm. So what does Rush do? He blames the scientists:

We are the targets of lies, damn lies and science and scientists are rapidly becoming as trustworthy as politicians.

Actually, at first it was hard to say how dangerous H1N1 was going to be. Lots of rapid-fire research had to be conducted; the scientists were working their butts off to protect us, and to clarify the picture. Sure, there was some exaggeration, especially from the press–but what do you expect in such a situation of fear and uncertainty?

But Rush doesn’t get the whole uncertainty thing; he speaks, idiotically, of a “phony swine flu virus.” Ask the people who died of swine flu whether it was phony.

The point, which scientists understand but which Rush apparently does not, is that whenever we have a new strain we need to be worried about it–and even if we were relatively lucky with the current strain of swine flu, we are not always going to dodge the bullet.

That Rush uses swine flu to beat up on scientists in this way just shows how little he understands of science–how difficult it is to conduct in real time with lives at stake, and how important it is to ensuring our public health and safety.

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