The Year in Science, 2009

By Chris Mooney | December 23, 2009 11:31 am

It wasn’t for nothing that I asked these questions yesterday (and some of the responses were very helpful). Over at the Science Progress blog, I’ve now done a full piece about what happened in science in 2009, which includes observations like these:

It was a year of complete U-turns in science policy. President Barack Obama reversed George W. Bush’s dramatic restrictions on embryonic stem cell research, and the first 13 new stem cell lines were approved for federally funded research since 2001. Meanwhile, the Obama Environmental Protection Agency moved to regulate carbon dioxide emissions, finding that they do indeed endanger the public.

It was also the year of the first-ever passage, by a 219-212 margin in the U.S. House of Representatives, of a cap-and-trade bill that would cut domestic greenhouse gas emissions—but not the year for any parallel action in the U.S. Senate.

It was the year that everyone seemed to own an iPhone and use the word “app” in regular conversation. It was the year Twitter went from being a mere annoyance to the epitome of web-based communication.

It was a year that saw the very first Nobel laureate scientist assume a cabinet position, in the figure of U.S. Secretary of Energy Stephen Chu.

It was the year of….many, many, many other things, some funny, some outrageous, some profound. Read here for the whole list, and leave comments about anything you think may have been left out!

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Culture, Miscellaneous, Updates

Comments (7)

  1. Read the Code

    It was also a year in which our very own Chris Mooney got mentioned in a Climategate email!

    Apparently, one of the warm-mongers suggests that “someone like Chris Mooney” should be informed of a particular issue they were having with a skeptical scientist.

    What do you suppose he meant by that phrase?

  2. Eric the Leaf

    My nomination for the best science book of 2009: “Blackout: Coal, Climate and the Last Energy Crisis” by Richard Heinberg.

  3. sHx

    “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”

  4. toasterhead

    1. Read the Code Says:
    December 23rd, 2009 at 11:46 am

    a skeptical scientist.

    As opposed to a non-skeptical scientist? What kind of ridiculous doublespeak is that? All scientists are skeptical, by definition.

    Unfortunately, as Read the Code’s comment attests, I fear 2009 will be remembered more for the swifthack attacks on science than any advances that have been made.

  5. Gaythia

    Wading through “head count” in the Washington Post, I read that David Michaels was finally confirmed for his post at OSHA on Dec 3rd. Paul Anastas, nominated for Assistant Administrator for Research and Development at the Environmental Protection Agency, has apparently not yet been confirmed.

    Obama can’t be said to have succeded in turning 180 degrees from Bush on science policy as long as we have a Senate that is able to bottle up these sorts nominations and thereby attempt to prevent the effective implementation of the ideals of the new administration. I don’t believe that it could be argued that Paul Anastas is not qualified.

    I’d like to see a spotlight on these sorts of nominations focused on getting them confirmed.

  6. Lance

    “With “ClimateGate,” a smear against climate researchers…”

    So that’s your spin on it eh, a smear campaign? Part of your imaginary “war on science” (Christ are you still selling that crap?)

    Have you no journalistic integrity? To dismiss the whole thing as a “smear” shows that you are either egregiously negligent in your duty as a journalist or so politically motivated as to be actively engaged in deceit.

    So are both Penn State University and the University of East Anglia engaged in a “smear” by conducting investigations and having Phil Jones step down?

    You are becoming more and more irrelevant.


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About Chris Mooney

Chris is a science and political journalist and commentator and the author of three books, including the New York Times bestselling The Republican War on Science--dubbed "a landmark in contemporary political reporting" by and a "well-researched, closely argued and amply referenced indictment of the right wing's assault on science and scientists" by Scientific American--Storm World, and Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future, co-authored by Sheril Kirshenbaum. They also write "The Intersection" blog together for Discover blogs. For a longer bio and contact information, see here.


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