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Context of '2006: Tibetan Glaciers Melting Fast'

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Frederick Seitz, a former tobacco company scientist and former National Academy of Sciences president, writes and circulates a letter asking scientists to sign a petition calling upon the US government to reject the Kyoto Protocol. The petition was authored by an obscure group by the name of “Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine.” [Seitz, 1998] Seitz includes in his letter a report arguing that carbon dioxide emissions do not pose a threat to the global climate. The report—which is not peer reviewed—is formatted to look like an article from the esteemed Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The organizers of the petition will claim that some 17,000 scientists signed the petition. But it is subsequently discovered that few credentialed climate scientists added their signature to the list. Moreover, the petition contains the names of several fictional characters. The magazine Scientific American analyzes a random sampling of the signers and concludes that only about one percent of the petition signatories claiming to have a Ph.D. in a climate-related field actually do. And in a highly unusual move, the National Academy of Sciences issues a statement disavowing Seitz’s petition and disassociating the academy from the PNAS-formatted paper. [Union of Concerned Scientists, 2007, pp. 16 pdf file]

Entity Tags: Frederick Seitz, Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine

Timeline Tags: Global Warming

The American Academy of Arts and Sciences publishes a study, titled “War with Iraq: Costs, Consequences, and Alternatives,” in which one of its authors, D. Nordhaus of Yale University, writes that the Bush administration’s planned invasion of Iraq and post-invasion occupation could cost anywhere from $99 billion to more than $1.9 trillion over a decade. The study notes that the macroeconomic cost of such a military operation could be as high as $400 billion as a result of a disruption in oil markets and an ensuing recession. [Kaysen et al., 12/2002 pdf file; Associated Press, 12/6/2002]

Timeline Tags: Events Leading to Iraq Invasion, Iraq under US Occupation

2006: Tibetan Glaciers Melting Fast

The Chinese Academy of Sciences reports that Tibet’s glaciers are melting at an increasingly quick pace and will decrease in size by 50 percent every decade. Over the last 20 years, the country’s average temperature has increased by 2 degrees Fahrenheit. The plateau’s 46,298 glaciers, which cover almost 60,000 square miles, provide water to 300 million people in China alone. According to the academy, the melting of the glaciers will result in an “ecological catastrophe.” The region will suffer more droughts and sandstorms and the tundra will turn into a desert. Many of the world’s largest rivers will be devastated. “The melting glaciers will ultimately trigger more droughts, expand desertification and increase sand storms,” says Dong Guangrong, a spokesperson for the academy. [Xinhua News Agency, 2/5/2006; Chinese Academy of Sciences, 2/27/2006; Independent, 5/7/2006]

Entity Tags: Chinese Academy of Sciences

Timeline Tags: Global Warming

A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) argues that “the present warming and associated glacier retreat are unprecedented in some areas for at least 5,200 years.” As evidence, it notes the widespread melting of mountain glaciers, the uncovering of plants that were buried thousands of years ago, and a change in the chemical isotopes of ice cores taken from seven mountain glaciers over the past 30 years, including the Huascaran and Quelccaya ice caps in Peru, the Sajama ice cap in Bolivia, and the Dunde and Puruogangri ice caps in China. According to the study’s authors, the ice samples also indicate that there was a sudden cooling of the climate five millennia ago. [Independent, 6/27/2006] Additional evidence of the sudden climate change has come from Mount Kilimanjaro; African lakes; Greenland and Antarctic ice cores, lead author Lonnie Thompson notes in an interview with the Washington Post. “There are thresholds in the system,” he says. “There is the risk of changing the world as we know it to some form in which a lot of people on the planet will be put at risk.” [Washington Post, 6/27/2006]

Timeline Tags: Global Warming

The National Academy of Sciences releases a study finding that NASA’s earth science budget has declined 30 percent since 2000. NASA’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which oversees a large portion of the government’s climate research, has been plagued with enormous cost overruns and schedule delays with its premier weather and climate mission. The report—two years in the making—warns that half of the scientific instruments on the country’s environmental satellites are expected to cease working by 2010. Among other recommendations, the study suggests that the government increase its spending on researching the potential impacts of climate change such as ice-sheet melting, sea-level changes, and extreme weather events; restore support for efforts to improve NASA’s “capability to observe natural hazards and environmental changes”; and fund other efforts that would improve weather forecasting. Co-chairs Berrien Moore III of the University of New Hampshire and Richard Anthes of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research tell the Washington Post that NASA needs about $500 million a year restored to NASA’s earth science program, “essentially a return to the budgets during the Clinton administration,” the Post notes. [Washington Post, 1/16/2007; National Academy of Science, 1/16/2007]

Entity Tags: National Academy of Sciences, Richard Anthes, Berrien Moore III

Timeline Tags: Global Warming

Microbiologist Dr. Henry Heine, a former colleague of alleged anthrax attacker Bruce Ivins, appears before a National Academy of Sciences panel tasked with reviewing the FBI’s scientific work on the investigation. Dr. Heine testifies that it would have been impossible for Ivins to have produced the number of anthrax spores alleged without his colleagues noticing. Dr. Heine also indicates that biological containment measures were inadequate in Ivins’s lab to prevent escape of anthrax spores. [New York Times, 4/22/2010]

Entity Tags: Bruce Ivins, United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, Henry Heine

Timeline Tags: 2001 Anthrax Attacks

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