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Thomas Paine

To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead.

Monday, January 14, 2013

14 January - Media 'Accountability' and FOI

Employment Agency Standards (BERR) Poster on B...Employment Agency Standards (BERR) Poster on Barking Road, Canning Town (Photo credit: RMLondon)
University of East AngliaUniversity of East Anglia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
English: The Hubert Lamb Building, University ...English: The Hubert Lamb Building, University of East Anglia, where the Climatic Research Unit is located. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Science and Technology Policy ResearchScience and Technology Policy Research (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Dr. PielkeDr. Pielke (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Met Office and its seasonal problems

"One of the weaknesses of the presentation of seasonal forecasts is that they were issued with much media involvement and then remain, unchanged, on our website for extended lengths of time - making us a hostage to fortune if the public perception is that the forecast is wrong for a long time before it is updated."
In contrast it noted that the "medium range forecast (out to 15 days ahead) is updated daily on the website which means that no single forecast is ever seen as 'wrong' because long before the weather happens, the forecast has been updated many times."
The intense embarrassment over the seasonal calculations prompted the Met Office to rethink its approach to predictions for several months ahead. It stopped publishing a seasonal forecast for the UK for public consumption (although it added a rolling 30-day view to its main forecast page). Instead it decided to put probabilistic seasonal data on the scientific pages of its website where, in the words of a board paper, such figures can be "more targeted towards users who appreciate their value and limitations".
As another document put it, "'Intelligent' customers (such as the Cabinet Office) find probabilistic forecasts helpful in planning their resource deployment."
A communications plan in February 2010 instructed staff that "interested customers" should be told the three-month outlook will be available on the research pages of the website but that "this message should not be used with our mainstream audiences".
Met Office staff clearly feel the general British public find it difficult to cope with probabilistic statements. A board paper from September 2009 states: "Feedback from Met Office surveys suggests that users would rather receive a deterministic forecast."
It adds: "It is considered that the task of educating the UK public in interpreting probabilistic information will be neither a short-term, nor simple task." It compares this unfavourably with the apparently greater ability of the US public to grasp such material.
Its location and temperate climate mean that predicting the British weather is a tricky task - especially when your audience is members of the general British public, who don't like probabilities and who may not be the most "intelligent customers" or able to cope with understanding the uncertainty of the longer-range predictions. Thus the problem for the Met Office is not only the variability of the British weather, it's also coping with the intellectual capacity of the British public. That, anyway, seems to be the view within its staff according to these FOI disclosures.

DfE to face special FOI measures

In September the Department for Education abandoned the controversial legal case it had been fighting to try to establish that emails sent by ministers on personal email accounts were not covered by the Freedom of Information Act.
This position was in defiance of the clear stance adopted by the Information Commissioner Christopher Graham, who had already ruled that all emails sent on government business could fall under FOI, whether an official or private account was used.
Read full article

Climategate: Police file revealed

  Last night BBC Radio 4 broadcast a documentary about the Climategate affair, in which thousands of documents mysteriously obtained from a computer server at the University of East Anglia were released onto the internet in 2009.
The material belonged to some of the world's leading climate scientists and caused them difficulty just before the major United Nations Copenhagen summit on climate change.
Read full article

FOI, fear and personal emails

  "It feels wonderful to work free from fear of FOI!!"
This expression of relief came in an email from a civil servant at the business department discussing government matters - but sent from his personal email account to colleagues at their private email addresses.
Read full article
In 2008 the organisation was trapped in a bitter internal dispute. Some involved felt this threatened its ability to fulfil its nationally important responsibilities and could require government intervention.
According to emails seen by the BBC, Mr Smith was one of a group of Berr and Nominet staff who corresponded about Nominet's problems and Berr's position via their personal email accounts.
Some seem to have been worried that earlier official exchanges on these topics could be publicly revealed through freedom of information requests.
In another email obtained by the BBC, Nominet's senior policy adviser Martin Boyle - who had himself only recently worked at Berr - encouraged his former colleagues still at the government department to delete emails because he suspected "a FOI is just around the corner".

McDonald's may come under info law

  The fast food chain McDonald's could soon find it is having to dispense answers to freedom of information requests as well as the burgers and fries.
The company has been consulted by the government about bringing its role in awarding qualifications under the Freedom of Information Act.
Read full article

 Center for Science and Technology Policy Research

2012 GSA Public Service Award Presented to Roger Pielke, Jr.

Roger Pielke, Jr. is this year’s recipient of the Geological Society of America (GSA) Public Service Award. The GSA Public Service Award was established in 1998 in honor of Eugene and Carolyn Shoemaker and is awarded for contributions that have materially enhanced the public's understanding of the earth sciences, or significantly served decision-makers in the application of scientific and technical information in public affairs and public policy related to the earth sciences. Read more ...

The Science and Politics of Climate Change

On November 29, Roger Pielke, Jr. participated in NPR radio program Ideastream on "The Science and Politics of Climate Change".

CBC Radio Debate: The End of Economic Growth

CBC Radio Program
Roger Pielke, Jr. participated in a debate which aired on CBC Radio on "The Deep Sixed". In the Deep Sixed series, we examine aspects of life we take for granted today that might not survive tomorrow. This week: economic growth. We consider the future of growth with help from Matthew Lazin-Ryder, host of CBC radio's The Invisible Hand, Jeff Rubin, former chief economist for CIBC World Markets and author of The End of Growth, and Roger Pielke Jr, Professor of Environmental Studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder, and author of The Climate Fix.

Roger Pielke, Jr. Receives Grant to Study Role of Philanthropy in Policy and Politics 

Roger Pielke, Jr. recently received a $100k grant from the Nathan Cummings Foundation for a new project on the role of philanthropy in policy and politics. Building on the engagement model first introduced in his book, The Honest Broker, the project’s goal is to help philanthropic organizations better understand how they might contribute to improved decision making through support of analyses that help policy makers make better decisions.


Roger Pielke's Paper on U.S. Tornado Damage to be Published in Environmental Hazards

Roger Pielke, Jr.'s paper "Normalized Tornado Damage in the United States: 1950-2011" (co-authored with Kevin Simmons and Daniel Sutter) will be published in Environmental Hazards. Read more.

Bridges, OST's Publication on Science & Technology Policy

Roger Pielke, Jr. has a column called "Pielke's Perspective" at Bridges. Read the articles or listen to podcasts by clicking on the links below.
Mad Cows, Hurricane Sandy, and Why We Need Strong Science Assessors (Vol. 36, December 2012)
PDF | Website | MP3 download
The Origins of “Basic Research” (Vol. 35, October 2012)
PDF | Website | MP3 download
Science, Sex, and the Olympics (Vol. 34, July 2012)
PDF | Website | MP3 download
The Great American Manufacturing Battle (Vol. 33, May 25, 2012)
PDF | Website | MP3 download
Innovation Policy Lessons of the Vasa (Vol. 32, December 16, 2011)
PDF | Website | MP3 download
Lessons of the L'Aquila Lawsuit (Vol. 31, October 24, 2011)
PDF | Website | MP3 download
The Policy Advisor’s Dilemma (Vol. 30, July 20, 2011)
PDF | Website | MP3 download
Democracy’s Open Secret (Vol. 29, April 18, 2011)
PDF | Website | MP3 download
Beyond the Annual Climate Confab (Vol. 28, December 21, 2010)
PDF | Website | MP3 download  
Success is not Guaranteed (Vol. 27, October 19, 2010)
PDF | Website | MP3 download

Sport: An Academic’s Perfect Laboratory (Vol. 26, July 14, 2010)
PDF | Website | MP3 download
Inside the Black Box of Science Advisory Committee Empanelment (Vol. 25, April 21, 2010)
PDF | Website | MP3 download
Building Bridges between Europe and North America in Science Policy (Vol. 24, December 21, 2009)
PDF | Website
Understanding the Copenhagen Climate Deal: The Fix is In (Vol. 23, October 15, 2009)
PDF | Website | MP3 download
First Reflections from a Workshop on Science Policy Research and Science Policy Decisions (Vol. 22, July 17, 2009)
PDF | Website | MP3 download
Obama's Climate Policy: A Work in Progress (Vol. 21, April 10, 2009)
PDF | Website | MP3 download
An Interview with John H. Marburger, Outgoing US President's Science Advisor (Vol. 20, December 22, 2008)
PDF | Website | MP3 download
The Role of Risk Models in the Financial Crisis (Vol. 19, October 16, 2008)
PDF | Website | MP3 download
Has Technology Assessment Kept Pace with Globalization? (Vol. 18, July 1, 2008)
PDF | Website | MP3 download
Blinded by Assumptions (Vol. 17, April 28, 2008)
PDF | Website | MP3 download
Technology Assessment and Globalization (Vol. 16, December 2007)
PDF | Website | MP3 download
Late Action by Lame Ducks (Vol. 15, September 28, 2007)
PDF | Website | MP3 download
From "Is it True?" to "So What?" (Vol. 14, July 12, 2007)
PDF | Website | MP3 download
The Honest Broker (Vol. 13, April 16, 2007)
PDF | Website | MP3 download
The 2006 US Midterm Elections and Science and Technology Policy (Vol. 12, December 2006)
PDF | Website | MP3 download
Self-Segregation of Scientists by Political Predispositions (Vol. 11, September 2006)
PDF | Website | MP3 download
How to Break Up NASA (Vol. 10, June 29, 2006)
PDF | Website | MP3 download
Science Policy Without Science Policy Research (Vol. 9, April 19, 2006)
PDF | Website | MP3 download
The Role of Science Studies in Science Policy (Vol. 8, December 6, 2005)
PDF | Website
Making Sense of Trends in Disaster Losses (Vol. 7, September 20, 2005)
PDF | Website
Science Academies as Political Advocates (Vol. 6, July 13, 2005)
PDF | Website

Max Boykoff Speaking at The Securitization of Water Discourse Workshop

On December 17, Max Boykoff will be giving a talk "Fight semantic drift: Interrogating public discourse(s) and the spectrum of environmental policy action" at the Securitization of Water Discourse - An International Workshop and Public Event Organized by the Jerusalem Water Group of the Hebrew University as part of the EU CLICO Project. Read more.

 Deserai Anderson Crow

Highlighted Publications

Local Science Reporting Relies on Generalists, Not Specialists (2012)
Citizen Engagement in Local Environmental Policy: Information, Mobilization, and Media (2012)
Policy Diffusion and Innovation: Media and Experts in Colorado Recreational Water Rights (2012)

News Coverage and Access to Contextual Policy Information in the Case of Recreational Water Rights in Colorado (2011)

Local Media and Experts: Sources of Environmental Policy Initiation? (2010)

Policy Entrepreneurs, Issue Experts, and Water Rights Policy Change in Colorado (2010)

Policy Punctuations in Colorado Water Law: The Breakdown of a Monopoly (2010)

Responsive Public Officials and Engaged Citizens: Myth or Reality? A Case Study of Water Rights Policy in Colorado (2009)

Stakeholder behavior and legislative influence: A case study of recreational water rights in Colorado (2008)


Sunday, February 28, 2010

Richard Tol on Working Group 3 of IPCC

Guest posting by Richard Tol

The Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) of Working Group II (WG2) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has been discussed extensively in recent months. A number of errors were discovered. Few documents are without fault. What is surprising, however, is that the IPCC has denied obvious mistakes; and that the errors all point towards alarmism about the impacts of climate change.

The WG3 report did not attract the same scrutiny. This could create the impression that WG3 wrote a sound report. That impression would be false. Just as WG2 appears to have systematically overstated the negative impacts of climate change, WG3 appears to have systematically understated the negative impacts of greenhouse gas emission reduction.

I Still Don’t Think Muzzling Means The Same In Canada As In The U.S.

 I also think it would be better political strategy to separate the issues of media policies for government scientists from the use of scientific evidence for policy.  Because I suspect that the government is controlling all of its employees, and not just its scientists. 

Spill Money Continues to Roll In For Research

Posted by David Bruggeman on January 5, 2013
The Department of Justice recently announced its plea agreement with Transocean Deepwater Inc. (Transocean), the contractor that operated the Deepwater Horizon oil rig on behalf of BP (H/T ScienceInsider).  Deepwater Horizon failed spectacularly in a 2010 spill, and will be paying $1.4 billion in fines and penalties for violations of the Clean Water Act.  Nearly three-quarters of the money in the agreement for BP were designated for various research and restoration efforts.  The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the National Academies received the bulk of this money.

Gulf Oil Spill Dispersants 'Sticking Around,' Long-Term Effects ...

26 Jan 2011 – WASHINGTON — Dispersants injected deep in the Gulf of Mexico to counter an oil gusher ... However, the long-term effects to aquatic life remain unknown..... Overall this whole incidents heart breaking for the ecological toll.

Exxon Valdez oil spill - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

  • Exxon Valdez oil spill

    Exxon conducted successful dispersant test applications on March 25 and 26 .....Three major pathways of long-term impacts emerge: (1) chronic persistence of ...

    Study: Dispersants used in Gulf oil spill could damage marine food ...

    2 Aug 2012 – It dwarfed the 11 million gallons spilled by the Exxon Valdez tanker in Prince ... "Fully understanding the short and long-term impacts of the ...

    "Nearly Every Cleanup Worker from Exxon Valdez Now Dead?"

    Savage breathed in crude oil and dispersant for weeks as she and her coworkers ...That lack of published, peer-reviewed study of the Exxon Valdez cleanup workers ....The EPA has stated over and over that the long term effects of the use of ...

    Corexit 9500: Cause of death for Exxon Valdez oil spill clean up ...

    1 Jul 2010 – July 1, 2010: WKRG.com reports, “EPA Says Chemical Dispersant Is Far... There is so little known about the long term effects of dispersants ...

    Dispersants debate in Gulf spill highlights need for TSCA reform

    www.saferstates.com › Alaska
    17 Jun 2010 – Alaska's Oil Spill Workers Suffered Long-term Effects. The same TSCA law that was in effect in 1989 when the Exxon Valdez oil spill occurred is ...

    Health Effects After Exxon Valdez Went Unstudied - ProPublica

    30 Jun 2010 – The Exxon Valdez disaster was a missed opportunity for answering ...the dearth of science about dispersants -- promises addressing the same ... done any research on long-term health effects on Exxon Valdez workers.


    The persistence of oil in the intertidal zone was surprising, particularly the quantity of liquid oil that was unweathered and trapped about 5-10 cm below the surface where it was anoxic (Short JW, et al., "Slightly weathered Exxon Valdezoil persists in Gulf of Alaska beach sediments after 16 years," Environmental Science & Technology 41[4]: 1245-50, 15 February 2007). The case has been made by Bodkin/Balchey that sea otters forage in the lower intertidal zone where oil and clams overlap; elevated P-450 in the sea otters correlates with where the oil is and where the population has not fully recovered.
    These long-term consequences were surprising and required long-term studies in an area where there were few other confounding factors, such as an adjacent urban area.
    ..... because Exxon Valdez is the most-studied spill in history, there are lessons learned that can be applied to the Gulf. Fauna that live or breath at the surface will be grossly affected (Exxon Valdez is not new with this observation, but it has excellent documentation—500,000 birds and 5,000 sea otters, for example, died in the first weeks of the spill).
    Oil will persist a long time if it gets into anoxic sediments, yet be toxic and damaging if perturbed. Embryos are easily affected by low concentrations of toxic chemicals. Embryos are sensitive to the chemicals and vulnerable to predation. Expect recruitment of the 2010 year class to be among the lowest recorded, and be thankful if they are not.
    The dispersants used in the Gulf of Mexico do not have a comparison with Exxon Valdez as virtually no dispersants were used in the earlier spill. There are a bunch of unknowns to watch out for. And then there are the possible "surprises" (such as herring), where oil in concert with ecosystem changes may create some unpredicted consequences that will be difficult to explain. 
    Given the unprecedented dispersant use in the DWH spill, we need to follow the damages and the biological production in these waters for a number of years so that we can evaluate the pros/cons with dispersant use on this scale for future events.

    What we still haven't learned from the Exxon Valdez disaster ...

    switchboard.nrdc.org › Contributors › Regan Nelson
    24 Mar 2011 – Twenty-two years ago today, the Exxon Valdez oil tanker ran aground ...for 15 of the last 21 years, has still not recovered from the effects of the spill. ...disaster, in terms of the type and amount of oil, the physical environment and ... pristine island in the South Pacific, prove that we still have a long way to go.


    Exxon Valdez in BC?

    Let's all work together to prevent A major oil spill on BC's coast


    The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill - Society of Toxicology

    File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat - Quick View
    assessing their long-term effects on the environment and human health. Members of ...crude oil and natural gas released from the well and dispersants applied to help ...Exxon Valdez tanker accident (1989), but the oil was released at a much ...

    The use of dispersants likely increased the bioavailability of 
    the oil (its ability to be taken up or acted upon by organisms) 
    and enhanced the opportunities for biodegradation

    ( There's an assertion that begs comparison with Anonymous tips : an assumption without verifiable/reliable background. To me, it flies in the face of sense to say a hyper toxic melange has 'enhanced biodegradation'. That's the problem with it ! That possibility has been severely compromised. )

    Lawsuit Launched to Force EPA to Study Oil-dispersant Impacts on ...

    18 Apr 2011 – One Year After Massive Use of Chemical Dispersants on BP Spill,Impacts ... that the long-term effects of dispersants on aquatic life are unknown. ...“From Santa Barbara to Exxon Valdez to the Deepwater Horizon, we've seen ...

    "Lessons gathered from long-term studies of the Exxon Valdez oil spill offer caution in believing that the effects of the Gulf of Mexico spill were minor ... The use of 1.8 million gallons of dispersant, much of it released at the wellhead at depth, ...


    The Aftermath of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill - Seton Hall Law ...

    File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat
    by B Borisov - 2011
    After the Exxon Valdez ran aground in the Prince William Sound and ... respond with short-term measures designed to contain the effects of the event ... personal protective equipment (PPE) and improper response techniques resulted in long-term ... elements: use of chemical dispersants, manual skimming with booms and ...

    BP oil spill: Two years later, dispersantseffects still a mystery ...

    10 Jul 2012 – The health risks of dispersants used in the response to the Deepwater ...to have caused health problems following the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill. ... there is a potential for long-term toxicological effects in the gulf," Cowan said.

    There may be a reason it's a mystery. Students of the situation are dealing with compounds known to defeat Hazmat gear protection....with predictable results.

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