Friday, 5 October 1990 Washington, DC
1. U.S. SIDES WITH DEVELOPING NATIONS ON GLOBAL CLIMATE POLICY.
Last week in Geneva, at an organizational meeting to prepare for
upcoming Second World Climate Conference, the US led an effort to
keep the scientific statement that will come out of the Confer-
ence from being annexed to the Ministerial Declaration. The SWCC
was originally planned as a scientific conference, but it was
decided that a Ministerial portion should be included. Now it
seems that the US, together with such nations as Brazil and Saudi
Arabia, want to leave off the scientific portion, arguing that it
would be "confusing." Moreover, a State Department telegram backs
the developing countries in opposing consideration of forestry
issues. A spokesperson insisted that the State Department has no
idea what conclusions might come from the scientific sessions,
but the main item on the agenda is a report of the International
Panel on Climate Change. That oft-cited report unequivocally
concludes that "There is a natural greenhouse effect that already
keeps Earth warmer than it would otherwise be. Human activities
are substantially increasing atmospheric concentrations of green-
house gases." The US steadfastly maintains its "Sununu stance,"
that any action should await more research
(WN 20 Apr 90).
2. EXPORT CONTROLS CONTINUE TO THREATEN SCIENTIFIC COMMUNICATION.
The Export Administration Act, which has been used to deny Soviet
bloc nations access to Western advances in technology since 1979,
is due to expire this month. The law bans the export of technol-
ogies that appear on a control list and applies to scientific and
technical information as well as goods. Now that the Soviet bloc
has disintegrated, Congress is preparing to lift the ban on many
items, such as advanced personal computers. The Optical Society
has raised a new concern: a federal court ruled in 1988 that
criminal penalties could be imposed under the export laws without
proving that the technology exported is covered by the control
list. The Optical Society argues that the decision puts American
scientists at risk whenever they make a scientific presentation--
unless they first obtain an export license. The Optical Society
stated its position in an amicus brief filed with the US Supreme
Court, but the high court declined to reconsider the lower court
decision. The Optical Society is now urging Congress to correct
the situation in the reauthorized Export Administration Act.
3. CANDIDATES SOUGHT FOR APS CONGRESSIONAL SCIENTIST FELLOWSHIPS.
The program offers qualified physicists an opportunity to spend a
year in Washington working in a congressional office. In the 17
years of the program, about half of the APS Congressional Scien-
tist Fellows have elected to remain in Washington, where they
continue to have an important influence on science policy issues.
Fellows will receive a maximum stipend of $40,000, plus allowance
for relocation and travel, for the fellowship year beginning 1
Sept 91. The deadline for completed applications is 15 Feb 91.
Anyone interested should contact Dr. Mary Shoaf at 212-682-7341.