Friday, 29 January 1999 Washington, DC
1. CLIMATE CHANGE: GEOPHYSICISTS GET IT FROM BOTH SIDES.
A statement on Climate Change and Greenhouse Gases was released
yesterday by the American Geophysical Union. It concluded that
"the present level of scientific uncertainty does not justify
inaction." The triple negative reflects months of watering down
an initial draft that called on all nations to limit emissions of
(WN 20 Mar 98).
That didn't stop opponents of
the Kyoto accord from accusing the AGU of succumbing to political
correctness, even as environmental groups complained that AGU was
shirking its responsibility to provide guidance to policy makers.
The press conference was jammed with reporters who were starving
for something other than the Senate trial to report on. Finding
little red meat in the statement they tried hostile questions,
but the AGU panel refused to be drawn beyond the wording in the
statement. Vice President Gore seems to have watered down his
position as well. He made no mention of the Kyoto Protocol in
commenting on the AGU position. He simply called for increased
funding for research into climate change, renewable energy
technologies and energy efficiency.
2STAR WARS II: PRESIDENT CLINTON GETS IT FROM BOTH SIDES.
In the Senate, Thad Cochran (R-MS) found time to introduce S.269,
The National Missile Defense Act of 1999: "It is the policy of
the United States to deploy as soon as is technologically
possible an effective National Missile Defense system capable of
defending the territory of the United States against a limited
ballistic missile attack (whether accidental, unauthorized, or
deliberate). "Secretary of Defense Cohen says that's the
Administration's policy as well
(WN 22 Jan 99),
but speaking to
the Conservative Political Action Conference, Senator Jesse Helms
(R-NC) accused the President of insincerity: "Watch them. They
will seek to delay, postpone, obfuscate and derail an ABM vote."
He vows to force a vote on the treaty and "toss ABM into the
dustbin of history." Ironically, arms control advocates are
accusing the President of being sincere. They believe NMD will
reignite the arms race: Russia will halt dismantlement of its
missiles and China will build up its strategic missile forces.
3. FREE SPEECH: PHYSICS JOURNAL PRICE SURVEY UPHELD BY COURT.
More than ten years ago, Henry Barschall, a retired physics
professor, compared the cost effectiveness of physics journals,
based on the cost to libraries per printed character compared to
the frequency of citation. APS journals came out on top -- Gordon
and Breach journals on the bottom. Gordon and Breach, claiming
the survey constituted unfair competition, brought suit against
Barschall, APS and AIP in France, Germany, Switzerland and the
U.S. A Federal Judge ruled in 1994 that the ranking constituted
"protected free speech." On Monday, the U.S. Court of Appeals
upheld his decision in a victory for free speech and physics.