Barack Obama, Climate Crusader: Major Policy Shift Coming, But Quick Enough for Treaty by December 2009?
msnbc.com staff and news service reports
Dec. 12, 2008
Al Gore has a competitor for title of America's climate crusader. His name is Barack Obama, and of all his immediate foreign policy changes none will mark as big a shift from the Bush administration as his approach to cutting carbon emissions, the leading cause of global warming.
"President Obama will be like night and day compared to President Bush," Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., told reporters this week at U.N.-sponsored climate talks in Poznan, Poland.
Obama's administration will mark a new era in U.S. climate policy, one eagerly awaited by countries and environmental groups that believe global warming is the most urgent problem facing the world today.
[NO. BASED ON OBAMA'S VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT JOE BIDEN, UNOFFICIAL CLIMATE CZAR, AL GORE & HIS OFFICIAL CABINET CHOICES - A VIRTUAL ENVIRONMENTAL 'JUSTICE LEAGUE' - HILLARY CLINTON AS SECRETARY OF STATE, BILL RICHARDSON AS SECRETARY OF COMMERCE, STEVEN CHU, AS SECRETARY OF ENERGY, HARVARD UNIVERSITY PHYSICIST JOHN HOLDREN AS PRESIDENTIAL SCIENCE ADVISER and OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY MARINE BIOLOGIST JANE LUBCHENCO AS HEAD OF THE COMMERCE DEPARTMENT'S NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION - IT WILL MARK A CONTINUATION OF THE PRIOR CLINTON-GORE ADMINISTRATIONS' CLIMATE CHANGE POLICIES! SEE: BELOW]
The Bush administration has steadfastly refused to sign on to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which requires the 37 industrial nations that have agreed to the pact to reduce emissions to just below 1990 levels by 2012.
Obama wants to cut U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases back to 1990 levels by 2020. [THIS WOULD SIGNIFICANTLY RAISE THE COST OF LIVING FOR ALL AMERICANS DURING A PROFOUND ECONOMIC CRISIS]. Bush rejected the Kyoto Protocol. U.S. emissions now run 17 percent above 1990 levels, and his policies would allow them to keep rising until 2025.
Obama's approach would set a cap on emissions but also allow companies to share emission allowances if one company runs over its limit and another is below its ceiling. Bush opposed such mandates and instead promoted finding technological solutions.
Obama also is betting that pumping public money into "green jobs" tied to climate and energy policies can help pull the country out of recession.
The Senate and House are controlled by Democrats, so a green stimulus and a cap-and-trade program are on a fast track.
Obama has nominated an alternative fuels guru, Nobel-award winning physicist Steven Chu, to be the nation's energy secretary, and is creating a White House office on energy and environment to be run by Clinton-era EPA chief Carol Browner.
Buzz in the air... (cont'd below following commentary)
[WE SURMISE THAT THE 'BUZZ IN THE AIR' IS LIKELY CAUSED BY THE WHIRLING SOUND OF BLACK HELICOPTER BLADES FROM THE ADVANCE-TEAM 'COMING TO TAKE THEM AWAY HA-HAAA!]
["'They're Coming To Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!' is a hit 1966 novelty song by Napoleon XIV (aka Jerry Samuels)...The song was a worldwide hit. Kim Fowley recorded a cover version produced by Mark Wirtz in 1966 which charted in Denmark and New Zealand. Shortly after, German act Malepartus II released "Ich glaab, die hole mich ab" (I think they're coming to get me) in Hessian dialect on Telefunken's record label. Mexico's Los Ovnis recorded the song "Napoleon XIV" in Spanish the same year. Tiny Tim has allegedly recorded a cover of this song, but the only copy is said to be in the possession of author Samuels himself...Released on Warner Bros. Records, the bizarre depiction of mental illness became an instant hit in the United States that summer, reaching number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 pop singles chart...The song, mostly set to a rhythm tapped out on a snare drum and tambourine, deals with mental illness, seemingly brought about by the singer's lover. The singer speaks rhythmically rather than singing the lyric, over a sparse, multitracked percussion track dominated by drum kit and tambourines with a siren sounding in and out of the "chorus". According to Samuels, the vocal glissando, signifying the vocalist's plunge into insanity, was achieved by Samuels manipulating tape recording speeds, a variation on the technique used by Ross Bagdasarian in creating the original Chipmunks novelty hits. Supposedly, the song's thumping beat derives from or was inspired by the Scottish marching song "The Campbells Are Coming".]
'THEY'RE COMING TO TAKE ME AWAY' LYRICS:
Remember when you ran away
And I got on my knees and begged you
Not to go because I'd go berserk?
You left me anyhow and
Then the days got worse and worse
And now you see I've gone completely
out of my mind,
They're coming to take me away,
Haha, they're coming to take me away,
Ho ho, hee hee, ha ha,
To the funny farm
Where Life is Beautiful all the time
And I'll be happy to see
Those Nice Young Men
In their Clean White Coats
And they're coming to take me AWAY,HA HAAAAA
You thought it was a joke,
and so you LAUGHED, YOU LAUGHED
When I had said that losing you
Would make me flip my lid,
You know you laughed.
I HEARD you laugh, you laughed
And laughed and laughed
And then you left,
And now you know I'm Utterly Mad
They're coming to take me away,
Haha, they're coming to take me away,
Ho ho, hee hee, ha ha,
To the Happy Home with Trees and Flowers
And Chirping Birds and basket weavers
Who sit and smile and
Twiddle their thumbs and toes
And they're coming to Take me Away,
I cooked your food,I cleaned your house,
And this is how you pay me back
For all my kind unselfish loving deeds
Well, you just wait,
They'll find you yet,
And when they do, they'll put you in
the ASPCA, you mangy MUTT,
(chorus 1 trailing into mumbles in the distance)
(continued from above article)
"As I walk around the hallways, I hear lots of different dialects and languages — and then 'Obama, Obama, Obama,'" Gustavo Silva-Chavez, a climate analyst with Environmental Defense, said during the Poznan talks. "So definitely a lot of the negotiators here understand that it's the end of the Bush era and the beginning of the Obama era, and they're very excited about that."
Brice Lalonde, the chief French delegate to the talks, said Europe was "thrilled" with Obama's promises to pursue renewable energies. If the U.S. commits itself to ambitious environmental goals, other countries will be forced to take bold steps themselves, he said.
Obama has promised to invest $15 billion each year to support private-sector efforts toward clean energy, arguing that tackling climate change can create millions of new jobs as the U.S. invests in technologies to promote solar and wind power, biofuels and cleaner coal-fired plants.
[BUT THE CAPED CLIMATE CRUSADER WILL BE HARDPRESSED TO DELIVER THE MILLIONS OF NEW 'GREEN-COLLAR AMERICAN JOBS' HE HAS PROMISED. UNFORTUNATELY, THE FACTS SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES: WINDMILLS, COMPACT FLUORESCENT LIGHTBULBS, & ELECTRIC CAR BATTERIES ARE ALL PRIMARILY MANUFACTURED IN ASIA & EUROPE AND MUST BE 'OUTSOURCED'. BY DEFINITION, 'GREEN-COLLAR JOBS' ARE JOBS THAT CANNOT BE OUTSOURCED!]
[See: Holy Guacamole Batman! Those Electric Auto Battery Manufacturing Jobs You Promised Are NOT American GREEN, But Rather Foreign RED, BLUE & ORANGE!! ITSSD Journal on Energy Security, at: http://itssdenergysecurity.blogspot.com/2008/12/holy-guacamole-batman-these-electric.html ; How Many New Obama Administration-Created American Jobs Will it Take to Change an Imported Chinese Compact Fluorescent Lightbulb?, ITSSD Journal on Energy Security, at: http://itssdenergysecurity.blogspot.com/2008/12/how-many-new-obama-administration.html ].
But there are obstacles. With a recession and financial bailouts at home, Obama might not get as much funding as he'd like.
Activists also fear Obama will not be able to quickly reduce the U.S. appetite for coal and oil, increase the fuel efficiency of American cars or fight powerful economic interests like the oil industry.
[THE CAPED CLIMATE CRUSADER WILL HAVE TO BALANCE THE NEED TO SECURE THE COUNTRY'S ENERGY SECURITY WITH HIS CONSTITUENTS' ZEAL TO SAVE THE PLANET AND BANKRUPT THE COUNTRY IN ORDER TO DEFEAT THE FORCES OF EVIL - AMERICA'S ENERGY PROVIDERS & CONSUMING PUBLIC].
The talks on where to go after the Kyoto pact expires in 2012 are behind schedule due to bickering. Participants had hoped to have a new roadmap by December 2009.
Kerry, in Poznan as soon-to-be chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said it was "absolutely essential" that China, which has overtaken the United States as the world’s top carbon dioxide emitter, gets more involved in combating global warming to win U.S. endorsement of any new treaty.
China, however, insists that rich nations should first make deep cuts at home. India happens to back China on this.
The transitional state of U.S. politics hasn't helped speed things up, either.
"The immediate effect is a stalling of discussions," said Kim Carstensen, the World Wildlife Fund's chief official on climate change. "It's a sort of black hole. But in the larger picture, we are definitely hopeful."
Jake Schmidt, international climate policy director for the Natural Resources Defense Council, shares that longer-term view. Obama "gets global warming," he said, "and understands that its solutions are also at the heart of solving our financial situation through the creation of millions of green jobs."
msnbc.com's Miguel Llanos, The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.
by Shikha P
December 19, 2008
While Harvard University physicist, John Holdren, is named as the presidential science adviser, Jane Lubchenco, marine biologist at Oregon State University, would be the head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Their appointments are due to be announced tomorrow.
John Holdren has deep understanding of global environmental changes and energy technologies and his work has always focused on nuclear proliferation and science and technology policies. After serving as the chairman of the board of directors of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and as the director of the Woods Hole Research Center, now he is all set to address global warming issues more vigorously under Obama’s patronage.
Jane Lubchenco would further strengthen the flagship operation with her immense knowledge in environmental science and marine ecology, as she becomes one of the key science advisers of the president. She would also happen to be the first woman to hold that position.
Holdren and Lubchenco have argued consistently for a mandatory limit on greenhouse gas emissions to prevent cataclysmic climate change, Bush administration always turned a deaf ear.
In October, Lubchenco was quoted as saying, “The Bush administration has not been respectful of the science. But I think that's not true of Republicans in general. I know it's not.”
Bush’s administration has always been criticized for being anti-science. Nobel laureate David Baltimore, former president of the California Institute of Technology commented, “the Bush administration has been the most remarkably anti-science administration that I've seen in my adult lifetime".
On the other side, Barack Obama has always made it his agenda to reverse Bush’s global climatic notions. “This is our generation’s moment to save future generations from global catastrophe by creating a market for clean-burning fuels that can stop the dangerous transformation of our climate,” said Obama in 2007, while unveiling his global warming plan during his campaign in California.
Keeping up to his agenda, Obama has acted wisely by including prominent scientific personalities to his administration. Holdren and Lubchenco may work with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Commerce Secretary Bill Richardson to reform global warming policies of the government for better solutions.
Holdren and Lubchenco have started churning best possible solutions for controlling the catastrophic climatic changes by involving best scientists worldwide. Holdren has been attending international climate talks and has helped coordinate a statement on the subject from scientific academies around the world. Lubchenco has also formed the Aldo Leopold Leadership Program to teach mid-career scientists how to participate in public policy debates.
Obama picks climate specialist as science adviser
By Ross Colvin
Sat Dec 20, 2008
Holdren is a Harvard University physicist who has focused on the causes and consequences of climate change and advocated policies aimed at sustainable development. He has also done extensive research on the dangers of nuclear weapons.
Obama pledged to put a priority on encouraging scientific breakthroughs in areas such as alternative energy solutions and finding cures to diseases, as he announced the pick of Holdren and other top science advisers in the Democratic weekly radio and video address.
"Today, more than ever before, science holds the key to our survival as a planet and our security and prosperity as a nation," Obama said. "It's time we once again put science at the top of our agenda and worked to restore America's place as the world leader in science and technology."
"From landing on the moon, to sequencing the human genome, to inventing the Internet, America has been the first to cross that new frontier," Obama said.
Obama said that government has played an important role in encouraging those breakthroughs and could do so in the future.
The Bush administration has had a rocky relationship with the scientific community and was at times accused by critics of ignoring scientific evidence in its efforts to make political points on issues such as global warming.
Holdren, who teaches at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, will head the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. He is a former president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Obama, who takes office on January 20, this week finished naming Cabinet secretaries for his incoming administration.
On Friday, he introduced his choices of Illinois Republican congressman Ray LaHood to head the Transportation Department and California Democratic Rep. Hilda Solis to be secretary of labor.
After working for weeks in his hometown of Chicago to assemble his team, Obama leaves on Saturday morning for Hawaii for a Christmas vacation with his family.
Obama has named Steven Chu, winner of the 1997 Nobel Prize in physics who was an early advocate for finding scientific solutions to climate change, to head the Energy Department.
He has also tapped former Environmental Protection Agency head Carol Browner for a new post that will coordinate White House policy on energy and climate change.
In addition to the pick of Holdren, Obama also announced that marine ecologist Jane Lubchenco of Oregon State University would be his nominee for head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Obama also named two people to work with Holdren to lead the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, also known as PCAST.
One of them, Eric Lander, is founding director of the Broad Institute, a collaboration of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University that focuses mapping the human genome.
The other is Harold Varmus, a former director of the National Institutes of Health who won a Nobel Prize for his studies on cancer and genetics. For the past nine years, Varmus has served as president and chief executive officer of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York.
(Writing by Caren Bohan; Editing by Eric Beech)
By John Lauerman and Brian K. Sullivan
Dec. 19 (Bloomberg) -- Harvard University Professor John P. Holdren, President-elect Barack Obama’s pick as his top science adviser, will push for action on climate change and embryonic stem cell research in the White House.
Holdren, 64, a professor of environmental policy, will be named to the post in a radio address by Obama tomorrow, Harvard, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, said today in a statement. His appointment to the position of assistant to the president for science and technology depends on confirmation by the U.S. Senate. Obama assumes office Jan. 20.
Holdren, former president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, is a specialist in energy and climate change who advised Al Gore on the documentary “An Inconvenient Truth.” His appointment signals a sharp about- face from President George W. Bush’s approach to greenhouse gases and global warming.
“The disruptions and its impacts are growing more rapidly than anyone expected, even just a few short years ago,” Holdren said in an interview last year. “There is already widespread harm.”
Holdren uses a U.S. map in global warming presentations to show areas of Cape Cod and Florida that would vanish if temperatures continue rising. “Global warming” is too mild a term to describe climate changes happening now, he said.
“It implies something gradual, something uniform, something quite possibly benign, and what we are experiencing is none of those,” Holdren said. “It is rapid in relation to the capacity of societies and eco-systems to respond, it is highly non- uniform, and it is certainly not benign.
Calls and e-mails to Holdren’s office today weren’t returned.
Scientists and former colleagues praised Holdren’s experience and familiarity with top scientific issues. Obama’s pick of Holdren and the appointments of Steven Chu as Energy Secretary and Jane Lubchenco as National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration chief complete a “science dream team for the new administration,” Peter Frumhoff, director of science and policy for the advocacy group Union of Concerned Scientists, said in a statement.
Holdren is “absolutely the right person at the right time,” said Alan Leshner, chief executive officer of the AAAS, the science advocacy group where Holdren formerly served as president. “He’s an expert not only in energy climate and environment but also in national security, nuclear arms and nuclear energy.”
William K. Reilly, the Environmental Protection Agency administrator under President George H. W. Bush and now a San Francisco-based senior advisor to the private equity firm TPG, praised Holdren as a “world-class scientist” who is “extremely knowledgeable about energy research needs and quite critical of the decline in support for energy research since the late- 1970s.”
Reilly and Holdren co-chair the National Commission on Energy Policy, a bipartisan group of energy experts that released energy policy recommendations in 2004.
Holdren is the Teresa and John Heinz Professor of Environmental Policy at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and director of the Science, Technology, and Public Policy program in the School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. He admonished politicians last year to show stronger leadership on climate change, which the AAAS called a “growing threat to society.”
“None of the great interlinked challenges of our time -- the economy, energy, environment, health, security, and the particular vulnerabilities of the poor to shortfalls in all of these -- can be solved without insights and advances from the physical sciences, the life sciences, and engineering,” Holdren said in today’s statement.
Holdren’s views on another controversy, embryonic stem cell research, also are likely to run contrary to those of Bush, who has restricted U.S. funding to minimize the number of embryos destroyed to create new colonies of cells.
Holdren has already said he thinks the research should advance without the funding restrictions, said David Baltimore, the 1975 Nobel Prize winner who is now a biology professor at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.
“I’m a great fan of John,” Baltimore said yesterday in a telephone interview. “He’s an extraordinary thinker and he also has just the right kind of background to play a role in the energy area that’s so important right now.”
Truth-Tellers [OR TRUE-BELIEVERS???]
Jonathan Lash, president of the Washington-based environmental advocacy group World Resources Institute, cited the choices of Holdren and Chu as signs the new administration will aggressively act on climate change and other scientific issues.
“They will tell the president and the American people the truth about the scientific findings on our most important challenges,” Lash said. “Each of them has shown a deep understanding of the risks created by human pressure on our environment, and each has experience and skill in helping policy makers understand and base their decisions on science.”
Holden’s appointment also was cheered by George Daley, an embryonic stem cell researcher at the Harvard-affiliated Children’s Hospital in Boston.
By John P. Holdren
THE FEW climate-change "skeptics" with any sort of scientific credentials continue to receive attention in the media out of all proportion to their numbers, their qualifications, or the merit of their arguments. And this muddying of the waters of public discourse is being magnified by the parroting of these arguments by a larger population of amateur skeptics with no scientific credentials at all.
Long-time observers of public debates about environmental threats know that skeptics about such matters tend to move, over time, through three stages. First, they tell you you're wrong and they can prove it. (In this case, "Climate isn't changing in unusual ways or, if it is, human activities are not the cause.")
Then they tell you you're right but it doesn't matter. ("OK, it's changing and humans are playing a role, but it won't do much harm.") Finally, they tell you it matters but it's too late to do anything about it. ("Yes, climate disruption is going to do some real damage, but it's too late, too difficult, or too costly to avoid that, so we'll just have to hunker down and suffer.")
All three positions are represented among the climate-change skeptics who infest talk shows, Internet blogs, letters to the editor, op-ed pieces, and cocktail-party conversations.
The few with credentials in climate-change science have nearly all shifted in the past few years from the first category to the second, however, and jumps from the second to the third are becoming more frequent.
All three factions are wrong, but the first is the worst. Their arguments, such as they are, suffer from two huge deficiencies.
First, they have not come up with any plausible alternative culprit for the disruption of global climate that is being observed, for example, a culprit other than the greenhouse-gas buildups in the atmosphere that have been measured and tied beyond doubt to human activities. (The argument that variations in the sun's output might be responsible fails a number of elementary scientific tests.)
Second, having not succeeded in finding an alternative, they haven't even tried to do what would be logically necessary if they had one, which is to explain how it can be that everything modern science tells us about the interactions of greenhouse gases with energy flow in the atmosphere is wrong.
Members of the public who are tempted to be swayed by the denier fringe should ask themselves how it is possible, if human-caused climate change is just a hoax, that:
The leaderships of the national academies of sciences of the United States, United Kingdom, France, Italy, Germany, Japan, Russia, China, and India, among others, are on record saying that global climate change is real, caused mainly by humans, and reason for early, concerted action.
This is also the overwhelming majority view among the faculty members of the earth sciences departments at every first-rank university in the world.
All three of holders of the one Nobel prize in science that has been awarded for studies of the atmosphere (the 1995 chemistry prize to Paul Crutzen, Sherwood Rowland, and Mario Molina, for figuring out what was happening to stratospheric ozone) are leaders in the climate-change scientific mainstream.
US polls indicate that most of the amateur skeptics are Republicans. [IS THIS THE TYPE OF 'SCIENCE' ('POLITICAL' & 'SOCIAL' SCIENCE) THAT DR. HOLDREN REPRESENTS???] These Republican skeptics should wonder how presidential candidate John McCain could have been taken in. He has castigated the Bush administration for wasting eight years in inaction on climate change, and the policies he says he would implement as president include early and deep cuts in US greenhouse-gas emissions. (Senator Barack Obama's position is similar.)
The extent of unfounded skepticism about the disruption of global climate by human-produced greenhouse gases is not just regrettable, it is dangerous. It has delayed - and continues to delay - the development of the political consensus that will be needed if society is to embrace remedies commensurate with the challenge. The science of climate change is telling us that we need to get going. Those who still think this is all a mistake or a hoax need to think again.
John P. Holdren is a professor in the Kennedy School of Government and the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Harvard and the director of the Woods Hole Research Center.
By Juliet Eilperin and Joel Achenbach
Washington Post Staff Writers
President-elect Barack Obama has selected two of the nation's most prominent scientific advocates for a vigorous response to climate change to serve in his administration's top ranks, according to sources, sending the strongest signal yet that he will reverse Bush administration policies on energy and global warming.
The appointments of Harvard University physicist John Holdren as presidential science adviser and Oregon State University marine biologist Jane Lubchenco as head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which will be announced tomorrow, dismayed conservatives but heartened environmentalists and researchers.
Like Energy Secretary-designate Steven Chu, who directs the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Holdren and Lubchenco have argued repeatedly for a mandatory limit on greenhouse gas emissions to avert catastrophic climate change. In 2007, as chairman of the board of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Holdren oversaw approval of the board's first statement on global warming, which said: "It is time to muster the political will for concerted action."
In October, Lubchenco told the Associated Press that she believed public attitudes on climate change were shifting, adding: "The Bush administration has not been respectful of the science. But I think that's not true of Republicans in general. I know it's not."
The Bush administration's political appointees have edited government documents to delete scientific findings and to block scientists' recommendations on issues involving climate change, endangered species, contaminants in drinking water and air pollution.
"The Bush administration has been the most remarkably anti-science administration that I've seen in my adult lifetime," Nobel laureate David Baltimore, former president of the California Institute of Technology, said in an interview. "And I do think that there will be a sea change in the Obama administration with the respect shown for the findings of science as well as the process of science."
But Bush's science adviser, John H. Marburger III, challenged that assessment. "There are stupid and foolish things that have been perpetrated by employees of the federal government in the executive branch, but it doesn't mean that the president is anti-science," he said. "The president is getting blamed for every little thing that happens that people don't like in the administration."
Marburger added that because of the president's opposition to federal funding of embryonic stem cell research and mandatory curbs on greenhouse gas emissions: "It was easy [for opponents] to infer that he was negative toward science. . . . The president respects science; he likes science."
Alden Meyer, director of strategy and policy for the Union of Concerned Scientists, predicted that Obama's latest nominees would work with a Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and a Commerce Secretary Bill Richardson to change how government addresses global warming.
"You can see the elements coming together," Meyer said. "It means you've got people in key places across the administration that get the urgency of the climate issue and get the need for aggressive policy to move climate solutions forward, both in the U.S. and internationally."
But Holdren's reported selection inspired no joy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a free-market advocacy group that denounces global warming "alarmists" and opposes many environmental laws. Myron Ebell, director of energy and global warming policy at CEI, said, "I think he's a very bad choice. His views are extreme, they're not based in fact, and he's a ranter."
Of the overall Obama team, Ebell said, "They will pursue an anti-energy agenda that is designed to constrict energy supplies and raise energy prices."
Lubchenco did not draw the same level of criticism from conservative groups as Holdren yesterday, but she represents just as radical a departure for NOAA, which oversees marine issues as well as much of the government's climate work. While NOAA has traditionally favored commercial fishing interests in policy disputes, Lubchenco has consistently called for conservation measures to safeguard ocean ecosystems in the face of industry opposition.
Joshua S. Reichert, managing director of the Pew Environment group, said NOAA officials have too often set aside scientific considerations when deciding how much fish to extract from the sea. "For too many years, politics has played a greater role in fisheries management than science," he said. "This appointment carries with it the hope that this may soon change."
Holdren and Lubchenco have pushed other scientists to play a more active policy role. Holdren has attended international climate talks and helped coordinate a statement on the subject from scientific academies around the world. Lubchenco founded the Aldo Leopold Leadership Program to teach mid-career scientists how to participate in public policy debates.
Andrew Rosenberg, who was deputy director of NOAA's Marine Fisheries Service under President Bill Clinton and is professor of natural resources and the environment at the University of New Hampshire, said that by selecting Lubchenco -- someone who is a respected researcher and an active player in national policy discussions -- "it's saying that science agencies have a role in policy."
Staff researcher Madonna Lebling contributed to this report.
By Kenneth R. Weiss
December 18, 2008
Jane Lubchenco, one of the nation's top marine ecologists, has been picked to lead the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, sources say, an indication that President-elect Barack Obama wants to restore integrity to the science-based agency buffeted by politics in recent years.
Her appointment, and the likely appointment of John Holdren of Harvard and Woods Hole Research Center, signals a U-turn in the federal government's approach to greenhouse gases and global warming. Holdren, rumored to be named Friday as Obama's science advisor, has likened our current situation to "being in a car with bad brakes driving toward a cliff in the fog."
The two anticipated appointments have been met with relief -- and even glee -- among scientific and environmental organizations. Their members have spent a half-dozen years hand-wringing over the politicization of science and worrying about lost opportunities to preserve remnants of nature and the resiliency of the planet.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which makes up the largest portion of the Department of Commerce, does much of the federal government's research on global warming, as well as regulate fisheries. Lubchenco, among her various efforts to protect the abundance and diversity of marine life, has led a team of researchers at Oregon State University studying the link of climate change devastating sea life in coastal waters off the Pacific Northwest.
“Our oceans are experiencing the effects of global climate change –- melting sea ice, acidification, and coral loss," said Vikki Spruill, president of the Ocean Conservancy. "It is especially reassuring to have a world-renowned ecologists as NOAA administrator who knows where the biggest environmental challenge of our lifetime is taking place: beneath the sea and along our coastlines."
Both Lubchenco and Holdren have fat resumes, with a long list of degrees and awards, and both previously held the post of president of the American Assn. for the Advancement of Science.