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Coffee Party Science
News, information, and actions in defense of science as a method for predicting outcomes and making policy.
Curated by Eric Byler
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China Continues Pouring Cash Into Basic Science

China Continues Pouring Cash Into Basic Science | Coffee Party Science | Scoop.it

The Chinese government's budget for basic research is set to increase by more than a quarter this year.

According to Science magazine's Science Insider website, a draft budget published last week pledges more than 32 billion yuan (£3.3 billion) for basic research in 2012.

This represents a 26 per cent increase on last year's budget.

Overall, Chinese state spending on science and technology is set to increase by more than 12 per cent to nearly 230 billion yuan.

The news follows a succession of lavish increases for Chinese science funders in recent years.

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Natural Born Drillers

Natural Born Drillers | Coffee Party Science | Scoop.it

by PAUL KRUGMAN, New York Times columnist


To be a modern Republican in good standing, you have to believe — or pretend to believe — in two miracle cures for whatever ails the economy: more tax cuts for the rich and more drilling for oil. And with prices at the pump on the rise, so is the chant of “Drill, baby, drill.” More and more, Republicans are telling us that gasoline would be cheap and jobs plentiful if only we would stop protecting the environment and let energy companies do whatever they want.


Thus Mitt Romney claims that gasoline prices are high not because of saber-rattling over Iran, but because President Obama won’t allow unrestricted drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Meanwhile, Stephen Moore of The Wall Street Journal tells readers that America as a whole could have a jobs boom, just like North Dakota, if only the environmentalists would get out of the way.


The irony here is that these claims come just as events are confirming what everyone who did the math already knew, namely, that U.S. energy policy has very little effect either on oil prices or on overall U.S. employment. For the truth is that we’re already having a hydrocarbon boom, with U.S. oil and gas production rising and U.S. fuel imports dropping. If there were any truth to drill-here-drill-now, this boom should have yielded substantially lower gasoline prices and lots of new jobs. Predictably, however, it has done neither.


Why the hydrocarbon boom? It’s all about the fracking. The combination of horizontal drilling with hydraulic fracturing of shale and other low-permeability rocks has opened up large reserves of oil and natural gas to production. As a result, U.S. oil production has risen significantly over the past three years, reversing a decline over decades, while natural gas production has exploded.


Given this expansion, it’s hard to claim that excessive regulation has crippled energy production. Indeed, reporting in The Times makes it clear that U.S. policy has been seriously negligent — that the environmental costs of fracking have been underplayed and ignored. But, in a way, that’s the point. The reality is that far from being hobbled by eco-freaks, the energy industry has been given a largely free hand to expand domestic oil and gas production, never mind the environment.


Strange to say, however, while natural gas prices have dropped, rising oil production and a sharp fall in import dependence haven’t stopped gasoline prices from rising toward $4 a gallon. Nor has the oil and gas boom given a noticeable boost to an economic recovery that, despite better news lately, has been very disappointing on the jobs front.


As I said, this was totally predictable. [MORE]

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Lawrence Lessig: Money Corrupts Science Just as Money Corrupts Congress

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Not in My Backyard: Are "Smart Meters" Sound Environmental Technology or a Serious Health Hazard?

Not in My Backyard: Are "Smart Meters" Sound Environmental Technology or a Serious Health Hazard? | Coffee Party Science | Scoop.it

by LEAH SPITZER, Coffee Party USA


Just as the tobacco industry covered up their findings oh so many years ago, so now is the smart meter industry. Touted as the next great thing in environmental technology, smart meters are now being installed in at least 23 states across the country and all around the world.


What are smart meters? Smart meters are the new digital utility meters that are transmitting your usage directly to the utility companies through wireless technology. The environmental benefits, according to the industry, are less trucks on the street (no need for meter readers) and the ability to charge you more for peak hours thereby encouraging you to reduce your usage.


The problem? They are mandatory, they are unsafe and they are hazardous to the environment. And we are getting misinformation from the industry with regard to usage, frequency and risks. What they don’t want you to know is that the risks far outweigh the rewards.


While industry funded studies show them to be safe, many non-industry funded studies are showing just the opposite. From the abstract by Daniel Hirsch, “the failure to take into account duty cycles of cell phones and microwave ovens and the failure to utilize the same units (they should compare everything in items of average whole body exposure) the cumulative whole body exposure from a Smart Meter at 3 feet appears to be approximately two orders of magnitude higher than that of a cell phone, rather than two orders of magnitude lower.” This abstract then goes on to show a graph which reflects that smart meters emit 40 times the the cumulative whole body exposure of cell phones. [MORE]

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Health irrelevant, tobacco firms tell court

Health irrelevant, tobacco firms tell court | Coffee Party Science | Scoop.it

by LENORE TAYLOR, Sydney Morning Herald


BIG tobacco companies have told the [Australia] High Court they ''deny the content'' of documents lodged by the federal government making the case that smoking causes lung cancer.


In a hearing on the tobacco companies' court case against the government's new plain packaging laws, the companies have tried to block ''barrow loads'' of documents setting out evidence that smoking causes cancer on the basis that they were not relevant to the constitutional point being argued.


But two of the companies, Philip Morris and Imperial Tobacco, also took issue with some of the content of the documents. [MORE]


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Big tobacco heads to court; up to $27B at stake - CTV.ca

Big tobacco heads to court; up to $27B at stake - CTV.ca | Coffee Party Science | Scoop.it

Canada's biggest tobacco companies are taking on a group of Quebec smokers in a landmark case with up to $27 billion in damages and penalties at stake.

The trial begins Wednesday in a Montreal courtroom where a number of smokers will argue that companies weren't upfront about the dangers of cigarette use, leading the plaintiffs to addiction and smoking-related illnesses.

Not only is the civil case considered the biggest in Canadian history, but it marks the first time in this country that tobacco companies have gone to trial for a civil suit.

The defendants are Imperial Tobacco Canada Ltd.; Rothmans, Benson & Hedges; and JTI-Macdonald. All three are expected to argue that customers were well-informed and none of their practices violated government regulations.

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La Nina brought flooding but climate change not off the hook - Brisbane Times

La Nina brought flooding but climate change not off the hook - Brisbane Times | Coffee Party Science | Scoop.it

THE past two years have been Australia's wettest two-year period since at least 1900. Not surprisingly, people ask whether global warming caused the record rains and floods. The simple answer is ''no'' - the heavy rains and floods have been caused by back-to-back La Nina events.

La Nina events and their ''dry'' brothers known as El Nino events are the extremes of a natural climate phenomenon called the El Nino Southern Oscillation, or ENSO, which has been producing Australia's ''droughts and flooding rains'' for thousands of years - since well before humans started pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Read more: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/opinion/politics/la-nina-brought-flooding-but-climate-change-not-off-the-hook-20120312-1uwdd.html#ixzz1ouzJeTb0

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The Science of Denial: How Corporations Corrupt Science in America

The Science of Denial: How Corporations Corrupt Science in America | Coffee Party Science | Scoop.it

Eric Byler interviews Prof. Robert Proctor
 about the

Pioneers of Science Denial and the
Human Cost of Misinformation

Thursday, Mar 15, 2012 - 5:30 pm Eastern Time (2:30 pm PT)

CLICK HERE to listen live | Call (646) 929-2495 to join the conversation

____________
 

by ERIC YAO, Coffee Party USA


A recent exposé of the corporate funded Heartland Institute's secret documents revealed an elaborate plan to purposefully manipulate K-12 curriculum, with efforts to inject doubt about climate change into young students and ensure that paralysis on clean energy technology and climate change legislation continues for another generation. This exemplifies how far some international profiteering interests will go to systematically misinform the American public.


The strategy of misinformation includes:


  • Assert there are many other causes of the problem
  • Claim there is no consensus among scientists
  • Downplay the validity of the science in any case
  • Setup lobbying organizations that masquerade as a research institutes
  • Inject polarization and misinformation into the national discourse using friends in elected office and in the One Percent Media


People fighting the One Percent agenda today may not realize this, but these tactics were pioneered by the tobacco industry. Sixty years ago, the tobacco industry began protecting its profits by penetrated academia, and undermining science in the very same way. Our guest on Thursday's special presentation of Coffee Party Radio will be Robert Proctor, Professor of History at Stanford University.


The tobacco industry's investment in elite lobbying institutions, powerful government officials, and pseudo-science has netted them billions in revenue. Meanwhile, cigarettes continue to kill over 400,000 Americans every year, and cost the nation some two hundred billion dollars in extra medical expenses and lost productivity.


Tobacco charted a business model that is today being followed by the oil industry and other polluting industries. There is profit in waging a war on science. Prof. Proctor will argue that the People of America today are faced with the biggest breach of academic integrity since the Nazi era, and he will tell us how we can respond. [MORE]

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Does being wealthy make you unethical? New research suggests it does

Does being wealthy make you unethical? New research suggests it does | Coffee Party Science | Scoop.it
High socioeconomic status individuals are significantly more likely to engage in unethical behavior, according to a study from UC Berkeley and the University of Toronto, published in the current PNAS.
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The H1N1 recap: An inside look at the art and science of creating an H1N1 vaccine - by Dr Pandula Siribaddana - Helium

The H1N1 recap: An inside look at the art and science of creating an H1N1 vaccine - by Dr Pandula Siribaddana - Helium | Coffee Party Science | Scoop.it
What is a vaccine?Vaccine is a medicinal substance which will initiate an immune response in the body towards a specific disease entity either vi..., Dr Pandula Siribaddana (The H1N1 recap: An inside look at the art and science of creating an H1N1...
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Evolution, climate denial: Are they linked?

Evolution, climate denial: Are they linked? | Coffee Party Science | Scoop.it
Tweet Pin It Poll scientific specialists on evolution and global warming, and the results are overwhelming: a strong consensus that the scientists say is founded on equally strong data.
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Entire Pacific Nation Could Move to Fiji

Entire Pacific Nation Could Move to Fiji | Coffee Party Science | Scoop.it
Fearing that climate change could wipe out their entire Pacific archipelago, the leaders of Kiribati are considering an unusual backup plan: moving the populace to Fiji. (Hey, #climate change deniers.
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GM CEO Akerson Believes In Global Warming, Has Strong Moral Conviction

GM CEO Akerson Believes In Global Warming, Has Strong Moral Conviction | Coffee Party Science | Scoop.it

by ALEX LUFT, GM Authority


At a recent Climate One event, GM CEO Akerson was asked why GM funds the Heartland Institute, “a group that has tried to push misinformation about climate change into our public schools” and whether “this funding [is] consistent with their company’s message in marketing of the Chevy Volt?”


Not that GM Authority readers didn’t know this already, but it wasn’t General Motors Company — but rather the GM Foundation — that provided the Heartland Institute the $15,000 of funding. Nevertheless, Akerson’s response — and position on climate change — is clear:


“First time I was interviewed by the press I was stunned with the following reaction. Some guy says, “Do you believe in global warming?” and I said, “Well, yea, I do.” Several GM execs have said, “You don’t say that in public. Well, this may surprise you but my underwear doesn’t have GM stamped on it and I am an individual and I do have my own convictions and sometimes it may be that they agree and sometimes they don’t. I think it’s actually healthy to have different points of view and perspectives around the table.” [MORE including video]

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Does Corporate Funding Corrupt Science? – Panel Discussion

Does Corporate Funding Corrupt Science? – Panel Discussion | Coffee Party Science | Scoop.it

Some 65% of all research and development in the U.S. is funded by private interests. History shows that the corporate funding of scientific research can be problematic — the tobacco industry offers a potent example. When corporations fund science, is truth the ultimate goal, or is stockholder profit?

  • Lisa Bero, Professor of Health Policy, UCSF
  • Hank Greely, Professor of Law, Stanford
  • Dave Patterson, Professor of Computer Science, UC Berkeley
  • Robert Proctor, Professor of History, Stanford
  • Richard Zare, Professor & Chair of Chemistry, Stanford

These experts examine at least five major industries: pharmaceuticals (Bero), biomedicine (Greely), computer science (Patterson), tobacco (Proctor), and chemistry (Zare).

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Poll: Many U.S. Voters Have Gloomy View of America's Science Future - ScienceInsider

Poll: Many U.S. Voters Have Gloomy View of America's Science Future - ScienceInsider | Coffee Party Science | Scoop.it

More than half of Americans queried in a recent national poll doubt that the United States will be considered the world leader in health care by 2020, and nearly 60% believe that a country other than the United States will lead the world in science and technology by that time. Results from a poll, conducted by JZ Analytics on behalf of the health-research organization Research!America, were released this afternoon at the organization's annual health research forum in Washington, D.C.

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Rick Santorum: 'Tell That To A Plant, How Dangerous Carbon Dioxide Is' (VIDEO)

Rick Santorum: 'Tell That To A Plant, How Dangerous Carbon Dioxide Is' (VIDEO) | Coffee Party Science | Scoop.it

Excerpt from piece by CHRIS GENTILVISO, Huffington Post


"The dangers of carbon dioxide? Tell that to a plant, how dangerous carbon dioxide is," he said.


Santorum has used the environment as a talking point in criticisms of both his GOP rivals and President Barack Obama's administration. Back in early February, he targeted Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich for allegedly buying into the "bogus" science of man-made climate change. At the same time, Santorum placed himself as a candidate who never believed in the "hoax of global warming." [MORE]


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Confirmed: Fracking Caused Ohio Earthquakes

Confirmed: Fracking Caused Ohio Earthquakes | Coffee Party Science | Scoop.it

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) issued the following statement:


"Geologists believe induced seismic activity is extremely rare, but it can occur with the confluence of a series of specific circumstances. After investigating all available geological formation and well activity data, ODNR regulators and geologists found a number of co-occurring circumstances strongly indicating the Youngstown area earthquakes were induced. Specifically, evidence gathered by state officials suggests fluid from the Northstar 1 disposal well [a deep injection well primarily used for oil and gas fluid waste disposal] intersected an unmapped fault in a near-failure state of stress causing movement along that fault."


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Critical Insight and Content for National Health and Science Initiatives

Critical Insight and Content for National Health and Science Initiatives | Coffee Party Science | Scoop.it

U.S.A., Mar 12, 2012 (Thomson Reuters ONE via COMTEX) -- Leading scientific and policy-making organizations around the world rely on citation data and expert consulting services to assess and promote research

Philadelphia, PA, London, UK, March 12, 2012 - The Intellectual Property & Science business of Thomson Reuters announced today it was selected by Alzheimer's Research UK, the Institute of Physics, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the National Science Foundation (NSF) to provide essential data and insight into ground-breaking scientific initiatives led by these organizations.

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SimCity Reboot Includes Climate Change | Climate Central

SimCity Reboot Includes Climate Change | Climate Central | Coffee Party Science | Scoop.it

SimCity, the iconic strategy game that gave rise to a generation of "Sims" games, is getting a 21st century makeover. With the real cities of the world increasingly on the front lines of climate change, SimCity will include a climate change component.

The new version of the game, developed by Maxis in conjunction with the organization Games for Change, will force players to reckon with the consequences of their energy choices. If you put coal-fired power plants in your city, for example, you may see a rise in pollution and a decline in public health. You also may have negative impacts on nearby cities being run by your gaming friends. The new version is due out next year.

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Workplace lawsuit gets NASA tangled up in evolution debate - msnbc.com

Workplace lawsuit gets NASA tangled up in evolution debate - msnbc.com | Coffee Party Science | Scoop.it

LOS ANGELES — NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory has landed robotic explorers on the surface of Mars, sent probes to outer planets and operates a worldwide network of antennas that communicates with interplanetary spacecraft.

Its latest mission is defending itself in a workplace lawsuit filed by a former computer specialist who claims he was demoted — and then let go — for promoting his views on intelligent design, the belief that a higher power must have had a hand in creation because life is too complex to have developed through evolution alone. [more...]

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World Water Supply: Climate Change And Food Pressures Adding Challenges, UN Study Says

World Water Supply: Climate Change And Food Pressures Adding Challenges, UN Study Says | Coffee Party Science | Scoop.it
* Rethink vital to meet cross-sector, cross-border claims * Tripling of groundwater use raises reserve fears * 6th World Water Forum starts in Marseille on Monday By Gus Trompiz PARIS,...
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Assessing Fukushima, one year later

Assessing Fukushima, one year later | Coffee Party Science | Scoop.it

Yogi Berra supposedly said, "It's tough making predictions, especially about the future." He was right. However, there is an out for forecasters trying to predict long-term medical consequences of the Fukushima nuclear facility accident: The final reckoning will take about 50 years; they are unlikely to be around to be judged wrong.

With this reassurance in mind, we think the public deserves an estimate of likely outcomes of radiation released when the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami caused multiple meltdowns of nuclear fuel at the plant.

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ID Works in Mysterious Ways: Evolution Denial & Intelligent Design

Since the U.S.Constitution prohibits public schools from promoting any particular brand of religion, this has led to the oxymoronic movement known as "Intelligent Design" (ID) where ID (aka God) miraculously...

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National Center For Science Education Fighting Climate Denial In Schools

National Center For Science Education Fighting Climate Denial In Schools | Coffee Party Science | Scoop.it
Long a leader in the fight to defend the teaching of evolution in public schools, the National Center for Science Education now sees creationist-like tactics being used in the attack on climate education.

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GM under a global warming cloud - The Sacramento Bee

GM under a global warming cloud - The Sacramento Bee | Coffee Party Science | Scoop.it
WASHINGTON – General Motors, a company that has made strides to lower the carbon footprint of driving, is taking heat from 10,000 of its customers for a donation its charitable foundation made to an institute that casts doubt on climate science.
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