Science  02 Sep 2005:
Vol. 309, Issue 5740, pp. 1471

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  1. Scientist Quits Climate Panel

    A climate researcher resigned in protest last week from a federal panel about to release its report on recent temperature trends.

    Roger Pielke Sr., of Colorado State University, Fort Collins, had been a member of the 22-person panel currently assessing conflicting temperature trends from Earth's surface, balloons, and satellites for the federal Climate Change Science Program. Pielke says he threw in the towel because the committee failed to be “inclusive” and improperly eliminated consideration of regional temperature trends. The report, which is expected out within a few weeks, “is much too narrow,” he says. Factors such as land-use changes, in addition to greenhouse gases, are driving recent warming, Pielke has advocated. Leaders of the panel would not comment, but fellow panel member Chris Forest of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says that the report's 70-page limit ended up excluding the diversity of viewpoints that Pielke wanted to see.

    A U.S. hurricane expert in January said that politicization of the scientific process was behind his decision to resign from an international climate change panel (Science, 28 January, p. 501). But Pielke says his difference of opinion was not related to politics.

  2. NIH Overhaul Still Fermenting

    A new version of a draft bill to streamline the management of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) leaves many issues unresolved, say advocacy groups.

    The House Energy and Commerce Committee wants to give the NIH director more authority as part of a reauthorization of NIH's programs, with a bill to be introduced as soon as next month. But a July draft drew concerns that it would undermine the autonomy of NIH's 27 institutes and centers (Science, 22 July, p. 545). A new draft released last week creates a “common fund” for trans-NIH initiatives but lets institutes award the grants. But, controversially, the plan still groups NIH entities into two funding clusters and doesn't specify how individual budgets would be set. And lawmakers have not explained how much of institutes' budgets would go to the “common fund”—5% is often discussed. “There are still a lot of questions,” says Dave Moore of the Association of American Medical Colleges.

  3. WHO Tamiflu Stockpile Grows

    PARIS— The World Health Organization (WHO) last week said it had received a donation of 3 million 5-day treatment courses of the anti-influenza drug oseltamivir, better known as Tamiflu, from Swiss drugmaker Roche. The drugs could help avert, or at least slow, a flu pandemic, the agency says.

    Two recently published models show that a combination of quarantine measures and the widespread administering of oseltamivir could halt a nascent pandemic. But that would require a stockpile of several million treatments (Science, 5 August, p. 870). Despite Roche's gift, countries still need to stock up themselves, WHO warns.

  4. Japan Expects Budget Squeeze

    The Japanese cabinet has indicated that it will not spare science in its efforts to shrink total governmental spending by 3% next year, and polls indicate the incumbent coalition is likely to survive the 11 September elections. But Japan's Ministry of Education has optimistically requested a 9.5% increase in science-related spending, to $8.3 billion, for the fiscal year beginning next April. Plans include a new supercomputer and work on an x-ray laser for protein crystallography and other uses. “It's impossible to know at this point” the science budget's fate, says Takafumi Goda, the Ministry of Education's budget director.

  5. Climate (Policy) Shifts

    Environmentalists cleared a legal hurdle last week in a court battle over climate change impacts. Advocacy groups and several western federal cities had sued in 2002 to force the Export-Import Bank and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, which fund power projects, to conduct environmental assessments on climate change. Last year, the U.S. government asked the federal court in the northern district of California to throw out the lawsuit, but Judge Jeffrey White has ruled that the “reasonably probable” climate impacts were sufficient to allow the case to proceed.

    Meanwhile, The New York Times reported progress by a nine-state consortium—including New York and Massachusetts—on a regional greenhouse cap and trade system that would freeze emissions and reduce them by 10 percent by 2020. The regional system is expected to be finalized this month.