Science  19 Dec 2003:
Vol. 302, Issue 5653, pp. 2049

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  1. Canada's New Science Adviser

    Ottawa—Over the last decade, an army of Canadian advisory groups, task forces, and parliamentary panels has urged the government to appoint a high-level science adviser to oversee the nation's research efforts. One former auditor general even pleaded with officials to “put somebody in charge.”


    Last week, Canada's new prime minister, Liberal Paul Martin, took the hint and appointed chemist Arthur Carty (above) to the new post of national science adviser. A former research dean at the University of Waterloo, Carty, 63, has been president of Canada's National Research Council since 1994 and is credited with revitalizing the once moribund national laboratories. As science adviser in the prime minister's office, he's expected to promote commercialization of academic research, identify gaps in government funding, and brief Martin on pressing scientific issues. “I know less and less about more and more,” he quipped.

    Carty starts his new job on 1 April. Martin, meanwhile, has abolished an existing junior cabinet slot overseeing science. That change is part of a reorganization to reward supporters of Martin's decade-long campaign to succeed Jacques Chrétien as party leader.

  2. Geophysicists Warn on Climate

    The 41,000-member American Geophysical Union (AGU) has come down squarely on the side of those worried about looming climate change, although it stopped well short of alarm. “Human activities are increasingly altering the Earth's climate,” reads a new position statement released this week by the 28-member AGU Council. “Scientific evidence strongly indicates” that humans have played a role in the rapid warming of the past half-century, it says. And “it is virtually certain” that increasing greenhouse gases will warm the planet. Human influences on climate “constitute a real basis for concern.” The society also dumped the neutrally worded title of its previous statement—“Climate Change and Greenhouse Gases”—in favor of the blunter “Human Impacts on Climate.”

    But the statement—which is carefully worded to avoid the favorite talking points of greenhouse contrarians—does concede the difficulty of predicting how fast, how much, and where climate will change. The uncertainty sets up AGU's final pitch: More funding is needed for enhanced research, observations, computer modeling, and training.

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