THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD: The New York Times' Science Times this morning features a cogent, inspired essay by Dennis Overbye tying together the rebirth of American science and democracy. Scientists have been elated by President Obama's pledge to restore their discipline to prominence, but Overbye points out the common values — honesty, doubt, openness, accountability and tolerance, among others — shared by both the democratic and scientific ideals Obama's been espousing for the last week. "If there is anything democracy requires and thrives on, it is the willingness to embrace debate and respect one another and the freedom to shun received wisdom," Overbye writes. "If we are not practicing good science, we probably aren't practicing good democracy. And vice versa." (Source: NY Times)
PET PROJECT: Coyotes have notoriously infiltrated most major U.S. cities, becoming essentially large, lanky, carnivorous ground squirrels with an appetite for pomeranians. The Los Angeles Times today profiles a prolific Southern California animal trapper who specializes in tracking, trapping and killing suburban coyotes, to the relief of worried parents and pet owners but to the consternation of conservationists. Critics say he could just relocate the animals elsewhere, away from people, but he says it wouldn't work. (Source: LA Times)
"NO GOING BACK": Climate change will be "largely irreversible" for the next 1,000 years, even if CO2 emissions are abruptly stopped, warns a study published today by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Any increases in CO2 from 2000 to 2100 will "lock in" sea-level rise for the next millennium, the authors say. All the better timing for the United States to suddenly have a president willing to accept scientific data and react accordingly, as Obama conveniently demonstrated Monday. (Sources: Agence France-Presse, NOAA, The San Francisco Chronicle)
GIVING DETROIT A LIFT: While some in the auto industry panned Obama Monday for "piling on" a "fragile industry," The Detroit Free Press points out the president hinted he may offer more financial assistance to the Big Three once they accept tougher fuel-efficiency and emissions standards. (Sources: NY Times, The Detroit Free Press)
WIND SOME, LOSE SOME: Obama finds himself in an awkward position regarding Massachusetts' proposed 130-turbine offshore wind farm, Cape Wind. He's long promised such moves toward renewable energy, and even mentioned wind power in his Inaugural address. Plus, his ally Gov. Deval Patrick is a Cape Wind proponent. But another ally, Sen. Edward Kennedy, is a staunch opponent of the project, arguing it would pose a danger to birds, sea life, tourism and fishing. Coincidentally, the turbines would also be clearly visible from the Kennedy family's coastal compound, but the senator says that's not why he opposes them. (Source: The Associated Press)
LIZARDRY: A 111-year-old captive lizard has unexpectedly fathered 11 offspring at a museum in New Zealand, after his handlers had thought he was long past his reproductive years. Tuatara are an endangered species, having co-existed with dinosaurs 225 million years ago but now living only in New Zealand. The centenarian, Henry, arrived at the museum aggressive and 70 years old. But after staff removed a cancerous tumor, he was suddenly amorous. (Source: AP)
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