[ExI] This news is very encouraging

Damien Broderick thespike at satx.rr.com
Sat Dec 20 18:27:06 UTC 2008

...after the Bush blight:

Obama names 4 top members of science team

By HOPE YEN – 1 hour ago

WASHINGTON (AP) ­ President-elect Barack Obama's 
selection Saturday of a Harvard physicist and a 
marine biologist for science posts is a sign he 
plans a more aggressive response to global 
warming than did the Bush administration.

John Holdren and Jane Lubchenco are leading 
experts on climate change who have advocated 
forceful government action. Holdren will become 
Obama's science adviser as director of the White 
House Office of Science and Technology Policy. 
Lubchenco will lead the National Oceanic and 
Atmospheric Administration, which oversees ocean 
and atmospheric studies and does much of the 
government's research on global warming.

Holdren also will direct the president's Council 
of Advisers on Science and Technology. Joining 
him as co-chairs will be Nobel Prize-winning 
scientist Harold Varmus, a former director of the 
National Institutes of Health, and Massachusetts 
Institute of Technology professor Eric Lander, a 
specialist in human genome research.

"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," Obama said in announcing the 
selections in his weekly radio address.

The president-elect said promoting science means 
more than just providing money, but also is about 
ensuring that facts and evidence are never 
twisted or obscured by politics or ideology.

"From landing on the moon, to sequencing the 
human genome, to inventing the Internet, America 
has been the first to cross that new frontier 
because we had leaders who paved the way," Obama 
said. "Leaders who not only invested in our 
scientists, but who respected the integrity of the scientific process."

The four scientists will confront challenges in 
global warming after years of inaction by the 
Bush administration, which opposed mandatory cuts 
of greenhouse gas pollution. Last year, former 
Surgeon General Richard Carmona testified to 
Congress that top administration officials often 
dismissed global warming as a "liberal cause" and 
sought to play down public health reports out of political considerations.

Since 1993, summer Arctic sea ice has lost the 
equivalent of Alaska, California and Texas, and 
global warming is accelerating. The amount of 
carbon dioxide in Earth's atmosphere has already 
pushed past the level some scientists say is safe.

Holdren, 64, is a former president of the 
American Association for the Advancement of 
Science in Washington who has pushed for more 
urgent action on global warming. As Obama's top 
science adviser, he would manage about 40 
Ph.D-level experts who help shape and communicate 
science and technology policy.

"Global warming is a misnomer. It implies 
something gradual, something uniform, something 
quite possibly benign, and what we're 
experiencing is none of those," Holdren said a 
year ago in a speech at Harvard. "There is 
already widespread harm ... occurring from 
climate change. This is not just a problem for 
our children and our grandchildren."

Lubchenco, an Oregon State University professor 
specializing in overfishing and climate change, 
will be the first woman to head NOAA. A member of 
the Pew Oceans Commission, Lubchenco has 
recommended steps to overcome crippling damage to 
the world's oceans from overfishing and pollution 
and has expressed optimism for change once 
President George W. Bush leaves office.

"The Bush administration has not been respectful 
of the science," she said this year. "But I think 
that's not true of Republicans in general. I know 
it's not. I am very much looking forward to a new 
administration that does respect scientific 
information and that considers it very seriously 
in making environmental policies."

Varmus, who was a co-recipient of the Nobel Prize 
for his research on the causes of cancer, served 
as NIH director during the Clinton 
administration. A former medical professor at the 
University of California, San Francisco, he 
helped found the Ralph Lauren Center for Cancer 
Care and Prevention and chairs a scientific board 
at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Lander, who teaches at both MIT and Harvard, 
founded the Whitehead Institute-MIT Center for 
Genome Research in 1990, which became part of the 
Broad Institute in 2003. A leading researcher in 
the Human Genome Project, he and his colleagues 
are using the findings to explore the molecular 
mechanisms behind human disease.

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