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A Wary Eye on ‘Big Oil’ Funding Energy Research
Emily Badger, Miller-McCune
The Center for American Progress fears a potential loss of academic control as major oil companies pay for much of the energy research done at universities.
The public investment in energy research has declined rapidly from its historic high during America’s last major spasm of national interest in the topic, following the Arab oil embargo in the late 1970s. Three decades ago, 18 percent of all federal R&D money went into energy. Today, amid what many scientists consider a more fundamental crisis, the U.S. government now spends 1.6 percent of its R&D budget on energy.
As a result, universities that have long done much of that research increasingly turn to a different source of funding: corporations with deep pockets and a vested interest in the future of technologies like biofuels.
This is, in and of itself, not a bad thing. Many of the critics who lament corporate money’s suspicious influence blame those same corporations for not spending enough to develop alternative energy. But a new report out Thursdsay by the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning Washington think tank, cautions that universities may be ceding too much control to their corporate partners in major research alliances.
... The new report, “Big Oil Goes to College,” analyzed more specifically the legal contracts binding 10 multimillion-dollar, multiyear partnerships between big research universities and “Big Oil” — Chevron, BP, ConocoPhillips, Royal Dutch Shell and ExxonMobil. The deals represent $883 million in industry-funded energy research over 10 years.
(15 October 2010)
Related: Should Big Oil Fund Energy Research at Universities? .
In Climate Denial, Again
Editorial, New York Times
Former Vice President Dick Cheney has to be smiling. With one exception, none of the Republicans running for the Senate — including the 20 or so with a serious chance of winning — accept the scientific consensus that humans are largely responsible for global warming.
The candidates are not simply rejecting solutions, like putting a price on carbon, though these, too, are demonized. They are re-running the strategy of denial perfected by Mr. Cheney a decade ago, repudiating years of peer-reviewed findings about global warming and creating an alternative reality in which climate change is a hoax or conspiracy.
... In one way or another, though, all are custodians of a strategy whose guiding principle has been to avoid debate about solutions to climate change by denying its existence — or at least by diminishing its importance. The strategy worked, destroying hopes for Congressional action while further confusing ordinary citizens for whom global warming was already a remote and complex matter. It was also remarkably heavy-handed.
... Nowadays, it is almost impossible to recall that in 2000, George W. Bush promised to cap carbon dioxide, encouraging some to believe that he would break through the partisan divide on global warming. Until the end of the 1990s, Republicans could be counted on to join bipartisan solutions to environmental problems. Now they’ve disappeared in a fog of disinformation, an entire political party parroting the Cheney line.
(18 October 2010)
Good for the NYT. Unfortunately, an ad for cheap airfares appeared next to the editorial on NYT website, pointing up denial is much more widespread than among Republicans. (Air travel is a significant source of green house emissions. -BA
Crumbling America has a $2.2 trillion repair bill
Rupert Cornwell, Independent/UK
Out of America: The US needs to update its roads, railways and airports – but recession and a shift to the right have put big infrastructure projects in jeopardy.
... It's happening everywhere, from potholed interstate highways and grimy railways, to congested airports and a creaking air traffic control system that only adds to the increasingly third world experience of flying in the US. And hold your breath when you cross an American bridge: a 2005 study found that fully a quarter of them were structurally inadequate or obsolete.
Every now and then, the defects explode into the national consciousness – when breaches in scandalously neglected levees led to the flooding of New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina, or when the Interstate 35 bridge in Minneapolis collapsed one sunny rush hour afternoon in August 2007, sending 13 people to their deaths as their cars plunged into the Mississippi river
Another reminder is when friends return from foreign trips marvelling at the high-speed rail networks in Europe, Japan and China, or at other man-made wonders such as the Millau Viaduct in southern France. Why, they ask, can't we have this sort of thing?
To be fair, they can and do.
(17 October 2010)
In U.S., Health Disparities Across Incomes Are Wide-Ranging
Elizabeth Mendes, Gallup
Emotional and physical health, health habits, and access to care worse for those with
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index data document the severity of health disparities between low- and high-income Americans. Those making less than $24,000 per year suffer from much lower emotional and physical health, have poorer health habits, and have significantly less access to medical care -- all of which combine to drag down their overall Well-Being Index score.
At a time when more people are facing financial hardships as a result of the recession, Gallup finds a Well-Being Index composite score of 57.2 among those making less than $24,000 per year, which compares negatively with the 67.7 score among the middle class and the 74.3 score among high-income Americans. The scores reflect 55 individual items that collectively measure Americans' physical, emotional, and fiscal wellbeing.
(18 October 2010)
Recommended by KS formerly of TOD.