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FROM VOLUME 10, NUMBER 5, MAY 1997
GENERAL INTEREST AND POLICY
Two related items in
Nature, 386(6626), Apr. 17, 1997:
"Increased Plant Growth in the Northern High Latitudes from 1981 to
1991," R.B. Myneni (Dept. Geog., Boston Univ., Commonwealth Ave., Boston MA
02215; e-mail: email@example.com), C.D. Keeling et al., 698-702. Satellite
data show that the photosynthetic activity of terrestrial vegetation increased
from 1981 to 1991 in a manner that suggests an increase in plant growth
associated with a lengthening of the active growing season. The effect is most
prominent in the middle northern latitudes, where marked warming has occurred in
spring due to early disappearance of snow. This result is consistent with
previously determined changes in the seasonal cycle of atmospheric CO2.
Both indicate that the global carbon cycle has responded to interannual
fluctuations in surface air temperature which, although small at the global
scale, are regionally highly significant.
"A Greener North," I. Fung (School Earth & Ocean Sci., Univ.
Victoria, POB 3055, Victoria BC V8W 3P6, Can.), 659-660. Discusses the previous
paper, which provides the first direct observation of the biosphere that
photosynthesis has increased on such a broad scale for such a long time. The EOS
instruments scheduled for launch in 1998 should provide some interesting new
Challenge to Sustainable Development..." (N. Meyers, Green Coll., Oxford
Univ., Oxford, U.K.) "...or Distraction?" J.R. Vincent (Harvard Inst.
for Intl. Development, 1 Eliot St., Cambridge MA 02138; e-mail:
firstname.lastname@example.org), T. Panayotou, Science, 276(5309),
53-57, Apr. 4, 1997.
In this debate, Myers argues that present excessive, wasteful global
consumption cannot be sustained by rich nations. Using global warming as a prime
example, he discusses policy options and the role of science. In response,
Vincent and Panayotou review information on the links between consumption and
sustainable development, concluding that the problem is not consumption levels,
but rather consumption patterns; what is needed are policies to overcome market
and policy failures, not a cap on global consumption.
Two related items in
Nature, 385(6618), Feb. 20, 1997:
"Cool Tropical Punch of the Ice Ages," C. Charles (Scripps Inst.
Oceanog., La Jolla CA 92093; e-mail: email@example.com), 681-683. Discusses the
following article (and two others in this issue), which bear on the sensitivity
of the Earth's climate system to any perturbation, including possible future
"Influence of Ocean Heat Transport on the Climate of the Last Glacial
Maximum," R.S. Webb (NOAA/NGDC, Paleoclim. Prog., 325 Broadway, Boulder CO
80303; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org), D.H. Rind et al., 695-699. (Model results
are available at http://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/paleo/paleo.html.)
Climate simulations using an atmospheric general circulation model show that the
tropical climate may have cooled significantly during the ice ages. This result
implies that the expected warming in the future from doubling of atmospheric CO2
may be closer to 4° C, rather than the IPCC's "best estimate" of
Health Impacts of Climate Change," H. Dowlatabadi (Dept. Eng. & Public
Policy, Carnegie Mellon Univ., Pittsburgh PA 15213), Clim. Change, 35(2),
137-144, Feb. 1997.
An essay emphasizing that the literature on health impacts of climate change
must be interpreted in the broader context of public health issues in a
challenging global environment. This broader interpretation does not always
support intervention to halt or reverse climate change. For example, we should
be helping less industrialized nations to gain access to basic public health, to
improve patient care, to engage in activities which do not expose them to
disease vectors, and to develop institutions which can ameliorate the ravages of
Perspective on Global Climate Modeling," D.A. Randall (Dept. Atmos. Sci.,
Colorado State Univ., Fort Collins CO 80523), Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc.,
77(11), 2685-2690, Nov. 1996.
Analyzes the roughly two dozen global modeling groups in the U.S., dividing
them into four categories: laboratories and universities, and development and
applications. Most groups are focusing on applications rather than development,
contrary to the early days of modeling, especially in universities. A key role
of university groups is to train new model developers. Outlines a simple but
functional conceptual organization of U.S. modeling groups to promote model
development and meet the needs of policy makers.
Course: Hydro Quebec's Commitment to Mega-Projects," J. Maxwell (Ctr. Intl.
Affairs, E38-270, Mass. Inst. Technol., 292 Main St., Cambridge MA 02139), J.
Lee et al., Environ. Impact Assess. Rev., 17(1), 19-38, Jan. 1,
Large organizations often escalate commitments to mega-projects despite
evidence of adverse environmental or economic consequences. Analyzes
Hydro-Quebec's Great Whale project as an example and suggests ways to break such
Beliefs: National Implementation of the United Nations Framework Convention on
Climate Change," G.C. Sewell (Dept. Urban Studies & Planning, Rm.
3-411, Mass. Inst. Technol., 77 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge MA 02139), ibid.,
16(3), 137-150, May 1996.
Presents a detailed analysis of the development of climate change policy in
the U.S., as seen in terms of the interplay of "precautionary" and "economic
growth" coalitions, and how this interplay relates to the international
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