William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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MASS CONFUSION – AT 8:41 A.M. ET:  Major literary honors are in store for anyone who can write a coherent essay explaining this story, from USA Today:

WASHINGTON (AP) – While the United States baked to its hottest March by far, the rest of the world took a break last month from ever increasing temperatures.

Baked?  Did you see any baking going on?

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said the world as a whole had its coolest March since 1999. It was only the 16th warmest March since record keeping began in 1880. Still, the month was 0.8 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the 20th century average.

NOAA's Deke Arndt said though it was cooler than recent years, last month globally was warmer than the vast majority of Marches in the 20th century.

Arndt said the fading climate phenomenon La Niña has had a cooling effect globally.

So, it was cool before it was warm, or warm before it was cool?

Maybe the explanation is a bit more serious.  The New York Times reports what many science observers have been saying...that some aspects of "science" are in serious trouble:

Dr. Casadevall, now editor in chief of the journal mBio, said he feared that science had turned into a winner-take-all game with perverse incentives that lead scientists to cut corners and, in some cases, commit acts of misconduct.

“This is a tremendous threat,” he said.

Last month, in a pair of editorials in Infection and Immunity, the two editors issued a plea for fundamental reforms. They also presented their concerns at the March 27 meeting of the National Academies of Sciences committee on science, technology and the law.

Members of the committee agreed with their assessment. “I think this is really coming to a head,” said Dr. Roberta B. Ness, dean of the University of Texas School of Public Health. And Dr. David Korn of Harvard Medical School agreed that “there are problems all through the system.”

Now they tell us.

In his famous farewell address to the nation in 1961, President Eisenhower warned about the effect of federal funds on scientific results, raising the issue of whether some in science will shape results to fit the funding.  And, of course, the gravest questions have been raised about the global warming industry. 

Maybe we need a blue-ribbon panel, like the Challenger Commission, which investigated the loss of the space shuttle Challenger, to report on the state of science.  Indeed, a "state of science" report, like the State of the Union message, may make sense.

April 17, 2012