HOT TOPICS IN SCIENTIFIC AND ENVIRONMENTAL
Debate over The Skeptical Environmentalist
Background: When the English-language version of The
Skeptical Environmentalist by Bjorn Lomborg was published in September 2001, the book
received glowing reviews from prestigious publications such as The New York Times,
The Wall Street Journal and The Economist. Whats the problem? The
book -- based upon false premises and unscientific interpretations of data, and written by
a veritable stranger to the environmental field -- dismisses environmental crises, such as
global warming, deforestration, pollution and resource shortages, as exaggerated
phantom problems. (Perhaps the book should have been subtitled, Dont
Worry, Be Happy.)
Analysis: How did The Skeptical
Environmentalist snow the media and eclipse scientifically-sound books written by
environmental experts? The Columbia Journalism Review pegged the books
popularity as a primary example of Winston Churchills observation that, "A lie
gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on." For
additional analyses of the secrets of Lomborgs success, check out these insightful
An All Science, All The
Time Cable Channel
A group of world-class scientists is currently working to establish
the Cable Science Network (CSN). Building upon the C-SPAN model of a 24/7 nonprofit
network, CSNs founders hope that their channel will free the public from "the
tyranny of the sound bite" by broadcasting lectures, hearings, book presentations,
round-table discussions and documentary series on scientific topics. Click here to read more about CSN.
Read Any Outrageous Book Reviews Lately?
In a fascinating article describing the job of the book reviewer,
David Sexton, literary editor of the London Evening Standard, asserts that many
book reviewers do not even read the books that they review. (Although Sexton does not
specifically address reviews of scientific or environmental books, his observations
certainly apply to them.) Click
here to read his article.
The universe is the most authentic reality show running. It's all
science all the time -- and it ought to be on television
DR. E. C. KRUPP, Director
Los Angeles, California
A Watershed in Scientific Publishing
The Public Library of Science (PLoS)
is publishing on the web ground-breaking research articles that are accessible for
free. Founded by a Nobel Prize winner and two colleagues, PLoS is designed to break
the stranglehold on the scientific literature held by pricey publications, and enable lay
and scientific readers to download, print, distribute and read this literature without
charges or other restrictions.
Although some journals already publish articles on the web for free,
they are have not always attracted the best science. The respected founders of PloS aim to
woo elite articles to their open-access journal.
Treetop Barbie Doll
In a September 23, 2003 article, The New York Times
identified "what may be science's blondest and most curvaceous attempt yet to reach
the public, Treetop Barbie." Treetop Barbie sports clothing worn by canopy
researchers in the field as well as a safety helmet, crossbow for shooting ropes up into
trees, a field notebook and measuring tape. Treetop Barbie is the brainchild of Dr. Nalini Nadkarni, a
respected treetop ecologist at Evergreen State College who works to bridge the chasm
between science and everyday life.
Dr. Nadkarni is currently attempting to introduce Treetop Barbie to
as well as a line of botanically correct clothing whose textiles look like actual species
of mosses and liverworts, baseball cards and other products to mass markets. These
activities are part of her efforts to raise public awareness of forest canopy biology.
here to see pictures of Treetop Barbie and other botanically correct products, and to hear
the Canopy Rap Song.