Tuesday, February 20, 2007

lawnscience question #5

At what point in any science policy debate (that is, a debate where either the science or the policy--or both--has been described, fairly or not, as "uncertain") should "neutral" scientific organizations step in to present their views? Is there any way to delineate an appropriate stepping in point? I ask this because the Washington Post has an article about how the American Association for the Advancement of Science has taken a stand for the first time on climate change, calling it a "threat to society."

Also, my apologies about being so slow to get this blog rolling. I'm still getting immersed in teaching.

Friday, February 09, 2007

phosphorus bans

The Janesville Gazette has an article on their locality's thoughts about enacting a limited ban on fertilizers containing phosphorus. Phosphorus, as a fertilizer, often contributes to algae growth in lakes, which in turn leads to fish kill when the plants die.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

lawnscience question #4

Today's New York Times has a profile on Susan Solomon, the scientist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration charged with generating the fourth Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Report. According to the article, the report has been simultaneously critiqued for going too far, and for not going far enough. I'm interested in the latter question, because in defending her decision not to take a stronger approach to providing policy recommendations, she says "I believe that is a societal choice. I believe science is one input to that choice, and I also believe that science can best serve society by refraining from going beyond its expertise."

This I understand--and a lot of people, though definitely not all, believe that there can be some sort of distinction drawn between science and policy. But *how* should we actually draw the line? And if we can't come up with neutral criteria for where the line actually *is*, can we at least come up with neutral "procedural" criteria for figuring out whether we each should draw the line?

Friday, February 02, 2007

watering limit by southwest florida water management district

Florida newspapers have reporting about the new 1-day-per-week lawn watering limit imposed by the Southwest Florida Water Management District. Apparently, the sixteen counties in the district are in a rainfall deficit, and are faced with drought conditions that other water uses, like agriculture and irrigation. So far there's a lot of editorial controversy, pro and con, about the limitation.