Without chemistry, Life itself would be impossible…(Part II)

I really hated that old commercial, which was being widely played in the early to mid 80’s, so this post is a follow-up to that irritating, then-ubiquitous ad.  SNL did a great spoof of this; its probably on youtube now.  Well the chickens have come home to roost.  But where are the folks at that PR firm that thought up that original ad, taking care of their autistic grandchildren? Probably not–they are hiring that out to their live-in nannies, which they can surely afford:

New Study: Autism Linked to Environment

Research links soaring incidence of the mysterious neurological disorder to fetal and infant exposure to pesticides, viruses, household chemicals
By Marla Cone

California’s sevenfold increase in autism cannot be explained by changes in doctors’ diagnoses and most likely is due to environmental exposures, University of California scientists reported Thursday. The scientists who authored the new study advocate a nationwide shift in autism research to focus on potential factors in the environment that babies and fetuses are exposed to, including pesticides, viruses and chemicals in household products.
“It’s time to start looking for the environmental culprits responsible for the remarkable increase in the rate of autism in California,” said Irva Hertz-Picciotto, an epidemiology professor at University of California, Davis who led the study.

Further thoughts on developments such as this, obviously the first of many:

Continue reading “Without chemistry, Life itself would be impossible…(Part II)”

Without chemistry, Life itself would be impossible…(Part II)

Coming Soon to wikileaks

Here’s a story about a government program that, if it existed, would clearly not only violate the Constitution but also break enough of the rules of expect behavior that its disclosure would cause such loss of prestige to those who created it, that it would have to be kept secret. That’s true because the moral implications of the program are so repulsive, that if the program came to light, it would quickly be subject to scrutiny and debate and modification. For that reason, it is not unlikely that it will be leaked soon–all of the reasons to leak are there, and all it takes is exactly one moral person + web 2.0 and the program comes unsprung, probably after being posted at wikileaks So if the program exists, it’s not unreasonable to expect to read about it at wikileaks soon. The story:

From Radar Magazine:

Is the government compiling a secret list of citizens to detain under martial law?

By Christopher Ketcham

In the spring of 2007, a retired senior official in the U.S. Justice Department sat before Congress and told a story so odd and ominous, it could have sprung from the pages of a pulp political thriller. It was about a principled bureaucrat struggling to protect his country from a highly classified program with sinister implications. Rife with high drama, it included a car chase through the streets of Washington, D.C., and a tense meeting at the White House, where the president’s henchmen made the bureaucrat so nervous that he demanded a neutral witness be present.

Coming Soon to wikileaks

Thinking legally, about Science

An interesting paper, by Jonathan Remy Nash, which hypothesizes that the precautionary principle may have legal standing, based on current case law. Not at all an insignificant issue, considering the refusal of the present US administration to give adequate credence to environmental concerns, and that many environmental issues will therefore be tried in the courts. Recent Scientific evidence, however, has established that human-generated Global Warming is having a detrimental effect on the climate, so the precautionary principle hardly has to be invoked for that issue. There also may be applicability to nano-technology and genetic engineering developments, once the risks of those technologies are more fully understood.

Presumably, though the lack of concern about the environment will be a short state of affairs, until the next administration. More than 2 out 3 Americans believe GWB isn’t doing enough to address Global Warming, so almost certainly the next administration will be more responsive on this issue. (See “Americans Chide Bush on Climate Change Efforts” August 08, 2007 – Angus Reid Global Monitor for more)

But what if it isn’t? We may be back to relying on the courts…

One item I noticed on the abstract, and I question: “Its application would be limited, and could further be limited to cases brought by a sovereign.” Why limit it thus? By sovereign, presumably it is meant state, as the case mention is Massachusetts v. EPA? I’m not sure, and it appears a subscription is required to get at the paper itself, so I can’t really read it and find out.  Too bad, and all the more reason to make such papers available.

One of the things I like very much about this, (at least as it is expressed in the abstract) is that the linkage between science and the law is seen as a two way street: .”importation and application of the precautionary principle to questions of standing will provide a logical and stable setting in which the precautionary principle might develop and flourish.” Further more, the application of this principle is seen as guiding future evolution of case law: “precautionary-based standing would be available to address future environmental crises where scientific understanding that the threat is real may lag.”

Seems like really cutting edge cross-disciplinary and systems-based thinking.

Hat Tip: University of Chicago Law School Faculty Blog

Continue reading “Thinking legally, about Science”

Thinking legally, about Science