Science Articles

I finished The Best American Science Writing: 2002. There is much of politics in the articles, but it is mostly peripheral. The one piece in which politics is much more central is “Code Red,” an article by a female hacker about the fact that the government, our government, seems to be encouraging hacking in order to have a potential bonanza of cyberwar against another country while still maintaining its official deniability. In the “about the authors” section, the author says that she was being increasingly harassed by the FBI and told not to print anything about hackers, until she announced the harassment at a press conference. She says she has not been bothered since.

Two interesting articles are juxtaposed in the book. First there is a presentation about an ex-Greenpeace scientist who committed to debunking critics of global warming theories and was, instead, convinced. He is the head of Denmark’s Institution for Environmental Evaluation now. The other is a discussion of the “bird man” of Cooper Island who has traced global warming trends back 120 years. 27 of those years he has been studying a particular bird on Cooper Island in the Arctic. And he discovered, after being there for decades, that each decade the island was losing its snowcap five days earlier. Then he did carbon dating on feathers from the birds for the last 120 years, kept in museums all over the West Coast, and found that the birds were moving north every year. Since they need the warming seas, he took this to mean that it has been getting warmer for the last 120 years. While I think his data is probably accurate, I wonder if it warrants a belief in global warming as a man-made experience. I would think it is much more likely to signal climate changes that people are not, in fact, responsible for.

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