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Obama's new hotshot at NOAA


Jane Lubchenco, one of the nation's top marine ecologists, has been picked to lead the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, sources say, an indication that President-elect Barack Obama wants to restore integrity to the science-based agency buffeted by politics in recent years.

Her appointment, and the likely appointment of John Holdren of Harvard and Woods Hole Research Center, signals a U-turn in the federal government's approach to greenhouse gases and global warming. Holdren, rumored to be named Friday as Obama's science advisor, has likened our current situation to "being in a car with bad brakes driving toward a cliff in the fog."

The two anticipated appointments have been met with relief -- and even glee -- among scientific and environmental organizations. Their members have spent a half-dozen years hand-wringing over the politicization of science and worrying about lost opportunities to preserve remnants of nature and the resiliency of the planet.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which makes up the largest portion of the Department of Commerce, does much of the federal government's research on global warming, as well as regulate fisheries. Lubchenco, among her various efforts to protect the abundance and diversity of marine life, has led a team of researchers at Oregon State University studying the link of climate change devastating sea life in coastal waters off the Pacific Northwest.

“Our oceans are experiencing the effects of global climate change –- melting sea ice, acidification, and coral loss," said Vikki Spruill, president of the Ocean Conservancy. "It is especially reassuring to have a world-renowned ecologists as NOAA administrator who knows where the biggest environmental challenge of our lifetime is taking place: beneath the sea and along our coastlines."

Both Lubchenco and Holdren have fat resumes, with a long list of degrees and awards, and both previously held the post of president of the American Assn. for the Advancement of Science.

-- Kenneth R. Weiss

Photo: Jane Lubchenco surveying the seafloor off Newport, Ore. Credit: Kenneth R. Weiss

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It was the previous NOAA Adminstrator who got the National Climate Service established:

And while you lavish Lubchenco's new lifestyle you surely know about Jane's Carbon Footprint:

See Jane’s Big Carbon Footprint
Before they boss us around, shouldn’t Obama’s science team act like they believe in global warming?

By David Freddoso

What’s your carbon footprint? Next year, it will probably be much smaller than that of Jane Lubchenco. The renowned climate-change crusader and professor of marine biology is Obama’s choice for administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

National Review Online has obtained an e-mail from Lubchenco’s husband, Oregon State University professor Bruce Menge, suggesting that the couple will contribute mightily to global warming next year after she takes the job by making frequent cross-country plane trips.

In the e-mail, Menge is enthusiastic about the appointment, but he also mentions the “the hardships it will impose on us and our academic family.” Their solution? “The plan is for her to be in WDC and me to remain in Oregon at OSU, with frequent weekend trips back and forth,” Menge writes. For the record: A single roundtrip between Portland, Ore., and Washington, D.C., emits just under a ton of carbon, and a bit more than a ton if there is a layover in between. The roundtrip from the university to the airport is another 185 miles by car.

One could end there by acknowledging how understandable this is — after all, conservatives are not the only ones who place greater stock in familial bliss and human comfort than in fears of climate change and the alleged havoc it will wreak. Even a liberal marine biologist who has written extensively on the effect of global warming on marine life is not willing to let such truths inconvenience or harm her family.

But Menge also writes of the appointment that “this opportunity could have major positive impacts on fisheries management, marine reserves, and PISCO’s future among many other things.” PISCO is the Partnership for Interdisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans, the very research program under which Menge and Lubchenco currently work as principal investigators at Oregon State University.

Most of PISCO’s funding is private, but some of it comes from NOAA, according to the project’s website, suggesting that Menge is correct. Even if it is all in the interest of science, it is a valid question whether it would be right for a NOAA administrator to use her government position to advance her husband’s academic research. It is a question Lubchenco may face before she takes that carbon-heavy flight to Washington for her confirmation hearing.

— David Freddoso is an NRO staff reporter.

Maybe she or her administration can put a stop to the wind farms planned for the west coast. Renewable energy is great, but NOT in our oceans in crisis!


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