Bill Clinton calls out George Bush at the UN Climate Change Conference, the genome of man's best friend is sequenced and the North Pole is on the move.

Climate’s A-Changin’

Former President Bill Clinton appeared at the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Montreal on Friday and said current President George W. Bush is “flat wrong” in asserting that the U.S. economy would be negatively affected by efforts to curb global warming. Clinton’s words spurred delegates at the conference to agree to further talks about reducing greenhouse gases after 2012, when the Kyoto Protocol expires.

Earlier in the week at the UN Conference, the World Wildlife Fund released a report that cited 2005 as a year of climate extremes. From the hottest average temperatures on record and a drought in the Amazon to the nearly 30 storms that the Atlantic spewed forth and the fast-melting Arctic sea ice, this year’s weather stats could be the smoking gun that leads to an stronger fight against global warming.

Protestors around the world—numbering 7,000 in Montreal and 10,000 in London—took to the streets to call for an update to the Kyoto Protocol. But the group with the week’s most aggressive action was the Arctic Inuits, who filed a petition saying that the American government’s policy on climate change violates human rights. (See article)

Away from the climate talks, a new model by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts that the hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica will not be healed until 2065. Previous models predicted the hole, which was discovered in the 1980s, would recover sometime between 2040 and 2050.

X-Ray Vision of Avian Flu

Researchers at Oxford University discovered that chest X-rays are the key to assessing the severity of an avian flu case and determining the likelihood of a patient’s survival.

In non-avian flu, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association finds that there have been fewer than 500 reports of adverse effects to the intranasal flu vaccine that has been administered to nearly 2.5 million Americans over the last two flu seasons. None of the adverse effects have been fatal.

Looking Down on Us

An Oregon State University study found that the Earth’s magnetic North Pole, which has moved 1,100 km over the last century, is slowly drifting toward Siberia from its previous home in Canada. One consequence of this movement is that Alaska may lose its Northern Lights phenomenon.

Ohio State University scientists have combined GPS and a light-based radar system called “lidar,” to take detailed surveys of the San Andreas Fault. They intend to compare it to future surveys taken after the next earthquake along the faultline in order to determine the effects of seismic events.

Using data collected from the Huygen’s Probe, scientists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have determined that the flow of methane rivers on Titan, an icy moon and the largest satellite of Saturn, is very similar to that of rivers on Earth.

With the help of the United States’s Aura satellite, Dutch scientists are mapping the extent of pollution at a city-wide level worldwide. The technology can be used to pinpoint zones where pollutants are accumulating rapidly.

The Dog Has Its Day

A team led by researchers at MIT and Harvard published the sequence of a dog’s genome—more specifically, that of Tasha, a boxer—in the December 8 issue of Nature. They hope to use the canine genetic code to help find the origins of human disease. (See article)

In other animal-related news, China is replenishing its endangered supply of Mongolian gazelles through cloning. Four gazelles survived both implantation in goat surrogates and birth.

A cat-like carnivore with dark red fur and a bushy tail, native to Borneo, is believed to be a new species, the World Wildlife Fund announced. Two of the animals have been photographed on the South Pacific island where 360 new species have been found in the last decade.

In Other News
A new brain imaging study out of UCLA found that people with autism may have a faulty mirror neuron system, which affects their ability to imitate or empathize with someone trying to succeed at a goal-oriented task. (See article)

At the University of Chicago, a study involving sand and a marble momentarily produced a new state of matter where solid grains of sand behaved as a dense liquid.

And finally, yesterday, in Stockholm, the Nobel Prizes were given out in chemistry, physics, and physiology and medicine. The prize in chemistry was awarded for a metathesis in organic synthesis; the prize in physics was awarded for precision spectroscopy using lasers and optics; and the prize in physiology or medicine was awarded for the discovery that ulcers are caused by a bacteria called Helicobacter pylori. (See article)

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Originally published December 10, 2005


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