Sea of Change Continues, Two Science Advisors

MSNBC/Washington Post report on the latest Science Advisers providing additional momentum for change in environmental policies.

Obama chooses top science advisers

Selections send signal that president-elect is set to reverse Bush policies

Image: Jane Lubchenco

Albert Gea / Reuters

Oregon State University marine biologist Jane Lubchenco is expected to be named head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

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  The Washington Post

By Juliet Eilperin and Joel Achenbach

updated 9:06 p.m. PT, Thurs., Dec. 18, 2008

WASHINGTON - President-elect Barack Obama has selected two of the nation's most prominent scientific advocates for a vigorous response to climate change to serve in his administration's top ranks, according to sources, sending the strongest signal yet that he will reverse Bush administration policies on energy and global warming.

The appointments of Harvard University physicist John Holdren as presidential science adviser and Oregon State University marine biologist Jane Lubchenco as head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which will be announced tomorrow, dismayed conservatives but heartened environmentalists and researchers.

Like Energy Secretary-designate Steven Chu, who directs the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Holdren and Lubchenco have argued repeatedly for a mandatory limit on greenhouse gas emissions to avert catastrophic climate change. In 2007, as chairman of the board of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Holdren oversaw approval of the board's first statement on global warming, which said: "It is time to muster the political will for concerted action."

This move will make the environmentalist happy.

'A sea of change'
The Bush administration's political appointees have edited government documents to delete scientific findings and to block scientists' recommendations on issues involving climate change, endangered species, contaminants in drinking water and air pollution.

"The Bush administration has been the most remarkably anti-science administration that I've seen in my adult lifetime," Nobel laureate David Baltimore, former president of the California Institute of Technology, said in an interview. "And I do think that there will be a sea change in the Obama administration with the respect shown for the findings of science as well as the process of science."

But Bush's science adviser, John H. Marburger III, challenged that assessment. "There are stupid and foolish things that have been perpetrated by employees of the federal government in the executive branch, but it doesn't mean that the president is anti-science," he said. "The president is getting blamed for every little thing that happens that people don't like in the administration."

Marburger added that because of the president's opposition to federal funding of embryonic stem cell research and mandatory curbs on greenhouse gas emissions: "It was easy [for opponents] to infer that he was negative toward science. . . . The president respects science; he likes science."

Government regulations are right around the corner.  Get ready for additional reporting requirements.