Notebook > Science
iStock

No strings attached

Science | Feds hand out millions of dollars for climate change research with poor oversight

Issue: "Dead heat," Sept. 22, 2012

A U.S. State Department branch that dispensed $214 million for climate change programs between 2006 and 2010 has a serious accountability problem. The department's inspector general examined a $34 million sampling of grants awarded by the cumbersomely named Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs. Bureau officials often doled out millions for climate change mitigation programs in India, California, and elsewhere without performing inspections or asking for spending reports, the inspector general found.

A grant recipient in Hyderabad, India, for example, received $1.1 million without ever submitting required financial reports. Although the Bureau of Oceans' budget has decreased since 2010, overall Obama administration funding for international climate change efforts has increased, though various agencies, due to commitments made during United Nations negotiations.

Another trouble spot involves interagency agreements, in which one branch of government carries out work on behalf of another. Heavy administrative fees and a lack of oversight at the Bureau of Oceans suggest such agreements may be poorly supervised throughout the entire State Department, said the inspector general in a 66-page report.

We see you’ve been enjoying the content on our exclusive member website. Ready to get unlimited access to all of WORLD’s member content?
Get your risk-free, 30-Day FREE Trial Membership right now.
(Don’t worry. It only takes a sec—and you don’t have to give us payment information right now.)

Get your risk-free, 30-Day FREE Trial Membership right now.

Science court

By Daniel James Devine

Pollution

pollution.jpgA federal appeals court struck down a major EPA rule intended to reduce air pollution that travels across state lines. The Cross-State Air Pollution Rule would have implemented a pollution credit trading system to reduce sulfur dioxide and other pollutants from smokestacks in upwind states, but the court said the system violated federal law. The EPA could spend several years rewriting the rule.

Genes

genes.jpgA federal appeals court struck down a major EPA rule intended to reduce air pollution that travels across state lines. The Cross-State Air Pollution Rule would have implemented a pollution credit trading system to reduce sulfur dioxide and other pollutants from smokestacks in upwind states, but the court said the system violated federal law. The EPA could spend several years rewriting the rule.

Patents

patent.pngBiotechnology companies can continue claiming patents on portions of DNA they isolate and study. In the latest ruling in a three-year dispute over "gene patents," a federal appeals court upheld the right of Myriad Genetics to patent human BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, two markers for breast and ovarian cancers. That gives Myriad a monopoly on diagnostic tests for the genes. The plaintiffs said DNA should not be subject to patents.

Checking it out

By Daniel James Devine

Cancer scientist Elizabeth Iorns may have come up with a cure for lousy research and fraud. Through the research clearinghouse she co-founded last year, Science Exchange-which arranges for labs to conduct experiments for hire-Iorns has launched the "Reproducibility Initiative." The program invites researchers to have their work reproduced by a second, independent lab for a reasonable fee. If the second lab gets the same results as the first, the original scientist (or team of scientists) gets a certificate showing the work was double-checked.

Science publishing giants Nature and PLOS One have endorsed the Reproducibility Initiative, hoping it will improve the trustworthiness of published scientific findings: Surveys show that about 2 percent of scientists admit to fudging data in their papers. Many published experiments later prove not reproducible.

Daniel James Devine
Daniel James Devine

Daniel is a reporter for WORLD who covers science, technology, and other topics in the Midwest from his home base in Indiana. Follow Daniel on Twitter @DanJamDevine.

Comments

You must be a WORLD member to post comments.

    Keep Reading

     

    Rebel Yellen?

    Investors weren’t happy with the new Fed chairwoman’s first…

     

    Bethlehem

    Westerners sometimes wonder why Israel is so, well, mean.

    Advertisement