Tag Archives: scientists

RESISTANCE: Scientists go rogue on Twitter in defiance of Trump

Employees from more than a dozen U.S. government agencies have established a network of unofficial “rogue” Twitter feeds in defiance of what they see as attempts by President Donald Trump to muzzle federal climate change research and other science.

Seizing on Trump’s favorite mode of discourse, scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency, NASA and other bureaus have privately launched Twitter accounts — borrowing names and logos of their agencies — to protest restrictions they view as censorship and provide unfettered platforms for information the new administration has curtailed.

“Can’t wait for President Trump to call us FAKE NEWS,” one anonymous National Park Service employee posted on the newly opened Twitter account @AltNatParkService.

“You can take our official twitter, but you’ll never take our free time!”

The @RogueNASA account displayed an introductory disclaimer describing it as “The unofficial ‘Resistance’ team of NASA. Not an official NASA account.”

It beckoned readers to follow its feed “for science and climate news and facts. REAL NEWS, REAL FACTS.”

The swift proliferation of such tweets by government rank-and-file followed internal directives several agencies involved in environmental issues have received since Trump’s inauguration requiring them to curb their dissemination of information to the public.

Last week, Interior Department staff were told to stop posting on Twitter after an employee re-tweeted posts about relatively low attendance at Trump’s swearing-in, and about how material on climate change and civil rights had disappeared from the official White House website.

Employees at the EPA and the departments of Interior, Agriculture and Health and Human Services have since confirmed seeing notices from the new administration either instructing them to remove web pages or limit how they communicate to the public, including through social media.

The restrictions have reinforced concerns that Trump, a climate change skeptic, is out to squelch federally backed research showing that emissions from fossil fuel combustion and other human activities are contributing to global warming.

The resistance movement gained steam on Tuesday when a series of climate change-related tweets were posted to the official Twitter account of Badlands National Park in South Dakota, administered under the Interior Department, but were soon deleted.

A Park Service official later said those tweets came from a former employee no longer authorized to use the official account and that the agency was being encouraged to use Twitter to post public safety and park information only, and to avoid national policy issues.

Within hours, unofficial “resistance” or “rogue” Twitter accounts began sprouting up, emblazoned with the government logos of the agencies where they worked, the list growing to at least 14 such sites by Wednesday afternoon.

An account dubbed @ungaggedEPA invited followers to visit its feeds of “ungagged news, links, tips and conversation that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is unable to tell you,” adding that it was “Not directly affiliated with @EPA.”

U.S. environmental employees were soon joined by similar “alternative” Twitter accounts originating from various science and health agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Weather Service.

Many of their messages carried Twitter hashtags #resist or #resistance.

An unofficial Badlands National Park account called @BadHombreNPS also emerged (a reference to one of Trump’s more memorable campaign remarks about Mexican immigrants) to post material that had been scrubbed from the official site earlier.

Because the Twitter feeds were set up and posted to anonymously as private accounts, they are beyond the control of the government.

(By Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

Wisconsin DNR: CAFOs could write own pollution permit applications

Large farms could hire experts to craft their pollution and construction permit applications under a reorganization plan the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources announced this week.

The agency has been working on reorganizing since July 2015 to deal with a growing workload and the state’s tight budget constraints. DNR officials issued a news release this week announcing the plan, calling it a “strategic realignment effort,” but the release contains very few details.

The cornerstone of the plan would allow concentrated animal feeding operations, known as CAFOs, to hire qualified consultants to craft applications for manure handling and construction permits.

The idea, DNR Deputy Secretary Kurt Thiede said, is to reduce the back-and-forth DNR staff currently engage in with farmers to get their applications up to speed, freeing up staff to perform more frequent permit compliance checks in the field.

Developers looking to perform shore stabilization work and pond construction also would be allowed to use consultants to help craft their permit applications as well. “They’re writing the information to help inform that permit,” Thiede said.

The plan mirrors a controversial approach DNR has used for wetland building permit applications for a decade — engineers and other consultants are allowed to help craft developers’ applications, said Jeffrey Voltz, deputy administrator of the DNR’s external services division.

The DNR plans to speak with stakeholders in the coming months to determine what qualifications CAFO and shore consultants will need.

A state audit in June found the DNR wasn’t following its own policies for policing pollution from large farms and wastewater plants.

The audit also found that the agency had been extending permits without review for years and that staffers lacked time to thoroughly monitor large livestock operations. Environmental groups were outraged by the findings.

Amber Meyer Smith, government relations director for environmental advocacy group Clean Wisconsin, said it’s unclear how allowing outside consultants help with permit applications might change things for both farms and the DNR.

“There are certainly efficiency measures included in today’s announcement, but a lot of questions remain,” Meyer Smith said.

Paul Zimmerman, executive director of government relations for the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation, said the move would reduce duplicative work for farms and the DNR.

“You’re hiring a licensed professional to do his or her job,” Zimmerman said. “Those licenses have to mean something. The idea is to free up staff time.”

The overall reorganization plan will affect about 5 percent of the DNR’s 2,549 full-time employees, according to the news release.

Changes will range from position descriptions, reporting structure and division assignments as the agency moves from seven operational units to five, including Forestry; Fish, Wildlife and Parks; Environmental Management; Internal Services; and External Services.

The Bureau of Science Services’ remaining 19 researchers will join other programs as well as a new Office of Applied Sciences.

A new bureau will focus on real estate and property planning and staff working on water-related sediment cleanups will be combined with staff working on soil cleanups. Thiede said the move would allow managers to more closely monitor researchers’ work.

The state budget Republican Gov. Scott Walker signed last year eliminated 19 researchers from the Bureau of Science Services. The scientists had been working on a number of politically charged issues, including climate change, pollution and mining. Democrats blasted the cuts as political payback.

The reorganization plan also calls for shifting 33 ranger positions into warden positions. Thiede said rangers spend little time on law enforcement. The move would still leave more than 100 rangers in state parks but they wouldn’t have law enforcement credentials. Some of the 33 rangers whose positions would disappear could apply for warden jobs or elect to stay in the parks without law enforcement powers.

The news release said the plan would be implemented in phases with final changes anticipated by early 2018. Thiede said some portions of it may require legislative approval.

Refuting Ted Cruz’s disinformation about climate change

Ted Cruz is decidedly at odds with the scientific consensus that Earth is warming because of human activity.

A look at some of the Republican presidential contender’s claims on the subject in New Hampshire this week and how they compare with the facts:

CRUZ: “The satellites that actually measure the temperature, that we’ve launched into the air to measure the temperature, they have recorded no significant warming whatsoever for the last 18 years.”

THE FACTS: Scientists, including those who work with the very satellite measuring system that Cruz refers to, say he’s misusing the satellite data. They do show warming, albeit relatively little over the period Cruz cites, says Carl Mears, senior scientist for Remote Sensing Systems, which produces the data that Cruz refers to.

But by starting his comparison period in 1997, Cruz has selected a time when temperatures spiked because of an El Niño weather pattern. Starting at an artificially high point minimizes the rate of increase since then, Mears said, adding, “If you start riding your bike at the top of a big hill, you always go downhill, at least for a while.”

More important is what’s measured at the Earth’s surface, where people live, Mears said. Those ground-based systems show a greater degree of warming.

The long-term trend that Mears’ satellites show is about 0.7-degree warming since 1979, when satellites started measuring temperature. Ground-based monitors show a warming of about 1 degree during the same period. And 1979 was not among the top five hottest or coldest years in the 36 years of records.

CRUZ: “John Kerry said in 2009 the polar ice caps will be entirely melted by 2013. … Has anyone noticed the polar ice caps are still there? In fact, there was an expedition that went down to Antarctica to prove that the polar ice caps were melting … (the ship) got stuck in the ice because in fact the polar ice caps have increased. They are larger than they were. So not only was Kerry incorrect, he was spectacularly absolutely opposite the facts.”

THE FACTS: Kerry was talking about the ice cap at the North Pole, and it’s true that it hasn’t melted as he predicted. But in pointing that out, Cruz distorts the facts by referring to a ship that got stuck in Antarctic ice a world away near the South Pole.

Scientists do say it’s only a matter of decades before the sea ice around the North Pole will be melted during the summer months, and some countries’ navies are already exploring the area for quicker sea routes. Scientific measurements in Antarctica — where thick ice sheets sit atop land, not floating on the ocean as in the Arctic — show the ice sheets are diminishing on one side while growing on the other. But the fact that a ship got stuck in ice in the Antarctica doesn’t tell us anything about the phenomenon.

CRUZ: “If you’re a big-government politician, if you want more power, climate change is the perfect pseudo-scientific theory … because it can never, ever, ever be disproven.”

THE FACTS: Far from being pseudo-science, climate change is the consensus view among real scientists.

“The climate is terribly complicated, but it is now remarkably well understood because so many people have made such great efforts at developing sensors and deploying sensors and making sense of what the sensors say,” says Rush Holt, CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world’s largest general scientific society, and a former Democratic congressman. “It’s not just a few fanciful models on a computer, there are real data now. This is a highly developed science.”

CRUZ: “Thirty, 40 years ago a whole bunch of liberal politicians, a bunch of scientists, were advocating, they said we were facing global cooling. We’re going to have another ice age. And their solution to this was massive government control of the economy, the energy sector and every aspect of our lives. But then the facts and science stood in the way. It turned out the Earth wasn’t cooling.”

THE FACTS: Actually, global warming was more of a concern than cooling back in that time. From 1965 to 1979, 44 peer-reviewed scientific studies found the world was warming, 20 found no trend and only seven found cooling, according to a review of literature published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society in 2008.

 

Final goodbye: Roll call of some who died in 2015

Sometimes the act of dying, by itself, represents a type of victory.

Such was the case for Richard “Dick” Walters, who was a leader in the effort to get the state of Vermont to pass aid-in-dying legislation. Diagnosed with lung cancer, Walters ultimately used the law to end his own life in October at age 90, becoming one of the many notables who died in 2015.

Among political figures were King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and a Saudi prince, Saud al-Faisal, recognized as the world’s longest-serving foreign minister. He retired earlier in the year after 40 years in the position and died in July at age 75.

Former West German chancellor Helmut Schmidt, along with Arpad Goncz and Kim Young-sam, the former presidents of Hungary and South Korea, were among world leaders who died. Other political figures included Delaware Attorney General Joseph R. “Beau” Biden III, son of U.S. Vice President Joe Biden; Iraqi politician Ahmad Chalabi; and Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov.

Deaths in the arena of science and innovation included John Forbes Nash Jr., the mathematical genius whose struggle with schizophrenia was chronicled in the film “A Beautiful Mind.”

Some other deaths in the science world:  inventor Forrest Bird, nuclear physicist Ralph Nobles, engineer Oscar Carl Holderer, chemist Carl Djerassi and  scientist Richard Post.

Among the entertainers who died in 2015 was an actor who helped take TV viewers to alien worlds while showing the common humanity that unites everyone: Leonard Nimoy, 83, who was beloved by generations of “Star Trek” fans for his portrayal of the pointy-eared Mr. Spock.

For some, the end came far too soon. At just 22, Bobbi Kristina Brown died in July in hospice care. Her death came six months after she was found face-down in a bathtub in her home, creating an eerie echo of the death of her mother, singer Whitney Houston.

Others in arts and entertainment who died this year include: actors Christopher Lee, Maureen O’Hara, Dick Van Patten, Yvonne Craig and Martin Milner; musicians B.B. King, Demis Roussos, Allen Toussaint, Lynn Anderson, Ben E. King and James Horner; filmmakers Wes Craven and Eldar Ryazanov; writers Terry Pratchett, Gamal el-Ghitani and Guenter Grass; cartoonist Tom Moore and ballerina Maya Plisetskaya.

Here is a roll call of some of the people who died in 2015. (Cause of death cited for younger people, if available.)

JANUARY:

Mario Cuomo, 82. Son of Italian immigrants who became an eloquent spokesman for a generation of liberal Democrats during his three terms as governor of New York. Jan. 1.

Donna Douglas, 82. She played the buxom tomboy Elly May Clampett on the hit 1960s sitcom “The Beverly Hillbillies.” Jan. 1. Pancreatic cancer.

Little Jimmy Dickens, 94. A diminutive singer-songwriter known as the oldest cast member of the Grand Ole Opry. Jan. 2.

Maher Hathout, 79. Prominent interfaith leader hailed as the father of the Muslim American identity. Jan. 2.

Edward W. Brooke, 95. Former U.S. senator from Massachusetts who, as a liberal Republican, became the first black in U.S. history to win popular election to the Senate. Jan. 3.

Arch Alfred Moore Jr., 91. Former West Virginia governor and his era’s most successful Republican in a Democrat-dominated state. Jan. 7.

Andrae Crouch, 72. Legendary gospel performer, songwriter and choir director whose work graced songs by Michael Jackson and Madonna and movies such as “The Lion King.” Jan. 8.

Anita Ekberg, 83. Swedish-born actress and sex-symbol of the 1950s and ‘60s who was immortalized bathing in the Trevi fountain in “La Dolce Vita.” Jan. 11.

Tony Verna, 81. Television director and producer who invented instant replay for live sports. Jan. 18.

Reies Lopez Tijerina, 88. Pentecostal preacher turned activist who led a violent raid of a northern New Mexico courthouse nearly 50 years ago. Jan. 19.

Anne Kirkbride, 60. A star of British soap opera “Coronation Street” for more than 40 years. Jan. 19.

Melvin Gordon, 95. Longtime Tootsie Roll Industries Inc. chairman and CEO, who helped turn the enduring popularity of the humble Tootsie Roll into a candy empire. Jan. 20.

Wendell Ford, 90. Former U.S. senator and Kentucky governor who was an unapologetic smoker whose unfiltered chats and speeches endeared him to voters. Jan. 22.

King Abdullah, 90. The Saudi monarch was a powerful U.S. ally who fought against al-Qaida and sought to modernize the ultraconservative Muslim kingdom, including by nudging open greater opportunities for women. Jan. 23.

Ernie Banks, 83. Hall of Fame slugger and two-time MVP who never lost his boundless enthusiasm for baseball despite years of playing on losing Chicago Cubs teams. Jan. 23.             

Stig Bergling, 77. Former Swedish security officer who sold secrets to the Soviet Union during the Cold War and brazenly escaped while serving a life sentence for espionage. Jan. 24.

Otto Carius, 92. World War II German panzer ace credited with destroying more than 150 enemy tanks, mostly on the Eastern Front. Jan. 24.

Demis Roussos, 68. Renowned Greek singer who was a household name in the 1970s and 1980s across Europe and beyond. Jan. 25.

Rod McKuen, 81. Husky-voiced “King of Kitsch” whose avalanche of music, verse and spoken-word recordings in the 1960s and ‘70s overwhelmed critical mockery and made him an Oscar-nominated songwriter and one of the best-selling poets in history. Jan. 29.

Carl Djerassi, 91. Chemist widely considered the father of the birth control pill. Jan. 30.

Lizabeth Scott, 92. Her long tawny hair, alluring face and low seductive voice made her an ideal film noir star in the 1940s and ‘50s. Jan. 31.

FEBRUARY:

Ann Mara, 85. Matriarch of the NFL’s New York Giants for the past 60 years. Feb. 1.

Fitzhugh “Fitz” Fulton Jr., 89. Pilot known as the “Dean of Flight Test” for his involvement in pioneering programs including the space shuttle piggyback flights. Feb. 4.

Niki Quasney, 38. Terminally ill woman whose desire to have her same-sex marriage recognized by Indiana before she died helped galvanize efforts to overturn the state’s gay marriage ban. Feb. 5. Cancer.

Dean Smith, 83. Coaching innovator who won two national championships at North Carolina, an Olympic gold medal in 1976 and induction into basketball’s Hall of Fame more than a decade before he left the bench. Feb. 7.

Kenji Ekuan, 85. Japanese industrial designer whose works ranged from a bullet train to the red-capped Kikkoman soy sauce dispenser. Feb. 7.

Jerry Tarkanian, 84. Hall of Fame coach who built a basketball dynasty at UNLV but was defined more by his decades-long battle with the NCAA. Feb. 11.

Bob Simon, 73. Longtime “60 Minutes” correspondent who covered riots, Academy Award-nominated movies and wars and was held captive for more than a month in Iraq two decades ago. Feb. 11. Car crash.

Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat, 84. Revered Islamic spiritual leader who helped bolster unity in Malaysia’s opposition bloc and was a key advocate of Islamic law. Feb. 12.

Gary Owens, 80. Droll, mellifluous-voiced announcer on “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In” and a familiar part of radio, TV and movies for more than six decades. Feb. 12.

Michele Ferrero, 89. World’s richest candy maker whose Nutella chocolate and hazlenut spread helped raise generations of Europeans and defined Italian sweets. Feb. 14.

Louis Jourdan, 93. Dashingly handsome Frenchman who starred in “Gigi,” “Can-Can,” “Three Coins in the Fountain” and other American movies. Feb. 14.

Lesley Gore, 68. She topped the charts in 1963 at age 16 with her epic song of teenage angst, “It’s My Party,” and followed it up with the hit “Judy’s Turn to Cry,” and the feminist anthem “You Don’t Own Me.” Feb. 16. Lung cancer.

John Willke, 89. Obstetrician who helped shape the modern anti-abortion movement with ideas including a belief that a woman can resist conception from a sexual assault. Feb. 20.

Ralph Nobles, 94. Nuclear physicist who worked on the Manhattan Project and later led efforts to save thousands of acres of San Francisco Bay wetlands from development. Feb. 20.

Leonard Nimoy, 83. Actor loved by generations of “Star Trek” fans as Mr. Spock, the pointy-eared, purely logical science officer. Feb. 27.

Robert Benmosche, 70. Former AIG President and CEO who led the insurer’s turnaround after its $182 billion government bailout. Feb. 27.

Natalia Revuelta Clews, 89. Cuban socialite who emptied her bank account and sold her diamond jewelry to support Fidel Castro when he was a little-known insurgent. Feb. 27.

Boris Nemtsov, 55. Charismatic Russian opposition leader, former deputy prime minister and a sharp critic of President Vladimir Putin. Feb. 28. Fatally shot near the Kremlin.

MARCH:

Minnie Minoso, 90. He hit a two-run home run in his first at-bat when he became major league baseball’s first black player in Chicago in 1951. March 1.

Beverly Hall, 68. Former Atlanta Public Schools superintendent charged in what prosecutors called a broad conspiracy to cheat on state exams. March 2. Complications from breast cancer.

Dean Hess, 97. Retired Air Force colonel who helped rescue hundreds of orphans in the Korean War and whose exploits prompted a Hollywood film starring Rock Hudson. March 2.

Jim Molyneaux, 94. Soft-spoken, cautious politician who led the Ulster Unionist Party through some of Northern Ireland’s bloodiest years and early efforts at peacemaking. March 9.

Florence Arthaud, 57. First woman to win the prestigious Route du Rhum transatlantic sailing race. March 9. Helicopter crash.

Claude Sitton, 89. Journalist who set the pace for reporters covering the civil rights movement in the South in the 1950s and ‘60s and later won a Pulitzer Prize for distinguished commentary. March 10.

Richard Glatzer, 63. He co-wrote and directed the Alzheimer’s drama “Still Alice” alongside his husband, Wash Westmoreland, while battling ALS. March 10.

Terry Pratchett, 66. Fantasy writer who was the creator of the exuberant, satirical “Discworld” series and author of more than 70 books. March 12.

Michael Graves, 80. Celebrated architect who created whimsical postmodern structures and later designed products for people with disabilities and household goods such as whistling Alessi teakettles and stainless steel colanders. March 12.

Rev. Willie Barrow, 90. Frontline civil rights fighter for decades and a mentor to younger generations of activists. March 12.

Samuel Charters, 85. Historian of American blues, folk and jazz who helped introduce a generation of music lovers to Robert Johnson, Blind Willie McTell and other performers. March 18. Bone marrow disorder.

Malcolm Fraser, 84. Former Australian prime minister who was notoriously catapulted to power by a constitutional crisis that left the nation bitterly divided. March 20.

Jerry Warren, 84. The editor of San Diego’s largest newspaper for 20 years and a White House press secretary during the Nixon and Ford administrations. March 20.

Chuck Bednarik, 89. Pro Football Hall of Famer and one of the last great two-way NFL players. March 21.

Lee Kuan Yew, 91. Founder of modern Singapore who was both feared for his authoritarian tactics and admired for turning the city-state into one of the world’s richest nations while in power for 31 years. March 23.

Gary Ross Dahl, 78. Creator of the wildly popular 1970s fad the Pet Rock. March 23. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Yehuda Avner, 86. Former Israeli diplomat and aide to a string of prime ministers who turned his insider stories about the country’s leaders into a best-selling memoir. March 24.

Carlos Gaviria, 77. Former Colombian presidential candidate who became an icon of the country’s democratic left while presiding over its constitutional court. March 31.

APRIL:

Cynthia Lennon, 75. First wife of the late Beatles singer-sonwriter-guitarist John Lennon. April 1. Cancer

John Paul Hammerschmidt, 92. Longtime Arkansas congressman who defeated Bill Clinton in the former president’s first race for political office. April 1.

Rev. Robert H. Schuller, 88. California televangelist and author who beamed his upbeat messages on faith and redemption to millions of followers from his landmark Crystal Cathedral only to see his empire crumble in his waning years. April 2.

Sarah Kemp Brady, 73. She became an activist for gun control after her husband was shot in the head in the assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan.  April 3.

Robert Burns Jr., 64. Former drummer and a founding member of the Southern hard rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd. April 3. Vehicle crash.

Richard Dysart, 86. Veteran stage and screen actor who played senior partner Leland McKenzie in the long-running TV courtroom drama “L.A. Law.” April 5.

James Best, 88. Prolific character actor best known for his role as Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane on “The Dukes of Hazzard.” April 6. Complications of pneumonia.

Richard Post, 96. Prominent scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory who researched how to store renewable energy. April 7.

Jean-Louis Cremieux-Brilhac, 98. A Jewish member of the French Resistance in charge of propaganda during World War II. April 8.

Joel Spira, 88. He brought the light dimmer switch to households across the nation and transformed his Lutron Electronics Company into a leading manufacturer of lighting controls. April 8.

Lauren Hill, 19. Freshman at Ohio university who fought an inoperable brain tumor to play college basketball. April 10.

Guenter Grass, 87. Nobel-winning German writer who gave voice to the generation that came of age during the horrors of the Nazi era but later ran into controversy over his own World War II past and stance toward Israel. April 13.

Percy Sledge, 74. He recorded the classic 1966 soul ballad “When a Man Loves a Woman.” April 14.

Robert Griffin, 91. Former U.S. Republican senator whose withdrawal of support hastened President Richard Nixon’s resignation during the Watergate scandal. April 16.

Cardinal Francis George, 78. Vigorous defender of Roman Catholic orthodoxy who played a key role in the church’s response to the clergy sex abuse scandal and led the U.S. bishops’ fight against provisions of Obamacare. April 17.

A. Alfred Taubman, 91. Self-made Michigan billionaire whose philanthropy and business success _ including weaving the enclosed shopping mall into American culture _ was clouded by a criminal conviction late in his career. April 17.

Mary Doyle Keefe, 92. The model for Norman Rockwell’s 1943 Rosie the Riveter painting that symbolized the millions of American women who went to work on the home front during World War II. April 21.

Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, 93. Former Auschwitz prisoner and member of Poland’s underground World War II resistance who helped save Jews and later served twice as the country’s foreign minister. April 24.

Don M. Mankiewicz, 93. Oscar-nominated screenwriter from a legendary Hollywood family who created the television shows “Marcus Welby, M.D.” and “Ironside.” April 25.

Suzanne Crough Condray, 52. Youngest daughter on the hit 1970s television show “The Partridge Family.” April 27.

Jack Ely, 71. Singer known for “Louie Louie,” the low-budget recording that became one the most famous songs of the 20th century. April 28.

Jean Nidetch, 91. New York housewife who tackled her own obesity, then shared her guiding principles with others in meetings that became known as Weight Watchers, the most widely known company of its kind. April 29.

Dan Walker, 92. Combative populist who became Illinois governor after condemning Chicago’s reaction to Democratic National Convention demonstrations as “a police riot” and later went to prison for bank fraud. April 29.

Ben E. King, 76. Unforgettable lead singer for the Drifters and solo star whose plaintive baritone graced such pop and rhythm ‘n blues classics as “Stand by Me,” “There Goes My Baby” and “Spanish Harlem.” April 30.

Frank Olivo, 66. He was the fill-in Santa whose downfield jaunt at a Philadelphia Eagles game in 1968 lives on in sports history for the hail of snowballs and shower of boos that rained down on him. April 30.

MAY:

Grace Lee Whitney, 85. She played Captain Kirk’s assistant on the original “Star Trek” series. May 1.

Maya Plisetskaya, 89. She was regarded as one of the greatest ballerinas of the 20th century, her career at the Bolshoi Theater spanning more than 35 years. May 2. Heart attack.

Michael Blake, 69. Writer whose novel “Dances With Wolves” became a major hit movie and earned him an Academy Award for the screenplay. May 2.

Oscar Carl Holderer, 95. He was the last known surviving member of the German engineering team that came to the United States after World War II and designed the rocket that took astronauts to the moon. May 5.

Jim Wright, 92. Longtime Texas Democrat who became the first U.S. House speaker in the nation’s history to be driven out of office in midterm. May 6.

Kenan Evren, 97. Turkish general who led a 1980 coup that ended years of violence but whose rule unleashed a wave of arrests, torture and extrajudicial killings. May 9.

William Zinsser, 92. Teacher, author, journalist and essayist whose million-selling book “On Writing Well” championed the craft of nonfiction and inspired professionals and amateurs to express themselves more concisely and vividly. May 12.

Jim Gaines, 48. An Associated Press video software architect known for his dedication to technological innovation. May 12. Killed in train derailment.

B.B. King, 89. His scorching guitar licks and heartfelt vocals made him the idol of generations of musicians and fans while earning him the nickname King of the Blues. May 14.

Elisabeth Bing, 100. Lamaze International co-founder who popularized what was known as natural childbirth and helped change how women and doctors approached the delivery room. May 15.

Bruce Lundvall, 79. Recording executive who revived the iconic Blue Note Records label in the mid-1980s and turned it into a major influence on the contemporary jazz scene during his 25 years as president. May 19.

Bob Belden, 58. Grammy-winning jazz musician, composer, arranger and producer who was the first American musician to perform in Iran since its 1979 revolution when he toured there in February. May 20. Heart attack.

Marques Haynes, 89. Legendary Harlem Globetrotters showman often called the greatest dribbler in basketball history. May 22.

John Forbes Nash Jr., 86. Mathematical genius whose struggle with schizophrenia was chronicled in the 2001 movie “A Beautiful Mind.” May 23. Killed along with his wife, Alicia Nash, in a car crash.

Anne Meara, 85. Actress and comedian whose comic work with husband Jerry Stiller helped launch a 60-year career in film and TV. May 23.

Hugh Ambrose, 48. He wrote the World War II history “The Pacific” after years of researching for his father, the renowned historian Stephen Ambrose. May 23. Cancer.

Paula Cooper, 45. Indiana woman who was once the nation’s youngest person on death row but whose sentence was eventually commuted to a prison term. May 26. Apparent suicide after she was released.

Doris Hart, 89. Tennis great who won each Grand Slam tournament at least once, and once won three Wimbledon titles in a single day. May 29.

Joseph R. “Beau” Biden III, 46. The son of Vice President Joe Biden and two-time Delaware attorney general. May 30.

L. Tom Perry, 92. A Mormon leader who was a member of the faith’s highest governing body. May 30.

JUNE:

Jean Ritchie, 92. Kentucky-born folksinger who brought the centuries-old ballads she grew up with to a wide audience from the 1950s onward. June 1.

Irwin Rose, 88. Biochemist who shared the 2004 Nobel Prize in chemistry for discovering a way that cells destroy unwanted proteins, which was the basis for developing new therapies for diseases such as cervical cancer and cystic fibrosis. June 2.

Clarence “Bevo” Francis, 82. He had 113 points for Rio Grande College in a 1954 game and was one of college basketball’s great scorers. June 3.

Marguerite Patten, 99. Home economist and chef who helped educate Britons on how to survive on rations during World War II. June 4.

Tariq Aziz, 79. Debonair Iraqi diplomat who made his name by staunchly defending Saddam Hussein to the world during three wars and was later sentenced to death as part of the regime that killed hundreds of thousands of its own people. June 5.

Vincent Bugliosi, 80. Prosecutor who parlayed his handling of the Charles Manson trial into a career as a bestselling author. June 6.

Christopher Lee, 93. Actor who brought dramatic gravitas and aristocratic bearing to screen villains from Dracula to the wicked wizard Saruman in “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy. June 7.

Vincent Musetto, 74. Veteran newspaperman who wrote one of the industry’s most famous headlines: “Headless Body in Topless Bar.” June 9.

Ornette Coleman, 85. Jazz legend and the visionary saxophonist who pioneered “free jazz” and won a Pulitzer Prize in 2007. June 11.

Jack King, 84. NASA public affairs official who became the voice of the Apollo moon shots. June 11.

Virgil Runnels, 69. Former professional wrestler known by his fans as Dusty Rhodes. June 11.

Jim Ed Brown, 81. Longtime Grand Ole Opry member who had solo and group hits and was a prominent figure on country music television shows. June 11.

Blaze Starr, 83. “Knockout” burlesque icon and stripper who drew tourists to post-World War II Baltimore, lent glamour to New Orleans and became known far and wide for her affair with a colorful mid-century Louisiana governor. June 15.

Kirk Kerkorian, 98. Billionaire eighth-grade dropout who built Las Vegas’ biggest hotels, tried to take over Chrysler and bought and sold MGM at a profit three times. June 15.

Suleyman Demirel, 90. Former Turkish president who was a master pragmatist whose remarkable talent for staying on top of Turkish politics saw him survive two coups. June 17.

Ralph Roberts, 95. He built Comcast from a small cable TV system in Mississippi into an entertainment and communications behemoth. June 18.

Donald Featherstone, 79. Creator of the pink plastic lawn flamingo, perhaps the ultimate example of American lawn kitsch. June 22.

James Horner, 61. Composer who won Oscars for accompanying movies’ biggest moments in film such as “Titanic” and “Braveheart.” June 22. Plane crash.

Dick Van Patten, 86. Genial, round-faced comic actor who premiered on Broadway as a child, starred on television in its infancy and then, in middle age, found lasting fame as the patriarch on TV’s “Eight is Enough.” June 23. Complications from diabetes.

Miguel Facusse, 91. Wealthy Honduran businessman involved in a two-decade fight with poor farmers who invaded his palm plantations on the Atlantic coast. June 23.

Patrick Macnee, 93. British-born actor best known as dapper secret agent John Steed in the long-running 1960s TV series “The Avengers.” June 25.

Jack Carter, 93. His brash, caustic comedy made him a star in early television and helped him sustain a career of more than a half-century in TV, nightclubs, movies and on stage. June 28.

JULY:

Nicholas Winton, 106. Humanitarian who almost single-handedly saved more than 650 Jewish children from the Holocaust, earning himself the label “Britain’s Schindler.”  July 1.

Boyd K. Packer, 90. Mormon leader who was president of the faith’s highest governing body. July 3.

Burt Shavitz, 80. Reclusive beekeeper who co-founded Burt’s Bees, and whose face and wild beard appeared on labels for the natural cosmetics. July 5.

Ken Stabler, 69. He led the Oakland Raiders to a Super Bowl victory and was the NFL’s Most Valuable Player in 1974. July 8. Complications from colon cancer.

Saud al-Faisal, 75. Saudi prince who was the world’s longest-serving foreign minister with 40 years in the post until his retirement earlier in the year. July 9.

Omar Sharif, 83. Egyptian-born actor with the dark, soulful eyes who soared to international stardom in movie epics, “Lawrence of Arabia” and “Doctor Zhivago.” July 10. Heart attack.

Roger Rees, 71. Lanky Tony Award-winning Welsh-born actor and director who made his mark onstage as Nicholas Nickleby and later played English multi-millionaire Robin Colcord on the TV show “Cheers.” July 10.

Satoru Iwata, 55. He led Japanese video game company Nintendo Co. through years of growth with its Pokemon and Super Mario franchises. July 11. Bile duct tumor.

Marlene Sanders, 84. Veteran television journalist for ABC and CBS News at a time when relatively few women did that job. July 14. Cancer.

Tom Moore, 86. “Archie” cartoonist who brought to life the escapades of a freckled-face, red-haired character. July 20.

A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, 83. Former Indian president known as the father of the country’s military missile program. July 27.

Ann Rule, 83. True-crime writer who wrote more than 30 books, including a profile of her former co-worker, serial killer Ted Bundy. July 26.

Bobbi Kristina Brown, 22. Daughter of singers Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown, she was raised in the shadow of fame and shattered by the loss of her mother. July 26. Died in hospice care six months after she was found face-down in bathtub.

Lynn Anderson, 67. Her strong voice carried her to the top of the charts with “(I Never Promised You a) Rose Garden.” July 30. Cardiac arrest.

Howard Jones, 104. He pioneered in vitro fertilization in the United States. July 31.

“Rowdy” Roddy Piper, 61. Kilt-wearing trash-talker who headlined the first WrestleMania and later found movie stardom. July 31.

Richard S. Schweiker, 89. Former Pennsylvania senator who was a liberal Republican, named as the prospective vice presidential running mate of Ronald Reagan in the latter’s unsuccessful 1976 campaign and later served in Reagan’s Cabinet. July 31.

AUGUST:

Forrest Bird, 94. Inventor whose medical respirators breathed life back into millions of patients around the world. Aug. 2.

Les Munro, 96. New Zealander who was the last surviving pilot from the specialized World War II “Dambuster” mission targeting German infrastructure. July 4.

Arnold Scaasi, 85. Designer whose bright, flamboyant creations adorned first ladies from Mamie Eisenhower to Laura Bush and film stars from Elizabeth Taylor to Barbra Streisand. Aug. 4.

Frederick R. “Fritz” Payne, 104. World War II fighter ace who left his mark on aviation and wartime history by shooting down six Japanese warplanes during the Battle of Guadalcanal.  Aug. 6.

Manuel Contreras, 86. General who headed the feared spy agency that kidnapped, tortured and killed thousands during Chile’s military dictatorship. Aug. 7.

Frank Gifford, 84. Pro Football Hall of Famer who led the New York Giants to a league championship in 1956 and later teamed up with Howard Cosell and Don Meredith in the “Monday Night Football” booth. Aug. 9.

Rogelio Livieres Plano, 69. A former bishop in Paraguay who was revered by some for building a successful seminary but who was ousted by Pope Francis amid several controversies. Aug. 14. Complications related to diabetes.

Julian Bond, 75. Civil rights pioneer and longtime board chairman of the NAACP. Aug. 15.

Hamid Gul, 78. He led Pakistan’s powerful Inter-Services Intelligence agency as it funneled U.S. and Saudi cash and weapons to Afghan jihadis fighting against the Soviets and later publicly supported Islamic militants. Aug. 15. Brain hemorrhage.

Yvonne Craig, 78. She played the sexy, crime-fighting Batgirl in the 1960s TV hit “Batman.” Aug. 17. Complications from breast cancer.

Ieng Thirith, 83. A Khmer Rouge leader who was the highest-ranking woman in the genocidal regime that oversaw the death of nearly 2 million Cambodians in the late 1970s. Aug. 22.

Paul Royle, 101. Australian pilot who took part in a mass breakout from a German prisoner of war camp during World War II that is remembered as The Great Escape. Aug. 23.

Amelia Boynton Robinson, 104. Civil rights activist who helped lead the 1965 “Bloody Sunday” voting rights march and was the first black woman to run for Congress in Alabama. Aug. 26.

Darryl Dawkins, 58. His board-shattering dunks earned him the moniker “Chocolate Thunder” and helped pave the way for breakaway rims. Aug. 27. Heart attack.

Wes Craven, 76. Prolific writer-director who startled audiences with iconic suburban slashers like “Nightmare on Elm Street” and “Scream.” Aug. 30.

Oliver Sacks, 82. His books, including “The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat,” probed distant ranges of human experience by compassionately portraying people with severe and sometimes bizarre neurological conditions. Aug. 30.

Wayne W. Dyer, 75. He became the pied piper of the self-help movement with the 1976 publication of his runaway best-seller, “Your Erroneous Zones: Step-By-Step Advice for Escaping the Trap of Negative Thinking and Taking Control of Your Life.” Aug. 30.

Dean Jones, 84. His boyish good looks and all-American manner made him Disney’s favorite young actor for such lighthearted films as “That Darn Cat!” and “The Love Bug.” Aug. 31. Parkinson’s disease.

SEPTEMBER:

Ben Kuroki, 98. He overcame the American military’s discriminatory policies to become the only Japanese American to fly over Japan during World War II. Sept. 1.

Judy Carne, 76. A star of TV’s “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In,” she popularized the laugh line, “Sock it to Me,” on the hit comedy show. Sept. 3.

William Grier, 89. Psychiatrist who co-authored the groundbreaking 1968 book, “Black Rage,” which offered the first psychological examination of black life in the United States. Sept. 3.

Martin Milner, 83. His wholesome good looks helped make him the star of two hugely popular 1960s TV series, “Route 66” and “Adam-12.” Sept. 6.

Dick “Dickie” Moore, 89. Saucer-eyed child star of the 1930s who appeared in “Our Gang” comedies, gave Shirley Temple her first screen kiss and was featured in many major Hollywood productions. Sept. 7.

Moses Malone, 60. Three-time NBA MVP and one of basketball’s most ferocious rebounders. Sept. 13.

Fred DeLuca, 67. Co-founder of Subway, who turned a sandwich shop he started as a teenager into one of the world’s largest fast-food chains. Sept. 14.

Jackie Collins, 77. Bestselling author of dozens of novels including “Hollywood Wives” that dramatized the lifestyles of the rich and the treacherous. Sept. 19. Breast cancer.

Sultan Esmail Kiram II, 76. Leader of a sultanate in the southern Philippines that staged a 2013 invasion of a bustling Malaysian state and sparked a deadly security crisis. Sept. 19. Kidney failure.

Ben Cauley, 67. Trumpeter and member of the Stax Records group the Bar-Kays and the only survivor of the 1967 plane crash that killed most of his bandmates and Stax star Otis Redding. Sept. 21.

Yogi Berra, 90. Hall of Fame catcher renowned for his dizzying malapropisms and his record 10 World Series championships with the New York Yankees. Sept. 22.

Richard G. Scott, 86. Mormon leader who was a member of a church governing body called the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles since 1988. Sept. 22.

Richard Rainwater, 71. Son of a North Texas grocer who went on to amass a fortune as an investment manager before becoming a billionaire investor and philanthropist in his own right. Sept. 27.

Walter Dale Miller, 89. Former South Dakota governor who stepped in as the state’s leader in 1993 after a plane crash killed his predecessor. Sept. 28.

Frankie Ford, 76. Rock ‘n’ roll and rhythm and blues singer whose 1959 hit “Sea Cruise” brought him fame when he was 19. Sept. 28.

Phil Woods, 83. Leading alto saxophonist in mainstream jazz for more than 60 years whose piercing solos could also be heard on hit records by Billy Joel and Paul Simon. Sept. 29.

OCTOBER:

Denis Healey, 98. Decorated World War II military hero, former British Treasury chief and a member of the House of Lords. Oct. 3.

Henning Mankell, 67. Renowned Swedish crime writer whose books about the gloomy, soul-searching police inspector Kurt Wallander enticed readers around the world. Oct. 5.

Arpad Goncz, 93. He survived a communist-era life sentence to become Hungary’s first democratically chosen president. Oct. 6.

Paul Prudhomme, 75. Cajun who popularized spicy Louisiana cuisine and became one of the first American restaurant chefs to achieve worldwide fame. Oct. 8.

Larry Rosen, 75. He was one of the most influential and tech-savvy modern jazz producers who co-founded GRP Records with pianist Dave Grusin. Oct. 9.

Geoffrey Howe, 88. Former British Treasury chief who was a prominent figure in Margaret Thatcher’s government but helped bring about her downfall after they parted ways over policy toward Europe. Oct. 9.

Jerry Parr, 85. Secret Service agent credited with saving President Ronald Reagan’s life on the day he was shot outside a Washington hotel. Oct. 9.

Richard Heck, 84.  American Nobel laureate for chemistry who designed a method of building complex molecules that has helped fight cancer, protect crops and make electronic devices. Oct. 10.

Sybil Bailey Stockdale, 90. Navy wife who fought to end the torture of U.S. prisoners of war in Vietnam. Oct. 10.

Joan Leslie, 90. Her expressive almond eyes and innocent beauty made her one of the most popular film ingΘnues of the 1930s and 40s. Oct. 12.

Ken Taylor, 81. Canada’s ambassador to Iran who sheltered Americans at his residence during the 1979 hostage crisis. Oct. 15.

Richard “Dick” Walters, 90. A leader in the effort to get the state of Vermont to pass aid-in-dying legislation and used the rules established under the law to end his own life. Oct. 16.

Gamal el-Ghitani, 70. One of Egypt’s most acclaimed novelists. Oct. 18.

Cory Wells, 74. A founding member of the popular 1970s band Three Dog Night and lead singer on such hits as “Never Been to Spain” and “Mama Told Me (Not to Come).” Oct. 20.

Maureen O’Hara, 95. Flame-haired Irish movie star who appeared in classics ranging from the grim “How Green Was My Valley” to the uplifting “Miracle on 34th Street” and bantered unforgettably with John Wayne in several films. Oct. 24.

Flip Saunders, 60. He rose from the backwaters of basketball’s minor leagues to become one of the most powerful men in the NBA as coach, team president and part owner of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Oct. 25. Cancer.

Al Molinaro, 96. Lovable character actor with the hangdog face who was known to millions of TV viewers for playing Murray the cop on “The Odd Couple” and malt shop owner Al Delvecchio on “Happy Days.” Oct. 30.

Thomas Toivi Blatt, 88. He was among a small number of Jews to survive a mass escape from the Nazi death camp of Sobibor in 1943 and who decades later served as a prominent witness at the trial of an alleged camp guard. Oct. 31.

NOVEMBER:

Guenter Schabowski, 86. Senior East German official whose cryptic announcement that the communist country was opening its fortified border precipitated the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Nov. 1.

Fred Thompson, 73. Former U.S. senator was a folksy Tennessee lawyer whose career led him from politics to Hollywood and back again. Nov. 1.

Ahmad Chalabi, 71. Prominent Iraqi politician who helped convince the Bush administration to launch the 2003 invasion to overthrow Saddam Hussein by providing false evidence of weapons of mass destruction. Nov. 3. Heart attack.

Howard Coble, 84. His penchant for old-time politicking, humor and courtesy helped him become the longest-serving Republican U.S. House member in North Carolina history. Nov. 3.

George Barris, 89. Legendary custom car builder who created television’s original Batmobile and helped define California’s car culture with colorfully designed vehicles ranging from the beautiful to the outrageous. Nov. 5.

Gunnar Hansen, 68. He played the iconic villain Leatherface in the original “Texas Chain Saw Massacre” film. Nov. 7. Pancreatic cancer.

Helmut Schmidt, 96. Former chancellor who guided West Germany through economic turbulence and Cold War tension in the 1970s and early 1980s. Nov. 10.

Allen Toussaint, 77. Legendary New Orleans musician and composer who penned such classics as “Working in a Coal Mine” and “Lady Marmalade.” Nov. 10. Heart attack.

Henry S. Rowen, 90. American policymaker and Stanford University economist who was president of the RAND Corp. when it helped produce the Pentagon Papers. Nov. 12.

Bruce Dayton, 97. Father of Minnesota’s governor and a key figure in building his family’s company into the retail business that became Target Corp. Nov. 13.

Michael C. Gross, 70. Artist, illustrator, film producer and personal designer who created iconic pop culture images, including the “Ghostbusters” logo. Nov. 16.

Milton Pitts Crenchaw, 96. Flight instructor who trained the Tuskegee Airmen, the first African-Americans to fly combat airplanes in World War II. Nov. 17.

Kim Young-sam, 87. Former South Korean president who formally ended decades of military rule in South Korea and accepted a massive international bailout during the 1997-1998 Asian financial crisis. Nov. 22.

Adele Morales Mailer, 90. Actress and artist who studied under Lee Strasberg and Hans Hoffman, but found unwanted fame as the stabbing victim of her then-husband Norman Mailer. Nov. 22. Pneumonia.

Eldar Ryazanov, 88. Filmmaker who satirized and romanticized the life of ordinary Russians in his immensely popular comedies for almost six decades. Nov. 30.

Marcus Klingberg, 97. Israeli scientist jailed for passing information on biological warfare to the Soviet Union. Nov. 30.

DECEMBER:

Sandy Berger, 70. Former national security adviser who helped craft President Bill Clinton’s foreign policy and got in trouble over destroying classified documents. Dec. 2.

Scott Weiland, 48. The former frontman for Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver. Dec. 3.

Robert Loggia, 85. He was an actor known for gravelly voiced gangsters from “Scarface” to “The Sopranos” but who was most endearing as Tom Hanks’ kid-at-heart toy-company boss in “Big.” Dec. 4

Chuck Williams, 100. He founded the Williams-Sonoma empire and ushered in an era of aspirational culinary retailing. Dec. 5

Tibor Rubin, 86. A Hungarian-born concentration camp survivor who joined the U.S. Army out of gratitude for his liberators, fought heroically in Korea and received the Medal of Honor 55 years later. Dec. 5.

Bonnie Lou, 91. A pioneering country music artist and rock ‘n’ roll singer and who later became a TV host. Dec. 8.

Douglas Tompkins, 72. The U.S. co-founder of The North Face and Esprit clothing companies. Dec. 8. Severe hypothermia in a kayaking accident.

7 half-pound mutts become first test-tube puppies

A team of veterinarians, scientists and lab workers gathered around a surrogate hound and watched her give birth to seven half-pound puppies, the first dogs ever conceived in a test tube.

“We each took a puppy and rubbed it with a little towel and when it started to squiggle and cry, we knew we had success,” said Dr. Alexander Travis, who runs the lab at the Baker Institute for Animal Health at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine in Ithaca, New York.

“Their eyes were closed. They were just adorable, cute, with smooshed-in faces. We checked them to make sure they looked normal and were all breathing,” he said.

The puppies born July 10 are a mix of beagle, Labrador and cocker spaniel and are now healthy 5-month-olds, Travis said. All but one female were adopted. She’s being kept by the lab to have her own litter. 

The lab kept track of the puppies by painting their nails with different color polish. Travis adopted two, still known by their nail polish names, Red and Green.

In vitro fertilization, the process of fertilizing an egg with sperm outside the body, is widely used to assist human reproduction these days. The first human birth from IVF took place in 1978. 

But IVF efforts with dogs repeatedly failed until now, according to Dr. Pierre Comizzoli, a reproductive physiologist for the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia, which works with Cornell. 

“The biology of the dog is really, really different than humans,” Comizzoli said. Dog pregnancies last only two months and females go into heat just once or twice a year, releasing immature eggs instead of mature eggs needed for IVF. 

An earlier experiment at Cornell helped pave the way. In 2013 at Cornell, Klondike became the first puppy born from a frozen embryo. Klondike’s beagle mother was fertilized using artificial insemination. Her embryos were collected, frozen and implanted in Klondike’s surrogate mother. 

Comizzoli described the birth of the seven puppies “as a huge breakthrough.”

A paper describing the Cornell litter as “the first live births from in vitro fertilized embryos in the dog” appeared Tuesday in the PLOS ONE journal. The lead author, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute doctoral fellow Jennifer Nagashima, said IVF technology in dogs could prove useful in everything from conserving endangered species to removing “deleterious traits from breeds,” with research potentially applicable to “models for human disease” as well.

Scientists: Draft climate pact puts temperature limit out of reach

A deal to slow climate change being thrashed out in Paris fails to map out steep enough cuts in carbon dioxide emissions to limit global warming to the target of at least “well below” 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit), scientists said on Dec. 11.

Negotiations on the draft agreement to curb greenhouse gas emissions were extended by a day to Dec. 12 to try to overcome stubborn divisions among the 195 countries taking part.

The draft text, released on Dec. 10 and subject to revision, also proposes that emissions peak “as soon as possible,” with rapid cuts thereafter towards achieving “greenhouse gas emissions neutrality in the second half of the century.”

Neutrality refers to all greenhouse gases, not just carbon dioxide, and means net zero man-made emissions from all sectors.

Overall emissions would need to be reduced to as close to zero as possible and any remaining would have to be soaked up by forests and soils or buried underground by costly technology such as carbon capture and storage.

Scientists said the targets in the draft were too lax to achieve the goal of limiting global temperature rises above pre-industrial times to “well below 2C,” while pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5C (2.7F).

The rise in average global temperatures above pre-industrial times will exceed 1C this year, Britain’s Met Office has said.

‘WISHFUL THINKING’

More than 100 developing nations favor the 1.5C goal, saying higher temperature rises will bring more floods, droughts, decertification and sea level rise that could swamp low-lying islands from the Pacific to the Caribbean

“This is wishful thinking. You might call it pie in the sky,” Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, head of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, told Reuters.

He said emissions neutrality would have to be reached by 2050 to achieve the 1.5C goal, yet the text was too vague by talking about the second half of the century — up to 2099.

To meet a 2C limit, global emissions would have to peak by 2020 with net zero emissions of carbon dioxide by 2070, according to the U.N. panel of climate scientists.

Current national emissions cut plans put the planet on a far higher path, unless the world could abruptly shift to “negative emissions,” such as soaking up greenhouse gases from nature after 2030 with new technologies, Schellnhuber said.

So far, more than 180 nations have put forward plans to cut emissions but they put the world on a path to warming anywhere from 2.7C to 3.7C, according to scientific studies.

Scientists also said the language was weaker than in previous drafts.

“(This) has been replaced by rather vague formulations,” said Stefen Kalbekken, from the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research in Oslo.

Meeting a 1.5C limit would require higher energy prices to spur investment in cleaner energy sources, bioenergy and carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology, which captures carbon dioxide and stores it underground.

“It will need the development of a capacity for disposing of CO2 on a reasonably large scale, either captured from the air or from emissions from fossil fuels that countries or companies simply cannot bring themselves to leave in the ground,” said Myles Allen, professor of geosystem science at the University of Oxford.

CCS technology is still small scale and very costly.

There are currently 15 projects in operation worldwide. The International Energy Agency has said that by 2040, four billion tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions must be captured to keep global warming at bay, which is 100 times more than the total CCS projects expected to be online in the next 18 months.

Wisconsin Republicans fire DNR scientists working on research related to climate change and pollution

Republican lawmakers are cutting scientists from the Department of Natural Resources who worked on issues related to climate change, pollution and mining.

Republicans claim the cuts are designed to refocus the DNR on hunting and fishing. But Democrats say the GOP is retaliating against researchers in areas they oppose for political reasons.

“It has to be political,” Rep. Chris Taylor, D-Madison, a member of the Legislature’s budget committee, said of the cuts. “The public hasn’t called for this. Most people in the state want decisions about the environment to be based on science, not politics.”

Republican Gov. Scott Walker, an unannounced 2016 presidential contender, included provisions in his state budget to slash 17.5 researcher positions from the DNR’s Science Services Bureau, which would leave it with 12.85 research positions.

The budget says the cut positions no longer serve the DNR’s core mission. Asked to explain, Walker’s spokeswoman Laurel Patrick said in an email that Walker is focused on streamlining state government and making it more efficient.

The Bureau of Science Services’ biennial research plan released in 2013 called for extensive study on how climate change has affected the Great Lakes, Wisconsin’s river ecosystems, and the state’s forests, wildlife and fish. According to the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau, of the 96,200 hours the bureau worked in fiscal year 2013–14, 2,800 hours were spent on climate change-related research.

The plan also called for research into what it termed “emerging” pollutants such as prescription drugs, hormones and industrial additives and agents. In addition, it called for developing ways to predict and mitigate how sand, iron and sulfide mining affects air and water, plants and animals, and creating new monitoring strategies for newly permitted mines.

The bureau’s fish and wildlife-forestry sections undertook 109 projects in the 2012–13 and 2013–14 fiscal years, according to the Fiscal Bureau. Thirteen involved pollution research. One involved providing research to the DNR’s water division on recommendations for monitoring parameters in iron mining applications.

All of those issues are politically inconvenient for Republicans, whose donors are involved in pollution-producing businesses that are costlier to operate under environmental regulations. Republicans, including Walker, don’t allow staff to even talk about climate change, let alone the fact that an overwhelming preponderance of scientific evidence shows it’s happening.

Two years ago, the Wisconsin GOP completely revamped Wisconsin’s mining laws to clear the regulatory path for a giant iron mine just south of Lake Superior. The company that prompted the change in rules contributed $700,000 to Walker and Republicans.

Republicans on the Legislature’s finance committee approved the science position cuts earlier this month. Committee member Tom Tiffany, a Republican state senator from Hazelhurst who authored the mining regulation overhaul, led the charge, writing a motion to keep the cuts in the budget.

Committee Democrats accused Republicans of retaliating against the scientists for their work on climate change and mining regulations. They demanded the GOP turn its ire toward DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp, a Walker appointee who approved the bureau’s research plan. Republicans didn’t offer a direct defense, although Tiffany assured the Democrats that other DNR divisions could absorb the work and dismissed their complaints as hyperbole.

Tiffany denied in a phone interview that the cuts are retaliatory, but he said he doesn’t think the office has helped sportsmen. The bureau’s deer population estimates, for example, led to too many antlerless permits in northern Wisconsin over the years and the region’s herd still hasn’t recovered, he said.

Integrating the scientists’ tasks within the DNR’s divisions will improve focus on practical projects rather than “theoretical” issues such as climate change, Tiffany said.

“Let’s make sure we’re doing applied science that benefits people here in Wisconsin,” Tiffany said. “Let’s offer more opportunities for sportsmen rather than going off on something that’s theoretical.”

More than 90 percent of peer-reviewed scientific literature supports the notion that the world is warming due to human activity, especially burning fossil fuels.

The science bureau’s director, Jack Sullivan, declined to comment.

Layoffs at Wisconsin DNR would trigger terminations of limited-term employees

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed cuts to Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources scientists could extend beyond what budget documents have portrayed.

A state law requires that before the DNR can lay off a single permanent staffer, it must let go any limited term employees or probationary employees with the same job classification.

The governor has proposed to cut 66 positions from the agency, 18.4 of them research scientists from the Bureau of Science Services.

Agency spokesman Bill Cosh confirmed that the DNR notified LTEs who were at risk, but he did not answer questions about how many people the proposed cuts could affect or how the cuts would affect research.

The science bureau relies heavily upon limited-term employees as a money-saving measure; they do not qualify for tenure, paid holidays, sick leave or vacations. They are considered temporary, but some have worked there for more than 10 years.

According to numbers DNR furnished the Legislative Fiscal Bureau in early May, the science bureau has 95 LTEs — 41 classified as senior research scientists and eight as advanced research scientists. Another 33 are technicians.

George Meyer, a former DNR secretary who now is executive director of the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, said the DNR asked the state Department of Administration for an exemption from the LTE termination rule — but was denied.

Cosh did not answer questions attempting to confirm the exemption and obtain related documents.

Layoffs are not certain even if the cuts go through, because people with cut positions may apply for other jobs within the agency, or “bump” less senior staffers and take their jobs.

Cosh said the DNR is working with the at-risk staff “to avoid layoffs.”

Helen Sarakinos of the River Alliance of Wisconsin said the DNR administration has so far failed to explain how the science will continue, for instance whether “at risk” scientists will be offered science positions in other divisions.

“Who is going to do the work? They’re not answering that, and they’re certainly not behaving as if they’re intending to protect the capacity to do that work,” she said.

This story is part of Water Watch Wisconsin, a project examining water quality and supply issues. The nonprofit Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism (www.WisconsinWatch.org) collaborates with Wisconsin Public Radio, Wisconsin Public Television, other news media and the UW-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication. All works created, published, posted or disseminated by the center do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of UW-Madison or any of its affiliates.

Isle Royale National wolf population drops to 3

Scientists say the gray wolf population at Isle Royale National Park has dropped to three and is on the verge of disappearing.

Researchers with Michigan Technological University released their annual report on the island park’s wolves and moose late last week. They said the wolf count has continued a sharp decline since 2009, when it stood at 24. It was nine last year.

Fewer wolves are on the Lake Superior island chain now than at any time since scientists began studying them in the 1950s.

Study leaders Rolf Peterson and John Vucetich have called repeatedly for park officials to bring more wolves to the island to replenish the gene pool.

Their report says the moose population has risen to 1,250 as the number of wolves to prey on them has plummeted.

The population decline has been observed as some states — including Wisconsin under the administration of Gov. Scott Walker— have been allowed to license wolf hunts.

Student scientists study living dead

In the event of a zombie outbreak, don’t muddle around watching Atlanta burn or New York City fall. Run for the Rockies.

A team of students at Cornell University created a model for how a zombie outbreak might develop in the United States. The modeling shows the safest places to safeguard the human brain are remote locations, especially the Northern Rockies.

The research team presented its work modeling the statistical mechanics of zombies on March 5 at a meeting in San Antonio, Texas.

“Modeling zombies takes you through a lot of the techniques used to model real diseases, albeit in a fun context,” said Alexander Alemi, a graduate student at the New York state university.

Alemi, Matthew Bierbaum, Christopher R. Myers and James P. Sethna conducted the research, which involved a full-scale simulation of an outbreak in the United States and an analysis. They summed up their findings in an abstract published in the Bulletin of the American Physical Society: We “discover that for the realistic parameters, we are largely doomed.”

But doomsday doesn’t come as quickly as many “living dead” films and graphic novels suggest. In the Cornell research, cities would fall quickly, but the outbreak would take weeks to penetrate into less densely populated areas and months to reach the Northern Mountain time zone.

“Once the zombies invade more sparsely populated areas, the whole outbreak slows down — there are fewer humans to bite, so you start creating zombies at a slower rate,” said Alemi. “I’d love to see a fictional account where most of New York City falls in a day, but upstate New York has a month or so to prepare.”

To reach their determination, the researchers made a lot of computations, employing models that address complex interactions between people and groups and then large-scale simulations of the progress of the disease outbreak.

“Each possible interaction — zombie bites human, human kills zombie, zombie moves — is treated like a radioactive decay, with a half-life that depends on some parameters,” Alemi said. “And we tried to simulate the times it would take for all of these different interactions to fire, where complications arise because when one thing happens it can affect the rates at which all of the other things happen.”

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