January 30

For an explanation of this project, read here.

A rare peek into drug company documents reveals troubling differences between publicly available information and materials the company holds close to its chest. Pfizer Inc. has agreed to plead guilty and pay $430 million in fines to settle charges that its Warner-Lambert unit flouted federal law by promoting non-approved uses for one of its drugs. One of the hidden secrets of the medical literature is that the named authors on a paper’s byline, particularly in the case of clinical trials, are not necessarily the individuals who wrote the paper. New estimates from a Norwegian research project show meeting targets for minimizing global warming may be more achievable than previously thought. Policymakers are attempting to contain global warming at less than 2°C. At least in America, CO2 emissions have dropped dramatically. New research produced by a Norwegian government project, described as “truly sensational” by independent experts, indicates that humanity’s carbon emissions produce far less global warming than had been thought: so much so that there is no danger of producing warming beyond the IPCC upper safe limit of 2°C for many decades. Purveyors of climate doubt have seized on a news release from the Research Council of Norway with this provocative title: “Global warming less extreme than feared?” Last year, after opponents of hydraulic fracturing made much of an unpublished paper by a doctoral candidate in economics who reported finding health impacts in infants from nearby gas drilling operations, I wrote a piece titled “When Publicity Precedes Peer Review in the Fight Over Gas Impacts.” A press release last week appeared to present the results of new research suggesting earth’s climate is not as sensitive to carbon dioxide as scientists previously thought. A press release from a Norwegian project attempting to estimate the Earth’s climate sensitivity (generally measured as how much the planet’s surface will warm in response to the energy imbalance caused by the increased greenhouse effect from a doubling of atmospheric CO2) has drawn quite a bit of attention in the media as suggesting that global warming may be “less extreme than feared.” A just-completed evaluation reveals that many of Norway’s independent regional research institutes are too small.