Newsletter Digest: Blood alcohol, the GRA Summit and Phil Jones’ exoneration

The science of blood alcohol levels

The Government is considering whether or not to reduce the current adult blood alcohol consumption limit from 80mg/100ml (0.08) to 50mg/100ml (0.05), in a bid to cut accidents and deaths resulting from drink driving.

Cabinet will consider the issue this month and has floated a potential reduction as part of its ten year road safety strategy Safer Journeys.

But what would a cut in the blood alcohol limit mean in technical terms? How much less alcohol would you be able to consume? How is alcohol absorbed into the body? What impact does the speed at which you metabolise alcohol make?

All of these questions and others will be answered in an Online SMC briefing being held in conjunction with ESR and scheduled for 11am, Thursday April 8. Journalists are invited to dial in from their desks and watch a slide presentation via the internet. Contact the SMC for more details. Registered journalists will receive further briefing details on Tuesday.

SMC Infographics

The briefing will also mark the first in a series of SMC Infographics the Science Media Centre is producing. These graphics, designed to allow people to get the gist of a science story in a glance, will be made available to the media in multiple formats for use in print or online.

Other planned SMC Infographics in the series will cover energy through to nutrition. Ideas for graphics are very much welcomed. Contact the SMC for more details.

Emissions scientists hit Wellington

The inaugural meeting of the Global Research Alliance kicks off next week in Wellington, a significant and high-level event for New Zealand, which is taking a leading role in the global bid to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (CO2 equivalents) from agriculture.

While the opening day is open to media, most of the conference will be closed to the public and the media, although journalists will have access to key officials and, hopefully, some international scientists. Journalists who missed the MAF briefing on what to expect next week can listen to this SMC podcast featuring MAF Deputy Director-General of Policy, Paul Stocks.

Climategate protagonist off the hook

It has been a good week for the University of East Anglia’s Dr Phil Jones, the central figure in the “climategate” scandal who has been exonerated in a British parliamentary committee report into the affair.

The Science and Technology Committee report found that Jones had acted with integrity and that the contents of the leaked emails from the Climate Research Unit he heads did not challenge the “scientific consensus” about climate change.

But it wasn’t all positive for Jones. The committee flagged a worrying lack of transparency in climate science, which it has urged the scientific community in general to address. In the words of committee chair, Phil Willis MP:

“Climate science is a matter of global importance. On the basis of the science, governments across the world will be spending trillions of pounds on climate change mitigation.

“The quality of the science therefore has to be irreproachable. What this inquiry revealed was that climate scientists need to take steps to make available all the data that support their work and full methodological workings, including their computer codes. Had both been available, many of the problems at CRU could have been avoided.”

One thought on “Newsletter Digest: Blood alcohol, the GRA Summit and Phil Jones’ exoneration

  1. Phil Jones has not been ‘exonerated’, nor is he ‘off the hook’. The Commons committee only looked at the narrow issue of disclosure of climate data, and even then Jones had his knuckles rapped over his attitude to Freedom of Information requests. The real inquiries, the two which are looking at the integrity of the CRU’s data and of the science used, are still ongoing.