Issue Date: December 21, 2009
This is C&EN’s last issue of the year. In years past, the cover story in this issue has been our “Chemical Year in Review,” a look at some of the seminal research advances in chemistry and related disciplines covered in C&EN during the year. This issue does contain the “Chemical Year in Review” for 2009, but it is the lead Science & Technology Department story.
The cover story focuses on the science behind the debate on global warming and climate change by Senior Correspondent Stephen K. Ritter. The image on the cover, from NASA, shows the Arctic ice conditions at the end of the melt season in 2007. It was the lowest extent of Arctic sea ice on record; an open Northwest Passage is visible. The image was produced from sea ice observations collected by the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer on NASA’s Aqua satellite overlaid on the NASA Blue Marble, the most detailed and accurate series of color images of Earth.
“Global Warming and Climate Change” is a major story, more than 8,000 words over nine pages, that Ritter has been working on for several months. Regular readers of C&EN know my opinions about global warming. However, in late summer I asked Ritter, one of C&EN’s most rigorous, objective, and experienced science reporters, to look carefully at the criticisms leveled against the idea that human activities are causing Earth’s climate to change. I asked him to talk to scientists on both sides of the debate and prepare a fair assessment of where the science is today. I believe he has accomplished that assignment admirably. I hope you find the story useful in the evolution of your understanding of this great problem facing the world.
The issue also contains three news stories on developments at the United Nations climate-change meeting held over the past two weeks in Copenhagen. C&EN Senior Correspondent Cheryl Hogue was in Copenhagen for the duration of the meeting, and her news stories, augmented by input from Senior Correspondent Jeff Johnson, in this and last week’s issues provide important information on the complex debates over addressing climate change. Postings on “C&ENtral Science” on C&EN Online by Hogue and Environmental Science & Technology Editor-in-Chief Jerald Schnoor and Associate Editor Pedro Alvarez, and students accompanying them, provide further insights and context from the Copenhagen meeting. A full report on the meeting by Hogue will appear in a January issue of C&EN.
The “Chemical Year in Review” feature was also compiled and written by Ritter, with production assistance for the print and C&EN Online versions of the review from Art Director Nathan Becker and Online Visual Designer Tchad Blair. The 12 research advances highlighted in the review are, for the most part, examples of beautiful chemistry that will never make headlines in major newspapers or be featured on a network news program. This is chemistry at its purest.
The Great Recession of 2008–09 dominated the chemical business landscape, according to Senior Correspondent Marc Reisch and Senior Editor Alexander Tullo in the Business Department’s “Year in Review.” In 2009, U.S. chemical demand fell 9.4% and earnings collapsed. Three major chemical firms filed for bankruptcy, and a number of others were purchased at distressed prices. Tens of thousands of employees were laid off. Production was curtailed. “Perhaps the best thing that can be said for the year is that it is nearly over,” Reisch and Tullo write.
That is a sentiment I share. It was a difficult year for C&EN and ACS. Of the 56 positions eliminated at ACS in April as a necessary but painful workforce reduction, 24 were associated in some way with C&EN, nine of them from C&EN’s core staff. They are colleagues who continue to be missed.
I want to take this opportunity to thank the outstanding colleagues who remain and who give their all each week to produce this outstanding newsmagazine. And finally, I want to thank you, our readers, for whom this enterprise that is C&EN exists. Best wishes for a healthy and prosperous 2010.
Thanks, as always, for reading.
Views expressed on this page are those of the author and not necessarily those of ACS.
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