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Topic: Ethics (Read 1256 times)
December 16, 2009, 09:24:54 AM »
Climate Scientists and Ethics: Some Advice from a Finance Professor
By Theo Vermaelen
Climate scientists need to learn about ethics from finance professors, another group who gather historical data and construct models to make forecasts.
Climate scientists from the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia have come under fire as a result of the release of thousands of e-mails and documents. The e-mails allegedly reveal data manipulation and intimidation of opponents to promote the theory of man-made global warming. As a result of the scandal, dubbed "Climategate," some of the climatologists involved have stepped aside or are under investigation by their university. An update on the latest press clippings on Climategate can be found at climatedepot.com.
The main accusation: data manipulation to hide the "Medieval Warming Period"
Most observers agree that the most damaging e-mail is the one sent by Phil Jones, head of the CRU, in 1999, to three of his colleagues:
I've just completed Mike's Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (from 1981 onwards) and from 1961 for Keith's to hide the decline ...
What "decline" are the scientists apparently trying to hide? An excellent, more detailed discussion can be found in an article written by Marc Sheppard for American Thinker. I will only provide a brief summary of the arguments for those who have not being paying attention. Sheppard's article may be useful in continental Europe, where the whole controversy is barely discussed in the mainstream press in spite (or perhaps because) of the Copenhagen conference.
The leading authority on climate change is the IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. It provides policy recommendations to government officials. In its first climate change assessment report in 1990, the IPCC published a graph (Figure 1) which showed average global temperature changes during the last millennium. The graph shows a large increase in temperature from 900 to 1300, called the Medieval Warming Period (MWP). This period was followed by the Little Ice Age until 1850, when the current warming period began. Obviously, if temperatures were higher in the MWP than today, global warming is not "man-made" -- i.e., it cannot be the result of economic activity but rather a result of external forces beyond our control.
Figure 1: Temperature changes since 900 AD (IPCC, 1990, Figure 7c)
In 2001, the IPCC assessment report shows a very different graph (Figure 2) without an MWP but with a gradual decline in temperatures from 1000 to 1850, followed by a strong increase in temperatures, especially in the second half of the 20th century. The graph is based on two papers by Mann et al. (1999), Jones et al. (1999) and Briffa (2000). The graph that fits actual temperatures best from 1900 to 1980 (Mann et al. ) is then shown in Figure 3 (below), which was published in the IPCC 2001 Summary for Policy Makers. This graph (also called Mann's "hockey stick") has become the poster child of the man-made global warming movement and is regularly published in newspapers (e.g. the International Herald Tribune, December 8, 2009, p6).
Figure 2: Average Northern Hemisphere temperature anomalies: results from individual studies. (IPCC, WG1, Figure 2.21)
Why did the MWP disappear? Because actual measurement of temperatures with thermometers only started in 1850, all temperature data for prior years have to be estimated by proxies such as a lake sediments, ice cores, boreholes, and tree rings. These proxies are then combined in complex computer programs. Occasionally, proxies are based on tree rings only. For example, Keith's Briffa's proxy is based on tree ring data from Polar Ural.
All three graphs in figure 2 show a strong correlation between the proxies used in the papers and the actual temperatures from 1900 until 1960, which is not surprising, as it appears from the source files (revealed together with the e-mails) that proxies that did not fit well with actual temperatures were purposely ignored. The problem is that these proxies are not really correlated with temperatures outside this estimation period. For example, while real temperatures rose after 1960, Keith Briffa's proxy shows a decline in temperature. The same decline must have happened with the Mann and Jones papers after 1980, which now makes it clear what Jones meant in his e-mail. The "trick" consists of "hiding the decline" by replacing the proxy with the real temperatures after 1961 for Briffa's paper, and after 1980 for the Jones and Mann papers. That explains the puzzling fact that in all figures, the reconstructed data stop in 1980 and are replaced by instrumental data. Moreover, although instrumental data are available from 1850 to 1900, these data are not used in figure 3. One possible reason is that, as with the post-1980 data, the pre-1900 data don't match with the reconstructed data.
Figure 3: Average Northern Hemisphere temperature anomalies: pooled results (IPCC, WG1, Figure 2.20)
But this of course means that the proxies in the reconstructed data are wrong, as the quality of a proxy depends on its ability to forecast outside the estimation period. This makes the whole pre-1850 period analysis irrelevant. In other words, the research does not prove that there was no MWP, which is the necessary condition for claiming that warming is driven by human activity. This is why it is not surprising that many people blame the scientists for having manipulated the data to hide the MWP.
Lessons from finance
What does this say about the integrity of other academics, such as finance professors?
I believe that finance academics are much more resistant to unethical behavior because we believe in a number of "best practices." I strongly recommend these practices to the climate science community:
Data should be made publicly available at a reasonable cost.
While climate scientists try to explain temperatures, finance professors try to explain stock prices. In the early sixties, the University of Chicago set up the Center for Research in Security Prices to collect historical data on stock prices and other financial information. This information is made available to all academic institutions for a fee. Climate researchers should do the same. Moreover, as they use proxies for temperatures in the pre-1850 period, they should disclose how and why these proxies were chosen and how they are combined in computer algorithms. This is an important issue, as the one of the most common sources for estimating pre-1850 temperatures is tree rings. But considering that the number of trees is infinite, it seems to me that you can always find a tree that gets you the desired result. This is, I believe, the basic difference between climatology and finance: we don't try to estimate stock prices if there is no organized stock exchange with verifiable records. This significantly reduces the potential for cherry-picking and data manipulation.
Data should be respected, theories not
The quality of a theory depends on its ability to explain the facts. So when the facts don't fit the theory, the theory should be changed, not the facts.
For example, one of the leading Nobel Prize-winning financial models is the Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM). When it was first tested using data prior to 1970, it was found to be roughly consistent with the facts and became for a while the holy grail of finance. However, as time went by, anomalies were discovered, the model was rejected, and alternatives were proposed. Some of these alternatives were proposed by the same researchers who provided the original empirical support for the CAPM. So there is nothing embarrassing about changing your mind after seeing new evidence.
This way of operating is quite different from the climate scientist practices revealed in an e-mail exchange of October 2009. In particular, one of the scientists says, "The fact is we can't account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can't."
He was referring to the fact that global temperatures have actually declined since the prediction of increased global warming in 1998. The e-mail was a result of the fact that Paul Hudson, the BBC's reporter on climate change, had pointed this out. Rather than calling this a "travesty," the scientists should have welcomed this as an interesting development and a call for remodeling. Perhaps we are at the beginning of a period of global cooling, as some scientists suggest. So let's hold on to the SUV for the moment.
Don't create institutions that decide whether an academic debate is closed.
The academic finance area does not have an institution such as the IPCC that assesses periodically whether a specific theory should be accepted as absolute truth. In January 2001, the IPCC stated that "there is new and stronger evidence that most of the warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities." All main national and international science academies subsequently endorsed this opinion. For finance academics, such unanimity is unusual. Academic debates in finance rarely are declared "closed." For example, one of the debates in finance that has gone on for as long as I can remember, and will never be settled, is whether the stock market is informationally efficient. It would be unthinkable that, once in a while, there would be an official organization declaring the state of the Efficient Market Hypothesis, and deciding which papers are relevant and which ones are not. The danger is that such organizations would be dominated by academics who want to push their particular point of view and declare the academic debate closed.
Evidence consistent with such behavior at the IPCC can be readily inferred from the fact that none of authors of the 2001 report questioned figure 3. Indeed, I find it most disturbing that none of the scientists (or policymakers, or other science academies and scientific societies that have endorsed the IPCC 2001 opinion) insisted on seeing the reconstructed data from 1980-2000 to check whether the proxies were relevant. It is as if I would use stock price data from 1900 to 1980 to design a trading rule, publish it in 2001, and then the referee would not ask me to check whether the rule works from 1981 to 2000! The only possible explanation for the lack of curiosity among scientists and policymakers is that they liked the "hockey stick" picture, which showed that warming in the 20th century was unprecedented. So if climate scientists want to regain credibility, I recommend that they close down the IPCC. Alternatively, the IPCC should transform itself in a lobby group for man-made global warming, but should not pretend to be an objective assessor of climate change research.
Don't become captive to a political movement or an industry.
Although many of us are funded by financial institutions, we don't refrain from criticizing those who feed us. For example, there are numerous papers advocating the Efficient Market Hypothesis, which claims that active portfolio managers create no value and that the optimal investment strategy is to invest in an index fund. Others have shown that acquisitions destroy value for bidders, often blaming the success fees of investment bankers as well as the use of earnings multiples in valuation. This critique has not prevented finance professors from being endowed with chairs financed by asset management firms and investment banks. The reason, I believe, is that whatever we say or write does not have a major impact on the real world. Indeed, there are numerous successful active portfolio managers, and bankers still use multiples when valuing companies.
Climate scientists, on the other hand, are being taken very seriously by politicians, environmentalists, and businesspeople. For example, alternative energy producers can survive only thanks to government subsidies, regulation, and taxes on their competitors in the "non-alternative" energy sector. These government policies will be implemented only if the public is convinced that global warming is a man-made, serious problem. Hence, climate scientists may be more reluctant to revise their theories if so many people's fortunes depend on the acceptance of these theories. So this should perhaps be another message: don't take yourself too seriously so that others won't take you too seriously either.
Theo Vermaelen is Professor of Finance at INSEAD. The views expressed here are his own.
Page Printed from:
at December 16, 2009 - 10:19:46 AM EST
Reply #1 on:
December 16, 2009, 07:02:54 PM »
In the MIT Climategate Forum, Ronald Prinn trotted out what has become one of the standard “move along” memes in the climate science community: that while the “tone” of the Climategate emails was “unprofessional”, they did not succeed in their “endeavour” to prevent publication of articles in journals or mentions in IPCC. Prinn at around minute 48 says:
Number 2. Were the people successful in their endeavour to preventing publication in journals or mentions in IPCC ? This is a very important question. Could one successfully do that? Five papers by McIntyre and McKitrick were published and then referenced and discussed in the IPCC… But were the people successful in their endeavour to preventing publication in journals or mentions in IPCC ? The answer is no. They were not successful. [elision does not seem germane to this particular]
As so often in climate science, Prinn is talking without apparently doing any due diligence. The Climategate Letters provide many examples of CRU and their associates successfully preventing publication of articles in journals. Most of these examples do not pertain to the Mc-Mc articles and, indeed, some of the most egregious examples precede our entry onto the scene in late 2003.
Today, I’ll provide two 2003 and two 2004 examples where, contrary to Prinn’s soporific “move-along”, CRU and their associates successfully prevented publications of four articles (the identity of which is presently unknown.) There are other examples in the Climategate Letters which I’ll discuss on other occasions.
June 4, 2003 Briffa to Cook 1054748574
On June 4, 2003, Briffa, apparently acting as editor (presumably for Holocene), contacted his friend Ed Cook of Lamont-Doherty in the U.S. who was acting as a reviewer telling him that “confidentially” he needed a “hard and if required extensive case for rejecting”, in the process advising Cook of the identity and recommendation of the other reviewer. There are obviously many issues involved in the following as an editor instruction:
From: Keith Briffa
To: Edward Cook
Subject: Re: Review- confidential REALLY URGENT
Date: Wed Jun 4 13:42:54 2003
I am really sorry but I have to nag about that review – Confidentially I now need a hard and if required extensive case for rejecting - to support Dave Stahle’s and really as soon as you can. Please
Cook to Briffa, June 4, 2003
In a reply the same day, Cook told Briffa about a review for Journal of Agricultural, Biological, and Environmental Sciences of a paper which, if not rejected, could “really do some damage”. Cook goes on to say that it is an “ugly” paper to review because it is “rather mathematical” and it “won’t be easy to dismiss out of hand as the math appears to be correct theoretically”. Here is the complete email:
Okay, today. Promise! Now something to ask from you. Actually somewhat important too. I got a paper to review (submitted to the Journal of Agricultural, Biological, and Environmental Sciences), written by a Korean guy and someone from Berkeley, that claims that the method of reconstruction that we use in dendroclimatology (reverse regression) is wrong, biased, lousy, horrible, etc. They use your Tornetrask recon as the main whipping boy. I have a file that you gave me in 1993 that comes from your 1992 paper. Below is part of that file. Is this the right one? Also, is it possible to resurrect the column headings? I would like to play with it in an effort to refute their claims. If published as is, this paper could really do some damage. It is also an ugly paper to review because it is rather mathematical, with a lot of Box-Jenkins stuff in it. It won’t be easy to dismiss out of hand as the math appears to be correct theoretically, but it suffers from the classic problem of pointing out theoretical deficiencies, without showing that their improved inverse regression method is actually better in a practical sense. So they do lots of monte carlo stuff that shows the superiority of their method and the deficiencies of our way of doing things, but NEVER actually show how their method would change the Tornetrask reconstruction from what you produced. Your assistance here is greatly appreciated. Otherwise, I will let Tornetrask sink into the melting permafrost of northern Sweden (just kidding of course).
Briffa promptly replied:
Hi Big Boy
You just caught me as I was about to slope off after a brutal day …[chitchat]… This attack sounds like the last straw- from what you say it is a waste of time my looking at it but send a copy anyway. [more chitchat]
Jones to Mann Mar 31, 2004
On Mar 31, 2004 Jones wrote to to Mann as follows:
Recently rejected two papers (one for JGR and for GRL) from people saying CRU has it wrong over Siberia. Went to town in both reviews, hopefully successfully. If either appears I will be very surprised, but you never know with GRL.
Returning to Prinn’s question: “were the people successful in their endeavour to preventing publication in journals or mentions in IPCC?” I’m unaware at present whether any of these four papers eventually found their way into journals elsewhere. Or even who the authors of the papers were.
In order for Prinn or anyone else to make a grandiose move-along claim, surely a little bit of due diligence is in order: who were the authors of these four papers (and there are others)? Did they eventually get published in other journals despite CRU’s “endeavours to prevent publication”? Were they then mentioned in IPCC?
Prinn doesn’t know. And if he didn’t know, he should not have told the audience to move along.
New England Journal of Medicine author
Reply #2 on:
June 15, 2013, 04:37:33 AM »
argues doctors should not force feed Guantanamo prisoners. Mr. Smith argues the opposite:
*****National Review Online
July 1 Issue
Doctors Wrong to Help Guantanamo Hunger Strikers Strike
By Wesley J. Smith
June 14, 2013 11:24 AM
I previously weighed in on the controversy over force-feeding Guantanamo prisoners. When their health is seriously deteriorating–but not before–forced feeding is right. Here is part of what I said then:
Look at it this way: If an inmate hanged himself and the guards could save him, should they instead stand back and let him swing? Should doctors refuse to resuscitate a self-hanged prisoner because he clearly “wanted to die” or left a note refusing treatment? Or, if prisoners decided to bash their heads repeatedly into a wall as a means of protest, should officials be prevented from restraining them and doctors be ethically prohibited from stanching the bleeding and binding up their wounds? Of course not.
If that is true, it seems to me that the same rules apply to hunger strikes when they reach the point of health/life endangerment. And claiming that the strikers are not committing suicide, but willing to die to attain their political purpose–which would be political suicide–seems to me to be a distinction without a practical difference.
After my original post appeared, I was invited to debate the issue on BBC World Service. During that exchange, my doctor debate opponent said that Guantanamo doctors should actively assist hunger strikers by palliating their discomfort and otherwise help them keep the strike going without harming their health.
“That’s political activism, not medical ethics!,” I exploded. “Helping hunger strikers strike is not a doctor’s job.“
An article just published in the New England Journal of Medicine against forced feeding Guantanamo hunger strikers is also political, indeed, one aimed at influencing U.S. policy generally beyond the reaction to the hunger strike. From, “Guantanamo Bay: A Medical Ethics-free Zone?” by George J. Annas and others:
Guantanamo is not just going to fade away, and neither is the stain on medical ethics it represents. U.S. military physicians require help from their civilian counterparts to meet their ethical obligations and maintain professional ethics. In April the American Medical Association appropriately wrote the secretary of defense that “forced feeding of [competent] detainees violates core ethical values of the medical profession.” But more should be done. We believe that individual physicians and professional groups should use their political power to stop the force-feeding, primarily for the prisoners’ sake but also for that of their colleagues. They should approach congressional leaders, petition the DOD to rescind its 2006 instruction permitting force-feeding, and state clearly that no military physician should ever be required to violate medical ethics. We further believe that military physicians should refuse to participate in any act that unambiguously violates medical ethics.
Military physicians who refuse to follow orders that violate medical ethics should be actively and strongly supported. Professional organizations and medical licensing boards should make it clear that the military should not take disciplinary action against physicians for refusing to perform acts that violate medical ethics. If the military nonetheless disciplines physicians who refuse to violate ethical norms when ordered to do so, civilian physician organizations, future employers, and licensing boards should make it clear that military discipline action in this context will in no way prejudice the civilian standing of the affected physician.
Guantanamo has been described as a “legal black hole.” As it increasingly also becomes a medical ethics-free zone, we believe it’s time for the medical profession to take constructive political action to try to heal the damage and ensure that civilian and military physicians follow the same medical ethics principles.
I am aware that Annas’ opinion reflects the views of the bioethics and medical establishments. But urging military doctors to violate orders is no small thing–particularly since this isn’t a Mengele-type situation, where such refusal would be morally required. Indeed,the intervention is only necessary because of self-inflicted harm and the feeding seeks to prevent death and destruction of health, not cause it. In this sense, it is not the same thing at all as a cancer patient refusing chemotherapy.
Moreover, in this situation, Annas is urging that military doctors help the striking prisoners–at least some of whom are implacable enemies of the United States. This isn’t a case of tree sitters at Berkeley.
Here’s my bottom line:
1.The significant policy questions some raise about Guantanamo Bay are legitimate.
2.But Guantanamo inmates (and other prisoners generally) are not fully autonomous.
3.Prison authorities are responsible for the wellbeing of those under their authority.
4.Hunger striking is a legitimate political method of protest.
5.A prison doctor should not use her or his professional skills to facilitate such a strike to make it more effective–nor impede it–until and unless the prisoner’s life or health is at significant risk.
6.Forced feeding to prevent death is a legitimate medical act in the same way preventing a suicide attempter from dying is a legitimate medical act.
7.Allowing a striking prisoner to die would be unethical.
8.Prison authorities have the duty to maintain proper order within the facility, including, if necessary, force feeding hunger-striking prisoners in the most humane way practicable.
9.If that requires physician participation, so be it.
In short, nothing Annas and his co-authors wrote changed my mind.
© National Review Online 2013. All Rights Reserved.
POTH: Jane Goodall and Chimpanzee subjects for research
Reply #3 on:
July 09, 2013, 10:16:36 AM »
Jane Goodall says it was a “Damascus moment” that turned her from the groundbreaking studies of chimpanzees in the wild that revealed their complex social and emotional lives, to a life of nomadic global activism on their behalf.
That moment, at a conference on chimps nearly 27 years ago, led her to begin a campaign to protect chimps, wild and captive, and inspired numerous animal welfare activists who took up the cause. Last month, they all counted two major victories when two federal agencies took steps that together may come close to halting such research.
“There’s a lot of problems in the world, this is a problem we can all solve,” said Laura Bonar, the program director of Animal Protection of New Mexico, where the most recent chapter in the campaign for chimp protection began. “The very least that the chimps deserve is for us to work together to see them have some peace and dignity.”
Back in 1986, what moved Dr. Goodall were presentations on dangers to wild chimp populations and the treatment of captive chimps in research. She went into the meeting a contented field scientist, and, she says, “I left as an activist.”
Until that time, “I always felt that I didn’t have the credentials to stand up to some of these white-coated lab people,” she said, speaking recently in an interview from her home in Tanzania. “But by this time I had done the book” — “The Chimpanzees of Gombe: Patterns of Behavior” — “and therefore I had more self-confidence.”
Over the past few years, as animal welfare groups have mounted a strong but pragmatic campaign against invasive experiments like subjecting chimps to vaccines and treatments for human diseases, Dr. Goodall has been having the occasional conversation with arguably the ultimate white-coated lab person, Dr. Francis S. Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health and former head of the Human Genome Project.
“I was impressed from the very beginning,” Dr. Goodall said of Dr. Collins. “He agreed something should be done and went ahead and did it.”
Dr. Collins, who invited her to speak to the N.I.H. staff, said, “I found her to be remarkably realistic and practical, but also idealistic in terms of her views.”
And on June 26, Dr. Collins announced that more than 300 of the 360 or so chimpanzees owned by the N.I.H. would be retired to sanctuaries over the next few years.
That followed a proposal two weeks earlier by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to list all chimpanzees, including those in captivity, as endangered. The plan would raise barriers for experimenting on chimps even higher, by requiring a permit for almost all medical research on the animals unless it involved only observation or tests that are part of normal veterinary visits. Permits would be granted only if the research was judged to be for the benefit of chimpanzees.
Dr. Goodall said the decisions were not the end of efforts to protect chimps in captivity, a campaign prompted by Animal Protection of New Mexico and expanded by groups like the Goodall Institute, the Humane Society of the United States and others.
“There are still chimpanzees in private labs,” she said, as well as in other countries, though Gabon is the only other country known to allow medical experimentation on the animals. It is, however, “a very, very important milestone along the way,” she said.
The path to the decisions began in June 2010, when the N.I.H. started to move 186 chimps, held in semiretirement at Holloman Air Force Base in Alamogordo, N.M., back into the research stream. The plan was to move them to the Southwest National Primate Research Center at the Texas Biomedical Research Institute in San Antonio.
The animals had been used in research by the Coulston Foundation, at the Alamogordo facility, which closed after many allegations of mistreatment of the chimps. Save the Chimps brought some of the Coulston animals to Florida, where the group has the largest North American chimpanzee sanctuary. Others were still being held at the facility but were not used in research.
“That’s what triggered all of this,” said Sarah Baeckler Davis, now head of the North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance. One of the leaders of the movement, she has both a Ph.D. and a law degree. Dr. Davis had run a sanctuary and has worked with the Goodall Institute in the past. (“I read about her in fourth grade,” she said of Dr. Goodall, “and I wanted to be her.”)
“That’s when we all yelled and screamed about the move,” she said, “because they were supposed to be a holding colony.”
Ms. Bonar of Animal Protection of New Mexico said the N.I.H. move was so egregious that “the public was outraged.”
“We reached out to the public and to all of our elected leaders,” she said.
(Page 2 of 2)
Bill Richardson, then the governor of New Mexico, objected to the move, and that December, Senators Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall, both of New Mexico, and Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa, all Democrats, called for a high-level review of the need for chimpanzees in research.
Other animal welfare groups — like the Humane Society and its president, Wayne Pacelle; the Jane Goodall Institute; and the New England Anti-Vivisection Society — rallied to the cause. The N.I.H. relented, and Dr. Collins asked the Institute of Medicine to perform the requested study.
Dr. Collins said recently that he did not know what the institute’s study would conclude. “It was entirely possible that group might have said, ‘My goodness, there are so many things that we need to know for human health that we can only figure out by studying chimpanzees and if you care about yourselves and your families and your children, this is just something that we should continue, albeit with great attention to ethical principles.’ ”
“But,” he said, “that’s not what they said.”
Instead, the report, released in December 2011, concluded, despite vigorous arguments from some scientists, that almost no research on chimpanzees was necessary, with the possible exception of some work on preventive vaccines for hepatitis C, still in midstream. The report said other techniques, like using cultured cell lines, and other animals, as well as human testing, were just as good.
Chimpanzees, the report said, said should be used only in cases necessary for human health, and even then, the animals should be housed in social groups, with plenty of space and enrichment.
Dr. Collins set up a working group to advise him how to implement the Institute of Medicine findings. Last month, he accepted the working committee’s recommendations, released in January, almost in their entirety.
“Much of chimpanzee research could no longer be justified because we had other ways to get the same answers,” Dr. Collins said of his decision.
“Then you factor into that that chimpanzees are special creatures,” he added. “That they are biologically possessing of similarities to ourselves that are quite breathtaking.”
Ms. Bonar said Dr. Collins deserved credit for his actions. “When you look back at the history of work with chimps, you could call the agency almost intractable.” Change was long overdue, she said, “but someone had to have the courage to start it.”
Katie Conlee of the Humane Society of the United States said, “I’ll always think of Dr. Collins as having a legacy of doing what’s right by the chimps.”
Dr. Collins said he was interested in assessing the value of using chimps in research even before the Alamogordo conflict, after some scientists had raised questions “about whether, in fact, the scientific needs were sufficient to justify maintaining this colony of so many chimpanzees.”
Of the pressure from senators and others, he said: “Did that hasten the efforts to get the science looked at by the Institute of Medicine? I suspect it might have sped it up a little bit, but we would have gotten there anyway.”
Dr. Collins cautioned that there were still areas of disagreement between the N.I.H. and the animal welfare movement. “Now obviously if we moved from talking about chimpanzees to talking about mice and rats, we’d be in a different place,” he said.
For now, the goal of the N.I.H. and animal welfare groups is the same: to find homes for the retiring chimps.
At the time, in the mid- to late 1980s, Ms. Goodall began to work against experimentation on chimpanzees, they were no longer being imported into the United States, but they were routinely being bred. The N.I.H. was increasing breeding to produce more of the animals to study AIDS, a program that was not successful. Many chimpanzees now in research institutions or sanctuaries were born during that period. Chimpanzees in captivity can live up to 60 years, so many of their parents are also still alive.
A female chimpanzee named Jody, for example, was used as a breeder at a Pennsylvania laboratory. She had nine babies, all quickly taken away to be used in research, and two miscarriages, before she ended up at Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest a few years ago. “I often think about what they’ve lived through,” Dr. Goodall said. “Some of them, the older ones, must remember a bit about the forest, though.”
While some of the N.I.H. chimpanzees that are being retired, including a number of babies bred at the New Iberia Research Center in Louisiana, have already arrived at Chimp Haven in Louisiana, others face an uncertain future. Not all research chimps are owned by N.I.H., and as such, may not be retired.
Even for the N.I.H. chimps, there are challenges ahead. Sanctuaries must find room. Money must be found. And the N.I.H. is planning to keep a colony of about 50 chimps available should it need research that is not possible any other way — for instance, on an emerging disease that strikes humans.
“I want the public to be aware,” said Jennifer Whitaker, the executive director of Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest, “that there are reasons to celebrate, but not all of the chimpanzees will be retired.”
Nor will the animal welfare movement stop at chimpanzees, as all parties are aware.
“What the chimpanzee has done is to prove there is no hard and fast line dividing us from the rest of the animal kingdom,” Dr. Goodall said. “Once you admit that we’re not the only beings with personalities, minds, capable of thought and emotions, it raises ethical issues about the ways we use and abuse so many other sentient, sapient beings — animal beings — every day.”
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