New Approach to Curb

Global Warming

Researchers at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies and Columbia University's Earth Institute have concluded that reducing greenhouse gases other than carbon dioxide over the next 25 or 50 years could play a key role in limiting global warming.

Although three types of non-carbon gases -- methane, nitrous oxide and chlorofluorocarbons -- now account for just 10 percent of climate change, the scientists said, reducing those gases by 40 percent would allow for twice as much carbon to accumulate in the atmosphere while keeping the global temperature rise to roughly 2 degrees Fahrenheit.

The Goddard Institute director, James Hansen, and the Earth Institute's senior research associate, Makiko Sato, are publishing their findings today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Hansen said the findings were significant because it is much more politically feasible to reduce methane and other gases than carbon dioxide, which is produced by burning fossil fuels for energy.

"It's an overlooked area," he said in an interview, adding that the carbon dioxide accumulation in the air could rise from nearly 380 parts per million to 520 parts per million over the next half-century under this scenario. "That's a much more conceivable number."

RU-486 Can Cause

Infections, FDA Warns

The abortion pill Mifeprex, also known as RU-486, can cause serious bacterial infections and bleeding, the Food and Drug Administration said yesterday. Some complications, which can be fatal, can occur without any obvious symptoms, the FDA said in updating the drug's "black box" warning label.

Mifeprex was approved in 2000 for ending early pregnancies, defined as 49 days or less.

The FDA said the risks are rare but important to note.

"The new information reminds health care providers that serious bacterial infection and sepsis may occur without the usual signs of infection, such as fever and tenderness on examination," the FDA said. "FDA will continue to monitor the usage of Mifeprex and may take further action."

Opponents of abortion have attacked Mifeprex, especially highlighting the death in 2003 of a California teenager who took the drug.

Births to Young Girls

Show Steep Decline

The birth rate among American girls ages 10 to 14 has fallen to its lowest level since 1946, the government reported yesterday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the number of births among girls in this age group dropped 38 percent from 1994 to 2002, even though the number of girls ages 10 to 14 climbed 16 percent during the same period.

CDC researchers attributed the decline to sex education.

"The message is getting across to them. Teens are behaving more responsibly when it comes to sex," said Fay Menacker at the National Center for Health Statistics.

The birth rate among girls this young has been declining since 1994, when 12,901 babies were born to mothers ages 10 to 14.

In 2002, the most recent year with complete data, 7,315 babies were born to this age group, a rate of 0.7 live births per 1,000 females. The birth rate dropped among all racial groups but remained higher for black and Hispanic girls than for whites and Asians.

-- From News Services and Staff Reports