Join
Search

Dr. Frances Oldham Kelsey’s Legacy for Science and Democracy

On August 7, 2015, Dr. Frances Oldham Kelsey passed away at the age of 101. Dr. Kelsey—a true hero of science and democracy—championed science-based policies that protected public health and safety throughout her life. Most famously, her actions preventing the FDA approval of thalidomide—a drug that causes birth defects—stopped what could have been a devastating tragedy for Americans. As my colleague Celia Wexler wrote, “The lesson of thalidomide is that regulations matter.” Read More

Bookmark and Share

Are Oil Companies Ready for the Next Katrina?

Ten years ago this week, a hurricane was gaining strength in the North Atlantic.  Meteorologists worked around the clock to understand and predict its future path and strength. That path and strength, it turns out, would make the record books. Read More

Bookmark and Share

College/Underserved Community Partnership Program: Building a Better Tomorrow through the Power of Partnerships

Guest Bogger

Michael W. Burns, Senior Advisor for the Regional Administrator
Environmental Protection Agency, Region 4

Atlanta, GA

What if there was a federal program that connected universities and underserved communities to work together to address critical issues? Would you be surprised if I told you that program already existed? What if I told you that program was created in part to improve the efficiency of government spending—would that shock you? Read More

Bookmark and Share

Why Community-Based Research Matters to Science and People

Guest Bogger

Lauren Richter, Doctoral Student
Department of Sociology, Northeastern University

Boston, Massachusetts

When and how does research serve people? When and how does community-based participatory research improve the “rigor, relevance and reach” of science itself? Today we are witnessing an increase in collaborative research projects that seek to address environmental and environmental health issues in polluted communities. While an academic scientist may have access to labs and facilities, a community living near an industrial-scale hog farm in North Carolina may have unique insights about the types of exposures and acute and chronic health impacts they routinely feel and observe. Read More

Bookmark and Share

“The Coke Side of Life”—More Sugar, Less Science

Almost 130 years ago, Coca-Cola first quenched Americans’ thirst and splashed its irresistible blend of sugar and, yes, cocaine, across our taste buds and brains. “Drink Coca-Cola and enjoy it” said the company’s first ad slogan.  Since then, addiction and advertising have gone hand in hand to convince us that Coke is, as a 1985 ad spun it, “America’s real choice.” Read More

Bookmark and Share

Remembering Jack Gibbons, Science Policy Titan

The first time I spoke with Jack Gibbons a decade ago, I’m afraid that I didn’t have enough of an appreciation of what he had accomplished. I was fairly new to the Union of Concerned Scientists and was told he might have some ideas for protecting government scientists from political interference in their work. Throughout the course of that first conversation, his advice was quite sound, but the history of the use of science in policy making that he gave me, combined with the long list of names he gave me whom I should contact, suggested that he would be a great person to have in our corner. Read More

Bookmark and Share

Transparency is Great, Harassment is Worth Preventing: A Response to Paul Thacker and Charles Seife

*See 8/24/15 update*

Transparency is in everyone’s interest. Harassing scientists is not. So where should we draw the line when politicians use their investigatory powers to target scientists or when corporations and ideological interest groups use open records requests to harass researchers at public institutions? Read More

Bookmark and Share

Community Connections: Scientist-Citizens Have a Critical Role to Play

Many community organizations struggle to be heard in our noisy democracy. Even on critical issues such as air and water quality, health hazards from chemicals, local food policy, environmental justice for disadvantaged communities, and the rising challenges of global warming, their voices and needs are often drowned out by those who argue that addressing public health, safety and the environment is too expensive. That those concerns get in the way of economic growth. And too often, the views of community organizations are dismissed because their arguments are not framed in technical terms. Read More

Bookmark and Share

Unpacking Charles Koch’s Misinformation on Climate Change

The Washington Post recently interviewed billionaire political activist and fossil fuel titan Charles Koch. He and his brother David have been doing a public relations tour in response to repeated criticisms of their political activities, including funding groups that reject climate science and oppose climate policy.

Below is a brief examination of Charles Koch’s answers to two questions on climate policy and climate science. Read More

Bookmark and Share

Communicating Science: Barriers Journalists Face at Government Agencies

Transparency invigorates a strong democracy. It inspires trust and spurs citizens to hold their leaders accountable. As citizens, we have the right to know about the scientific information shaping the policies that affect our health, our safety, and the environment, and our government has a responsibility to share this information openly. Read More

Bookmark and Share