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Arizona Superior Court Protects Academic Freedom in Climate Email Disclosure Case

Arizona basketball fans may be glum after this weekend’s loss to Wisconsin, but there’s some very good news today out of Arizona: a superior court has found that the University of Arizona was right to protect more than 1700 emails to and from university climate scientists from disclosure under the state’s open records act. Read More

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2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans: In Support of Limiting and Labeling Added Sugar

Yesterday morning, I took a detour from my usual routine. Instead of strolling the 2 miles from my house to UCS’s office on K Street in Washington, DC, I hopped on the metro and rode up to the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. There I met two other UCS researchers to attend a public hearing on the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s scientific report with one consistent message: that we support the committee’s recommendations. Below is a copy of my testimony. Read More

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Where Is the FDA on Social Media and Science?

Last week, we released an update to Grading Government Transparency, a report we first released in 2013. The report assesses the media policies and social media policies of 17 government agencies. How much could policy have changed in only two years? A Washington cynic might assume “not much.” But actually, we found significant improvement when it comes to social media at federal agencies. Read More

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Five Reasons the Ozone Standard Should Be Strengthened

I’ve talked here, here, and here about the EPA National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) update to the ozone standard.  Today is the last day of the EPA’s public comment period (to which I have submitted a comment). So I thought it would be a good time to do a quick review of the top five reasons the ozone standard should be strengthened in order to provide an adequate margin of safety for the most vulnerable populations—including the elderly, children, and those with lung diseases. Read More

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Freedom to Tweet? Government Scientists and the Right to Engage on Social Media

Social media has done great things for science. We’ve seen it educate, advocate, and communicate on scientific issues around the world and at an unimaginable speed. Social media has allowed open science to thrive, scientists to connect, and movements to start. It allows us to organize, debate, and discuss breaking news on science-related topics. As my colleague Aaron has said, when Neil deGrasse Tyson has more Twitter followers than Seth Rogen, we know that social media has potential for communication of science. Read More

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Lead Poisoning: A Modern Plague among Children

Guest Bogger

Dr. Wornie Reed
Director of the Race and Social Policy Research Center

Blacksburg, VA

I am an advocate for bringing more public attention to the critical issue of childhood lead poisoning. It is the number one environmental health threat to children. Lead present in paint, dust, and soil is possibly our most significant toxic waste problem in terms of the seriousness and the extent of human health effects. Lead poisoning is more dangerous than some forms of cancer—yet it is virtually ignored by the American public. Read More

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Book Review: How Culture Shapes the Climate Change Debate by Andrew Hoffman

A few years ago, my colleagues and I worked with Andrew Hoffman, the director of the Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise at the University of Michigan, to host a forum on increasing public understanding of climate change. The event sticks with me because the participants came from so many different backgrounds: environmental justice, Creation care, energy production, social science, media, climate science, and service in Congress.

Hoffman has condensed the myriad approaches to climate communication we discussed that day — and much more — into an indispensable guide. At a slim 100 pages, Hoffman’s book offers a fine distillation of the growing body of social science that explains our curious and conflicting approaches to climate issues. In addition to identifying the problematic ways we often approach climate change, he also suggests several potential ways forward that can restore the climate debate to what he calls a “more civilized plane.” Read More

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Can Republican Politicians Change Their Tune on Climate and Energy?

When former Texas Governor Rick Perry (R) ran for president in 2011, he flatly rejected climate science and even claimed that scientists had manipulated climate data. But last week, in response to a question about climate and energy issues at the Conservative Political Action Conference, he touted his environmental record, instead. Read More

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Willie Soon, Academic Freedom, and How We Can Deal With Undisclosed Conflicts of Interest

In the last week, the Internet has blown up. There were llamas, dresses, and bird-riding weasels. But what also blew up was an important discussion about conflict of interest disclosure and what information academic scientists should be expected to make public. Above all else, the debate has made clear that conflict of interest disclosure rules are lacking and that we need clarity from Congress, scientific societies, and academic institutions on how these issues should be addressed. Read More

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China’s Not So Silent Spring: Can One Video Save China’s Environment?

Chinese New Year, also called the Spring Festival (春节), is a time each year when hundreds of millions of Chinese travel home to reunite with family and friends. Observers routinely note it is the largest human migration event on the planet.

This year, on the Sunday before returning to work from Spring Festival, an equally impressive number of Chinese downloaded an explosive on-line exposé on Chinese air pollution produced by former CCTV reporter Chai Jing. The film, called “Under the Dome,” is not the first Chinese effort to document the country’s growing environmental problems, but it is the first to generate this much interest. Read More

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