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Dear Humans: Industry is Causing Global Warming, Not Your Activities

Scientists and climate policy wonks usually say global warming is caused by “human activities.” This shorthand obscures an important point: while we humans are certainly responsible for climate change on some level, just a few of us – particularly in industry and government – are a lot more responsible than the rest of us.

After all, I like humans. I like activities, too. And it’s industry practices and government policies that largely determine how much heat-trapping emissions our human activities produce. Read More

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Fracking in Colorado: Did the Oil and Gas Taskforce Finish Its Tasks?

When Colorado officials announced that they would set up a blue-ribbon taskforce charged with making informed recommendations on oil and gas development in the state, there were high hopes. In fact, I commended the state for establishing a strong procedure and promising mechanism for informed decision-making for fracking in Colorado. What an opportunity, I thought, for a science-informed decision in an otherwise science-lacking debate. Now that the commission has issued recommendations, it’s worth revisiting what happened. Did the taskforce succeed? Let’s walk through its moves. Read More

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How Do We Make Scientists Human?

There are hundreds of thousands of scientists in the United States. Add the engineers, medical doctors, economists, public health professionals, and others and we’re talking millions. Millions of experts who could use their knowledge and training to help make sure that public policies are informed by science. And yet, many people think they don’t know a single scientist. So how do we bridge that gap? Read More

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More Than Scientists, Mauna Loa, and Better Climate Communication

At UCS when we are thinking about the best way to communicate new scientific results, my colleague Aaron Huertas often asks me, “How do the results make you feel?” As he wrote, the exercise can be helpful in bringing scientific findings back to human emotions and why the results might matter to others. A new campaign called More Than Scientists seeks to enact this effect on a broader scale and I was happy to take part in it. Read More

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Censorship of Government Scientists Spreads to the United Kingdom

British scientists are pushing back strongly against a move by the UK government to control how government scientists communicate their research with the public. This is a very troubling development that is bad for science and bad for the public interest. The news was reported on Friday in the Guardian and Science. Read More

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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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