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Baltimore against the Measles: A Victory for Science, but for How Long?

When I was an undergraduate at Johns Hopkins University, I had only a dim awareness of the measles outbreak then raging through Baltimore. I was fully vaccinated, spent most of my time on campus, and lived in university housing among mostly white, middle and upper-middle class students, who were also fully vaccinated. Measles, for me, was a remote thing, despite its proximity. It didn’t happen to anyone I knew. Read More

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Let the Engineer Speak: On Scientific Free Speech and the Harassment of Experts

Last week, Minnesota engineer and planner Charles Marohn received a letter notifying him of a complaint of misconduct filed against his professional engineering license. Was Mr. Marohn accused of a misstep in his professional engineering practices? No. Rather, the complaint concerned Marohn’s writings on his website, Strong Towns. Read More

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Who Should Decide What Happens When Scientists Violate Conflict of Interest Rules?

Scientists and institutions are under increasing scrutiny to be more transparent, especially when they publish research that has bearing on major public policy debates, and with good reason: funding can influence how studies are conducted and results are presented. It’s not easy though; when it comes to disclosure of conflicts of interest, practices vary across scientific disciplines, journals and institutions, and the lines regarding what should be disclosed are sometimes blurry. Read More

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Big Sugar Bad for Babies, CDC Scientists Say—but Food Industry Disagrees

A new CDC study, published Monday in the journal Pediatrics, tells us something about infants and sugar that is worrisome, though not especially surprising if you’ve been following the food industry’s efforts to mislead the public and influence the science and policy on added sugar. Read More

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Shell Promises Climate Risk Disclosure to Shareholders, but What About Its Political Spending?

Yesterday, Royal Dutch Shell made headlines when it announced it would respond to shareholder demands for better consideration and disclosure of the company’s risks from climate change. The move was welcomed by shareholders and activists looking to see Shell better incorporate climate change and its impacts into its business model. Read More

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An Opportunity to Protect Our Drinking Water: Overseeing Fracking and Closing Loopholes

As we’ve discussed here before, the federal government has played a limited role thus far in the regulation and oversight of hydraulic fracturing, leaving states and municipalities to manage a large and fast-paced industry. Today, members of the Senate have a chance to allow the EPA to better protect water resources in oil and gas development across the country. Read More

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Why “Fast Track” Can Sidetrack Both Science and Democracy

Congress soon will be voting on whether to approve Trade Promotion Authority, or fast-track, a process that expedites approval of trade deals but at the expense of democratic discourse and public and congressional scrutiny and oversight.

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In “I’m Gonna Be an Engineer,” Peggy and Pete Seeger Talk Women in Science

Tuesday is the anniversary of the death of legendary folk singer and rabble-rouser Pete Seeger, and over the weekend I pulled out my banjo to go over some of the lesser-known songs he once sang. Pete Seeger’s half sister Peggy is a folk musician in her own right, and one of her gems looks at what discourages women from becoming scientists and engineers. Read More

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We Need Sharper Questions for a Broken Climate Debate

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) recently claimed that human-caused climate change “is not well-established.”

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said he wanted to “let scientists debate…” why the climate is changing.

By contrast, Mitt Romney reportedly said “that while he hopes the skeptics about global climate change are right, he believes it’s real and a major problem,” according to the Des Moines Register. Read More

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Why Does UCS Survey Government Scientists?

Today, thousands of scientists who work for federal agencies will get emails from the Union of Concerned Scientists asking them to take an online survey. The surveys will go out to employees who deal with science at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), with other agencies to be surveyed in the future. Read More

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