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“Climate Change Invaded My Field”: A Conversation with Historian and Science Advocate Steven Leibo

At the American Historical Association’s annual meeting earlier this month, I had the pleasure of meeting Steven Leibo, a professor of history, leader for the Climate Reality Project, and long-time UCS supporter. During the Q&A for a session on teaching history to STEM students, Professor Leibo remarked on the need for building better bridges between historians and scientists. After the talk, he graciously allowed me to interview him about why these bridges are important through the lens of his own work. Read More

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New UCS Report: Companies Can Anonymously Influence Climate Policy Through Their Business and Trade Associations

Today we release our new report, Tricks of the Trade: How Companies Influence Climate Policy Through Business and Trade Associations. In the report we found that many companies choose not to be transparent about their affiliations with trade and business associations, even when the information is publicly available. In addition, we found that when companies did choose to disclose their trade group board seats, many claimed to disagree with their associations’ positions on climate change, raising questions about who trade groups are actually representing on climate policy. Read More

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A Family History and a Nation’s Future Part 2: What 1896 Teaches Us About Democracy, Science, and Fair Elections

A few years ago, my grandmother gave me a gift. It was a hand-me-down, but a unique one. She gave me an original absentee ballot from the 1896 presidential election. I was excited not only that the 100-year-old document was still intact but also that it was from the 1896 election in particular—an important election in the history of our republic, but not just because of who won the presidency. Read More

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Dear Senate: Ease Travel Restrictions on Government Scientists

Most scientists who work for the government love doing so. They develop connections with others who share their dedication to public service, and see the immediate impact of their work reflected in real-world policies that protect public health and safety or the environment. But sometimes, politics gets in the way of their full participation in the scientific enterprise, wasting taxpayer dollars invested in the researchers themselves and jeopardizing the ability of the government to attract top scientific talent. Read More

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The Hidden Costs of “Cheap” Electricity in West Virginia

Today, residents of nine West Virginia counties—including my parents—are without water because of a spill from a chemical storage container near a water treatment plant on the Elk River in Charleston. The spill affected some 200,000 people, who were advised to avoid using their tap water for drinking, cooking, cleaning, even bathing. Read More

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Recap: Virginia Supreme Court Hearing on FOIA, Scientific Research, and Michael Mann

Emblazoned on the facade of the Virginia State Library, and steps from the commonwealth’s capitol and Supreme Court are the following words of the state’s most prominent former resident, Thomas Jefferson: “Reason and free inquiry are the only effectual agents against error. They are the natural enemies of error and of error only.” This was the setting for the second trip in as many years by the University of Virginia and climate scientist Dr. Michael Mann to the commonwealth’s highest court. Read More

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Preview of Thursday’s VA Supreme Court Hearing: University of Virginia v. American Tradition Institute

UPDATE: I have now posted a recap of the January 9 hearing.

On Thursday, the Virginia Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the American Tradition Institute’s lawsuit seeking the private correspondence of climate scientist Michael Mann and dozens of other scientists. UCS and several other scientific and educational organizations argue that granting this access would damage scientists’ ability to communicate frankly and openly with their peers, and to explore new ideas free from harassment. Read More

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Finding Glimmers of Hope on Capitol Hill

The holidays are always a good time to take stock of the year, and to be grateful for the good things that happened. Although the media has labeled this the “do nothing” Congress, the news wasn’t all bad. Read More

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In Science and Democracy We Trust: A Family History and a Nation’s Future

Like many Americans, I spend the winter holidays with my family. I can trace my family history back many generations of Americans and this year I revisited some of that family history. Paging through scrapbooks with newspaper clippings and documents more than a hundred years old, I wondered what my ancestors might have hoped for when they came to this country. There is no doubt that what brought them here was the same as what brought so many others: The hope of a government of the people, by the people, for the people; and the hope of a place where innovation thrived and scientific progress was made. But how would our ancestors judge the government we have today? Read More

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Is there Really a Study on Goats and Urine? More on Senator Coburn’s Wastebook

Last week, I pushed back on Senator Tom Coburn’s attacks on federally-funded science grants, explaining that if his staff had taken the opportunity to speak with the researchers in question that he might have a better understanding of the importance of the research he was making fun of. The researchers were eager to talk to me, and I quoted a couple of them in a blog post. In the time since, others have spoken out to explain how the senator’s “Wastebook” was off the mark. Read More

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