To a scientist, having new data to study is like a child having a new candy store to explore. With the EPA’s release of new air pollution rules, I’ve just learned of the Willy Wonka Factory of data in my field of study. The rules require new air quality monitors near major roadways in US cities. The new data will ultimately help us better protect from harmful air pollutants the millions of Americans who live, work, and play close to major roads.
August 29th, 2013
August 22nd, 2013
The Internet is abuzz with University of Rochester Professor Adam Frank’s op-ed provocatively titled “Welcome to the Age of Denial.” It’s the most e-mailed piece on the New York Times right now, and it’s all over social media. It’s an interesting critique, and a great call to action. Many scientists and science communicators share his frustration, and believe that science and scientific thinking are increasingly marginalized in a time when so many of the challenges we face are science-based. Of equal importance, however, is how we frame and contextualize science—and how we deliver its messages.
August 19th, 2013
Shark week has come and gone, and as a marine scientist I feel most at home with these top predators, but it is another, equally charismatic predator species that is in the news. You can guess that because I said “charismatic” I wasn’t referring to Congress. Read More
August 16th, 2013
“Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows.” – George Orwell
When I cited that quotation while speaking to a group of students last year, many of them had a hard time grasping what I was getting at. So let me be clear. Orwell, in his classic dystopian novel, 1984, described what it was like to live under a government that believed it could change facts, and make citizens believe them. It could, for example, proclaim that two plus two equaled five, and that would become the new reality. Read More
August 15th, 2013
This summer’s heat has been brutal. A surprisingly early June heat wave broke records in the Western United States. The heat sent people to emergency rooms and stoked wildfires that destroyed homes and lives. Europe and Asia have suffered recent dangerous heat waves, too. Wildfire season in the U.S. West—fueled by extreme heat and water stress—is nearly two months longer than in the 1970s. Read More
August 15th, 2013
In a letter released by Representative Doc Hastings (R-WA) and first reported in E&E Daily (subscription), and later by the Associated Press, the Interior Department Inspector General criticized the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) for failing to make restitution to whistleblowers who rightly exposed scientific integrity violations by their supervisors, and for failing to discipline the supervisors for their actions. To avoid further perceptions of impropriety, the FWS should respond quickly to the inspector general and detail how the agency is following up on the investigation. Read More
July 31st, 2013
To be or not be an advocate? This is a question many scientists grapple with. The answer is of course not a simple yes or no, but so many through the years have attempted to make it so. This morning, Tamsin Edwards of the University of Bristol wrote an opinion piece for the Guardian, provocatively entitled, “Climate scientists must not advocate particular policies.” Dr. Edwards makes the claim that scientists should be above the fray. But she gets it wrong in a few ways. Read More
July 10th, 2013
UPDATE, July 11: GA Regulators vote 4- 1 for more solar. We describe how to keep rates low in our update at the bottom of the page.
The Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) will vote this week on a new proposal requiring Georgia Power, the state’s largest utility, to use more solar energy.
June 11th, 2013
Asbestos can kill you. We’ve all been warned about the dangers of breathing it in. That is why we test buildings for it and have rules to protect construction workers from exposure to it. But how do we know asbestos is harmful? Because scientists have done studies of the dangers it poses to our health. And I’m glad they have so we can avoid these threats. Read More