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Messengers Matter: Overcoming the Age of Denial

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.

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Wolves, the Endangered Species Act, and Why Scientific Integrity Matters

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

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When “Sound Science” Isn’t

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

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Climate Reality Must Win Out Over Political Attacks on Science

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

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Are Scientific Integrity Policies Working? The Case of the Freshwater Mussels

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

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Scientists Have a Responsibility to Engage

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

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The Social Cost of Carbon: Setting the Record Straight Ahead of Today’s House Hearing

The Obama administration has recently updated the official U.S. social cost of carbon (SCC), which attempts to estimate the costs of damage from carbon pollution. It’s one important way to show the value of cutting our global warming emissions. We’ll need to keep improving the SCC estimate to ensure it reflects the latest science and economics. We also have to ensure a more transparent process for updating and using this critical number going forward. But today’s House hearing on the SCC is simply a sideshow aimed at undermining climate action, not likely to focus on issues of substance. Read More

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Koch-Funded Group Misleads Georgia on Solar

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.

It’s a nonpartisan plan supported by the Atlanta Tea Party Patriots as a way to diversify the state’s energy portfolio and save consumers money.  Read More

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Corporate Counterfeit Science – Both Wrong and Dangerous

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

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As Obama Administration Folds on Emergency Contraception, A Full Timeline of Events

The Obama administration yesterday dropped its appeal of a judge’s order to follow the science and allow consumers full over the counter access to the emergency contraception known as Plan B. I never thought I’ve be invoking Kenny Rogers in a blog post, but somehow it now seems to fit: you gotta know when to hold ‘em. Know when to fold ‘em.The Obama administration should have folded long ago; for reasons unknown, it chose to stay in the game. In the process, it earned a serious black eye. Read More

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