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Obesity and Vaccine Efficacy

Recently, there has been an eruption of stories in the media about vaccination, and no wonder. Between this season’s flu strain and the once previously eradicated measles, this has been a bad winter for vaccine-preventable infectious diseases. A number of factors contribute to vaccine effectiveness—most obviously, the rate at which people get vaccinated. However, it may surprise you to know that obesity can also play a role. Read More

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A Dam Waste: Outdated Reservoir Rules Dump Water During Drought

Last year, California’s drought task force toured the parched state, visiting sites impacted by the record dry conditions. At Lake Mendocino, a reservoir located in the northern part of the state, they saw bathtub rings and beached docks, evidence of drastically reduced water levels. Therefore, it should be surprising that billions of gallons of water were released from the reservoir during the drought to comply with outdated flood control rules. Read More

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Twenty Years of Open Records Attacks

University of Minnesota environmental scientist Deborah Swackhamer studied toxaphene, a chemical once considered a promising replacement for DDT but eventually found to be quite toxic. But when Swackhamer joined a group of researchers exploring why there might be unusual concentrations of the chemical in the Great Lakes, the university received the largest open records request ever made in Minnesota. Read More

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An Energy State in Transition: Pennsylvania Can Be a Renewable Energy Leader

In many ways, the Keystone State is the epicenter of the energy transition underway in this country. Historically an important coal producer, Pennsylvania remains the fifth largest coal-producing state, accounting for 5 percent of the nation’s total coal production in 2013. And the state is on the front lines of the booming Marcellus shale gas production. But how far along is the state in transitioning to cleaner energy, and how much farther could it go in developing renewables? Read More

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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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