Ask a Scientist

Our monthly ‘Ask a Scientist’ column answers questions that come from UCS members and supporters.


Photo by Nathan Waters
Photo by Nathan Waters

Ask a Scientist: What Should a Post-Pandemic Economy Look Like?

, senior writer

Predictions about when the economy will rebound, however, miss a bigger point. Without a doubt, the coronavirus pandemic—like all pandemics—will eventually come to an end, but what kind of an economy coming out of it would be best for the country? What lessons will we learn from the pandemic, if any? I spoke to one of UCS’ economists, Climate and Energy Program Policy Director Rachel Cleetus, who has been thinking about the kind of economy the United States should build going forward. Read more >

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Ask a Scientist: 2030 or Bust? What is the Importance of the Year 2030 Climatewise?

, senior writer

The immediate threat of the coronavirus pandemic has galvanized international attention, but the long-term threat posed by the climate crisis remains on many people’s minds. We all realize that after the world recovers from this novel virus, we will still have to address the enormous threat posed by climate change. UCS recently received a question from one of our members who, like many, is thinking ahead. “2030 is often cited as the year when climate changes become irreversible,” Raymond K. from North Attleboro, Massachusetts, asks. “What is the real significance of 2030?” To set the record straight about what scientists are telling us and what the world has to do in the next decade to avoid the worst possible consequences of a warming world, I turned to Dr. Brenda Ekwurzel, director of climate science for our Climate and Energy Program. Read more >

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Ride hailing from Metrolink
Metrolink

Ask a Scientist: When It Comes to Addressing Pollution and Congestion, Are Ride-Hailing Services Taking Us for a Ride?

, senior writer

A new UCS study examines the impact of ride-hailing companies on seven U.S. cities and found that they increase carbon emissions, worsen air quality, and cause more traffic congestion. The study—the first to quantify the pollution from ride-hailing—found that the average ride-hailing trip emits nearly 70 percent more carbon pollution than the trip it replaces. I asked Elizabeth Irvin, a transportation expert, to explain in more detail what local authorities are doing and what users can do. Read more >

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Ask a Scientist: How Trump Administration Policies Harm Children

, senior writer

According to our new report, the Trump administration is arguably the weakest defender of children in modern history. “Endangering Generations: How the Trump Administration’s Assault on Science is Harming Children’s Health,” documents how this administration’s rollback of bedrock environmental, health and safety standards has exposed children to more poisons in the food they eat, the water they drink, and the air that they breathe, and will potentially condemn them to suffer the worst consequences of climate change due to its unwillingness to acknowledge the threat, let alone address it. Lead report author Genna Reed’s interest in this topic is both professional and personal. She’s the top science and policy analyst for the UCS Center for Science and Democracy as well as the mother of a 16-month-old. “I’m a typical mom,” she says. “I want to protect my child, and parents should be able to trust that the government is making smart decisions about their children’s health and welfare. Our children should come first.” Read more >

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Ask a Scientist: The Importance of Being a Voter

, senior writer

With primaries underway across the country in advance of the November elections, it’s a good time to chat with Michael Latner, an associate professor at California Polytechnic State University and UCS’s first Kendall voting rights fellow. Michael’s award-winning academic work has largely focused on how redistricting, gerrymandering and electoral laws influence political representation. During his two-year UCS fellowship, he has broadened the scope of his research to include the impact of electoral system bias on public health and environmental protection, two key UCS priorities. Read more >

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