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Core skills in the geosciences: The geoblogosphere chimes in on what students need to know

Last April, I had a discussion with some of my fellow graduate students in the geology department at the University at Buffalo, the State University of New York (SUNY Buffalo) about teaching. One topic raised by those of us working with senior undergraduates was the skills our students would need to have by the time they left the department.

13 Aug 2013

Voices: Italian quakes and deaths point to industrial facilities as death traps

On May 29, eighteen people died in northern Italy when a magnitude-5.8 earthquake struck near the town of Mirandola. Arguably, these deaths were preventable, and they bring up the questions of how we can prevent such deaths in the future. Building codes are key in protecting people. If the most modern buildings collapse while old ones remain standing, something is wrong.

06 Jun 2012

Voices: Making tough decisions in a changing climate

World leaders are beginning to realize that planning for and adapting to our changing climate must become a priority of national governments. But what does that mean, in practical terms, for planning and policymaking, and for the day-to-day business of government? Do standard decision-making practices need to change? If so, how?

07 May 2012

Voices: Defending science: The link between creationism and climate change

What do creationists and climate change deniers have in common? Over the past few years, this riddle has been on our minds a lot at the National Center for Science Education, a nonprofit that has fought for more than a quarter-century to defend the teaching of evolution in the public schools. Now, we’re expanding to defend the teaching of climate change — and with it, science in general.

30 Apr 2012

Voices: An old Earth for all Muslims but how does evolution fit in?

It’s no secret that many of the protests and rebellions in North Africa and the Middle East this year have been dominated by globally connected, young, educated Muslims. One of the stated goals of many of these young people is improving the science and technology programs in their countries. They understand that to compete in the global marketplace, strong science and technology programs are necessary. That bodes well for these countries’ futures.

24 Oct 2011

Gauging nuclear disasters

A nuclear accident is defined by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as an incident in which people died or property damage topped $50,000. In 1990, IAEA introduced the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale (INES) to rate and rank nuclear accidents. INES is a logarithmic scale that consists of seven levels: 0 (Deviation, no safety significance), 1 (Anomaly), 2 (Incident), 3 (Serious incident), 4 (Accident with local consequences), 5 (Accident with wider consequences), 6 (Serious accident) and 7 (Major accident).

31 May 2011

Voices: The confounding economics of natural disasters

In the hours (not days) after the enormous earthquake hit Japan on March 11, before it was even known that the Fukushima power plant had been badly disabled and well before the scope of the mortality and damage had been assessed, the Japanese yen rapidly appreciated in value. The G7 nations moved to quickly stabilize the yen — not to prevent it from falling, but to prevent it from further appreciating.

28 Apr 2011

Science and the social media

How blogs, Twitter and other social media tools are changing conversations about scientific research

28 Apr 2011

Voices: What does "The Nation's Report Card" tell us about science education?

In President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech in January, he emphasized the need for more scientists, mathematicians and engineers in the U.S. workforce. But the latest national assessment of science education in the U.S. appears to offer little hope for our next generation of scientists. Still, the results provide some insight on the state of science education in this country — information that we can use to improve our schools.

30 Mar 2011

Voices: Wildfires and debris flows: Federal mud

“Los Angeles weather is the weather of catastrophe, of apocalypse, and, just as the reliably long and bitter winters of New England determine the way life is lived there, so the violence and the unpredictability of the Santa Ana affect the entire quality of life in Los Angeles, accentuate its impermanence, its unreliability. The wind shows us how close to the edge we are.”

– Joan Didion, California author

01 Mar 2011

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