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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

Voices: Humans at high temperatures

Reconsidering the economic implications of climate change

How much will it cost to implement plans to mitigate climate change? And if we don’t implement changes, what will the cost of climate change be?

31 Jan 2011

Voices: Does all scientific work deserve public attention?

Last September, I read a thoughtful post about science blogging and communication on The Guardian’s science blog by David Dobbs. Many scientists seem to think that their work is done once they’ve published a paper, Dobbs said. He argued that scientists have grown over-reliant on the scientific paper to get the word out about their findings and instead — or really, in addition — they need to communicate the importance of their work to an audience larger than the readership of peer-reviewed papers.

14 Jan 2011

Highlights of 2010: Definitive statements: a new trend?

“This is the way it was.” Or: “This is what is happening.” Hmmm. Scientists don’t usually make such definitive statements, given that in science, there are almost always caveats. Yet in the last year, such statements have been issued by several large groups of scientists who have come together to support a certain point of view. Are scientists feeling the need to dig in their heels because of public pressures? Or are we actually reaching some consensus?

10 Dec 2010

Voices: Geologists on the wrong side of the law

We live in a litigious society. Engineering and environmental geologists are no strangers to the legal system. They frequently deal with issues relating to geologic hazards such as active faults and unstable ground, the release of contaminants into the environment and numerous other circumstances. But for the most part, geoscientists tend to avoid legal battles. Is that changing?

03 Dec 2010

A Dirty Secret - China's greatest import: Carbon emissions

The U.S. and much of the Western world have a dirty secret.

While we claim to be working diligently to decrease our emissions and switch to cleaner, non-fossil fuel energies, we are actually just exporting emissions to other countries, most notably China. We don’t talk about it. We get on our soapboxes at international meetings and claim to be making great progress to halt ever-increasing carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere. And we complain vociferously about developing countries — again, most notably China — not doing the same.

22 Nov 2010

Comment: Volcanic versus anthropogenic carbon dioxide: The missing science

“Volcanoes add far more carbon dioxide to the oceans and atmosphere than humans.” So says geologist Ian Plimer of the University of Adelaide in his 2009 best seller “Heaven and Earth: Global Warming — the Missing Science.” With this assertion, Plimer brings volcanic carbon dioxide degassing front and center in the climate change debate, reviving and reinforcing this wildly mistaken notion.

30 Jul 2010

Saving Afghanistan: Redevelopment one resource at a time

In his campaign and early in his presidency, U.S. President Barack Obama has said he plans to make Afghanistan a priority, calling the resurgence of al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan “the greatest threat to [U.S.] security.” Fortunately, military might isn’t the only focus of Obama’s plan; he also intends to dedicate more resources to revitalize Afghanistan’s economic development. Finally!

14 Jun 2010

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