Taxonomy term

science and society

Blogging on EARTH: Climate change threatens Virginia's vacation spots

Each year, millions of visitors flock to Virginia’s natural wonders, such as Shenandoah National Park, and to historical landmarks, like Jamestown, one of America’s earliest colonies. But a new report by the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) states that many of Virginia’s landmarks are jeopardized by climate change.

03 Sep 2010

Who deals with coal fires?

Currently (and historically), most people who deal with underground coal fires and gob fires are employed by government agencies, mining and engineering companies, and firefighting agencies. Today, as in the past, these institutions undertake various responsibilities that include recording the location of coal fires, tracking their progression, and extinguishing the most problematic ones, if physically and economically feasible.

01 Sep 2010

Opening up space travel to everyone

Jason Marsh is done waiting around for someone else to transport him into space.

Marsh, a system administrator near Washington, D.C., is preparing to launch a new website for his Open Space Movement (OSM — currently here), a nonprofit project that aims to be a platform for developing and funding aerospace technology — and will be open to anyone who wants to join in. 

31 Aug 2010

Water Wise: An oil plume at depth, and NOAA vs. the White House

There is definitely a deep plume of oil in the Gulf of Mexico, and it was definitely produced by BP’s damaged Macondo well, according to a report published today in Science. Scientists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in Massachusetts reported unequivocal evidence of a plume at a depth of about 1,100 meters that was at least 35 kilometers long, as of the end of June. The plume, they said, was traveling to the southwest, largely driven by the topography of the seafloor.

20 Aug 2010

Is it time to invest in entrepreneurial geoengineering?

Government research and development has its limits: Time, money and bureaucracy can all hamper the timely progress of research. As a result, many federal agencies are looking to private companies to help drive new innovation and keep costs down — but it’s never that simple. Two current hot-button topics — returning humans to space and geo­engin­eer­ing — highlight a range of issues related to how private and public investment in science can coexist. Last month, we looked at NASA’s push toward privatization.

02 Aug 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

Water Wise: Where will the oil spilled in the Gulf go?

It’s been about eight weeks since an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig damaged a wellhead in the Gulf of Mexico and triggered the onset of the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history, with oil washing up on shores from Louisiana to northwestern Florida.

14 Jun 2010

Finding water in the heart of darkness: Afghanistan's ongoing water challenges

Fieldwork in Afghanistan is not like most geology fieldwork. “When I landed, the first thing I had to do was to put on a bulletproof vest,” says Tom Mack. He was part of a U.S. Geological Survey team that evaluated water resources in the Kabul Basin, in the north-central part of eastern Afghanistan, a couple of years ago. “It was strange to wear the vest, but eventually you get used to it.” There was a lot to get used to, he says. No matter where Mack went, he had to get special permission to be there.

14 Jun 2010

Offbeat Betting: Volcano betting gathering steam

You never quite know when a given volcano is going to erupt — but you can bet on it. Ireland’s biggest bookmaker, Paddy Power, jetted to fame among geologists in early January, when it announced its latest novelty bet: which of a handful of famous volcanoes around the world would be the next to powerfully erupt.

21 Apr 2010

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