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voices

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

Blogging on EARTH: FEMA's plans for New Madrid

This year is the 200th anniversary of the New Madrid quakes, the series of magnitude-7 to -8 earthquakes that rocked parts of Missouri and Arkansas in the winter of 1811-1812. But even 200 years later, the quakes continue to shake things up. And the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is taking precautions — or maybe not.

02 Feb 2011

Voices: Log off and get outside again

I began this column while meandering across the West just after Labor Day last year. We drove from Telluride, Colo., to Zion National Park in Utah, to Lake Powell on the Utah-Arizona border, and finally to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona.

06 Jan 2011

Blogging on Earth: Driveway sealants add PAHs to environment

Winter is hard on asphalt: Water that seeps into tiny cracks freezes and expands, breaking the asphalt apart. That’s why homeowners and business owners across the U.S. use sealants to protect their driveways and parking lots.

16 Dec 2010

Blogging on EARTH: Yellow submarine robot debuts at AGU meeting

It doesn’t look like a typical robot. About half a meter across and 9 meters long, a new, super-high-tech submarine ROV, unveiled Tuesday in San Francisco at the American Geophysical Union’s annual meeting, strongly resembles … well, a big yellow cigar.

15 Dec 2010

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

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