Sustainability Science
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Sustainability Science
How might we keep the lights on, water flowing, and natural world vaguely intact? It starts with grabbing innovative ideas/examples to help kick down our limits and inspire a more sustainable world. We implement with rigorous science backed by hard data.
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Pruitt's new "transparency" rule could limit research the EPA uses

Pruitt's new "transparency" rule could limit research the EPA uses | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
The new standard may not be so transparent after all.
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Bill Nye Scolds CNN for Pitting Him Against Climate-Change Denier William Happer

Bill Nye Scolds CNN for Pitting Him Against Climate-Change Denier William Happer | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
Bill! Bill! Bill! Bill!
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Budget Cuts to Weather Programs Are Likely to Cost Us a Lot More Than They Save

Budget Cuts to Weather Programs Are Likely to Cost Us a Lot More Than They Save | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
Without government data from weather satellites and marine monitoring systems, we won’t be able to prepare for the effects of a changing climate.
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Congress scrapped this one word from the law, opening the door to a space arms race

Congress scrapped this one word from the law, opening the door to a space arms race | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
By striking a single word from nuclear defense policy, Congress has put the U.S. at the verge of a space arms are
PIRatE Lab's insight:
This seems to be but one example of what happens when you decide to live in your own, synthetic and fact-free world.
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Congratulations, Voters. You Just Made This Climate Denier the Most Powerful Senator on the Environment.

Congratulations, Voters. You Just Made This Climate Denier the Most Powerful Senator on the Environment. | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
He wrote an entire book calling global warming "the greatest hoax."

Via clare wormald
PIRatE Lab's insight:

Good times.  Here come the flat earthers!

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Trees may be making California's drought worse

Trees may be making California's drought worse | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
Researchers are trying to find out if denser forests in California are soaking up more water and adding to the state's horrible drought.
PIRatE Lab's insight:

Wow!  There is so much wrong with this story summary it is hard to know where to begin.

 

Nature "gets to water first" huh?  Really?  In California?  Not exactly.

 

And while it might be correct from an academic viewpoint, the notion that the problem with our water supply is an overly dense Sierra Nevada (a consequence of our fire suppression policies for the past century) is, how do you say....crazy.  The issue with water supply is the population northward of 34 million who drink, flush, water their almond trees, divert it with dams, etc.   And the fact we are actively manipulating the climate to become direr via increased greenhouse gas emissions for the past 150 years.

 

It may well be true that a slightly larger sliver of water would be remnant in the soils of our state relative to a more traditional tree stand density.  But the very notion of featuring a story such as this is fantastically ill informed and adds fuel to the ignorance fire.  Trees "vs." humans pretty much says all you need to know about this reporters conceptualization of the issue.

 

It would be nice if we had science reporters who actually knew something about science.

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Climate Depot: a site for misinformation

Climate Depot: a site for misinformation | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it

For anyone wishing to take a look at what a misinformation (to be kind) campaign looks like, click here.

PIRatE Lab's insight:

A family member just sent me a text with the subject line "Is this true???" and a link to this posting.  So I think it important that I respond with a posting on this story (making the internet rounds thanks to a calculated PR campaign).

 

The long and short of it is: "no this is not true."  

 

While you can all read this and explore this for yourselves, I would point out that this propaganda blog is a central clearing house for oil-gas/coal industry apologists and is far from an objective or even intellectually honest source of information.  There are many great folks in the petroleum industry, but this blog's author is not one of them.

 

Clues to show that the reality is far different from what is portrayed here:

 

1) No references for the data.

 

So you cannot verify the voracity to the data (or even know what is being represented...is this supposed to be satellite data?  Is this ice of a minimum thickness?  etc, etc.).  Drilling down to the data (through several links) you get a poorly formatted text file which appears to come from an academic sites, but this is clearly not the data used to generate this graphic.  At a minimum, lots of post prcessing of the data with tools most of the general public likely can't figure out would be needed.  The idea is to give you the impression that this is real and "sciencey" so don't you go looking into this your ownselves.  "Trust us."

 

2) Playing fast and loose with the facts (assuming these number are actually correct)/assuming you are an uncritical consumer of data.

 

For example, this graphic is intentionally misleading.  What this is actually showing in the order of magnitude change from year to year NOT absolute extent as impled by the title/comments.  One of the great aspects of climate change that most of the public is unclear about is the amount of noise being added into our global climate system by a more carbon-rich atmosphere.  As we go forward, we will see (and indeed have already seen) major shifts from one year to the next. So last year's conditions are not necessarily predicitve of next year's outcome.  This is one of the main reasons we think we are seeing various butterflies disappearing (the insects' lifecycles and those of their plant hosts/food are increasingly out of phase with one another, leading to failed recrecutiment of juvenile butterflies).   Just eyeballing these data (again, assuming they are correct) shows that this is indeed happening here: the greatest swings in ice are in the last few years.  So even this poor graphic actually makes the case that climate change IS HAPPENING and ushering major changes to our planet.

 

Everyone that studies climate cycles (or long-term dynamics of natural systems of any kind for that matter) compares conditions to long-term averages.  For example a typical comparison is 1950-2000 or (in the case of sea ice) 1981 to 2010.  Why wasn't this highlighted here?  Oh right, these folks are trying to mislead you...

 

3) The author of this blog is a former producer for Rush Limbaugh and a former aide to one of the most science-fearing/anti-science Senators' we have had in recent year (Senator Inhofe).  He is a frequent commentator for conservative news outlets, but no where else.  While this is an ad honium attack, it is nevertheless true and (in this case of propaganda I believe) relevant to this particular subject.

 

4) This blog clearly has an agenda.  While there is nothing wrong with having an agenda, we should always have our baloney detectors up when a decidedly non-expert in a technical subject (i.e. a non-scientist) wants to prove to us that he (they are most often hes and not shes) knows the correct answer to a technical issue.  Particulalry when the person only uses cherry-picked "facts" that support his position.

 

 

For further reading, you can check out:

 

http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/

 

and

 

http://www.desmogblog.com/directory/vocabulary/4621

 

 

 

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Fred Flintstone for Congress? Montana Race Tests Respect for Science

Fred Flintstone for Congress?  Montana Race Tests Respect for Science | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
Do popular movements matter? Can the immediate excitement of a march be turned into something longer lasting?With the March for Science and the Peoples Climate March occurring one week after the other, and with both stressing the importance of science in general and of using the best scientific evidence available to shape public policy, we have an opportunity to see if the energy present in those events can be harnessed to impact electoral politics. The most immediate opportunity offers a striking test. On 25 May there will be a special election to fill the sole House of Representatives seat in Montana. (The seat came open when Ryan Zinke resigned to accept the position of Interior Secretary.) The Republican candidate in this deeply red state is a millionaire who is apparently a young Earth creationist, someone who believes that the planet was created about 6,000 years ago. Indeed, Greg Gianforte, has made donations worth upwards of $300,000 to a creationist museum in Montana that promotes the idea that humans and dinosaurs coexisted in the recent past. Why does this matter? It matters because Gianforte’s position evidences a mindset that permits him to pick and choose the parts of science he likes and dismiss the parts he personally doesn’t favor. It matters because Gianforte’s position is consistent with the behavior of those who form their conclusions first and then look for data to support those conclusions.It matters because Gianforte’s position is at odds with every piece of data and with the views of every one of the world’s major scientific societies. It also matters because evolution is central to much of science. Dismiss the basic tenets of evolutionary theory and much of our current understanding of anthropology, archeology, biology, chemistry, ecology, geology, linguistics, paleontology, physics and psychology would fall by the wayside. Some argue that this isn’t a scientific issue but a religious one. But the vast majority of religious leaders disagree. Virtually every major religious denomination has issued a statement in support of evolution, recognizing that accepting the clear findings of science need not pose a threat to their spiritual beliefs. The Clergy Letter Project, an organization of more than 14,500 religious leaders, has made this point very clearly. The Christian Clergy Letter states unequivocally:“We believe that the theory of evolution is a foundational scientific truth, one that has stood up to rigorous scrutiny and upon which much of human knowledge and achievement rests. To reject this truth or to treat it as ‘one theory among others’ is to deliberately embrace scientific ignorance and transmit such ignorance to our children.” Gianforte’s opponent, Rob Quist, takes a very different perspective. A spokesperson for Quist recently told HuffPost that “Rob Quist believes in evolution and science. As a product of public schools, Rob supports evolution being taught in schools as part of the science curriculum.”With five satellite Marches for Science having taken place in the state (in Billings, Bozeman, Great Falls, Helena and Missoula) and three satellite Climate Marches scheduled (in Bozeman, Missoula, and Glacier National Park), Montanans have clearly embraced the message that science is important. They also seem to have grasped the point that facts and opinions are very different things and that pointing to “alternative facts” is simply a way of lying.So the question is, will voters in Montana care about science? Or will they vote for someone who sides with the Flintstones rather than members of the National Academies of Science? We’ll see what sort of energy can be mustered over the next month and we’ll see how the results turn out on election day.
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Pesticide maker tries to kill risk study

Pesticide maker tries to kill risk study | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
WASHINGTON (AP) — Dow Chemical is pushing the Trump administration to scrap the findings of federal scientists who point to a family of widely used pesticides as harmful to about …
PIRatE Lab's insight:
"Trying to restore regulatory sanity" is a great goal.  Bailing on existing science and ignoring research findings you deem inconvenient is the opposite of "sanity."  These folks are deeply disappointing and seem hell bent on setting us down a road with fewer protections and safeguards.

I'll simply note that the burden of proof here falls on the regulator/activist/watchdog communities.  
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when alternative facts enter the scientific space

when alternative facts enter the scientific space | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
PIRatE Lab's insight:
Good article showing the ways folks attempt to misinform the public and an interesting discussion in the comments.

Make sure to check out: https://www.desmogblog.com/center-accountability-science to get a sense of the author of this piece of propaganda.
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Here’s What Happened to the Exxon-funded EU Think Tanks After It Pledged Not To Fund Climate Denial

Here’s What Happened to the Exxon-funded EU Think Tanks After It Pledged Not To Fund Climate Denial | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it

This is the second part of DeSmog UK’s series mapping Exxon’s ties to EU think tanks and lobby groups. Here we explore what happened to Exxon’s EU think tank ties after it pledged to stop funding climate denial.


Via Garry Rogers
PIRatE Lab's insight:

Interesting that some of the European "think" tanks seem to be folding and/or having a much harder time getting started.  Contrast this to the situation in the mid-1990s.

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Garry Rogers's curator insight, February 12, 2016 12:51 PM

More details for this ongoing story.

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Cap-and-trade opponents hit California incumbents

Cap-and-trade opponents hit California incumbents | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
It never came up for a vote this year, but the dispute over California’s carbon-pricing scheme continues to frame November elections, with a group launched by oil company money underwriting ads in select legislative races.
PIRatE Lab's insight:

Forces are aligning to make continual attacks on AB32 and kill that legislation by 1000 cuts/delays.  Be wary of these arguments.

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Dirty air, dodgy politics: why it's easier to attack science than listen to Morwell fire death stats

Dirty air, dodgy politics: why it's easier to attack science than listen to Morwell fire death stats | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it

I’m quite nervous about writing this. I’m going to stray from my familiar academic world into a political one, and it’s on an issue that may very well have killed several people. My reputation has already been debased in the Victorian Parliament, by Health Minister David Davis. I’m expecting more political dirt to come my way.

First, the back story. The issue is the Hazelwood coalmine fire, which burned from February 9 to March 10 this year in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley. It covered the surrounding area in thick smoke and ash, and caused eye-wateringly high levels of particulate pollution in the nearby town of Morwell.


Via Kim Flintoff
PIRatE Lab's insight:

Our friends down under are increasingly dealing with a harsh anti-sciecne environment when it comes to policy and politics.

 

If you have not been following this issues, this is a good entry point.

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Kim Flintoff's curator insight, October 3, 2014 9:41 PM

Being an academic in Australia at moment is a real test of integrity, resilience and commitment - to speak out with informed opinion is to become a target for ad hominem responses, 

All power to Adrian for having all the qualities of a real thinker, researcher and scientist.