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CROWDSOURCING SCIENCE: You're Invited!

Posted in News Last updated on: Wednesday, 22 June 2016

CROWDSOURCING SCIENCE: You're Invited!

Data points are to science what donuts are to Homer Simpson's diet: the building blocks. The more data we have, the more pixels in our view of the world, the more accurate our theories of what's going on.

Enter crowdsourcing. Suddenly huge new flows of data are arriving thanks to citizen science projects. No lab coat? No problem. If you're interested and conscientious, you could be contributing valuable data that would otherwise go uncollected for lack of funds. Some programs take you into the field. Others can be done in bed with a laptop. Some require a day or more of training; others just a quick online tutorial. Here's a sampling of what you can do:

FALLACY WATCH: "The science isn't settled."

Posted in News Last updated on: Monday, 01 August 2016

FALLACY WATCH:

This is the go-to statement for politicians defending fossil fuels when climate dangers are raised. It has the ring of reasonableness: the speaker is no ostrich hiding from the facts but simply maintains a threshold for belief that hasn't been met. And it's certainly true that science is constantly changing its mind. So where's the fallacy?

AIRPLANES: SUVs of the sky?

Posted in News Last updated on: Monday, 11 July 2016

AIRPLANES: SUVs of the sky?

We didn't used to know that flying's environmental downsides are so huge--but now we do. Will flying eventually become like driving a Hummer, a mode reserved for the unevolved? Just how bad is it? What fixes are in sight?

How big is the problem?  Take all the West's greenhouse gas emissions--from industry, power plants, cars, agriculture, etc--and flying's portion works out to 10 percent. That's a startlingly high number. It got so big in part because planes release their CO2, water vapor, soot, and nitrous oxide into the upper atmosphere, which multiplies their ill effects. The average American generates 19 tons of carbon per year, but a single coast-to-coast round trip weighs in at 2-3 tons. What's to be done?

VESTED INTERESTS: Naked and unafraid in Wyoming

Posted in News Last updated on: Monday, 11 July 2016

VESTED INTERESTS: Naked and unafraid in Wyoming

The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) call for the no-bones-about-it teaching of evolution and human-caused climate change. States can choose whether to use them or not. In Wyoming, a committee of science teachers spent eighteen months studying the standards and voted unanimously to adopt. But in a state dominated by the oil, gas, and coal industries, the legislature voted them down. The surprise was the naked explanation offered by the Board of Education's chairman, Ron Micheli: "They're very prejudiced in my opinion against fossil-fuel development."

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