Censoring Science and Nobody Cares

I don’t know why a bigger fuss isn’t being made over this. Continue reading

Thanks BP!

Pictures from: Think Progress

Update 1: I think a charter boat captain in this story says it all:

Randy Ivie, a charter boat captain, broke down in tears as he tried to explain how sad he was to think that his grandchildren might not see the same white beach and turquoise waters he enjoyed.

“It kills me,” he said. “I grew up here.”

Unfortunately the corporate welfare state begun under Bush has increased exponentially under Obama so nothing much will be done. Sure there will be a few ceremonial sacrifices on the altar of responsibility, but ultimately, the people with the power to make sure it never happens again will move on and it will be forgotten. The unfortunate people who have had their occupations destroyed and their lives turned upside down will remember it though. Not that there is anything they can do about it.

The Environmental Impact of Consumption

The Yale Journal of Industrial Ecology has an entire issue devoted to the impact of consumption on the environment. All the articles are free and dowloadable in pdf format. Check them out.

Endangered Missouri Hellbenders

The above is an Ozark Hellbender below is a picture of an Eastern Hellbender.

Both species are native to Missouri and in the past 10-15 years have suffered serious population declines – estimates range from a 60-80 percent drop in numbers.

Yue-wern Huang, an assistant professor of biological sciences at the University of Missouri at Rolla, says there seems to be a reproductive disruption among the salamanders. However, Huang says he’s unsure what is causing a disruption in the hellbender’s endocrine system, which regulates the secretion of hormones – although his theories include pollution, pesticides and people as possible causes.

Huang hopes water samples from the North Fork will give him insight into what pollutants might be harming hellbenders.

At Southwest Missouri State University, associate behavioral ecology professor Alicia Mathis is also trying to help keep the salamanders from extinction. Mathis and graduate student Shem Unger are raising both Ozark hellbenders and eastern hellbenders, which live between southern New York and eastern Missouri.

Tests suggest that Missouri hellbenders have lower sperm counts than their counterparts in North Carolina and Georgia, Mathis said. A similar study on humans from Columbia, Mo., Minneapolis, Los Angeles and New York City showed the Missouri men tested had the lowest sperm count.

It get’s worse:

Stanley Trauth, a zoology professor at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, showed pictures of hellbenders with open sores, tumors and missing limbs and eyes. He said that nine out of 10 animals found in the Spring River — mainly in northern Arkansas — this year had serious abnormalities.

“I’m at a loss, folks,” Trauth said. “We just don’t have a good explanation for what’s causing this.”

Max Nickerson of the University of Florida, who has worked with hellbenders for three decades, said his early research did not find nearly as many abnormalities. He called the new results baffling.

Other possible causes of the decline include introduced species of trout which juvenile Ozark Hellbenders do not seem to recognize as predators.

Additional information:
Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
St. Louis Zoo

Well, This is Freaking Wonderful

From the New Scientist apparently the network of satellites that monitor environmental health is detiorating badly.

The US network of satellites monitoring the environmental health of the Earth is on the verge of collapse, according to a highly critical report released on Wednesday by the country’s National Research Council.

Six recent NASA Earth-observing missions have been delayed, scaled back or completely cut. Several of the cancelled missions were follow-ups to successful satellite projects.

The US is probably responsible for about half of the Earth-science satellites currently in orbit, says Richard Anthes, president of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research and co-chair of the committee that produced the report.

Most of the document focuses on research satellites, and Anthes warns that, for example, these map bulges in the Earth that may signal impending volcanic eruptions, track the depleted ozone layer, and analyse changes in soil moisture that may precede a famine. Furthermore, if observational satellites are not replaced weather and hurricane forecasting would suffer.

When current satellites retire, scientists fear there may be a serious data gap. “The planning for new missions should probably have been started five to 10 years ago,” says Anthes. “But the community is now waking up.”

As always, our president is on top of the situation:

President George W Bush’s proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2006 lists Earth studies as one of NASA’s five national objectives. But in that budget, NASA’s Earth science programmes would get $1.37 billion, about 8% less than they received the year before.

Apparently, he’s going to fix the problem by underfunding it – I guess if there is no data all those hard questions about global warming will go away. On the hand, he might be replacing the current program with faith based satellites!

I really don’t get it. One of the main reasons why we enjoy the standard of living that we do is because of the strength of our science and technology and it is vital that we continue to have a strong and vibrant research base. Yet in the last few months we have seen several key areas of research go by the wayside (see here for example). Now I don’t know about y’all but I really don’t want to live in a third world country. Nor do I want my children to live in a third world country. So could we PLEASE go back to doing science. I should also mention Santorum’s attempts to destroy the National Weather Service .

Do you want a seven-day weather forecast for your ZIP code? Or hour-by-hour predictions of the temperature, wind speed, humidity and chance of rain? Or weather data beamed to your cellphone?

That information is available for free from the National Weather Service.

But under a bill pending in the U.S. Senate, it might all disappear.

The bill, introduced last week by Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., would prohibit federal meteorologists from competing with companies such as AccuWeather and The Weather Channel, which offer their own forecasts through paid services and free ad-supported Web sites.
“I believe I’ve paid for that data once. … I don’t want to have to pay for it again,” said Scott Bradner, a technical consultant at Harvard University.

He says that as he reads the bill, a vast amount of federal weather data would be forced offline.

“The National Weather Service Web site would have to go away,” Bradner said. “What would be permitted under this bill is not clear — it doesn’t say. Even including hurricanes.”

And in a bit of hypocrisy:

“It is not an easy prospect for a business to attract advertisers, subscribers or investors when the government is providing similar products and services for free,” Santorum said.

AccuWeather has been an especially vocal critic of the weather service and its parent agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The company has accused the federal agencies of withholding data on hurricanes and other hazards, and failing to ensure that employees don’t feed upcoming forecasts to favored investors in farming and energy markets.

Which is ironic considering these comapnies get the dat for their forcasts from the National Weather Service.