Environment

[As part of the Pacific Institute’s ongoing efforts to evaluate the impacts of the California drought and offer strategies, technologies, and policies to reduce those impacts, we are presenting a series of short assessments on “Understanding the Numbers.” This piece is the part of that series.] California is a wonderful place to grow food. The…

Octopus-inspired robotic device

Speaking of octopuses, the ability for the animals to squeeze through narrow openings has inspired the creation of a new surgical robotic device that can squeeze into a patient’s body. An EU team created STIFFness controllable Flexible and Learnable manipulator for surgical OPerations, dubbed “STIFF-FLOP”, made from silicone. Unlike conventional robots used during surgeries, the…

New research shows how octopus skin is able to respond to variations in light

Arctic Sea Ice Decline in 2015

The surface ice in the Arctic has been melting to historic low levels every year for the last several years. The graph above shows the first ten years in the National Snow & Ice Data Center records, meant to indicate what Arctic Sea Ice “normally” does as it melts off during the northern warm months.…

The Earth is warming because of what humans have been doing to the atmosphere. Global Warming has a lot of effects many of which we’ve discussed here, but the most obvious one is, well, it gets warmer. At present, India is experiencing record breaking heat and people are dying. It is very difficult to say…

See below for update. You may not have even noticed it, but hurricane season has officially started in the Eastern Pacific. That is because the official date of the start of season is May 15th, though the actual hurricanes rarely get the memo and start whenever they want, but usually after that date. Last year’s…

Bad beekeeping, 2015

At this time of the year, as I cycle past the rape fields (this isn’t a reference to some Balkan horror, just the plant), I take note of the dying of the yellow, for it signifies that the spring recolte is once again due. I measure my life by the passing of such seasons: the…

So gushes Mother Jones, adding the enticing word “exclusive” to the story. But – weirdly enough, for a confection of spying and science reporting, both of which are normally so reliable – this appears to be a bit garbled. Firstly, the “climate research programme” looks to be more like the CIA had allowed civilian scientists…

OSHA gives DuPont a 50% discount on penalty for death of 4 workers

OSHA gave DuPont a 50 percent discount on a repeat violation that contributed to the death in November 2014 of four workers at the company’s LaPorte, TX plant. Instead of a $70,000 penalty, the company got off cheap with an even cheaper $35,000 one.

A large portion of the glacial mass in Antarctic, previously thought to be relatively stable, is now understood to be destablizing. This is new research just out in Science. The abstract is pretty clear: Growing evidence has demonstrated the importance of ice shelf buttressing on the inland grounded ice, especially if it is resting on…