Latest / page 3

What we're talking about Fossil Fuel, Wildfire, and Fort McMurray Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Fossil Fuel, Wildfire, and Fort McMurray

The Climate Change Connection It is hard to understand the connection between climate change and wild fire. This is in part because it is hard to understand the factors that determine the frequency and extent of wild fires to begin with, and partly because of the messiness of the conversation about climate change and fire.…

The town of Fort McMurray, Alberta and it’s surrounding region are experiencing a horrific wildfire. Tens of thousands of people have been forced to evacuate. The absolute most important thing in the short and medium term is to take care of the people of Fort McMurray. Yes, Fort McMurray is the hub of tar sands…

This is a segment of The Big Picture with Thom Hartmann, in which climate scientist Professor Michael Mann provides important perspective on the link between climate change and other disasters such as tornadoes. (See also: The Meaning of the Fort McMurray Fire). Michael Mann is the author of The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars:…

Two weeks after a wildfire began in the Canadian province of Alberta, thousands of structures in Fort McMurray have been destroyed, nearly 90,000 people have been evacuated, and 930 square miles have gone up in smoke. The fire has also shut down commercial extraction of tar sands, a source of fossil fuel and the reason for Fort McMurray's prosperity. Greg Laden points out the perverse cause and effect of it all: tar sands contribute to global warming, global warming contributes to weather variation and drought, drought makes regions vulnerable to wildfire, and wildfire shuts down tar sands extraction. While it's tempting to think residents of Fort McMurray are 'getting what they deserve' for their involvement with fossil fuels, Greg Laden writes "the people of Fort McMurray did not decide to cause climate change." As John DuPuis says on Confessions of a Science Librarian, "The issues around fossil fuel development that have gotten us into the trouble we’re in are systemic and historic, not in any way directly the fault of the actual people who are caught in this situation." Thus, the short-term need for disaster relief is independent of the long-term need to stop using fossil fuels.

Channel Surfing

Life Science

See more Pyjama Squid action!

The Michigan Physiological Society, a chapter of the American Physiological Society, held their 3rd annual meeting last week. As mentioned in a prior post, the keynote address was given by Comparative Physiologist Dr. Hannah Carey (University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine). You can read about her research in the prior post. Here are other highlights…

The trick to understanding evolution is less about finding good answer to questions, but rather, finding good questions to answer. Read that sentence twice, because it is very important. Years ago, Niko Tinbergen developed a method of formulating questions about biology. I’m pretty sure the Tinbergenian method has not been integrated into most science standards…

Physical Science

I may not blog as much as I used to, but I do still sometimes put myself out there. I just did a podcast with Jim Stein, posted over at the New Books Network. Jim is professor of mathematics at California State University at Long Beach. The conversation was about the book I coedited with…

“Love doesn’t make the world go ’round. Love is what makes the ride worthwhile.” -Franklin P. Jones It’s been such a busy time here at Starts With A Bang that we’re a day late bringing you last week’s recap! And we’ve got to get rocking on it, because there’s so much coming up to consider as well!…

“The first amazing fact about gravitation is that the ratio of inertial mass to gravitational mass is constant wherever we have checked it. The second amazing thing about gravitation is how weak it is.” -Richard Feynman One of the strangest, most novel predictions of Einstein’s relativity is that mass would not only curve space, but…

Environment

This indecision’s bugging me (Esta indecision me molesta) If you don’t want me set me free (Si no quieres librame) Exactly who I’m supposed to be (Digame que tengo ser) Don’t you know witch clothes even fits me? (Sabes bruja ropa me queda) Come on and let me know (Me tienes que decir) Should I…

Sea levels are going to rise The amount of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere directly and indirectly determines the sea level. The more CO2 the higher the sea level. The details matter, the mechanism is complex, and as CO2 levels change, it takes an unknown amount of time for the sea level to catch…

One member of the NTSB challenged her colleagues’ proclivity for citing “operator error.” Her remarks came during this week’s hearing on the May 2015 Amtrak train derailment that killed eight passengers.

Humanities

Last summer, 25-year-old Roendy Granillo died of heat stroke while he installed flooring in a house in Melissa, Texas, just north of Dallas. His tragic and entirely preventable death marked a turning point in advocacy efforts to pass a rest break ordinance for local construction workers.

The Michigan Physiological Society, a chapter of the American Physiological Society, held their 3rd annual meeting last week. As mentioned in a prior post, the keynote address was given by Comparative Physiologist Dr. Hannah Carey (University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine). You can read about her research in the prior post. Here are other highlights…

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan has signed into law the Contraceptive Equity Act, which puts the state at the forefront of efforts to reduce insurance-plan barriers to accessing multiple forms of contraception.

Education

The Michigan Physiological Society, a chapter of the American Physiological Society, held their 3rd annual meeting last week. As mentioned in a prior post, the keynote address was given by Comparative Physiologist Dr. Hannah Carey (University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine). You can read about her research in the prior post. Here are other highlights…

It’s one of those days where none of the stuff I probably ought to be writing seems even slightly appealing, so instead I’m going to do something frivolous and morale-boosting, namely think out loud about an imaginary course. Despite being on sabbatical, I do still check my work email, and have caught the edges of…

I am very excited about the upcoming 3rd annual Michigan Physiological Society Meeting on May 12-13 in Detroit. This society is a local chapter of the American Physiological Society. I am most excited by their choice of a Comparative Physiologist for the keynote address: Dr. Hannah V. Carey from the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary…

Politics

Last summer, 25-year-old Roendy Granillo died of heat stroke while he installed flooring in a house in Melissa, Texas, just north of Dallas. His tragic and entirely preventable death marked a turning point in advocacy efforts to pass a rest break ordinance for local construction workers.

The Democratic National Convention Committee has announced who will be on the all important Platform Drafting Committee. The committee will include an impressive mix of Clinton and Sanders supporters, as well as a key member associated with climate change activism. The committee is assembled by the CND Chair, who this time around is Debbie Wasserman…

I’ve had this piece by Rick Borchelt on “science literacy” and this one by Paige Brown Jarreau on “echo chambers” open in tabs for… months. I keep them around because I have thoughts on the general subject, but I keep not writing them up because I suspect that what I want to say won’t be…

Medicine

Sigh. Here we go again. Robert De Niro is letting his antivaccine freak flag fly again, this time even higher than usual, by revealing that in the wake of the antivaccine debacle at his Tribeca Film Festival he is going to make his very own documentary about vaccines. It’s the continuation of a process that,…

Over the years, I’ve taken care of women with locally advanced breast cancer so advanced that it’s eroded through the skin, forming huge, nasty ulcers filled with stinky dead cancer tissue that’s outgrown its blood supply, leaving the patient in chronic pain. If the patient is fortunate, her cancer has not metastasized beyond her axillary…

it was less than a year ago that I described a bill wending its way through Congress called the 21st Century Cures Act “old vinegary wine in a new bottle.” The reason I characterized the bill that way was because it really was nothing new and it rested on a very old fallacy, namely that…

Brain & Behavior

The Michigan Physiological Society, a chapter of the American Physiological Society, held their 3rd annual meeting last week. As mentioned in a prior post, the keynote address was given by Comparative Physiologist Dr. Hannah Carey (University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine). You can read about her research in the prior post. Here are other highlights…

Most people just see a horizontally oriented cigar (brown with grey ash) when they look at the picture below, but if you look closely you can also see what looks like a wall of red bricks behind the cigar! Yet another view:

I am very excited about the upcoming 3rd annual Michigan Physiological Society Meeting on May 12-13 in Detroit. This society is a local chapter of the American Physiological Society. I am most excited by their choice of a Comparative Physiologist for the keynote address: Dr. Hannah V. Carey from the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary…

Technology

I’m just passing this information on, I’ve not handled this device. But the price and performance seem like such a sweet spot that I am compelled to tell you about it. Let me know in the comments if you have experience with this item. The Dragon Touch M8 2016 Edition 8 inch Quad Core Tablet…

Today was the final day of the meeting. Dr. Joe Thompson (Franklin and Marshall College) spoke about oblique striated muscles, which get their name from the diagonal pattern formed by the location of the Z-lines. This type of muscle is common among cephalopods, nematodes, tunicates, molluscs, etc. Dr. John Whiteman (University of Wyoming) gave a…

I just got my new Semogue 1305 Superior Boar Bristle Shaving Brush. It is the one on the left. I like it. I prefer boar because I don’t want to kill badgers and because the bristles are stiff and it basically works better. I got the old one decades ago, and it was decades old…

Information Science

Main event. Definitely. Elsevier’s acquisition of the open access journal article and working papers repository and online community Social Science Research Network (SSRN) is definitely a case of Elsevier tipping their hand and giving us all a peek at their real long term strategy. Much more so than their whack-a-mole antics with Sci-Hub and other…

The town of Fort McMurray, Alberta and it’s surrounding region are experiencing a horrific wildfire. Tens of thousands of people have been forced to evacuate. The absolute most important thing in the short and medium term is to take care of the people of Fort McMurray. Yes, Fort McMurray is the hub of tar sands…

I’m going to publish my full review of The War on Science: Who’s Waging It, Why It Matters, What We Can Do About It by Shawn Otto closer to the publication date, which is June 7th. (I believe you can use the above link to pre-order the book.) But I just wanted to let you…

Jobs

Last summer, 25-year-old Roendy Granillo died of heat stroke while he installed flooring in a house in Melissa, Texas, just north of Dallas. His tragic and entirely preventable death marked a turning point in advocacy efforts to pass a rest break ordinance for local construction workers.

One member of the NTSB challenged her colleagues’ proclivity for citing “operator error.” Her remarks came during this week’s hearing on the May 2015 Amtrak train derailment that killed eight passengers.

Hardly a day goes by lately without another story on companies like Uber and their model of classifying workers as independent contractors while treating them more like traditional employees and sidestepping traditional employer responsibilities. It’s a model that has serious implications for workers’ rights and wages. However, there’s another form of employment that may be even more damaging to hard-fought labor standards: subcontracting.