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The first observation of a bacterial gene called MCR-1 in the United States has scientists worried, if not surprised. The gene provides resistance to colistin, an antibiotic with nasty side effects used to combat multidrug-resistant bacteria. On Aetiology, Tara C. Smith writes “colistin has seen a new life in the last decade or so as…

“And yet many people today believe that weather modification is a hoax: the early overselling of rainmaking somehow caused it, down the line, to be grouped in the public mind with conspiracy theories about mind-altering ‘chemtrails,’ shock-jock speculation that the government manufactures tornadoes, and paranoid fantasies about the ‘weather wars’ involving earthquakes broadcast via the…

Open Access for the Future

The European Union has announced that all scientific papers published there and based on publicly funded research will be freely available beginning in 2020. On Stoat, William M. Connolley compares the new rules with the copyright system utilized in the United States, writing “the mystery is why the UK, France, Germany, and hence the rest…

Four weeks after a wildfire began in the Canadian province of Alberta, thousands of structures in Fort McMurray have been destroyed, over 100,000 people have been evacuated, and 2200 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…

Severe Droughts vs. Earth Day

On Significant Figures, Peter Gleick explains that growing populations worldwide have exerted peak pressures on water supplies, leaving entire regions more vulnerable to natural variations in rainfall. In turn, global warming has made these natural variations more extreme. One such variation is El Niño, when “droughts are typically more widespread and severe.” Dr. Gleick reports…

Fracked Over for Natural Gas

Research makes it increasingly clear that along with drilling for oil and mining coal, extracting natural gas from deep underground causes serious damage to the environment and to public health. On The Pump Handle, Kim Krisberg examines the contamination that may result from dumping fracking wastewater into disposal wells, writing “about 1,000 different chemicals are…

Well-Manicured Wastelands

On Pharyngula, PZ Myers doesn’t just want cut your grass—he wants to tear it out by the roots and leave it to rot in the sun. He quotes J. Crumpler on The Roaming Ecologist, who calls lawns “sterile, chemically-filled, artificial environments […] that provide no benefits over the long term; no food, no clean water,…

In January, Hillary Clinton still possessed the benefit of the doubt. Memories of her and Bill snarling at Barack Obama in 2008 had faded, and despite her long and dreadful record, it’s always possible to turn over a new leaf. But Clinton’s ongoing response to Bernie Sanders shows why she is unfit for the presidency. Even…

A new review of the scientific literature confirms the truth about vaccine exemptions; they endanger everyone. On The Pump Handle, Kim Krisberg outlines the horrible realities of vaccine-preventable disease, and writes that vaccine refusal has “accelerated the resurgence of whooping cough and measles here in the U.S.” On Respectful Insolence, Orac writes “the MMR [vaccine]…

New Research Sheds Light on Zika

Scientists working to understand the implications of Zika’s new prevalence in the Americas have found strong evidence that infection with the virus can cause fetal abnormalities and even miscarriage in pregnant women. On The Pump Handle, Liz Borkowski examines a series of studies conducted on Zika, including one which found the virus infected “most of…