Humans Have Messed With Earth so Much, Formal ‘Anthropocene’ Classification Needed: Scientists

by Andrea Germanos –  From climate change to invasive species to changes in the planet’s fundamental chemical cycles, the markers indicating profound change make clear Holocene is over. A group of scientists says that the scope of human impact on planet Earth is so great that the “Anthropocene” warrants a formal place the Geological Time Scale. “Our findings suggest that the Anthropocene should follow on from the Holocene Epoch that has seen 11.7 thousand years of relative environmental stability, since the retreat of the last Ice Age, as we enter a more unstable and rapidly evolving phase of our planet’s history,” said Professor Jan Zalasiewicz from the University of Leicester’s School of Geography, Geology, and the Environment, in a statement released Monday. The scientists write: We conclude that human impact has now grown to the point that it has changed the course of Earth history by at least many millennia, in terms of...

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EPA Dismisses the People in Charge of Scientific Integrity

by BEN ADLER – Pruitt has now gotten rid of most of the EPA’s Board of Scientific Counselors. In the latest blow to the integrity of the science used by government agencies, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) dismissed nearly all of the members of its Board of Scientific Counselors (BOSC) this week. The board, which reviews and advises EPA’s internal research departments on their scientific methodology, was already understaffed. On Tuesday, E&E News, an environmental news outlet, obtained an email from Robert Kavlock, acting head of EPA’s Office of Research and Development, saying that BOSC members whose three-year appointments expire in August will not get renewed. Environmental advocates had been concerned about the fate of the BOSC for some time. This week’s highly unusual action comes on the heels of EPA’s decision in May not to renew the appointments of nine of the BOSC executive committee’s 18 members. (Historically, BOSC members have been renewed for a...

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The Top 7 Ways the Trump Administration is Attacking Science at the EPA

by Myriam Alexander-Kearns and Alison Cassady – The core mission of the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, “is to protect human health and the environment.” As part of that mission, the agency works to ensure that “national efforts to reduce environmental risk are based on the best available scientific information.” During the first four months of 2017, President Donald Trump, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, and their allies in Congress have proven themselves hostile to the role of science in achieving the agency’s mission but all too willing to heed the requests of polluters. Here are the top seven ways in which science is already under siege at the EPA. 1. Administrator Pruitt rejected decades of science to keep a dangerous pesticide on the market Chlorpyrifos is a common agricultural pesticide that causes neurological harm in children who were exposed to it in utero. In 2016, the EPA’s scientists concluded that the...

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Professor Who Exposed Flint Crisis Says Greed Has Killed Public Science

by Lauren McCauley – Academic pressure and financial motives has prohibited scientists from asking important questions “Academic research and scientists in this country are no longer deserving of the public trust,” declared Marc Edwards, the Virginia Tech civil engineering professor who helped expose the Flint water crisis. In an interview published in the Chronicle of Higher Education on Tuesday, Edwards explained how the pressures put on academics to secure funding are forcing scientists to abandon work done in the public interest and that similar financial motives are causing government science agencies to ignore inconvenient truths—like high levels of lead in public drinking water. He said he’s “very concerned about the culture of academia in this country and the perverse incentives that are given to young faculty.” Edwards describes the culture as a “hedonistic treadmill,” with “extraordinary” pressures to pursue funding, publication, and academic clout. Meanwhile, he said, “the idea of science...

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Faith Leaders, Scientists, Military Officers Are All Asking SCOTUS To Save Abortion Access

by ALEX ZIELINSKI – A looming Supreme Court case that could severely undermine the right to an abortion has attracted an unprecedented amount of opposition from across the country. A slew of organizations and individuals filed 45 legal briefs in the Supreme Court on Tuesday, each brief examining the case through a unique lens and each coming to the same conclusion: State laws that restrict abortion access are unconstitutional. The case will examine the validity of a Texas law, known as HB2, that places burdensome, unnecessary guidelines on the state’s dwindling abortion clinics. These regulations, while framed as improvements to safeguard “women’s health,” ultimately have nothing to do with patient safety — and were instead created by anti-abortion legislators to impose additional, costly red tape on clinic staff. So far, it’s been successful. HB2 has already forced half of the state’s clinics to close, thus cutting Texas’ abortion providers in...

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‘Distractingly Sexy’ Female Scientists Launch Hilarious Campaign Mocking Nobel Laureate

#DistractinglySexy lab attire By Jen Hayden, Daily Kos – Nobel Prize-winning scientist Tim Hunt created quite a stir this week after making comments at a conference for scientific journalists in which he said he prefers men-only labs because women fall in love and cry too much for his tastes. Aside from losing his job at the University College London, the first university in England to admit female students on the same terms as men, he sparked social media campaign from the ladies of science who’ve been hilariously mocking his comments with the #DistractinglySexy tag. Some of the more laugh out loud photos are below:From @JPournelle @RosieWoodroffe: From Van Q. Truong: @drtanthony: @quirkisms: @VanessaAdams6: And https://twitter.com/… If you are looking for a #DistractinglySexy laugh today, by all means — make your way over to Twitter to see more of the hilarious #DistractinglySexy photos from female scientists around the world. Bravo, ladies!...

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Scientists Weigh In On Climate Impacts Of Texas’ Devastating Floods

by EMILY ATKIN – There’s a lot to say about the flash flooding that began last weekend in Texas and Oklahoma. So far 18 people are confirmed dead and at least 10 are missing. The weather’s broken records: Oklahoma City broke its all-time rainfall record for a single month, and Texas’ Wimberley Valley saw the highest flood in its recorded history. And more heavy rain is on the way. Texas and Oklahoma are certainly no strangers to intense flooding, particularly in May, and particularly with an El Niño developing. But with average atmospheric carbon dioxide at levels so high that they’ve never before seen by humans, many have asked the question: what’s the role of human-caused climate change here? The scientists ThinkProgress spoke to on Wednesday would not say the extreme flooding event was caused by climate change, noting the science of figuring out humanity’s role in a weather event...

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Iowa Scientists To Presidential Candidates: Climate Change ‘Is Not An Issue That Can Be Ignored’

by ARI PHILLIPS – On Monday, 188 researchers and scientists from across Iowa posed a pointed question to potential presidential candidates: what will you do about climate change? In the fifth annual Iowa Climate Statement, the diverse group of scientists from 39 colleges and universities across the state focus on getting politicians to weigh in on what they plan to do about the problem. The lead authors of the statement feel that climate change has been ignored by presidential candidates from both parties in previous elections, and they want presidential hopefuls to address climate change while campaigning this time around. Iowa is the first state to hold its primary caucus, and for this reason it possesses an outsized influence on the presidential race. The authors feel that this attention can be used to their advantage in an effort to highlight the issues surrounding climate change. Chris Anderson, assistant director of...

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Koch Group Sends Envoy To Rome To Convince Pope To Shut Up About Climate Change

by JAMESON PARKER – In the clearest example yet of the stunning hubris of American conservative movement, a think tank backed by the Koch brothers says it will send a group of right-wing “scientists” (let’s use that term loosely here) to convince Pope Francis that his stance on climate change (i.e. that it exists and it is deeply troubling) is both scientifically wrong, but also biblically so. You read that right: A group of wealthy energy industry businessmen think they can preach the gospel of climate denialism to the pope. This should be fun to watch. The pope caught the ire of the libertarian-leaning Heartland Institute when the Vatican announced that he would be holding meetings with United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon and other experts to discuss what policymakers and religious leaders can do to better combat the worst effects of climate change. Heartland Institute’s subsequent freak out was captured in the...

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The Megadrought: Climate Scientists Predict Decade Long Droughts For Much of America

By Steven D, Daily Kos – Don’t shoot the messenger, folks. A recent research article published in the online journal Science Advances by 2050 major portions of the Southwestern and Great Plains states will suffer from droughts much, much worse than the ones we have seen over the last 15 years.  If you think things are at a crisis point, now, just wait.  According to the researchers: n empirical drought reconstruction and three soil moisture metrics from 17 state-of-the-art general circulation models to show that these models project significantly drier conditions in the later half of the 21st century compared to the 20th century and earlier paleoclimatic intervals. This desiccation is consistent across most of the models and moisture balance variables, indicating a coherent and robust drying response to warming despite the diversity of models and metrics analyzed. Notably, future drought risk will likely exceed even the driest centuries of...

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