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Interesting Excerpts
The following excerpts are from articles or books that I have recently read. They caught my interest and I hope that you will find them worth reading. If one does spark an action on your part and you want to learn more or you choose to cite it, I urge you to actually read the article or source so that you better understand the perspective of the author(s).
Homo naledi May Have Lit Fires

[These excerpts are from an article by Lars Fischer and Joanna Thompson in the July 2022 issue of Scientific American.]

      …remnants of small fireplaces and sooty wall and ceiling smudges in passages and chambers throughout South Africa’s Rising Star cave complex….

      H. naledi presumeably lit the blazes in the caves since no remains of any other hominids have turned up there….

      H. naledi fossils date to between 335,000 and 236,000 years ago…about when Homo sapiens originated. Many researchers suspect that regular use of fire by hominids for light, warmth and cooking began roughly 400,000 years ago….

      Such behavior has not been attributed to H. naledi before, largely because of its small brain. Berger contends it’s now clear that a brain roughly one-third the size of human brains today still enabled H. naledi to achieve control of fire….

Air Pollution Mucks Up Lung Defenses

[These excerpts are from an article by Aimee Cunningham in the 14 January 2023 issue of Science News.]

      …Air pollution is a major cause of disease and early death worldwide and disproportionately impacts poor and marginal communities…. Particulate matter – a type of pollution emitted from vehicle exhaust, power plants, wildfires and other sources – has been tied to respiratory, cardiovascular and neurological diseases….

      The lymph nodes are home to an array of immune cells, including macrophages. These cellular Pac-Mans gobble up pathogens and debris, including particulate matter.. Macrophages in pollutant-filled lymph nodes made fewer proteins that recruit other immune cells and showed signs of having a diminished capacity for gobbling….

Nuclear Fusion Passes Key Milestone

[These excerpts are from an article by James R. Riordon in the 14 January 2023 issue of Science News.]

      …While it’s comparativel easy to generate energy with fission, it’s an environmental nightmare to deal with the leftover radioactive debris that can remain hazardous for hundreds of millennia.

      Controlled nuclear fusion, on the other hand, doesn’t produce such long-lived radioactive waste, but it’s much harder to achieve technically in the first place….

      Getting atoms to fuse requires a combination of high pressure and temperature to squeeze the atoms tightly together. Intense gravity does much of the work in the sun.

      …About 4 percent of that fuel was fused in the process. The new result far surpassed the 1.3 million joules of energy produced by an earlier NIF experiment that nearly reached the break-even point for nuclear fusion….

Dinosaur’s Ducklike Body Hints at an Aquatic Lifestyle

[These excerpts are from an article by Nikk Ogasa in the 14 January 2023 issue of Science News.]

      …Natovenator polydontus may be the first known nonbird dinosaur to have possessed a streamlined body comparable to that of modern diving birds…. Natovenator and other closely related dinosaurs may have been swimming predators….

      What’s more, the orientation of Natovenator’s ribs indicates that it had a streamlined body like that of a modern waterfowl, with a compressed and flattened rib cage akin to aquatic reptiles….

      It is unclear just how strong a swimmer Natovenator may have been. The dinosaur’s forelimbs appear short, and its hind limbs seem to lack attributes of kick-propelled swimmers…. But semiaquatic mammals like minks and other successful modern swimming predators have skeletors that aren’t highly specialized for life in the water either….

Tired of Persevering

[These excerpts are from an op-ed by Keisha Hardeman in the 29 July 2022 issue of Science.]

      …It was only when I started college at a predominantly white institution that I began to question whether I was a fool for thinking someonelike me could be a scientist. I was usually the only Black student in my classes, and I had no Black professors. Fellow students excluded me from study groups. A professor even tried to kick me out of an exam, assuming I couldn’t possibly be in his class. Thankfully, my family had faith in me and helped me remember that I am smart and capable….

      The scientific challenges I encounter are nowhere near as discouraging as the systemic racism I’ve encountered in academia. I’ve had supposed colleagues critique my efforts within the first 30 seconds of meeting me, push my name down the author list for no justifiable reason, and tell me I only earned awards because I’m Black….

      Despite the barriers I’ve encountered on mypath—and in part because of them—I still dream of becoming a professor. But I’m tired of having to build resiliency, work on self-care strategies, and mentally process microagressions that don’t feel “micro” at all. I—and other Black scientists—want to bloom where we are planted, just like everyone else….

The Right to Strive in a Changing World

[These excerpts are from a book review by Dave Jamieson in the 6 January 2023 issue of Science.]

      …First, by showing how the Capabilities Approach can support a theory of justice for animals, it strengthens the argument that our systematic treatment of nonhuman animals is morally indefensible from almost any normative perspective….

      Another strength of this book is Nussbaum’s full-on embrace of the Anthropocene. She acknowledges that directly or indirectly, through action or omission, humans affect virtually every living thing on the planet, thus giving rise to broad and deep obligations. This is in welcome contrast to views that tend to cordon off “nature” and relieve humans of responsibility for what happens there. There are also valuable discussions of such topics as why death can be a harm and how extinction hurts individual animals, as well as interesting historical asides.

      …She understands how important human population control is to realizing her vision, for example, but seems to think that educating women is enough to put this concern to rest. She also discusses various problems that arise from keeping companion animals, but there is little mention of, for example, the toll that domestic cats take on songbirds. Nor does she really address the discomfort that many people will feel about establishing a government office of “domestic animal welfare” or allowing animals to sue their guardians….

Did Ancient Tentacled Microbes Kick-start Complex Life?

[These excerpts are from an article by Elizabeth Pennisi in the 6 January 2023 issue of Science.]

      …Some recent work has shown that Asgards, which belongs to a group of rudimentary life forms known as archaea, have genes once thought to exist only in more complex organisms….They managed to grow enough for individual microbes to be imaged with electron microscopy, revealing complex internal structures suggestive of those in our own cells, such as the compex cytoskeleton made in the protein actin….

      The idea that Asgard-like archaea might be the ancestors of eukaryotes emerged in 2015. Thijs Ettema…discovered eukaryotelike genes in archaeal genetic material from sediment samples….By 2017, Ettema had found similar genes in several more groups of archaea….

      In the lab, the Asgard proteins appeared to work similarly to the eukaryotic versions. To the scientists, that suggests that membrane-manipulating machinery predates the evolution of eukaryotes….

Admissions on Trial

[These excerpts are from an article in the January/February 2023 issue of Harvard Magazine.]

      …At the heart of the challenge to the use of race in undergraduate emissions is the claim that “Our constitution is color-blind,” as a famous dissent by Justice John Marshall Harlan put it in 1896. The Court’s momentous 1954 ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, prohibiting segregation in public schools, turned that principle into national law….

      …As retired Justice Stephen G. Meyer…wrote in a 2007 dissent, the Court in Brown did not prohibit race-consciousness in law. Instead, it outlawed subordination based on race, the perpetuation of “a caste system rooted in the institutions of slavery….”

      In 2003, the Court issued the major decision about diversity-based affirmative action in educational admissions, Grutter v. Bollinger….The majority opinion in Grutter permitted race-conscious admissions policies…but directed that they “must be limited in time” and included this sentence: “We expect that 25 years from now, the use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary to further the interest approved today.”

      …If the Supreme Court strikes down Harvard’s use of race as a plus factor in admissions, both lower courts found, it will be hard for the College to maintain the bredth and depth of diversity it now enjoys in the student body….

Battery Recycling

[These excerpts are from an article by Casey Crownhart in the January/February 2023 issue of MIT Technology Review.]

      …Demand for lithium-ion batteries is skyrocketing as electric vehicles become more common. Greater use of electric vehicles is good news for the climate. But supplies of the metals needed to build battery cells are already stretched thin, and demand for lithium could increase 20 times by 2050.

      Recycling may help. Older methods of processing spent batteries struggled to reliably recover enough of these individual metals tto make recycling economical. But new approaches have swiftly changed that, enabling recyclers to more effectively dissolve the metals and separate them from battery waste.

      Recycling facilities can now recover nearly all the cobalt and nickeland over 80% of the lithium from used batteries and manufacturing scrap left over from battery production—and recyclers plan to resell those metals for a price nearly competitive with the mined materials. Aluminum, copper, and graphite are often recovered as well….

      Battery demand is expected to grow exponentially for decades. Recycling alone won’t be enough to satisfy it. And these new recycling processes aren’t perfect. But battery recycling factories will create a supply of materials the world needs to meet its climate goals.

The Newest Crop Foung on the Farm: Solar Panels

[These excerpts are from an article by Matt Whittaker in the January/February 2023 issue of MIT Technology Review.]

      ……Agrivoltaics is pretty low-tech. Instead of being placed 18 to 36 inches off the ground, as in traditional solar farms, the solar panels are raised significantly higher to accommodate grazing animals and to allow more sunlight to reach plants growing beneath them.

      The approach could be a boon for both energy generation and crop production. Less direct sunlight helps keep plants cooler during the day, allowing them to retain more moisture and thus require less watering. Having plants underneath the solar panels also reduces the amount of heat reflected by the ground, which keeps the panels cooler and makes them more efficient. Farm workers tending the crops also benefit from cooler temperatures, as do grazing animals.

      Wide-scale adoption of the practice could help reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the United States by 330,000 tons a year and add more than 100,000 rural jobs without affecting crop yield very much….

      It’s also expensive. While agrivoltaics could save farmers money on irrigation and electricity, or provide an extra source of cash if they sell electricity to the grid, installing solar panels is a significant upfront cost….

Smarter Ways with Water

[These excerpts are from an article by Erica Gies in the January 2023 issue of Scientific American.]

      …Many businesses have long lobbied against changing their practices to safeguard the environment, by refusing to implement pollution controls, take climate action or reduce resource use. The costs are too high and would harm economic growth, they argue. Now we are seeing the prices of that inaction….

      Pumping out groundwater when rivers run low further depletes surface water because the two are linked. Erecting dams to provide water to one group of people deprives other people and ecosystems. Leveeing up rivers and building on wetlands removes space for water to slow, pushing flooding onto heighboring areas. Paving cities and whisking water away creates localized scarcity.

      ….People have destroyed 87% of the world’s wetlands since 1700…, dammed almost two-thirds of the world’s largest rivers, and doubled the area covered by cities since 1992….All these have drastically altered the water cycle….

      …Before people killed the majority of beavers, North America and Europe were much boggier, thanks to beaver dams that slowed water on the land, which gave the animals a wider area to travel, safe from land predators. Before the arrival of the Europeans, 10% of North America was covered in beaver-created, ecologically diverse wetlands….

Smarter Ways with Water

[These excerpts are from an article by Erica Gies in the January 2023 issue of Scientific American.]

      …Many businesses have long lobbied against changing their practices to safeguard the environment, by refusing to implement pollution controls, take climate action or reduce resource use. The costs are too high and would harm economic growth, they argue. Now we are seeing the prices of that inaction….

      Pumping out groundwater when rivers run low further depletes surface water because the two are linked. Erecting dams to provide water to one group of people deprives other people and ecosystems. Leveeing up rivers and building on wetlands removes space for water to slow, pushing flooding onto heighboring areas. Paving cities and whisking water away creates localized scarcity.

      ….People have destroyed 87% of the world’s wetlands since 1700…, dammed almost two-thirds of the world’s largest rivers, and doubled the area covered by cities since 1992….All these have drastically altered the water cycle….

      …Before people killed the majority of beavers, North America and Europe were much boggier, thanks to beaver dams that slowed water on the land, which gave the animals a wider area to travel, safe from land predators. Before the arrival of the Europeans, 10% of North America was covered in beaver-created, ecologically diverse wetlands….

Don’t Discount Recycling

[These excerpts are from an article by Don’t Discount RecyclingSarah King in the January 2023 issue of Scientific American.]

      ,,,Recycling is often criticized as insufficient compared with earlier interventions such as reuse or reduce. And it is true that a circular economy requires a great deal more than recycling. But recycling remains a fundamental strategy to extract value from resources, as evidenced by its current contribution to 86% global circularity….

      Ultimately, we need to break traditional boundaries between brand owners, manufacturers and those in the business of waste management and resource recovery, and instead stimulate collaborative partnerships. For example, nine companies joined forces to create a circular supply chain in which they captured soft plastic waste and converted it to a Nestle KitKat wrapper using Austraian-designed advanced recycling technology. This process converts waste plastic to food-grade plastic, in a continuous loop.

      Innovation – on both the technological and societal fronts – is essential in the transition to a circular economy. Such shifts are needed to eliminate the concept of waste, by reducing consumption, and an increase in reuse and recycling….

Path to Sustainability

[These excerpts are from an article by Kristian Syberg in the January 2023 issue of Scientific American.]

      Plastic pollution is recognized as being one of the major global environmental challenges today, with a worldwide reach that is affecting essential Earth systems such as the climate and biodiversity….it is paramount that the new treaty does not become doctrine for recycling at the expense of providing a legal foundation for reducing plastic consumption.

      …The principles are based on the top three levels of the waste hierarchy, whereby reducing is better than reducing, which is, in turn, more favourable than recycling. In practice, however, attention has primarily been focused on recycling….

      …only 15% of plastic waste is collected for recycling, and, of that, 40% is discarded from the recycling process on account of its low quality. As a result, actual plastic recycling rates are as low as 9%.

      Moreover, most plastic sent for recycling, especially that collected from households, is downcycled – that is, the recycled product is of a lower quality than the originl – on account of its heterogeneous nature….

Plastic’s Messy End-Game

[These excerpts are from an article by Sarah DeWeerdt in the January 2023 issue of Scientific American.]

      …Roughly 70% of the plastics that have ever been produced have already been discarded. Single-use plastic, especially packaging, makes up around 40% of plastic production in Europe. Yet the most widely used plastics persist in landfill sites or the environment for decades or even centuries after being thrown away.

      In theory, many commonly used plastics can be recycled. But only about one-tenth of the plastics that have ever been produced have been recycled once, and only about 1% have been recycled twice….

      Even with diligent sorting, recycled plastic is almost always of lower quality than primary plastic. More than 10,000 different additives can be used to give plaastics different colours and technical properties. Plastics of the same type often contain different combinations of additives, resulting in recycled material with unpredictable and often suboptimal additive combinations. Plus, the long polymer chains that make up these materials become slightly shorter each time they are melted down….

      Platic is cheap to produce, an accessible and practical material for people living in informal and remote settlements with little access to refrigeration and sanitation. Additionally, its light weight makes it less energy intensive to transport than other food and beverage packaging materials. As a result, these products are found everywhere in the world, even in the remotest places….

      …In fact, an estimated two billion people worldwide lack access to regular waste-management services. Most of the estimated 13 million tonnes of plastic that enters the oceans annually comes from areas with inadequate waste management….

A Diet for Better Bones

[These excerpts are from an article by Claudia Wallis in the January 2023 issue of Scientific American.]

      …Bone is a dynamic tissue, constantly replenished with new cells. Calcium is the key nutrient for building bone, and vitamin D enables the gut to absorb calcium from the food we eat, so doctors often recommend D supplements to counteract age-related bone loss. Today more than a third of American adults age 60 and older pop this vitamin.

      But to the surprise of many, a huge study…found that taking vitamin D for five years did not reduce the rate of fracture in healthy adults ages 50 and older….An editorial accompanying the fracture study declared that it’s time for medical professionals to stop pushing these pills and quit ordering so many blood tests for vitamin D levels….

      For those of us who like to start our day with coffee, modest consumption may help our bones. Although very high levels of caffeine—say, six to eight cups of coffee—cause calcium to be lost in urine, one or two cups seems to have a beneficial effect….

      Alcohol, too, is best in moderation. Excessive drinking can disrupt the body’s production of vitamin D and interfere with hormones that promote bone health….

Kitty Talk

[These excerpts are from an article by Tanya Lewis in the January 2023 issue of Scientific American.]

      …Researchers in France subjected house cats to recordings of their owners or a stranger saying various phrases in cat- or human-directed speech. Much like baby talk, cat-directed speech is typically higher pitched and may have short, repetitive phrases. The team found that felines reacted distinctively to their owners speaking in cat-directed speech—but not to their owners speaking in adult tones or to stangers using either adult- or cat-directed speech.

      Previous research had shown similar findings in dogs, but much less is known when it comes to cats….

      De Mouzon and her teach recorded 16 cat owners uttering phrases such as “Do you want to play?” or “Do you want a treat?” in cat- and human-directed speech. The researchers then filmed each cat before, during and after playng playing it a series of recordings of its owner and other owners’ speech. The researchers used software to rate the magnitude of the cats’ reactions to a speech sound….

A Thorny Question

[These excerpts are from an article by Nicholas Brulliard in the Winter 2022 issue of National Parks.]

      …They’re not only among the tallest cacti in the world…but also among the oldest, with some living up to 300 years…..

      The arms that give saguaros their iconic shape are actually crucial to the species’ survival. Saguaros produce flowers almost exclusively on their extremities, so on a pillar-shaped saguaro, flowers will appear at the top. Once that saguaro grows one arm, the number of flowrs – and seeds – will roughly double. Add one more arm, and the number of flowers will be about triple what it was originally, and so on….

      Saguaros grow extremely slowly. After five years, most haven’t reached an inch in height….It takes decades for a saguaro to produce fruit and years more to grow its first arm – if it produces one at all – so observing growth patterns in real time is not a practical option. The best approach, then, is statistical.

      …Interestingly, nurse trees appeared to influence saguaro branching when they were alive – and dead. Nurse trees are associated with a relative abundance of young saguaros – perhaps because of the shelter they provide to the seedlings or because birds perched on their branches excrete saguaro seeds that germinate under the canopy. Hutto discovered that saguaros growing near living nurse trees tended to have fewer arms, possibly because both species competed over water, but a saguaro next to a dead nurse tree was more likely to grow more branches….

President’s Note

[These excerpts are from a report by John Seager in the December 2022 issue of Population Connection.]

      …Each of us is a metaphorical biological RV since the typical person houses 39 trillion microorganisms including bacteria, viruses, and fungi. A recent meme asserts that plants are actually farming us—not the other way around—since they provide oxygen so that, when we die and decompose, they can feed on our remains….

      To be sure, we’re great at building stiff, be it useful or nonsensical. But at what cost? Over the past 50 years, human population has more than doubled while we’ve annihilated 69 percent of mammals, birds, fish, and reptiles during that brief period, according to the World Wildlife Fund….

      Imagine for a moment a world with, say, just 12 percent of its current population—or one billion people. Would it be terrible if we shrunk to that level—by choosing smaller families? It would take at least several centuries, during which life patterns would shift significantly, but there is nothing new about dramatic change….

      Speaking of cost, achieving smaller families is about as inexpensive as it gets. According to the Guttmacher nstitute, modest investments could slash unintended pregnancies in the poorest places on earth by 68 percent. Here at home, those in need of reproductive health services must navigate a bewildering array of programs. Even worse, many states are enacting even more barriers to contraception and safe abortion at a time when there are about 1.4 unintended births I the U.S. annually….

Mom’s Mitochondria May Refresh Cells in Sick Kids

[These excerpts are from an article by Mitch Leslie in the 23 December 2022 issue of Science.]

      A gift from their mothers might reenergize the cell of children who carry faulty mitochondria, the organelles that serve as cells’ power plants. A research team is testing a strategy that involves soaking patients’ blood cells in a broth of healthy mitochondria from their mothers and then reinfusing them. Early signs suggest the intervention is safe and may improve the children’s health and development, and the members are planning a follow-up clinical trial….

      Mitochondria, which originated early in eukaryotic evolution as symbiotic bacteria within other organisms, generate most ofnthe adenosine triphosphate (ATP) that fuels cells. But about one in 5000 babies is born with mitochondrial defects that cause sometimes-lethal disorders….

      Mitochondrial activity in the cells suggested at least some of them had absorbed the organelles. A year after reinfuson, the patents’ blood vells held 30% more mitochondrial DNA and produced one-third more ATP than before. Five of the children gained weight, and two atients tested for strength and endurance showed improvements. All are still alive, including one child who underwent the treatment nearly 5 years ago,….

NIH Can’t Deny Chimps Sanctuary Retirement

[These excerpts are from an article by David Grimm in the 23 December 2022 issue of Science.]

      A U.S. federal judge has ruled against the nation’s largest biomedical agency in a long-running battle over the fate of former research chimpanzees. On 13 December, a Maryland court declared that the U.S. National Institute of Health (NIH) violated federal law by not moving the animals out of biomedical facilities to a government sanctuary. The decision could force the agency to transfer the great apes….

      In 2000, the U.S. Congress passed the Chimpanzee Health Improvement, Maintenance, and Protection (CHIMP) Act, which created the only federal chimpanzee sanctuary, Chimp Haven, in Keithville, Louisiana. It also mandated retirement of NIH-owned chimps no longer needed in biomedical research.

      When biomedical research on chimpanzees ended in 2015, NIH pledged to retire all of its chimps to the sanctuary. The agency has since retired more than 200 of the approximately 300 chimps it owns or supports at three facilities. But in 2019, it announced that many of the others would stay put. A panel of NIH veterinarians concluded that all 44 of the chimps that remained in the Alamogordo Primate Facility in New Mexico were too old and sick to move. The agency later stated the same applied to 49 of the chimpanzees at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Bastrop, Texas….

PFAS: Everything, Everywhere, All at Once

[These excerpts are from an article by Jessian Choy in the Winter 2022 issue of Sierra.]

      Some of the most hazardous chemicals to human health and the environment are in just about everything we purchase and consume, whether its personal-care products, food packaging, cookware, or clothes. Known as PFAS, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances are commonly used to make surfaces nonstick and resistant to water and grease. PFAS, also known as forever chemicals, do not naturally degrade. They are found in the blood of 99 percent of Americans. And there’s no way to remove them from our body.

      Exposure to PFAS such as the chemical perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) has been linked to a variety of health problems, from an increased risk of kidney and testicular cancers to cardiovascular disease, obesity, and diabetes. PFAS exposure may even increase the likelihood of COVID-19 infection (and more serious symptoms)….

      This year, the EPA confirmed that there is virtually no safe level of PFAS in drinking water. Even so, the federal government has still not established limits for PFAS in water, food, or consumer products, leaving states to set their own….

      Fortunately, there is momentum for change in the US. Some states have banned PFAS in products such as food packaging, cosmetics, textiles, and carpets. And thanks to a raft of new studies, we now know a lot more about what products are safer than others.

All Aboard!

[These excerpts are from an article by Judith Lewis Mernit in the Winter 2022 issue of Sierra.]

      …They also had to train divers, because the company’s 12-ton BEAST school bus, which can carry 90 passengers 140 miles on a charge, doesn’t handle the same as old diesel models. Regenerative brakes, for example, don’t require the same force….

      GreenPower’s expansion is a preview of what can happen under the monumental Inflation Reduction Act, which President Joe Biden signed into law in August….The original bipartisan infrastructure bill included $20 billion for schools to transition to zero-emission buses. But by the time the bill reached Biden’s desk in November 2021, Congress Had whittled the number down to $5 billion. That amount can scarcely make a dent in modernizing the nation’s fleet of half a million school buses, 95 percent of which run on diesel.

      That said, the new federal program will help….

      The first month of West Virginia’s electric school bus experiment was encouraging. Vehicles in three school districts charged successfully and completed their morning and afternoon rounds without a hitch….

How a Climate Bill Becomes Law

[These excerpts are from an article by Shruti Bhatnagar in the Winter 2022 issue of Sierra.]

      A White House rally seemed like the perfect way to celebrate Earth Day. In April, a thousand people gathered in front of the president’s residence for a demonstration demanding the passage of legislation to address the climate crisis….the rally drew environmentalists, union organizers, medical professionals, students, and retirees who, together, called on our nation’s leaders to finally take bold action to avoid climate catastrophe….

      Most of the media coverage of the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act was preoccupied with horse-trading on Capitol Hill….

      It was grassroots environmentalists who helped craft the original Green New Deal, which inspired elements of the Inflation Reduction Act. It was grassroots environmentalists who voted into office representatives and senators who were committed to making climate change a legislative priority. And it was grassroots environmentalists—along with our allies in the labor movement and public health communities—who turned the Inflation Reduction Act into the law of the land….

Questions of Trade-Offs

[These excerpts are from an editorial by Lindsey Botts in the Winter 2022 issue of Sierra.]

      For far too long, political and corporate leaders have resisted creating effective policies to address climate change. In 1985, when famed astronomer Carl Sagan warned Congress about the dangers posed by human-caused global warming, politicians listened politely but did nothing. Since then, oil companies and utilities have spent years and millions of dollars sowing disinformation and doubt about climate science. Fossil fuel industry propaganda kneecapped the political system’s sense of urgency.

      Now there’s no more time to waste. With carbon dioxide emissions continuing to rise and the 10 hottest years on record all happening within the past two decades, the need for climate action has never been greater. The passage last summer of the Inflation Reduction Act is an important first step….

      We need to acknowledge that in dealing with climate change, the trade-offs often lead to negative consequences for communities that weren’t involved in the decision of what would be traded away. How do we carry out the clean energy transition without making the mistakes of the past? Studied ambiguity is no longer an option. We can’t afford the high social and environmental costs of cheap goods, cheap labor, and disposable ecosystems….

Perennial Rice Promises Easier Farming

[These excerpts are from an article by Erik Stokstad in the 16 December 2022 issue of Science.]

      The world’s major food crops—rice, wheat, corn—must be planted anew for every harvest. That’s a lot of work for farmers and can contribute to environmental problems such as soil erosion. Perennial grains that survive and produce year after year could ease the burden, but breeding plants that are long-lived and productive enough has been a challenge. This year, researchers in China showed perennial rice can meet those benchmarks and save families many weeks of backbreaking labor.

      Called Perennial Rice 23 (PR23), the variety was created years ago by crossing a commercial variety of Asian rice with a perennial wild rice that grows in Africa. Improving its yield and quality took more than 2 decades….

      …In the first year, planting and cultivation cost about the same. But in the second year, farmers could eliminate a major task: transplanting young rice seedlings into a paddy, grueling work often done by women and children. Skipping this step, thanks to the perennial rice, reduced the amount of work per hectare by as much as 77 person-days each season, , and helped lower farmers’ costs by half. Soil nutrient also increased in the fields containing perennial rice. By the fifth year, however, yields dropped so much the perennial rice had to be replanted.

      …Researchers also worry about long-term impacts. One concern is that weeds and pathogens will accumulate in the unplowed fields, requiring more herbicide than conventional rice does….

A Surprisingly Massive Microbe

[These excerpts are from an article by Elizabeth Pennisi in the 16 December 2022 issue of Science.]

      The discovery of a giant bacterium with complex innards shook biology this year. Microbes are supposed to be microscopic, but this one, tentatively dubbed Thiomargarita magnifica, can by 5000 times bigger than many bacretial cells—as long as a pushpin. The single, threadlike cells were first spotted on the surfaces of dying leaves in a mangrove swamp in the French Antilles.

      Bacteria need to be tiny, researchers thought, because they lack the internal transport systems found in other cells and depend on diffusion to move nutrients and wastes. Diffusing molecules can’t travel very far, limiting how big a bacterium can be—or so the thinking went. Textbooks also say bacteria lack internal compartments, but T. magnifica has several….

      These structures shake up the traditional division of life into eukaryotes and prokaryotes. Eukaryotes include plants, andimals, and other organisms with complex cells that segregate their components into membrane-lines compartments called organelles. Prokaryotes include bacteria and other single-celled organisms that lack organelles and have sometimes been characterized as simply “bags of proteins.” T. magnifica seems to represent something in between—perhaps mirroring transitional forms that evolved billions of years ago.

Monitor Biodiversity for Action

[These excerpts are from an editorial by Andrew Gonzalez and Maria Cecilia Londono in the 16 December 2022 issue of Science.]

      …The goals address the urgent need to protect and restore biodiversity, sustain the benefits that people derive from healthy ecosystems, ensure that these benefits are shared equitably, and mobilize all forms of enabling conditions, including koeledge and sufficient financial resources. The targets accompanying the goals focus measureable actions for life on land, in fresh waters, and in the oceans.

      At the heart of the Global Biodiversity Framework is a new and vital piece—a monitoring framework that proposes a suite of indicators by which the Parties can measure progress toward both national and global targets….

      ….Countries differ greatly in their capacity to generate and use data, and to calculate the indicators and update them over time. This has resulted in a highly uneven global picture of biodiversity loss….

      If the Parties of COP15 can agree on a global biodiversity observing system that links national monitoring networks, analogous to the Global Climate Observing System in place for climate tracking, then a path will be initiated for boosting the production and sharing of biodiversity data worldwide….

Expectations and Exceptions

[These excerpts are from an article by Joshua P. Starr in the December 2022/January 2023 issue of Kappan.]

      …Too many children lost academic ground while schools wrestled with decisions about keeping buildings open or delivering virtual instruction. Too many children were traumatized as parents and family members got sick and died, lost emplotment, or had to move. And now, there’s an urgency to get back to normal, whatever that was, which means a relentless drive towards getting kids back on track to college- and career-readiness.

      …The social-emotional learning movement has been growing for years, and it’s now seen as an essential part of schooling, not just a nice thing to do….on one hand, educators are trying to push as hard as they can to help as many students as possible achieve an academic standard with less time than they had before. On the other hand, we can’t push kids or adults past the breaking point. Expectations must be met. But exceptions must be allowed.

      …We’ve become very good at describing what educator and srudents don’t do well. I’m no Polyanna who believes that all schools are great and we just need to let educators alone to do their thing. Such magicalthinking ahsn’t gotten us very far. Yet, to activate student learning, you need to have emotional connections with students and engage them in relevant learning….

      …Stidents who have a positive interaction with one adult for 20 minutes a week are more resilient. Think about that. A coach, a mentor, a paraprofessional, counselor, teacher, or administrator can positively impact a child’s life by spending 20 mintes per week with them….

Seeking Safety in a ‘Code’

[These excerpts are from a book review by Joseph Swift in the 17 June 2022 an article by Charles Bell in the December 2022/January 2023 issue of Kappan.]

      …As millions of students have transitioned from virtual to in-person learning, school officials have documented an increase in fights and school shootings….

      Some of the students said they did not want to fight anyone, but they perceived that school officials and safety measures did not protect them when other students initiated attacks….

      Given their perceptions that school safety measures would not protect them, several students saw no option but to fight back when attacked at school….

      Students feel obliged to abide by the code not because they are violent but because they see it as the most effective way to avoid victimization….

School Safety for All Students

[These excerpts are from an article by Meg Caven in the December 2022/January 2023 issue of Kappan.]

      …School shooting shatter us. Every act of gun violence ruptures families and communities, but schoolshootings also eviscerate our collective belief is schools as sanctuaries. Educators, lawmakers, and advocates seek to heal these wounds of our collective psyche partly through school-focused policy reforms. Wide-ranging proposals – arming teachers, hardening school security infrastructures, stationing police in schools – aim to improve safety and oofer some assurance that the tragedies of Uvalde, Parkland, Newtown, and too many other communities will never happen again.

      …Although SROs [school resource officers] are only supposed to intervene in situations requiring law enforcement, they often become involved in noncriminal school disciplinary matters….Their involvement increases the suspension rate among students of color and drives those with typical behavioral issues into the criminal legal system. The link forged by SROs between school discipline and the criminal legal system is particularly strong for Black and brown students,,,,

      The racial unrest in recent years has pushed to the surface barely concealed white supremacist sentiment. At the same time, schools have seen a parallel rise in the incidence of racist bullying and hate speech….Current “parents’ rights” campaigns against teaching critical race theory in schools illustrate how deeply rooted the resistance to confronting racism is in certain communities….

      Events like school shootings invariably expose the assumptions and the privilege that dominate our understanding of school safety. Families close to the tragedy are interviewed by reporters. Families at a distance speak about it while waiting in school pickup lines and over coffee. I just dropped my kids off at school. I didn’t think twice about it. I expected them to be safe there/i>….

A Winning Year for Climate Legislation

[These excerpts are from an article by Nikk Ogasa in the 17 & 31 December 2022 issue of Science News.]

      …California and other states announced plans to phase out gas-powered cars after 2035. The United States ratified an international treaty to slash production of the climate-warming hydrofluorocarbons used in cooling and refrigeration. The European Union is finalizing its plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 55 percent relative to 1990s levels by 2030. The list of legislative victories goes on. But the biggest win came August 16, when President Joe Biden signed into law the Inflation Reduction Act.

      …By the end of the decade, the act will help cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by around 40 percent of the levels in 2005, when U.S. emissions nearly peaked…bringing the nation within reach of fulfilling its pledge to halve emissions by 2030….

      A major goal is to build up a clean energy economy by promoting high-quality jobs in industries such as solar and wind. To maximize tax credits, companies must pay workers a “prevailing wage” and emplot apprentices to work a minimum number of hours on clean energy projects….

      And CO2 is legally defined as as “air pollutant,” cementing the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to regulate its production under the Clean Air Act….

Sharks Map a Sprawling Seagrass Bed

[These excerpts are from an article by Nikk Ogasa in the 17 & 31 December 2022 issue of Science News.]

      …A massive survey of the Bahamas Banks – a cluster of undewater plateaus surrounding the Bahamas – has revealed up to 92,000 square kilometers of seagrasses….

      The finding expands the estimated global area covered by seagrasses by 41 percent, a potential boon for conservation efforts that aim to protect carbon-trapping ecosystems….

      Seagrasses can sequester carbon for millenia at rates 35 times faster than tropical rainforests. The newly mapped sea prairie may store 630 million metric tons of carbon, equivalent to about a quarter of the carbon trapped by seagrasses worldwide….

      The team captured the sharks with drum linesand hauled each one onto a boat, mounting a camera and tracking device onto the animal’s back before releasing it. Sharks were typically back in the water in under 10 minutes….

Greenland Is Hemorrhaging Ice

[These excerpts are from an article by Nikk Ogasa in the 17 & 31 December 2022 issue of Science News.]

      Sea level rise may proceed faster than expected in the coming decades, as a gargantuan flow of ice slithering out of Greenland’s remote interior both picks up speed and shrinks….

      The finding suggests that inland portions of large flows of ice elsewhere could also be withering and accelerating due to human-scaused climate change….

      …focused on the Northeast Greenland Ice Stream, a titanic conveyor belt of solid ice that crawls about 600 kilometers through the landmass’s ice sheet out of the hinterland and into the sea. The stream drains about 12 percent of the country’s entire ice sheet and contains enough water to raise global sea level more than a meter….

      …The researchers predict that by 2100, the ice stream will have single-handedly contributed between about 14 and 16 millimeters to global sea level rise – as much as Greenland’s entire ice sheet has in the last 50 years….

Human Population Hits a Milestone

[These excerpts are from an article by Allison Gasparini in the 17 & 31 December 2022 issue of Science News.]

      Eight billion. That’s the number of humans estimated to be alive on Earth as of November 15….

      Though the global population continues to expand, the rate of growth is slowing. Current projections predict the world’s population will peak at about 10.4 billion in the 2080s and remain steady after 2100….

      In the coming decades, migration is expected to be the sole driver of population growth in high-income countries….What’s more, the populations of 61 countries are projected to decrease by 1 percent or more between now and 2050….

      While population growth may put more stress on the environment…developed countries that consume the most resources are the most responsible for mitigating that stress.

In China, ‘Zero COVID’ Has Become a Catch-22

[These excerpts are from an article by Dennis Normile in the 9 December 2022 issue of Science News.]

      …The country is still ill-prepared for living with SARS-CoV-2. Easing restrictions today would likely trigger a massive wave of infections, overwhelm health care facilities, and bring a huge death toll….

      The fierce protests have triggered some changes. Several provinces have started to allow people to enter public transportation, restaurants, and shopping centers without proof of a negative COVID-19 test, for example, and some close contatcs of patients will be allowed to isolate at home instead of being sent to quarantine centers….

      …lifting zero-COVID retrictions at that point could “generate a tsunami of COVID-19 cases” over a 6-month period, with 112 million symptomatic cases, 2.7 million intensive care unit (ICU) admissions, and 1.6 million deaths. Peak demand for ICU beds would hit 1 million, more than 15 times the current capacity….

Invasive Mosquito Spreads Malaria

[These excerpts are from an article by Jake Buehler in the 3 December 2022 issue of Science News.]

      …Because this species can thrive in urban environments, it brings the threat of malaria to potentially many millions of moe people across Africa.

      In Africa, An. gambiae is the main malaria vector. An. stephensi – which spread malaria in its native Pakistan, India and the Persian Gulf – was first reported in Africa in 2012 in Dijbouti. Since then, it has turned up elsewhere on the continent, including in Ethiopia, Somalia and Nigeria.

      In the eight years since the mosquito’s arrival, annual cases of malaria in Dijbouti have increased 40-fold to over 70,000 cases per year….

      Using insecticide-treated bed nets and spraying a residual insecticide indoors are the primary control approaches for malaria-carrying mosquitoes….But since An. stephensi also bites outdoors, it’s spread may blunt the tools’ efficacy….

These Frogs Aren’t Extinct after All

[This excerpt is from an article by Freda Kreiner in the 3 December 2022 issue of Science News.]

      …Harlequin frogs – a genus with nearly 100 species – were one of the groups of amphubuans hit hardest by a skin-eating chytrid fungus that rapidly spread aroud the globe in the 1980s….The group is so susceptible to the disease that with the added pressures of climate change and habitat loss, around 70 percent of known harlequin frog species are now listed as extinct or critically endangered.

      But in recent years, roughly one-third of harlequin species presumed to have gone extinct since the 1950s have been rediscovered….

      Ensuring the continuation of the rediscovered species will depend in part on understanding how they’ve managed to survive….

Religion in Space

[These excerpts are from a book review by Roger D. Launius in the 2 December 2022 issue of Science.]

      …Captain Kirk’s soliloquy—“Space, the last frontier—at the beginning of Star Trek and John F. Kennedy’s 1962 speech about setting sail “on the new sea” invoked journeying to a different land, settling an uncolonized region, and creating a new civilization. Such conceptions conjured images of self-reliant people moving to untouched territpries in sweeping waves of discovery, exploration, and settlement….

      …They evince distust of authority, especially governmental authority, and celebrate the entrepenurial spirit of Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and Sir Richard Branson, whom they believe will finally open a boundless space frontier….

      Along with criticism of NASA, “New Space” advocates also accept a dystopian future of Earth. They argue that in the 21st century, exponential growth of population and diminishing resources will create cataclysm. They answer, they believe, is to escape….

      …Musk and Bezos have become messiahs for the :New Space” community. In building the rockets necessary to get off this planet, precumably without government sponsorship, these entrepreneurs are opening the regions beyond Earth to settlement as never before. All will be the better for it, they believe. Notwithstanding the corporate ethos of Musk and Bezos, their supporters view their efforts as immensely more acceptable than the efforts of NASA….

New Look at Jaw Fossil Rewrites Centuries-Old History

[This excerpt is from an article by Gretchen Vogel in the 2 December 2022 issue of Science.]

      A tiny broken bone, misidentified for decades, has upended scientists’ view of bird evolution. For nearly 200 years, zoologists have divided birds into two categories: those with mobile joints in their upper jaw that allow their upper beak to move, and a much smaller group, including ostriches and emus, with a fused upper palate that gives them a less agile upper beak. This fused upper palate is also found in dinosaurs, including the feathered ones that were ancestors to today’s birds, so zoologists thought ostriches and their kin were the evolutionary older group of birds, with mobile upper beaks arriving later in the history of birds.

      Now, paleontologists have identified a key skull bone in an ancient bird that lived nearly 67 million years ago—just before the devastating asteroid impact that killed off the dinosaurs. The bone, a piece of the upper jaw, closely resembles its mobile counterpart in today’s chickens or ducks, leading the researchers to conclude the ancient bird also had a joined upper beak. They suspect the joined beak was present in even older birds, because the rest of the specimen indicates it was a relative of Ichthyornis, another ancient bird that lived about 20 million years earlier. Overall, the new analysis suggests a jointed beak was already present in the ancestors of modern birds, and a fused palate re-evolved later in ostriches and their kin….

Science Urgencies for Brazil

[This excerpt is are from an editorial by Helene B. Nader in the 2 December 2022 issue of Science.]

      …In the 21st century, countries are focusing on developing capacities to create scientific knowledge and technologies to improve societal well-being….Moreover, Brazil’s congress is the most conservative since the country’s return to democracy. But investment in science and education is especially important because of Brazil’s young population, who need to be adequately educated and be given the kinds of opportunities that innovation can create.

      …47% of adults (25 to 34 years old) have attained tertiary education (a bachelor’s degree), compared with those in Brazil (23%). The number of adults in Brazil who do not progress beyond secondary education (precollege) is one of the highest among these nations….

Ancient Mesopotamian Histories

[These excerpts are from a book review by Andrew Robinson in the 25 November 2022 issue of Science.]

      …Written in the cuneiform script, these inscriptions began to be deciphered during the mid-19th century. However, the vast majority of cuneiform writing turned out to be related to government and commerce rather than ideas and literature, and it lacked the asthetic appeal of the Egyptian hieroglyphic script. Even the fact that our measurement of time and angle uses a sexagesimal system derived from the Sumerian of ancient Mesopotamia is not a widely familiar fact….

      Amazingly, Uruk—the world’s first city, located east of modern Samawah, Al-Muthanna, Iraq—was the same size in 3500 BCE as Athens was in 500 BCE. Its organizational requirements led to the development of proto-cuneiform script, which probably predated the earliest writing of Egypt….

      Advanced writing systes not withstanding, Mesopotamia lacked many truly striking buildings. The ziggurat at Ur, for example, was—on its longest side—only he quarter of the length of the side the the Great Pyramid of Egypt, built half a millennium earlier. It lacked the pyramid’s smooth sides, rising instead in several giant steps. And unlike the pyramid, which enclosed three burial chambers, the ziggurat was a solid pile of bricks inscribed in cuneiform. It had crumbled into ruins by the sixth century BCE, when it was restored by the late king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, Nabonidus….

How to Regrow a Forest? Scientists Aren’t Sure

[These excerpts are from an article Elizabeth Pennisi in the 25 November 2022 issue of Science.]

      …At the U.N. Climate Change Conference Egypt last week, the European Union and 26 nations pledged $16 billion in support of forest, banking on trees’ ability to slow climate change by storing carbon. A significant chunk will be spent on reforestation….

      Between 2000 and 2020, the amount of forest increased by 1.3 million square kilometers, an area larger than Peru, according to the World Resources Institute, with China and India leading the way. But almost 45% of those new forests are plantations, dense aggrigations dominated by a single species that are less beneficial for biodiversity and long-term carbon storage than natural forests.

      Many reforestation projects focus on the number of trees panted, with less attention to how well they survive, how diverse the resulting forests are, or how much carbon they store….

      Planting a couple of species that establish themselves easily can also help. These vanguard species pave the way for others to settle in on their own….

      How reforestation affects local people—and vice versa—is an important factor in planning a project. Reforestation can reduce the land available for farming, but local communities can be compensated—and the new forest can provide timber, wildlife hunting opportunities, and other sources of income….

Taking Surveys Seriously

[These excerpts are from an article by Kaza Baskin in the Fall 2022 issue of the Spectrum.]

      …Of course, if you wanted to get a 100% accurate measure of public opinion, you’d have to survey the entire population. That is impractical in a nation of 330 million people, so good surveys use random sampling for best results….

      To ensure an appropriately broad swath of the population is surveyed, pollsters used a practice called multistage sampling, which divides a population into clusters. In this system, a canvasser might select 10 states, then choose 10 towns within those states, and, finally, identify 10 neighborhoods within those towns for polling. Such samples are the gold standards for polling.

      In addition, Berinsky says, simple random samples have two important properties: each individual is chosen for inclusion in the sample by chance, and each member of the population has an equal chance of being included in the sample….

      Where should voters go for reliable data? Berinsky says that while many news organizations are accused of bias, their surveys are generally reliable and agenda-free….

Rethinking Premedical Education

[These excerpts are from an editorial by John A. Gladysz in the 25 November 2022 issue of Science.]

      …it doesn’t help to have a dearth of doctors, who were generally in short supply before COVID-19 struck. The pandemic has only exacerbated doctor shortages everywhere. This doesn’t bode well for a world that must prepare for future pandemics and for populations that are both growing and aging. Better health outcomes require more physicians….

      …A US medical education requires 4 years of indergraduate study and 4 years of medical school, whereas in most European countries, students can accomplish this in 6 years….One question addressed the degree to which all undergraduates who pursue science and medicinerequire science courses of the same breadth and depth….

      …German premed students directly matriculate into medical schools on the basis of a post-secondary school exam. Unlike their US counterparts, they do not declare subject “majors.” Rather, they take the same standardized 2-years preclinical curriculum. This culminates with a comprehensive “state exam” that lasts 2 or more days, which must be passed to advance to clinical training. In stark contrast to US practices, the premed students in Germany are only required to take one semester of a combined general and organic chemistry course, a single laboratory course, and…one final exam that is graded as pass/fail….

      …the lines of communication to medical schools and examination boards regarding optimal “learning outcomes” for future generations of doctors are broken. To cut this Gordian knot and help increase the number of doctors and much needed clinics and hospitals, a high-profile forum is urgently needed in which all the constituents of the doctor-producing pipeline rethink premedical education….

The Puzzle of Vanishing Lakes

[These excerpts are from an article by Naomi Oreskes in the December 2022 issue of Scientific American.]

      Research sometimes proves, with data, what we more or less already knew. Exercise is good for you, and polluted air isn’t. Still, sometimes out intuitions are incorrect, and scientific findings surprise researchers, along with the rest of us. A recent example is the phenomenon of disappearing lakes in the Arctic tundra.

      You might think these lakes were expanding, not vanishing. As climate change warms the tundra—melting surface snow and ice and thawing the permafrost—there should be more surface water. Existing lakes should grow because of the extra water, and new ones might appear. Recently, however, scientists have observed not just shrinking lakes but lakes that have completely gone away….

      …Outside the Arctic, those spaces are filled with air or water; surface water drains into them. (You see this after it rains, when after a few hours the puddles have disappeared.) Arctic landscapes are different. In permafrost, the pore spaces are filled with solid ice, so liquid water cannot readily penetrate. But when the permafrost thaws, water can flow downward. So these far northern lakes are disappearing because surface water can drain rapidly into the subsurface as the permafrost warms up….

      Lakes make up as much as 40 percent of Arctic lowlands, where they provide crucial freshwater for Indigenous communities and critical habitat for a wide range of plant and animal life. The loss of marshy areas that accompany these lakes can also lead to an increase in wildfires, which, in a troubling feedback loop, melts more permafrost. This permafrost holds a muge amount of methane, a greenhouse gas that can create 80 times as much atmospheric warming as carbon dioxide in the short term. Rapid release of the methane could accelerate global warming dramatically….

Direct Instruction

[These excerpts are from an editorial by Ann Haley MacKenzie in the November/December 2022 issue of The Science Teacher.]

      …Direct instruction doesn’t always work. Bold statement, right? What we know about human learning is that students need exposure to a concept at least five to six times before they can begin to move it into long term memory….

      Many proponents of direct instruction believe it cuts down on classroom management issues. Sure, maybe it breeds fear and intimidation among the students,, but then their love of learning science plummets. Building relationships with students is what works. If students believe you know them and believe in their abilities, then are more driven to engage in the material and to share their knowledge with you and their peers.

      …Many teachers teach the way they were taught. It may have worked for them, but in today’s world, 99 percent of students do not do well with direct instruction as the only instructional method used in science class….

Be Accountable for Teacher Diversity

[These excerpts are from an article by Rudy Ruiz & Faith Connolly in the November 2022 issue of Kappan.]

      Accountability and equity have not always been aligned. However, with the introduction of the No Child Left Behins Act (NCLB) in 2001, student performance was dissegrigated by student groups, making gaps in performance more evident. This public reporting of data was a first step in using student information to focus attention on equity. Since then, the gaps have been widely examined and reported on, but little has changed….

      NCLB has other impacts. The unintended but clearly visible consequences have been a narrowing of the curriculum to focus on tested content areas, specifically ELA and math. The passing of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in 2015 led to some tweaking of the accountability framework but no real change that impacted equity….

      ….Black and Latinx students with teachers of the same race or ethnicity are less likely to be disciplined, more likely to be identified with gifted programs, and more likely to graduate high school. They also have higher personal aspirations for college and academics and higher academic performance as measured on state assessments….

      As we well know from NCLB, what gets measured gets changed. As schools and districts replenish their staffs, we propose a new accountability measure that captures the percentage of students in a school who have a teacher of a similar ethnic or racial backgrouns. Basically, it would hold school districts accountable for hiring and retaining teachers who reflect their students’ racial and ethnic backgrounds….

Beyond ‘Good’ and ‘Bad’: Disrupting Narratives about School Quality

[These excerpts are from an article by James Noonan and Jack Schneider in the November 2022 issue of Kappan.]

      …State accountability determinations are portrayed as objective evaluations unrelated to race and social class, even though the indicators they use are virtually guaranteed to rank schools by variables like family income. Thanks to neutral language about “school performance,” state accountability systems imply that families choosing to live in white, wealthy neighborhoods are simply making smart decisions based on data….

      What we are saying is that many of the most egregious inequalities in education are the result of systemic racism and self-segregation, which, in turn, are exacerbated by the current measurement and accountability regime. Acting on what they believe is objective information, privileged families shape not only the schools they choose, but also the ones they don’t. Schools with concentrations of families with economic, social, and political capital tend to have more resources to support students. Schools with concentrations of families from poverty struggle to provide these same resources. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, in which gthe labels assigned by the state drive a sorting process that privileges some schools and disadvantages others….

      Most perniciously, in addition to capturing too little of what matters most, existing measurement systems also capture too much of what they shouldn’t. Specifically, because of the correlation between student test scores and race and family income, measurement systems often indicate more about family background than school quality….

      …summative ratings of schools derived from a narrow range of indicators undermine the aim of school improvement everywhere. If perceptions of schools are driven by something other than quality, then measurement and accountability systems are sending false signals. Even highly rated schools are poorly served by such systems, which paper over their weaknesses and praise them for qualities peripheral to their mission….

Information Pollution

[These excerpts are from an article by Vanessa Glavinskas in the Fall 2022 issue of Solutions.]

      …One study estimated that climate misinformation was viewed up to 1.36 million times every day on Facebook. On Twitter, suspected bots made up 25% of the tweets about climate change – often denying its reality or importance – after President Trump announced he would withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Agreement in 2017….

      In July, the European Parliament passed the Digital Services Act, a new law that requires tevhnology companies to remove illegal and harmful content circulating online or face substantial fines. The act also requires companies that reach more than 45 million users to assess the societal risks (like climate change) that the design of the platforms exacerbate and demands more transparency….

      The law, which goes into effect in 2024, also improves access to tech company data, making it easier for regulators, researchers and advocacy groups to hold social media companies accountable for the risks posed by the dissemination of illegal or harmful content, including disinformation….

      Europe’s law is expected to influence the regulatory debate in other countries, notably the U.S., where lawmaker action has been stymied by industry lobbyists and concerns over infringing on free speech….

Sandy, Ten Years After

[These excerpts are from an article by Shanti Menon in the Fall 2022 issue of Solutions.]

      …By 2050, sea levels in New York and New Jersey, home of 29 million people, are projected to rise by up to 2.5 feet. A quarter of New York City’s land – home to one out of every ten city residents – has a one-in-four chance of flooding over the next 30 years….

      Affordable housing is often located in flood prone areas, due in part to a history of racist housing policies. Low-income communities and communities of color already tend to be hardest hit by disasters and fare far worse in recovery, as many lack insurance and savings. Yet disaster aid tends to flow to white and wealthier communities….

      Ultimately, preparing for hurricanes and flooding will require a comprehensive plan that considers future climate impacts in all government decisions about what to build, how and where….

      No place in the world has hit upon the perfect solution to adapt to a future of more water; resilience will need to take many forms. But whatever solutions are tested in New York and New Jersey will be closely watched by the rest of the world….

A Climate Victory to Celebrate

[These excerpts are from an editorial by Fred Krupp in the Fall 2022 issue of Solutions.]

      …The recently enacted Inflation Reduction Act, with its $369 billion in climate and clean energy investments, is the largest, most comprehensive climate legislation Congress has ever passed.

      Independent analyses project that with the added reduction from this law the U.S. could reduce greenhouse emissions some 49% below 2005 levels by 2030 – approaching the president’s goal of halving emissions by 2030. By tackling domestic climate pollution, the U.S. enhances its credibility to lead in international climate negotiations….

      The law will create more than 9 million clean energy and manufacturing jobs, positioning the U.S. economy to compete in a $23 trillion global clean energy market. It will also bolster energy security and it includes the most extensive amendments to the Clean Air Act since 1990, reinforcing the Environmental Protection Agency’s long-standing responsibility to address climate pollution while giving the agency new tools and funding to protect communities….

Louis Pasteur’s Long Legacy

[These excerpts are from an article by Tom Siegfried in the 19 November 2022 issue of Science News.]

      …Pasteur ranked behind only Darwin among the most exceptionL BIOLOGICAl scientists of the 19th century. Pasteur not only made milk safe to drink, but also rescued the beer and wine industry. He established the germ theory of disease, saved the French silkworm population, confronted the scourges of anthrax and rabies, and transformed the curiosity of vaccination against human diseases. He invented microbiology and established the foundations for immunology.

      …Before Pasteur, most experts asserted that fermentation was a natural nonbiological chemical process. Yeast, a necessary ingredient in the fermenting liquid, was supposedly a lifeless chemical acting as a catalyst. Pasteur’s experiments showed yeast to be alive, a peculiar kind of “small plant” (now known to be a fungus) that caused fermentation by biological activity….

      Pasteur also noticed that additional microorganisms present during fermentation could be responsible for the process going awry, a problem threatening the viability of French winemaking and beer brewing. He solved that problem by developing a method of heating that eliminated the bad microorganisms while preserving the quality of the benerages. This methosd, called “pasteurization,” was layter applied to milk, eliminating the threat of illness from drinking milk contaminated by virulent microorganisms. Pasteurization became standard public health ractice in the 20th century….

      Popularly hailed as a hero, Pasteur was also vilified by some hostile doctors, who considered him an uneducated interloper in medicine. Vaccine opponents complained that his vaccine was an untested method that might itself cause death. But of course, critics had also rejected Pasteur’s view of fermentation, the germ theory of disease and his disproof of spontaneous generation….

      As geniuses go, Pasteur was the opposite of Einstein. To get inspiration for his theories, Einstein imagined riding aside a light beam or daydreaming about falling off a ladder. Pasteur stuck to experiments. He typically initiated his experiments with a suspected result in mind, but he was scrupulous in verifying the conclusions he drew from them. Preconcieved ideas, he said, can guide the experimenter’s interrogation of nature but must be abandoned in light of contrary evidence….

Dinosaur Mummies May Not Be Flukes

[These excerpts are from an article by Jake Buehler in the 19 November 2022 issue of Science News.]

      …The creature isn’t a true mummy because its skin has turned into rock. Still, researchers call fossils with preserved skin and other soft tissues mummies….

      But scavenging doen’t fit into the traditional view of mummification, which assumes that burial has to happen soon after death….

      When modern scavangers like raccoons feed on a larger carcass, the scavangers rip open the body. That lets gases and fluids from decomposition escape and allows any remaining tissue to dry out. Burial and fossilization could happen afterwards….

      Fossilization of soft tissues is rare but not unheard of….Mummies originating from common carcass fates could explain this….

Fire Drove Big Cats to Take More Risks

[These excerpts are from an article by Bethany Brookshire in the 19 November 2022 issue of Science News.]

      Mountain lions have no interest in people, or the built-up areas we enjoy. But after a wildfire in California, local lions took more risks, crossing roads more often and moving around more in the daytime….

      Of the 11 collared mountain lions in the area at the time, nine made it to safety during the fire itself….

      No matter how much they moved, the mountain lions avoided people….

      …the lions stuck to unburned areas and continued to avoid people. But they took more risks around human infrastructure, increasing their road crossings from an average of about three times per month to five….

Forever Chemicals’ Health Risks Are Getting Attention

[These excerpts are from an editorial by Nancy Shute in the 19 November 2022 issue of Science News.]

      For decades, scientists, public health officials and citizen advocates have sounded the alarm over perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, commonly known as PFAs. These manufactured chemicals are used to make pans nonstick, clothing waterproof, and furniture and carpets stain resistant.

      All nice things, but these molecules are built on strong carbon-fluorine bonds that don’t degrade, hence the nickname “forever chemicals.” PFAs can end up in rivers, soil and air. They’re in our bodies too. That’s not so nice, because these chemicals can increase the risk of a host of health issues, including certain cancers, obesity, pregnancy complications and a weakened immune system….

      The discovery became a huge issue in North Carolina, and subsequent research found that PFAs contamination of drinkibg water, food and air is ubiquitous….

      Manufacturers have stopped using some PFAs, but because of their longevity, those chemicals will linger in people’s bodies for years….

The Death of Knowledge

[These excerpts are from an editorial by Paris Marx in the November/December in the May/June 2022 issue of MIT Technology Review.]

      …For one thing, what we think is permanent isn’t. Digital storage systems can become unreadable in as little as three to five years. Librarians and archivists race to copy things over to newer formats. But entropy is always there, waiting in the wings….

      …For centuries, countless people didn’t have the right culture, gender, or socioeconomic class for their knowledge or work to be discovered, valued, or preserved. But the massive scale of the digital world now presents a unique challenge. According to an estimate last year from the market research firm IDC, the amount of data that companies, governments, and individuals create in the next few years will be twice the total of all the digital data generated previously since the start of the computing age….

      There are never enough people or money to do all the necessary work—and formats are changing and multiplying all the time….

      Unavoidably, ideas, knowledge, and human creations will continue to be lost….

Electric Cars Are Still Cars

[These excerpts are from an editorial by Paris Marx in the November/December in the May/June 2022 issue of MIT Technology Review.]

      …Transportation accounts for 27% of US emissions, more than any other sector, and even though there have been increases in fuel efficiency and EV ownership in recent years, the rise of the SUV has virtually negated their benefits….between 2010 and 2018, growing global demand for SUVs was the second-largest contributor to increasing emissions….

      EVs are often termed “zero-emission” vehicles because they produce no tailpipe emissions. But that desn’t mean they are clean. Their large batteries require a lot of resource extraction from mines around the world, with significant environmental and human consequences that include poisoning water supplies, increasing rates of cancer and lung disease, and even making use of child labor….

      The trend toward larger vehicles has had bad consequences for both road safety and the environment. Continuing it through the transition to electric vehicles means that EVs will require bigger batteries, and thus more minerals will have to be mined to power them….

      As the shift to EVs accelerates and commodity prices increase, there’s good reason to promote smaller cars that cost less, require smaller batteries, are better suited for the trips most people take, and pose less of a threat to pedestrians. Further, governments can help in not just to incentivize EV adoption, but to expand alternatives like public transit and cycling infrastructure in cities across the country so it will be easier for more people to choose not to drive in the years to come….

Humans Aren’t the Only Animals that Give Gifts

[These excerpts are from an article by Rina Kingery in the November/December 2022 issue of Discover.]

      …During sex, male fireflies provide their mates with gift packs of sperm and nutrients called spermatophores. When transferred to the female, the spermatophore fertilizes her eggs and supplies her with proteins and nutrients. Fireflies don’t eat as adults, so the extra nourishment extends her lifespan….

      Meanwhile, perhaps the most gruesome gifts are those given my male great gray shrikes. These songbirds curate grisly exhibitions of their hunting skills by impaling prey on thorns and twigs where females are likely to see them. A female shrike selects a partner based off his macabre collection, and during courtship, the male may offer kills directly to his potential lifelong mate. Larger items like snakes and lizards, of course, score him more points than smaller ones like bees and grasshppers….

      The basic drive behind the gift-giving (to secure a mate or to form a bond) is a good reminder for humans of the true purpose of holiday gifts: to create and strengthen social relationships so our loved ones continue to flourish….

Higher Education for All

[These excerpts are from an editorial by Marcia McNutt in the 11 November 2022 issue of Science.]

      …Currently, 75% of new jobs require a college degree. Yet in the US and Europe, only 40% of young adults attend a 2-year or 4-year college—a ercentage that has either not budged or only moderately risen in more than two decades—despite a college education being one of the proven ways to lift the socioeconomic status of underprivileged populations and boost the wealth of nations….In the near future, workers in low-skill jobs without college degrees are at risk of being replaced by automation….

      A college education in the US is expensive, even at public institutions, and it can take many years, if ever, to recoup the cost through future earnings….The bigger barrier to expansion appears to be the traditional college residential program that requires many young adults to pull up roots and move to a new location to pursue a degree while also working to support a family…

      State universities are leading in experimentation in new formats. Arizona State University has increased its engineering majors by a factor of 5 to more than 30,000 students in the past 10 years, including 8500 online learners. Lab skills are taught during 2-week summer sessions….

      A university education may not be for everyone, but at least we must make it more easily available to those who would benefit without the traditional obstacles to completing a 4-year residential program….

Be the Voice for Scientists in Iran

[These excerpts are from an editorial by Navid Madani in the 11 November 2022 issue of Science.]

      …In the 1980s, Ruhollah Khomeini, founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, described the great danger that university-educated people posed to the regime. This philosophy was incongruous with Iran’s centuries-long history as a beacon of science, philosophy, and medicine. In the 11th century, for example, the Iranoan physician-philosopher Ibn Sina wrote about cancer metastasis for the first time in human history. Subsequent advances in medicine and scienceflourished in the Iranian academic landscape….

      Since the 1979 revolution, Itran’s leadership has increasingly attacked science and critical thinking, making the country’s brain drain among the highest in the world. Pressure to conform to rigid, strictly enforced behavioral constraints falls heaviest on young people, especially women….

      Scientists largely have stood by in silence for decades as Iran’s unique scientific heritage has denigrated. It’s time to speak up.

Reifying Racism in Medicine

[These excerpts are from a book review by Suman Seth in the 4 November 2022 of Science.]

      …medical schools in the US are not doing enough to eradicate widely held, inaccurate ideas concerning putative biological differences between races….this failure might be rooted in medical education’s long tradition of perpetuating and reifying precisely such racial ideologies….

      Anatomical museums rendered pedagogical lessons even more authoritative. At Harvard’s museum, skulls were ordered by race: white skulls on the top shelf, South and East Asian skulls toward the middle, and African skulls at the bottom…

      We have long known that southern medical schools repeatedly made use, without consent, of the bodies of the enslaved for anatomical study….

      Willoughby makes clear that northern schools may have been more circumspect, but physicians in New York and Philadelphia “preyed” on their Black population as well….

Measuring Emissions to Manage Emissions

[This excerpt is from an editorial by Al Gore in the 4 November 2022 issue of Science.]

      …Scientiusts have long known the total amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere. The Keeling Curve—a daily record of of global atmospheric CO2 concentration—leaped from 313 parts per million (ppm) in March 1958 to 2021’s staggering 414.72 ppm global average. Likewise, the component parts of the emissions puzzle are well understood—the burning of fossil fuels, transportation, industry, conventional agriculture, deforestation, and other sources are continuously adding to the accumulation that lingers in the atm osphere….

      …As the eminent physicist Lord Kelvin said nearly 140 years ago, “When you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot measure it, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meager and unsatisfactory kind but you have scarcely, in your thoughts advanced to the stage of science.” Efforts to limit global temperature rise to 1.5oC are currently informed by rough estimates principally derived from self-reported national inventories submitted intermittently to the United Nations (UN). As of last month, no nation has submitted a complete accounting of its emissions for 2021. Indeed, 52 countries have not submitted any emissions inventories covering the past 10 years….

      Lord Kelvin’s dictum is commonly translated in the business world as “you can only manage what you can measure.” Thanks to breakthroughs in AI and other technologies, researchers, governmental officials, and business leaders can now manage emissions with timely, granular, and actionable climate information at their fingertips. With no time left to wait as the world burns and drowns, we can now begin to measure emissions with the precision needed to better manage their reduction—quickly.

Downplaying the Pace of Arctic Warming

[These excerpts are from an article by Naomi Oreskes in the November 2022 issue of Scientific American.]

      …scientists have long known about how Arctic ice reflects sunlight, redirecting heat away from the planet. But as polar ice melts because of global warming, the Arctic Ocean absorbs more heat, which cause the Arctic to warm even more, which melts more ice, and so on. It should surprise no one, then, that the area is warming fast. Yet scientists have been caught off-guard by just how fast the region is warming up.

      …since 1979, the Arctic has warmed nearly four times faster than Earth as a whole. Few climate models have predicted an effect this large.

      …First, it reminds us that averages can be misleading. Extreme outcomes may be unlikely but do occur and can be crucial in assessing risk. Second, it suggests that climate models may be continuing to underestimate key climate effects….

      If scientists have underestimated Arctic warming, they have likely minimized a methane release as well. And that could be truly dire because the permafrost holds about 1. Billion metric tons of organic carbon, twice as much as now in the atmosphere. Were that carbon to be rapidly released, it could cause a worst-case scenario: a runaway greenhouse effect….

In Schools, Talk about Racism Can Reduce Bias

[These excerpts are from an article by Camille Mutoni and Nicky Sullivan in the November 2022 issue of Scientific American.]

      …The legal language seems, for the most part, protective of children. But the effect is quite the opposite. As psychologists who study how parents and teachers communicate with kids about race, we can attest to an ever growing body of scientific evidence that suggests these laws are failing the children they purport to help….

      When we think about new laws limiting discussion of race in schools, it’s critical to keep in mind how they will impact children of color specifically. The research we;’ve discussed suggests that children will be more likely to develop racially biased views in the absence of explicit lessons. As a result, children of color are likely to face more discrimination, not less. This outcome is clearly at odds with the language of the laws, which explicitly state that children should not be made to view psychological distress because of their race. Yet that is recisely what will happen if children of color face more discrimination….

      The laws passed in Iowa and elsewhere claim to protect kids from forming racist beiefs, but the research suggests they are more likely to do the opposite. When it comes to children’s understanding of racism and the development of racist beliefs, the biggest danger isn’t teaching or talking to children about these topics—it’s stayng quiet.

Gas Stove Worries

[These excerpts are from an article by Claudia Wallis in the November 2022 issue of Scientific American.]

      …The big surprise in ine new study…was the amount of unberned gas that leaks into kitchens when a stove is off. They found that more than three quarters of methane that escapesfrom a stove does so when it is not in use, most likely through imperfect pipe fittings. Only one out of 53 stoves measured for the study—and many more the team had measured since—did not leak when turned off….Methane is not toxic, but it is a potent greenhouse gas. With 40 million gas stoves across the country, Jackson and his co-authors estimate that the heat-trapping potential of the methane they discharge annually is roughly equivalent to the carbon dioxide released by half a million gas-powered cars.

      The Stanford study also looked at the amount of nitrogen oxides produced when using the stoves. In a matter of minutes, families who do not use their exhaust hoods and who have small, poorly ventilated kitchens can surpass the Environmental Protection Agency’s outdoor exposure limit for nitrogen dioxide of 100 parts per billion (ppb) per hour….

      The second study, conducted in the Greater Boston area, looked at the nonmethane components of unburned gas from stoves. They found trace quantites of 21 chemicals considered hazardous by the EPA, including benzene and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The amounts were small, but this understudied issue warrents more attention….

Paper Battery

[These excerpts are from an article by Anna Blaustein in the November 2022 issue of Scientific American.]

      …The paper battery has the same key components as standard batteries but packages them differently. Like a typical chemical battery, it has a positively charged side called a cathose, a negatively charged side called an anode, and a conductive material called an electrolyte between the two….in the new battery, the anode and cathode are inks printed onto the front and back of a piece of paper. That paper is infused with salt, which dissolves when the paper is dampened with water. The resulting saltwater solution acts as the electrolyte….

      When the paper is dry, the battery is shelf-stable. Add just a couple drops of water, however, and the engrained salt dissolves, allowing electrons to flow. Once the paper is moistened, the battery activates within 20 seconds. At that point, if the battery is not connected to an electrical device, it has a consistent voltage of 1.2 volts…The new battery’s operating performance declines as the paper dries. When the scientists rewet the paper during testing, the battery regained functionality and lasted an hour before beginning to dry out again.

      Although the researchers demonstrated that their battery could power an alarm clock, dissolvable paper batteries are unlikely to replace standard AAs on store shelves. Instead Nystrom envisions a future where these batteries are embedded in diagnostic tests and environmental sensors, ideally with other sustainable components such as screens and packaging….

Silky Solution

[These excerpts are from an article by Ysabelle Kempe in the November 2022 issue of Scientific American.]

      …Most environmental microplastics form when larger items degrade. But a smaller yet noticeable portion of the polluting particles is deliberately added to products….These include microcapsules that protect and gradually release active ingredients in products such as cosmetics and agricultural sprays.

      …researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and chemical corporation BASF developed a silk-based, biodegradeable alternative to these capsules. This type of research is urgent for companies that face tightening regulations on deliberate use of microplastics.

      …some sprayed herbicides are released slowly to kill weeds without harming food crops. When tested on corn plants for six days, silk-based microcapsule spray damaged the plants less than an existing commercial roduct.

      Replacing nonbiodegradeable microcapsules with silk might not work in every case, but it already looks promising compared with alternatives BASF has investigated….

50 More Years of Clean Water

[These excerpts are from an editorial by the editors in the November 2022 issue of Scientific American.]

      …In the 50 years since the Clean Water Act (CWA) became law, the health of U.S. rivers, lakes and streams has improved. On the Cuyahoga, insects, fish and birds that are sensitive to pollution have returned, as have kayakers and recreational fishers….

      Although the Biden administration has proposed rules that would restore protections to small streams and wetlands, a Supreme Court case on the docket for this fall could undermine them. In Sackett v. EPA, the petitioners argue that wetlands on the property—and by extension millions of acres of other wetlands—are not covered by the law. But these wetlands connect with other, navigable waters, and as 12 scientific societies have stated in an amicus brief, that argument “rejects hydrological reality.” Water in a river cannot be adequately protected unless we also protect the many sources that feed into it. The Supreme Court therefore must follow the science and rule in favor of the EPA. This ongoing legal wrangling also underscores the need for Congress to strengthen the CWA using the best available science.

      Congress also must finally confront a long-standing issue: the CWA addresses point sources of pollution, such as factories and sewer systems, but it does not sufficiently tackle pollution from nonpoint sources—the chemicals from parking lots, roadways, fields and lawns that can be washed into waterways by rain or snowmelt. Agricultural and lawn fertilizers contain nitrogen and phosphorus, which have been shown to feed toxic algal blooms from the Gulf of Mexico to the Chesapeake Bay to Lake Erie. Such blooms have contributed to fish die-offs, and the 2014 one rendered the tap water in Toledo, Ohio, unsafe to drink.

      Congress must take stronger action to rein in this pollution, whether by amending the CWA beyond a largely voluntary measure exempting agricultural runoff or through other legislation that targets nonpoint sources. Policy makers should work with farmers, ranchers and scientists to develop strategies tied to clear metrics and provide tangible incentives….

The Court Report

[These excerpts are from a report from Common Cause in the Fall 2022 issue of In Common.]

      …We find ourselves once again headed to the U.S. Supreme Court to defend voters and fight for the equal representation that seems to make Republican lawmakers so afraid….

      The challenge to a February victory in the North Carolina Supreme Court comes from far-right leaders of the state’s General Assembly, who are seeking to give legislatures unchecked power to set elections and voting-related policies. Their latest scheme rests on a fringe legal theory known as the “independent state legislature theory.”

      Across the country, state lawmakers are using this theory to ask federal courts to give them unchecked power to manipulate voting districts and dismantle the freedom to vote. The theory would reverse decades of legal precesent by taking away the ability of state courts to review whether state lawmakers followed the law when it comes to settling election policies.

      Removing the ability of the state judiciary to review decisions regarding our federal elections, from voting maps to whether early voting hours should be extended or curtailed, will give partisan interests more ability to manipulate decisions to their liking….

A Neurosurgeon’s Climate Fight

[These excerpts are from a book review by Adam R. Aron in the 21 October 2022 issue of Science.]

      …The third part reviews the psychology of habits, behavioral change, and nudges and discusses what kinds of emissions reductions are required and whose behavior must change….

      We need sytem-level policy changes such as ordinances to remove gas lines from new and existing buildings; low-interest loans so that many households can insulate and purchase electrical appliances; mandates ofr public pensions to divert holdings in fossil fuel companies; bans on new, and even existing, oil and gas extraction; clean electricity standards; and regenerative agriculture policy. Such systemic change will only arise as a result of a much wider advocacy movement—a social mobilization—that recognizes not only our individual follies but also the powerful interests engaged in obfuscating, greenwashing, and retarding the transition away from fossil fuels….

      …Approximately 10% of all the greenhouse emissions in the US—along with a good proportion of toxins and wastes—come from the hospital sector, so this is a considerable exercise….

Mystery Fossils Clarify Pterosaur Origins

[These excerpts are from an article by Carolyn Gramling in the 5 November 2022 issue of Science News.]

      …The finding lends support to the idea that pterosaurs – the first vertabrates to master powered flight – evolved from small, speedy, two-legged ancestors….

      Some of the creature’s features, like its disproportionally large head, are similar to those of pterosaurs. Others, like the orientation of the lower jaw, aren’t much like pterosaur features at all. S. taylori didn’t have any identifiable adaptations for flying, jumping or living in trees….

      Pterosaurs, which first appeared in the fossil record about 220 million years ago, had distinct anatomy, including massive heads for their body sizes and super-elongated fourth digits that were part of their wings. S. taylori had the big head, but its hands were small….

There’s Opportunity in the Middle

[These excerpts are from an editorial by Teresa Preston in the October 2022 issue of EDF’s Kappan.]

      It’s something of a truism that middle school is an awkward time. Kids at this age are starting to mature past childhood, but they’re a long way from being reasoning adults. On top of that, because young adolescents develop at different rates and have different life experiences, a single classroom can contain students at all the different stages along the journey….

      All of this is a perfect formula for drama, And drama is the prevailing narrative about middle school….

      Because young adolescence is such fertile ground, middle school needs to provide students with opportunities to explore and grow….

Remember, Do No Harm?

[These excerpts are from an editorial by H. Holden Thorp in the 21 October 2022 issue of EDF’s Science.]

      …Ladapo has tried to imitate a scientific “debate” on Twitter about the study, saying “I love the discussion that we’ve stimulated.” This move is from page 1 of the antiscience playbook. A credentiale scientist from outside the field questions scientific consensus in a public manner that undermines trust in science. Many have played this role during the pandemic, but the pattern reaches back decades to scientists who have, for political purposes, challenges consensus on tobacco, ozone, strategic defense, and climate change….

      It's easy to blame the politicians, right-wing cable TV hosts, and podcast hucksters for spreading misinformation. But is it defensible to blame these folks without also acknowledging that unchallenged members of the scientific community are making it possible for them to sow this doubt? Until the scientific community deals with misinformation from within, it cannot expect to deal with it from without.

Antarctic Marine Life under Pressure

[These excerpts are from an editorial by Bettina Meyer and So Kamaguchi in the 21 October 2022 issue of EDF’s Science.]

      …The Antarctic krill is a pelagic crustacean, endemic in the Southern Ocean. It serves as a direct energy link between the ocean’s primary producers (phytoplankton) and higher trophic levels such as fish, seabirds, penguins, seals, and whales. Krill comprise 300 to 500 million tonnes of biomess, the largest population of a multicellular wild animal species on Earth. Consequently, this species plays a critical role in marine biogeochemical cycles that affect climate and ocean productivity.

      Unfortunately, krill have decined in parts of the Atlantic sector of the Southern Ocean since the 1920s. This region, where nearly 70% of krill are located, is also home to the largest krill predator colonies and the largest krill fishing industry in the Southern Ocean. Since 2010, the annual krill catch in the southwest Atlantic sector has been increasing steadily….

      The demand for krill will likely grow, driven by at least two industries: the increasing production of fish through aquaculture, resulting in higher demand for fishmeal, and the increasing demand for high-value pharma- and nutraceutical products from krill oil and krill meal….

      The most pressing questions include determining the proportion of female and juvenile krill that are captured by commercial fishing and its effect on the krill population. Research can only answer gthese questions if there is cooperation with the fishing industry itself. In contrast to research vessels, the new generation of krill fishing vessels operate almost year-round….

Credibility at Stake in Sweden

[This excerpt is from an editorial by Henrik Osterblom and Robert Blasiak in the 28 October 2022 issue of Science.]

      …science makes clear that no country is immune to the interconnected and increasingly evident global sustainability challenges. A healthy biosphere is a foundation for climate resilience and economic development, particularly during turbulent times.

      …The new approach to climate is particularly troubling. A day after the environment ministry was eliminated, for instance, a representative of the far-right party, collaborating with the government in parliament and with political officials in the government offices, claimed that there is insufficient scientific evidence of a climate crisis. And a previous national goal of 100% renewable energy has now morphed into a target of 100% “fossil free” energy, facilitated by construction of nuclear facilities and deregulation aimed at fast-tracking this shift.

      …sustainability should be central to all sectors, including transportation, the built environment, development aid, and more. Reduced political focus on a sustainability transition would not only be harmful to Sweden’s capacity to innovate and accelerate toward a more sustainable future, it would also set back efforts of past generations who worked hard to elevate the environment to a policy priority….

      …The loss is further aggravated by the new government providing little indication that it understands sustainability as fundamentally dependent on the living biosphere, including land, forests, fresh water, and the ocean—issues hardly mentioned to date in existing policy priorities….

Coke vs. Pepsi in the Race to the Refill and Reuse Future

[These excerpts are from an article by Lisa Ramsden in the Fall 2022 issue of Compass.]

      …Coca-Cola states that 16% of its packaging is already refillable and reusable, mostly in Latin America. They’ve got a long way to go before they can be a real leader in the fight against plastic pollution, but they’re currently leaps and bounds ahead of Pepsi. Pepsi’s packaging portfolio currently includes zero reuse and refill….

      The path to a worl with reuse and refill might not be the easiest one—it will require buy-in from customers, refill/reuse infrastructure, policy changes, and even collaboration among big brands like Coke and Pepsi—but we know it is necessary if we are going to stem the tide of single-use plastics flowing into our oceans every day. It might not be the easiest thing to do, but it is necessary. The plastic problem is vast, it impacts all of us, and it is time for the multi-billion dollar corporations who caused this crisis to actually do something to fix it….

More Drilling Hasn’t Protected Us from High Gasoline Prices

[These excerpts are from an article by Tim Donaghy in the Fall 2022 issue of Compass.]

      …Since 2008, oil and gas production in the U.S. has boomed thanks to new technology such as horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing (fracking). We are now producing over twice as much crude oil and about 70% more natural gas than in 2008, and in 2019 the United States finally achieved the favorite buzz phrase of politicians: “energy independence.”

      …The first thing to know is that living in an area that produces a lot of oil and gas does not mean that we get a discount on high prices at the pump. Crude oil is traded all around the world and the price is set by the global market. So when Russia invaded Ukraine and many countries responded by refusing to import Russian oil, that sent a price shock through the oil market, directly leading to $6 per gallon gasoline here in the U.S….

      Thanks to these developments, the U.S. oil and gas industry is now fully integrated into the global market. The spike in oil prices due to the Russian invasion has been great news for Big Oil, which is reaping tens of billions in additional wartime profits, but it is putting the pinch on ordinary people, om the pandemic downturn.

      It is a bitter reminder that fossil fuels are among the most expensive and volatile sources of energy we have. Our reliance on fossil fuels is driving up inflation, in addition to fueling wars, driving the climate crisis, and spewing health-damaging air pollution. What’s worse, price spikes from the periodic “boom and bust” cycles of the oil industry are difficult to predict and even harder to protect yourself against….

Social Media Companies Are Failing to Tackle Climate Disinformation

[These excerpts are from an article by Ashley Thomson in the Fall 2022 issue of Compass.]

      Big Tech has a major climate disinformation problem. Social media companies were unprepared for climate deniers, whatabouters, and the Big Oil PR and marketing machine to deploy their tactics of deceit on their platforms.

      On top of that, companies like Facebook and Twitter were happy to benefit from the engagement numbers that the spread of dis- and misinformation brought to the platforms for years. After all, keeping the numbers high attracted investors and advertisers. It was only when the public outcry and federal hearings started to threaten the loss of advertisers, investors, and employees that they began to roll out policies to confront disinformation….

      First, it might be helpful to explain what climate disinformation is and how it differs from misinformation. Put simply, “disinformation” is false or misleading information intentionally spread to deceive others, or to potentially benefit from its spread. This differs from “misinformation,” which is wrong or incorrect information that is spread by mistake, oversight, or naivete. Sometimes, the “climate disinformation”—which has been called out by the scientific community in the IPCC’s latest report as a major threat to meeting our climate goals—is purposefully spreading wrong, deceptive, or misleading information about the climate crisis and its severity or about the technology and solutions we have to combat it.

      For decades, the fossil fuel industry has been using disinformation as a tool to delay climate action by sowing public distrust in climate science and in solutions to confront the crisis….the industry commonly uses greenwashing to mislead the public on what they say they are doing vs. what they are actually doing.

Justice Meets Social Science

[These excerpts are from a book review by James M. Jones in the 14 October 2022 issue of Science.]

      …Those principles—freedom, equality, justice, and humanity—however exalted, have been eroded and undermined by white racism throughout the country’s history….

      Research shows how difficult it is to undo ingrained sereotypes and how beliefs persevere—even when facts clearly demonstrate their untenability. Psychological and cultural beliefs can only be altered when individuals commit to close examination and undertake actions dedicatedto social change. Are people able or willing to do the work that is required? Some are and some are not….

Recycling Plastic Using a Hybrid Process

[These excerpts are from an article by Ning Yan in the 14 October 2022 issue of Science.]

      …Since the early 20th century, plastics have played an ever-increasing role in human society. There is polystyrene, a spongy material widely used in protective packaging, such as styrofoam. There is polyethylene, the most produced plastic today, whose different density variants have been used in everything from plastic bags to poolside furniture. There is also polyethylene terephthalate (PET), which is the main ingredient in many synthetic fibers and water bottles. The numerous advantages offered by these nonbiodegradable plastics, such as versatile physical properties and low manufacturing costs, have yet to be meaningfully challenged by another class of materials in the marketplace. However, the accumulative environmental cost of plastic waste is increasingly becoming an irreversible global catastrophe….

      …At present, plastic recycling is predominantly achieved using mechanical methods. Plastics recycled in this manner lack in quality and thus are often downcycled into lower-value implementations compared with their initial applications. To combat the been exploring chemical and biological processes to develop alternative recycling routes for converting plastic waste into commercially valuable chemicals….

      …To tackle platic mixtures, which exist widely in consumer products, such as electronics and home appliances, additional strategies must be developed to either physically deconstruct multicomponent materials into their constituent plastic polymers…or chemically deconstruct various plastics mixtures into small molecules that are able to be further refined….

      The polymeric structure of plastics is often cited as the main reason that plastics are difficult to degrade; however, their low oxygen content arguably plays an equally important role. This is evident in the naturally occurring oxygen-enriched polymers, such as cellulose, hemicellulose, chitin, and lignin, which are readily degradable. This fact highlights that oxygen-containing functional groups in polymers are beneficial for biological conversion….

Stop Passing the Buck on Intro Science

[These excerpts are from an editorial by H. Holden Thorp in the 14 October 2022 issue of Science.]

      …the vast majority of undergraduates who take organic chemistry are not on their way to becoming chemists. Most of them are taking it as a requirement for medical school or other health sciences….

      …The faculty torture the premeds with material they don’t need….Then the faculty would complain that the administration couldn’t recruit undergraduates who were serious about science, even though their standardized test scores were outstanding and the university was admitting students from the same pool of applicants as that of other comparable institutions. Meanwhile, universities blame the faculty for not being good at teaching. The real problem is that universities are perfectly willing to collect tuition from premeds, but very few of these schools are doing the consensus building ad hard work that are needed to build a relevant program for premeds that doesn’t include the same breadth and depth of topics taught to other science students….

      There’s only one way out. Everyne in this system—the administrators, the faculty, the medical schools, and the medical regulatory bodies—need to state the plain truth that the undergraduate education system that prepares students for medical school is broken….

Beyond Nuclear Deterrence

[These excerpts are from an article by editorial by Stephen Herzog in the 14 October 2022 issue of Science.]

      …Success containing proliferation to just nine countries came about in no small part from the 1968 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and subsequent International Atomic Energy Agency inspections. These initiatives were a direct result of the Cuban Missile Crisis, as were US-Soviet/Russian arms control agreements that reduced worldwide nuclear stockpiles from nearly 70,000 warheads in the 1980s to ~12,700 today.

      Unfortunately, nuclear reductions have now been replaced by competition. China, Russia, and the US are modernizing their arsenals, ignoring disarmament commitments in the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty….

      …Adversaries point nuclear-tipped missiles at each other’s population centers in the name of keeping the peace. Ironically, this existential gamble portrays vulnerability as protection. Polls have long shown that most people desire a world free from nuclear fears.

      Still, academics have generally accepted nuclear deterrence as an eternal fact of life. Just as the Cuban Missile Crisis changed nuclear thinking, the war in Ukraine necessitates new research programs….

      The Cuban Missile Crisis may seem distant, but nuclear dangers are not speculative fiction. Thousands of cities are mere minutes away from nuclear destruction by weapons far more powerful than those dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki….

An Unsustainable Partnership

[These excerpts are from an article by Naomi Oreskes in the October 2022 issue of Scientific American.]

      …Funding strongly influences what kinds of scientific questions are asked and what kinds of answers are deemed plausible, credible and worthy of further pursuit. Ample scientific evidence demonstrates that the interests of funders influence academic findings, even when researchers strive to be objective. The clearest example is tobacco, where studies funded by the tobacco industry are much less likely to find clear evidence of harm than independent studies. This is why many prominent medical journals do not accept papers with tobacco funding.

      It's not just that individual studies get biased. Entire research programs are framed in ways that are consistent with what funders are interested in and are likely to fund in the future….

      …The fossil-fuel industry and its allies have worked to confuse the American people about the reality and severity of climate change. They have attacked the natural scientists who proved that climate change was caused by carbon pollution and the social scientists who exposed the obstructive role the industry has played. They have fought to preserve fossil-fuel subsidies while claiming to believe in free markets. They have even lobbied against market-based solutions, such as carbon pricing and emissions trading. Their insistence that our economies—both national and household—cannot survive without fossil fuels has been an attempt to limit our thinking about energy.

      The chances that we can solve the climate crisis with more fossiution, mitigated somewhat by carbon capture and storage—a technology that is far from proved and extremely expensive—are low. Yet that is what the industry is pushing and with a few exceptions intends to continue to do: to develop and sell more oil and gas, which will put yet more carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere….

Ceramics Cleaner

[These excerpts are from an article by Gary Hartley in the October 2022 issue of Scientific American.]

      “Devilfish” catfish, also called suckermouths, are native to South America but have spread to four other continents. These freshwater invaders overcompete native species and eat their eggs, even damaging fisheries. But…researchers in Mexico showed the pests could be unexpectedly useful: when ground into a paste, they can filter ceramics industry wastewater.

      The ceramic tile sector alone produces at least 16 billion square meters of product a year. Manufacturing facilities go through large quantities of potable water, and a biological cleaning system like this one could allow reuse instead of letting that water drain away.

      Collagen from the fish’s connective tissues, when combined with iron-rich salt, works as a coagulant: the mix destabilizes tiny bits of waste compounds so they amass into bigger globs that can be strained out. The scientists found this process removed 94 percent of solids from industrial ceramics wastewater, and it reduced an indicator of organic materials in the water by 79 percent. The researchers say their fish mix is less toxic than other available coagulents—a toxicity that discorages some manufacturers from filtering ceramic waste at all….

      The mixture is simple to prepare…but getting enough biomass for industrial use might be a limiting factor. Trapping wild devilfish could support modest demand…but to scale up, they might ultimately need to be farmed—carefully….

Mistletoe Sticks Around

[These excerpts are from an article by Jack Tamisiea in the October 2022 issue of Scientific American.]

      Many people today associate mistletoe with holiday kisses. But for centuries the plant was known more for its remarkable stickiness; ancient Greeks and Romans used gooey mistletoe berries for applications ranging from bird traps too skin ulcer ointment. Now biochemists are investigating whether mistletoe’s clinginess can provide a natural alternative to synthetic glues.

      For the parasitic mistletoe plant, stickiness is essential. Inside each berry are seeds coated in a mucuslike substance called viscin. After a bird gobbles up and digests a berry, it expels globs of seeds in strands of the substance, which drape over tree branches and glue the seeds in place. The mistletoe then embeds itself into the tree, siphoning water and nutrients from its host.

      …viscin’s structure sets it apart from other adhesives. Whereas many synthetic gloes start as puddles of sticky chemicals, viscin is n=made of stiff strands of cellulose that help it hold firm. These strands are encased in a humidity-sensitive coating that keeps the substance extremely malleable: Under humid conditions, a viscin thread about a half centimeter long can be stretched to over two meters in length. When it dries, the goo stiffens like cement….

      The researchers found that viscin is strong—it supports weights 50 times heavier than mistletoe seeds—and it is also quite versatile. Viscin is adapted to adhere to bark and feathers, but the team found that it sticks to just about anything, including skin….

‘First, Tell the Truth’

[These excerpts are from an article by Janisse Ray in the Fall 2022 issue of National Parks.]

      …Growing cotton required a huge labor force, and plantation owners were willing to enslave, exploit and terrorize people for personal gain. Effective Jan. 1, 1808, however, the U.S. had banned the importation of people in captivity. It had not banned slavery itself. Therefore, until passage of the 13th Amendment in 1865, enslaved people continued to be trafficked domestically….

      Natchez was a major hub of America’s domestic slave trade….The majority…were marched down Old Natchez Trace in coffles guarded by overseers with whips and guns: the Slave Trail of Tears. This roughly three-month journey sometimes covered more than 1,000 miles; enslaved people walked 20 miles a day, slept on hard ground, and were fed hard tack and salt pork purchased along the way….

      After the Civil War ended, a brief period of Reconstruction in Mississippi quickly gave way to Jim Crow’s lynchings, segregation and vilence. For generations, Natchez effectively ignored its history of enslavement….

Lizards on the Lam

[These excerpts are from an article by Jacob Baynham in the Fall 2022 issue of National Parks.]

      …Native to Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uraguay, these 4-foot-long omnivorous lizards somehow found themselves in the wilds of the Sunshine State, where they’ve thrived. No one can prove how it happened – possible culprits range from individualpet releases to unscrupulous importers to breeding facilities damaged by hurricanes – but by 2008 it was clear that Miami-Dade County had a self-sustaining wild population of Argentine black-and-white tegus. By 2017, the first tegu was documented in Everglades National Park, and a hatchling was discovered there in 2020….

      All ground-nesting birds and reptiles in the Everglades are at risk….Tegus have been documented eating alligator and gopher tortoise eggs and hatchlings. Other species, such as the Eastern indigo snake, the Cape Sable seaside sparrow and the Eastern black rail, are also vulnerable….

      The Everglades ecosystem already faces plenty of adversity, notably from climate change and the resulting sea-level rise. Invasive plants, such as Australian pine and Brazilian pepper, outcompete endemic foliage and reduce valuable habitat. Burmese pythons, which also arrived via the exotic pet trade, have devastated several mammal populations in the Everglades.

      …Last year, 844 tegus were trapped in and around the park, but the tegu population shows no sign of declining – and a tegu’s lifespan can reach 20 years….

Partisanship and the Pandemic

[These excerpts are from a book review by Matthew S. Levendusky in the 7 October 2022 issue of Science.]

      …The pandemic has been deadlier, and more contentious than it otherwise would have been, they argue, because it became a political issue, beyond just a public health emergency.

      …Democrats and Republicans, they note, took sharply divergent positions on nearly all aspects of the pandemic, from masking, to stay-at-home orders, to concern about the virus, to views of the economy, to vaccines. They show that partisanship—more so than other any variable—best explains pandemic attitudes.

      The authors argue that the pandemic partisan polarization stems from the action of one man: Donald Trump. Trump’s actions throughout the pandemic consistently signaled that it was not a serious threat: He called to reopen the economy in the spring of 2020, he publicly disputed Anthony Fauci and other scientific experts, he held large in-person campaign rallies without requiring masks or social distancing, and he even downplayed the virus after it sent him to the hospital. This stood in stark contrast with the attitudes and behaviors of Joe Biden and other Democratic politicians, giving citizens a clear signal about how pandemic attitudes mapped onto partisanship and leading to the polarization the authors so carefully document….

Protect Wildlife from Livestock Diseases

[These excerpts are from an editorial by Thijs Kulken and Ruth Cromie in the 7 October 2022 issue of Science.]

      …The burgeoning worldwide production and trade of farmed animals poses an increasing threat of infectious disease for wildlife. Gloabally, over the past 50 years, the population of poultry has grown 6.1-fold, from 5.71 to 35.07 billion; of pigs, 1.7-fold from 547.17 to 952.63 million; and of cattle, 1.4-fold from 1.08 to 1.53 billion. These large livestock populations, which are connected through trade, form reservoirs where infectious diseases can evolve and spill over into wildlife, occasionally with devastating consequences. In 2016-2017, peste-despetits-ruminants virus spread from livestock to saiga antelope, killing ~80% of this critically endangered species in Mongolia. Since 2007, African swine fever virus has spread across Europe and Asia through trade of pigs and pigment products, spilling over into wild boar and threatening endangered species of wild suids in Southeast Asia. Other spillovers include Mycoplasma gallisepticus bacteria from poultry to house finches and other songbirds in North America, and Mycobacterium bovis bacteria from cattle to wild mammals worldwide.

      Livestock diseases are seen mainly as an economic problem for the agricultural sector (as well as a concern for human health if they can potentially pass from animals to humans), and are managed as such by nations. However, given the high frequency with which these diseases spill over into wildlife, and their potential impact, they are clearly a major threat to the conservation of biodiversity. This pressure comes on to of the stresses of habitat degradation, pollution, and climate change on wildlife.

      …More consideration must be given to the risk of future spillovers from livestock to wildlife in proposed fundamental reorganization of the food sector. Government departments responsible for wildlife protection must develop policies that prevent such spillovers and, in case this fails, have multi-agency and multi-stakeholder plans and mitigation strategies to control disease spread….

      …In middle- and hidh-income countries, these efforts must be complemented by a transition from animal- to plant-based proteins in the human diet so that reduced livestock production is mirrored by an equivalent reduction in demand for meat, dairy, and eggs….

Let’s Take another Look at Homework

[These excerpts are from an article by Katherine A. James in the September 2022 issue of Kappan.]

      …First, let’s ask, “What is the purpose of homework?” I see it as having a two-fold purpose: 1) to reinforce learning from the classroom and determine whether the student “can fly the plane solo” and practice what they’ve learned without the teacher present, and 2) to provide opportunities for the learner to reach beyond what they learned in the classroom and grow both intellectually and creatively.

      Second, let’s rename it: How about “opportunities at home?” This phrase captures that homework is not meant to keep students busy but to help them practice and grow in their learning at home, on their own….

      Must there be homework, or opportunities at home, every night? I say yes, but the activity’s ability to inspire learning is more important than the time spent….

Defying the Gravitational Pull of Education Politics

[These excerpts are from an article by Jonathan E. Collins in the September 2022 issue of Kappan.]

      …Essentially, a massive geophysical force constantly pulls our poor and/or Black and brown students to the bottom. It’s so omnipresent that they feel the tugs on their legs as soon as their educational journey begins….The explicit political organizing around the maintainence of racial and class advantages has been acting like quicksand to our children….

      …As a result of COVID-19 learning loss, experts have placed some of our children on a trajectory to earn less as adults, and the racial and economic earning and wage gaps are likely to worsen. A major educational crisis, with the power to drastically increase inequity, is staring us right in the face. Yet, our public discourse is ignoring it.

      …Unfortunately, this situation is not new. During the Jim Crow era in the U.S. South, we had the White Citizens Council, whose ideology was white supremacy and whose main political objectives were preventing Black Americans from voting and attending school with white children….

      …Violence is erupting at school boatrd meetings across the country over mask mandates, book selections, and critical race theory. Meanwhile, as was the case before, the political division and vitriol are distracting us from ensuring that our most vulnerable children are getting needed academic support. There continues to be more political organizing around preserving the power of whiteness than around helping our students become scientists, engineers, or the next generation of activists who could find solutions to our most pressing societal problems….

Public Schools, Religion, and Equality after Carson v. Makin

[These excerpts are from an article by Robert Kim in the September 2022 2021 issue of Kappan.]

      …Then there’s the issue of religiously motivated discrimination. The plaintiff schools in Carson had admissions policies that allowed them to deny enrollment to students based on gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, and religion. The schools also required their teachers to be born-again Christians. Other sectarian schools have similar policies.

      So we’ve reached an unsettling prospect in which taxpayer funds can be directed to religious schools that a) seek to instill values considered discriminatory outside that religion and b) refuse to admit or employ students and educators whose identity or beliefs are inconsistent with those values….

      To be clear, the concern is not whether non-state-funded religious schools and employers can discriminate. Rather, the issue is whether state and local governments will be required to tolerate discriminatory practices at taxpeyers’ expenses….

      As Carson makes clear, a majority of justices on the current Supreme Court believes that states that subsidize private nonsectarian schools must also subsidize private religious schools. It also likely believes that, in many if not most circumstances, the First Amendment protects religious entities from having to comply with antidiscrimination laws that conflict with their religion. These positions may well result in more teachers and students working in or attending schools with a doctrinal commitment to treating children or employees unequally at taxpayers’ expenses….

Why Teachers Are Leaving and What We Can Do about It

[These excerpts are from an article by David T. Marshall, Time Pressley, Natalie M. Neugebauer & David M. SHannon in the September 2022 issue of Kappan.]

      Teaching has always been a demanding profession, and over the past two years, the demands have only increased. When school buildings closed for the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, teachers were asked to work under conditions for which they were not prepared….And when the 2020-21 school year began, some schools reopened entirely in person, with guidelines in place for masking and physical distancing; some schools opted for remote learning for the entire year; and others switched between in-person hybrid, and remote learning throughout the school year….

      The challenge of teacher retention has always existed, especially in schools in urban, rural, and/or high-poverty settings…and in subjects like math and science…, as well as in special education….But the problem of retaining teachers has gotten worse during the pandemic….

      Additional contributions to teachers’ declining mental health and well-being that are specific to the pandemic are the lack of connection to students and the challenges associated with inline teaching….Remote learning has made it more difficult for teachers to build meaningful relationships with their students, posing a significant barrier to both students’ and teachers’ personal development….Teachers also have reported high levels of burnout and stress, as well as low levels of job satisfaction, due to the challenges of teaching during the pandemic….

      The teachers who felt respected and trusted to make decisions about their teaching and who felt supported by parents and their school leadership were more satisfied with their jobs and less likely to pursue employment outside education….

      Additionally, parents need to remember that teachers often are just the messengers implementing requirements from school leaders and policy makers. Taking their frustrations about school policies or testing requirements to school leaders will more likely be more effective than blaming teachers for issues beyond their control, and it won’t add to teachers’ streaa. In most caases, the best way for parents to support their children is to work with teachers rather than against them….

It’s Time to Listen to Educators

[These excerpts are from an editorial by Teresa Preston in the September 2022 issue of Kappan.]

      …And it was still the hardest job I’ve ever had. My two years inn the classroom tired me out in ways I’d never experienced and left me with even more respect for teachers than I’d had before.

      I’ve been thinking about my short teaching career a lot over the past two years, when teaching had become even more difficult than before. Every decision that teachers, administrators, and district leaders made has been fraught. Keep everyone safe from COVID by teaching remotely and risk leaving behind students who need in-person engagement. Bring students back to the classroom and scramble to keep the school open when large numbers of your faculty and staff come down with COVID. For many educators, there seem to be no good choices.

      All of these choices are being made in a climate where some community members are riled up and using school board meetings to air their frustrations in anger, without stopping to listen and understand what is happening….

      It’s no wonder that more and more teachers are considering leaving….

Donkeys Were Domesticated in Africa

[These excerpts are from an article by Freda Kreier in the 8 & 22 October 2022 issue of Science News.]

      …The general instruction books of over 200 donkeys from countries around the world show that these beasts of burden were domesticated in one fell swoop about 7,000 years ago in East Africa….

      Today, donkeys are found all over the globe. In Asia and Africa, dwindling numbers of wild asses – the closest wild relatives of donkeys – pointed toward one of these continents as the likely donkey homeland. Archeological evidence, including a 5,000-year-old Egyptian tablet depicting marching asses, zeroed in on Africa as the most probable contender….

      By comparing the genomes with those of wild asses, the team traced the lineage of all donkeys to a single domestication event in East Africa around 5000 B.C. From there, donkeys spread across Africa and into Europe, Asia and elsewhere….

Not All Camouflage Is Equally Effective

[These excerpts are from an article by Jake Buehler in the 8 & 22 October 2022 issue of Science News.]

      …Comparisons between differenc=t camouflage methods show that masquerading as specific objects in the environment is the best way to go unseen….

      …Camouflage tactics include “background matching,” where the animal matches the color and patterning of the environment, and “masquerading,” where the prey mimics a particular object uninteresting to predators, such as a twig leaf, bird droppings or even shed tarantula skin….

      The masquerade strategy was especially effective at helping prey elude preators, increasing search time by nearly 300 percent. One of the most striking examples of this…are caterpillars that disguise themselves as twigs….

      The team thinks masquerading is so effective because it’s so specialized. Prey that masquerade benefit from predators mistaking them for real objects, not just failing to detect them in the environment….

Test, Quizzes, Exams … Oh My!

[These excerpts are from an editorial by Ann Haley MacKenzie in the September/October 2022 issue of The Science Teacher.]

      …Reading studets’ nonverbal language is one of the most powerful tools we have as educators. Furrowed brows. Gazing outside the window. Hiding under hoodies. Lack of eye contact. Hunched shoulders. All of these send us critical information about what our students are thinking, what they are contemplating, what they are confused by, and what they are tuning out. If we ignore their nonverbal signals, we miss a wealth of information on how our students are doing in our science courses.

      …We are looking for signs of curiosity, wonder, understanding, and the infamous “light bulb” that goes off when we see a struggling student finally grasp a phenomenon or difficult concept. What a feeling it is for both us and the student when the “light” goes on….

      We need students directly in the eyes when posing a question provides a moment-to-moment interaction with a particular student that affirms their knowledge base….Our body language transfers our feelings and impressions to our students in ways more powerful than we can imagine….

      Doodling has long been seen as an unproductive, off-task behavior. Recent research indicates that when students doodle, they are actually more in tune with what is happening in the classroom. Creativity and outside-the-box thinking can occur when this behavior occurs….

Climate Change Causes Deadly Record Heatwaves and Floods

[These excerpts are from an article by Olivia Nater in the September 2022 issue of Population Connection.]

      Temperatures across Europe, from Spain to the British Isles, soared this summer, causing record-breaking droughts and fires. The United Kingdom declared a national emergency when parts of its runways melted in the heatwave, while Portugal recorded more than 1,000 deathes due to extreme temperatures. French authorities battled wildfires and implemented water use restrictionas as more than 100 municipalities ran out of drinking water and required water truck supplies.

      Brutal heatwaves also hit India earlier this year, with temperatures reaching 100-year records. Aside from the direct threat to humannlives and livelihoods, heatwaves have been estimated to cost India’s economy 101 billion hours ofnlost labor annually due to outdoor work, such as agriculture and construction, becoming increasingly unmanageable.

      Deadly floods in Bangladesh have left millions of children homeless, hungry, and lacking health care, safe water, and education….

      A report published in May by the World Meterological Organization (WMO) reveal that four critical climate records were broken in 2021: atmospheric greenhouse gas levels, sea level rise, ocean warming, and ocean acidification. It also showed that the past seven years have been the warmest seven years on record….

The Sound of Silence

[These excerpts are from an article by Michael Shapiro in the Fall 2022 issue of Sierra]

      …Fallows quickly uncovered gas leaf blowers’ dirty secrets. Their primitive two-stroke engines emit dangerouspollutants, and the noise often causes substantial and irreversible hearing losses in those who operate them….

      …operating a commercial leaf blower for just one hour emits smog-forming pollution comparable to driving a new passenger car about 1,100 miles.

      …making it illegal to operate a gas-powered leaf blower in the nation’s capital and giving gardening companies more tha three years to prepare for the ban, which took effect last January. Electric blowers, which are much cleaner and less noisy, remain legal….

      …It’s aastounding but true: Gas leaf blowers, generators, and lawnblowers emit more air pollutants statewide than California’s 14 million cars….

The Climate and the Straw

[These excerpts are from an editorial by Jason Mark in the Fall 2022 issue of Sierra.]

      In a fractures America, here’s one thing most of us can agree on: Disposable plastic sucks. Eight in 10 voters support policies to reduce single-use plastics, and two-thirds of US residents say they’ll pay more for everyday materials that don’t contain plastic. Picking up plastic litter remains the go-to Earth Day activity, and “Is This Recyclable?” might as well be the latest environmental parlor game.

      The concerns about plastic make perfect sense. While carbon dioxide and methane are invisible—and extinction is an actual disappearing act—plastic is all too tangible. The cookie packages and water bottles, single-use baggies and flimsy cheese wrappers are inescapable. They are the emblam of wanton waste, the signature of a throwaway society….

      Most maddening is how truly unnecessary all of it is. The plastics boon is a classic case of big business manufacturing a demand for the needless. Awash in a glut of oil and gas from the fracking fields and facing decreasing enthusiasm for their products as renewable energies and electric vehicles increase in market share, the fossil fuel giants are looking to plastic to sustain their revenues….

      Disposable plastic is the ultimate false need: We can find ways to live without it. The fossil fuel giants’ profit margin can’t.

Better Data, Less Gun Violence

[These excerpts are from an editorial by Andrew R. Morral and Rosanna Smart in the 30 September 2022 issue of Science.]

      …The new opportunities this funding creates to understand and prevent firearm violence come at a critical moment. Firearm violence began increasing in 2015, with a sharp rise between 2019 and 2020, and again in 2021, resulting in firearm homicide rates not seen in the US since the end of the crack cocaine epidemic of the early 1990s. Although these increases occurred for nearly every demographic and geographic subgroup in the nation, they are highly concentrated among people who are Black, a group already facing firearm homicide rates 10 times greater than those of white people. Similarly, firearm suicides and suicides generally have soared in recent years, with preliminary 2021 counts showing a firearm suicide rate in the US greater than at any point in the past 43 years….

      Effective firearm violence prevention strategies require better understanding of the people, places, conditions, and antecedents of firearm violence, a line of research hampered by substandard federal data collection and laws that prohibit the federal government from sharing data with researchers….Furthermore, although the federal government has strong systems for counting the number of people killed by firearms, it fails at measuring nonfatal firearm injuries and crimes, which constitute the majority of firearm violence. There is no system that tracks hospitalization for firearm injuries in every state and over time. The federal government does not produce estimates of all police shootings, mass shootings, or intimate partner violence….Without high-quality measures of nonfatal firearm injuries and crimes, the prevalence and costs of interpersonal firearm violence are underreported….

      …However, amendments to the Justice Department’s appropriation bills (the Tiahrt Amendments) now prohibit the Bureau from sharing trace data with researchers. Other provisions of these amendments prohibit the federal government from retaining records verifying whether individuals passed federal background checks that are required to purchase a firearm….

Going after the Big Four

[These excerpts are from an article by Yet-Ming Chian and Bilge Yildiz in the September/October 2022 issue of MIT News.]

      …The products are, of course, ubiquitous. Steel is used in buildings and cars, and cement in buildings and infrastructure. Ammonia is the feedstock for fertilizer, and ethylene is a building block for some types of plastics….

      But in many cases they’re made through high-temperature processes powered by fossil fuels, and in others fossil fuels provide the raw material that goes into the end product. Coal typically powers cement kilns and steel plants; ammonia is synthesized with hydrogen, which comes from fossil-fuel feedstocks, including coal and oil; and ethylene is made largely from natural gas.

      The processes underlying these industries are so old, embedded, and entrenched in society and the economy that it’s almost impossible to conceive of changing them. And because the four products are commodities in which manufacturers have invested a great deal of capital and infrastructure, there has been little incentive to invest in developing cleaner processes….

      Shifting to electrochemical breakdown and reconstruction of chemical bonds would also make the production of ammonia and ethylene much cleaner….

Sugar Rush

[These excerpts are from an article by Jennifer Chu in the September/October 2022 issue of MIT News.]

      A tiny fuel cell developed by engineers at MIT and the Technical University of Munich (TUM) converts glucose, the fuel that powers every cell in our bodies, directly into electricity that could power implanted medical devices such as pacemakers….

      …The anode reacts with glucose in bodily fluids, releasing a pair of protons and a pair of electrons that are separated in the electrolyte. They flow in the cathose, where the protons combine with oxygen to form water that flows away with the body’s fluids, leaving the electrons to go through an external circuit.

      The idea of a glucose fuel cell is not new, but the researchers improved on previous designs by replacing the conventional polymer electrolyte with one made from a biocompatible ceramic, which retains its electrochemical properties at much higher temperatures and smaller scales than polymers do. The new device measures just 400 nanometers thick, and it can withstand temperatures up to 600 oC, so it can be sterilized for use in medical implants. It generates about 43 microwatts of electricity per square centimeter, achieving the highest power density of any abiotic glucose fuel cell to date under ambient conditions.

      The team sandwiched the electrolyte with an anode and cathode made of platinum, a stable material that readily reacts with glucose….

How Do Strong Muscles Keep Your Brain Healthy?

[These excerpts are from an article by Bonnie Tsui in the September/October 2022 issue of MIT Technology Review.]

      We’ve often thought about muscles as a thing that exists separately from intellect—and perhaps that is even oppositional to it, one taking resources from the other. The truth is, our brains and muscles are in constant conversation with each other, sending electrochemical signals back and forth. In a very tangible way, our lifelong brain health depends on keeping our muscles moving.

      Skeletal muscle is the type of muscle that allows you to move your body around; it is one of the biggest organs in the human body. It is also an endocrine tissue, which means it releases signaling molecules that travel to other parts of your body to tell them to do things….

      Even moderate exercise can increase metabolism in brain regions important for learning and memory in older adults. And the brain itself has been found to respond to exercise in strikingly physical ways. The hippocampus, a brain structure that plays a major role in learning and memory, shrinks in late adulthood; this can result in an increased risk for dementia. Exercise training has been shown to increase the size of the hippocampus, even late in life, protecting against age-related loss and improving spatial memory….

Scientists Hacked a Locust’s Brain to Sniff Out Human Cancer

[These excerpts are from an article by Jessica Hamzelou in the September/October 2022 issue of MIT Technology Review.]

      Cyborg locust brains can help spot the telltale signs of human cancer in the lab, a new study has shown. The team behind the work hoped it could one day lead to an insect-based breath test for use in cancer screeing, or inspire an artificial version that works in much the same way….

      The researchers chose to work with locusts because these insects have been well studied in recent years. In a preliminary setp, they surgically exposed the brain of a living locust. Saha and his colleagues then inserted electrodes into lobes of the brain that receive signals from the insects’ antennae, which the locusts use to sense odors.

      The team also gave three different types of human oral-cancer cells, as well as human mouth cells that were cancer-free. They used a device to capture gas emitted by each of the cell types, and delivered each of the cell types differently. The patterns of electrical activity recorded were so distinct that when the team puffed the gas from one cell tyoe onto the antennae, they could correctly identify wether the cells were cancerous from the recording alone.

      It is the first time a living insect brain has been tested as a tool to detect cancer….

Greening National Security

[These excerpts are from a book review by Oliver Belcher in the 23 September 2022 issue of Science.]

      …between 2001 and 2017—the height of the United States’ wars in Iraq and Afghanistan—the US military emitted 1.2 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases, including 458 million metric tons of carbon dioxide that can be directly attributed to post-9/11 war-related fuel consumption….

      Crawford goes beyond the usual historical overviews of the military’s reliance on fossil fuels in the 20th and 21st centuries, although she deftly covers that territory as well, given that the US military is a climate actor whose consumption of hydrocarbon-based fuels contributes directly to climate change. While the military accounts for a relatively small portion of the United States’ total annual emissions, it is still the single largest institutional consumerof energy in the world….

      …she notes that the US military was a formative influence in the development of modern climate science. At the height of this relationship early in the Cold War, the Department of Defense invested heavily in university-based and private climate science to calculate the possible effects of a nuclear war on the atmosphere….

      …Crawford makes the compelling case that if climate change poses more of a long-term national security threat than many other threats, then the Department of Defense needs to rethink its global force position “beyond adaptation…to true climate change-related conflict prevention by further reducing fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions.” This would entail drastically reducing the United States’ reliance on Persian Gulf oil….

News Stories Give Spiders a Bum Rap

[These excerpts are from an article by Betsy Mason in the 24 September 2022 issue of Science News.]

      Even spiders, it seems, have fallen victim to misinformation. Media reports about people’s encounters with spiders tend to be full of falsehoods with a distinctly negative spin. An analysis of a decade’s worth of newspaper stories from dozens of countries finds that nearly half of the reports contain errors….

      Of the roughly 50,000 known spider species, vanishingly few are dangerous. Instead, many spiders benefit us by eating insects that are harmful to people. Even with the rare exceptions like black widow spiders, bites are extremely uncommon….Some stories about spiders blamed spiders that don’t occur in the area, and others reported symptoms that don’t match symptoms of actual bites….

      If people knew the truth, they could spend less time blaming spiders for bites and killing them with pesticides that are toxic to many other species….Spiders also stand to benefit because news helps shape public opinion, which can influence conservation decisions….

How to Make Mealworms Appetizing

[These excerpts are from an article by Anil Oza in the 24 September 2022 issue of Science News.]

      …Adding sugars to dowdered, cooked mealworms creates a seasoning with an appetizing meatlike odor….

      Some insects can be environmentally friendly alternatives to other animal protein because they require less land and water to raise….But many people in the United States and other Western countries, where insects aren’t eaten widely, generally find the idea od chomping down on bugs unappealing….

      One successful insect-based product could have the snowball effect for similar foods….

      Using insects in seasoning…could help people get past the hesitations about eating bugs….

Scientists as Public Advocates

[These excerpts are from an article by Naomi Oreskes in the September 2022 issue of Scientific American.]

      …But lately some commentators and scientific leaders have argued that scientists should overcome this unease and contribute to urgent debates from climate change to gun control, alerting people to relevant scientific evidence and, in some cases, endorsing particular policies where their data provide support. One oft-cited example is the ozone hole, where scientists spoke up in support of banning the chemicals that were destroying Earth’s ozone layer….

      The public may actually be eager to hear from scientists who advocate policies that fall withi their realm of expertise….A large majority in both countries—70 percent of Germans and 74 percent of Americans—also felt that climate scientists should be advocates for specific climate policies….

      What members of the public do not endorse, for the most part, were political protests by climate scientists. Perhaps this is because people make a distinction between scientists as experts—with a capacity to make well-informed recommendations—and scientists taking specific political stands, which might mark them as political, rather than intellectual, actors….

      Trusting in science is not an either-or proposition. It depends on many variables. Researchers need to stay within their areas of authority: climate scientists should not be offering stock tips or medical advice. But our research suggests that they can feel comfortable offering policy advice in fields where they are acknowledged experts. The ozone story is a case in point: no one knew better than ozone scientists about the cause of the dangerous hole and therefore what needed to be done to fix it.

The Secrets of Thirst

[These excerpts are from an article by Claudia Wallis in the September 2022 issue of Scientific American.]

      Serious question: How much water does the average adult need to drink every day? You’ve probably heard the usual answer: eight 8-ounce glasses, sometimes stated as 8 x 8. But there’s not much science behind this ubiquitous recommendation….

      Natural thirst mechanisms are the reason that most of us do not need to be overly concerned about hydration. The adult body is roughly 60 percent water—closer to 80 percent in the lungs and kidneys—and it carefully controls the concentration of water. We are all familiar with the sensory aspect of this regulation: the dry throat and urgent alert of thirst. But recently neuroscientists have gained other remarkable insights into how thirst is monitored in the body and controlled in the brain….

      The big takeaway of Zimmerman’s work is that for the most part you can trust your thirst system to tell you when you need to drink, as opposed to following some arbitrary advice….

Health Care Starts at School

[These excerpts are from an editorial by the editors in the September 2022 issue of Scientific American.]

      …Around 3,000 school-based health centers operate in more than 30 states all around the U.S., offering primary and preventive care for students who live in medically underserved areas. Staff at the centers treat flu, asthma, diabetes and other common ailments. They administer vaccinations and screen for dental, vision and hearing problems, and some provide mental health care and reproductive health care….

      The pandemeic was hard on existing school-based health centers, and as we reckon with lost years of education, it’s time for government at all levels to recodnize that all children need accessible and affordable health care….

      …More than 20 million children in the U.S. lack sufficient access to health care, and the most direct way to address that need is to bring doctors to them….And schools are often among the most trusted institutions within communities….

      …Other studies have shown that clinics in schools can increase vaccination rates among students, reduce mental health problems and boost students’ use of contraception. On the education front, kids who use such centers have improved attendance and grades, are more likely to be promoted to the next grade and less likely to get suspended—and are overall more prepared for college….

High Seas Treaty within Reach

[These excerpts are from an editorial by Kristina M. Gjerde, Harriet Harden-Davies and Kahlil Hassanali in the 16 September 2022 issue of Science.]

      The ocean is Earth’s greatest climate mitigator, but it cannot do its work without biodiversity. Yet, accelerating climate change, unsustained fishing, and widespread plastic and other pollutants, combined with increased resource demands, are threatening life throughout our global ocean. This is particularlu acute in the two-thirds of the ocean (the high seas and seabed below) located beyond national boundaries, and as such, no state can solve these problems alone….

      These little-known negotiations should compel a sense of urgency because at risk are vital ecosystem services that keep Earth’s climate livable. Existing regional and global organizations for managing fishing, shipping, or deep-sea mining lack a global focus on marine biodiversity that the new treaty could provide….Potentially valuable genetic material from marine life has prospective applications in agriculture, industry, and biomedicine and can inform research, assessments, and monitoring of the ocean.

      Equally—both within and across generations—is at the heart of sharing the benefits of marine genetic material, empowering participation in decision-making, and enabling sufficient capacity, technology, and financial resources. Richer nations have yet to commit to delivering the capacity building, technology, and funds necessary to assist developing nations, such as small island states, to fully participate in the treaty….

      Scientists can play a role by calling on world leaders to promptly produce a treaty that will inject science-based decision-making, equity, and stewardship into the heart of how the vast majority of Earth’s ocean is managed….

The Persistent Threats Wildfires Pose to Our Drinking Water

[These excerpts are from an article by Cana Tagawa in the Summer 2022 issue of the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Catalyst.]

      …It’s an important piece of the story because climate change is making wildfire seasons longer while also making wildfires bigger and more intense. Already, over the past five years, California has experienced its five largest wildfires on record, including the 2020 August Complex fire that burned more than a million acres. Other factors increasing the intensity of wildfires include, paradoxically, longstanding US policy to extinguish all wildfires (which results in more fuel to burn), the curtailment of intentional “cultural” burns by Indigenous peoples that historically clear underbrush, and the pressures of human development….

      Wildfires disrupt entire ecosystems, with far-reaching ramifications….The first level of disruption begins with the water cycle and soil. Plants and their roots stabilize the soil and take water from it. This process regulates how much water is in the soil, which is more important than most people realize. If wildfires burn these root systems and char the soil itself, rainwater is more likely to be repelled than absorbed by the soil, potentially causing floods and landslides.

      As water runs off of burning land, it can transport all kinds of harmful substances into streams, rivers, and lakes: sediments, heavy metals and other gtoxins from human-made objects, and nitrates that can cause toxic algal blooms. In California, about 60 percent of the water supply comes from surface water sources, some of which are vulnerable to this kind of contamination after a wildfire….

      There are many proactive steps communities can take to protect their water resources, starting with equipping water treatment plants to better deal with the vastly increased amounts of sediment and contaminants that are likely after a wildfire. And, because aboveground power lines are frequently responsible for igniting wildfires, communities can press to bury these lines—a costly intervention best made as part of a holistic approach that considers the overall resilience of their electricity grid….

From Coast to Coast, EVs Are Getting Even Cleaner

[These excerpts are from an article in the Summer 2022 issue of the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Catalyst.]

      Eectric vehicles (EVs) cost less to operate and maintain than gasoline vehicles and have low or no tailpipe emissions. But given their large batteries and the emissions associated with electricity generation, people often ask if EVs are indeed a climate-friendly choice. The answer…is a resounding “yes!”

      Driving Cleaner is UCS’s third investigation of vehicles’ “life cycle” emissions (that is, all the emissions from the materials and electricity used to make the vehicle, the energy used to power it, and the disposal or recycling of materials after its retirement). All three analyses found that everywhere in the United States—even in regions where fossil fuel-heavy electricity generation—the average new fully electric car results in lower global warming emissions over its lifetime than a comparable gasoline-powered car.

      …For example, more than 90 percent of people in the United States today live in areas where driving the average EV produces lower emissions than the most fuel-efficient gasoline car on the market….

      …the report recommends bringing even more renewable energy onto the grid, developing robust battery recycling programs to help reduce manufacturing impacts, and making EVs more accessible and affordable….

A Tale of Troubled Waters

[These excerpts are from a book review by Mary Ellen Hannibal in the 10 September 2022 issue of Science.]

      …Drawn to life on the water, which many had left behind in Vietnam, the refugees gravitated to fishing themselves. Their record catches drew the ire of Americans on the water, who worked fewer hours with far less efficiency. The local white community soon called in the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) to delver fresh horror to the traumatized Vietnamese….

      The second main thread of Johnson’s book focused on Diane Wilson, a Seadrift local with many more generations behind her than Alpin….

      A mother of four, Wilson is poor and married to a traumatized Vietnam vet. She scrapes together something close to a living by working on the water, and, like Alpin, she begins to associate anomalies in the region’s sea life with nearby industries. A true citizen scientist, over the years, Wilson helps collect more than 30 million “nurdles”—small pellets from which most plastics are created, which eventually convey industrial chemicals, pesticides, toxins, and dangerous bacteria into the food chain—from the shoreline. Wilson undergoes several hunger strikes to force the corporate hand, and in 2019 she succeeds in winning a $50 million settlement from Formosa Plastics.

      Johnson’s twin stories come together tangentially. They both involve cruelty and destruction in the Gulf of Mexico, but the KKK predates the capitalist forces that have exploited and polluted the region. Both the Klan and industry have wrought terrible destruction on people and ecosystems, but any direct connection between these evils is not in evidence here….

California EV Rules Jolt Battery Science

[These excerpts are from an article by Robert F. Service in the 10 September 2022 issue of Science.]

      …Most new car sales are expected to shift to battery-powered electric vehicles (EVs). But along with high prices and modest range, current EVs have another big drawback. They are slow to recharge. Whereas filling a gas tank takes only a few minutes, recharging an EV takes anywhere from the better part of an hour to a day, depending on the charging equipment and the size of the battery….

      …Fifteen years ago, Cui and others showed anodes made from silicon can increase how much charge a bettery can store and enable faster charging. Each silicon atom is able to bind four lithium ions, compared with only one for every six barbon atoms in graphite. But pushing so many lithium atoms into a silicon matrix can cause the anode material to swell up to four times in size. And repeatedly charging and discharging the battery typically pulverizes the silicon, killing the battery.

      More recently, Cui and others have shown nanoscale modifications to the structure of the silicon, such as forging it into an array of nanowires, can allow the anode to swell and shrink without fracturing, thereby extending the battery life….

      Replacing the charge-carrying lithium ions with other materials can help as well….a chemist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology…reported a novel battery design that relies on aluminum ions. Their prototype has a capacity similar to conventional lithium-ion batteries but is capable of recharging in minutes. The battery must operate at near the boiling point of water to allow aluminum ions to move through the device’s molten salt electrolyte, which ferries ions between the electrodes. But Sadoway and his team are already working to reduce the operating temperature. If they’re successful, the battery could be a blockbuster because aluminum is cheap; compared with lithium batteries, gthe cost of materials for these batteries would be 85% lower….

Protect the Vulnerable from Monkeypox

[These excerpts are from an editorial by Boghuma Titanji in the 10 September 2022 issue of Science.]

      …Cases of monkeypox show a striking parallel with HIV. Widespread, rapid transmission of both viruses first occurred in sexual networks of gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (GBMSM)….

      Engaging vulnerable communities early is an important lesson from the HIV epidemic….The fear of reliving the stigma and uncertainties experienced in the early days of the HIV epidemic is palpable in almost every monkeypox patient I’ve encountered….

      During the early years of the HIV epidemic, stigma and discrimination against GBMSM stifled research in targeted prevention. Failure of policies to address HIV were blamed on this community, further ostracizing them. The same is happening with monkeypox today….

      The health disparities seen during the spread of HIV prevailed during the COVID-19 pandemic and are again apparent with minkeypox. Unless vulnerable populations become an integral part of tackling monkeypox globally, from research participation to accessing interventions, the world will likely make the same mistake again.

Making Carbon Capture Fashionable

[These excerpts are from an article by Asa Stahl in the 10 September 2022 issue of Science News.]

      …Carbon capture and storage, or CCS, is one strategy for mitigating climate change long noted by the IPCC as having “considerable” potential. A technology that has existed since the 1970s, CCS traps CO2 from the smokestacks or ambient air and pumps it underground for permanent sequestration. Today, 27 CCS facilities operate around the world – 12 in the United States – storing an estimated 36 million tons of carbon per year….

      But rather than just storing it, the captured carbon could be used to make things. This year for the first time, the IPCC added carbon capture and utilization, or CCU, to its list of options for drawing down atmospheric carbon. CCU captures CO2 and incorporates it into carbon-containing products like cement, jet fuel and the raw materials for making plastics. Still in early stages of development and commercialization, CCU could reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions by 20 billion tons in 2050 – more than half of the world’s global emissions today….

      …making plastics from fossil fuels is a carbon catastrophe. Each step in the plastics life cycle – extraction, transport, manufacture and disposal – emits massive amounts of greenhouse gases….

      …the long-standing practice of fossil fuel subsidies, which in 2021 topped $440 billion worldwide. Global government subsidies to the oil and gas industries keep fossil fuel prices artificially low, making it hard for renewables to compete….

How to Break Down “Forever Chemicals”

[These excerpts are from an article by Jude Coleman in the 10 September 2022 issue of Science News.]

      …Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, also known as PFAS, are found in nonstick pans, water-repellent fabrics and food packaging, and they are pervasive throughout the environment. Exposure to high levels of some types of PFAS has been linked to an increased risk of cancer and reproductive problems.

      PFAS are nicknamed forever chemicals for their ability to stick around and not break down. In part, that’s because they have a superstrong bond between their carbon and fluorine atoms….Now, using a bit of heat and two relatively common compounds, researchers have degraded one major type of forever chemical in the lab. The work…could help pave the way for a process to break down certain forever chemicals commercially, forever after they are removed from wastewater….

      Scientists previously have found relatively simple ways of breaking the bonds of select PFAS, but most methods are energy-intensive and require extremely high pressures or temperatures….

      The new process doesn’t work on all forever chemicals, and it wouldn’t work on PFAS already in the environment, the team says. But it could one day be used in wastewater treatment plants, where the pollutants can be filtered out of the water, concentrated and then broken down.

Giant Undersea Crater Discovered

[These excerpts are from an article by Nikk Ogasa in the 10 September 2022 issue of Science News.]

      …Off the coast of West Africa, hundreds of meyters beneath the seafloor, scientists have identified what appears to be the remains of an 8.5-kilometer-wide impact crater, which they’ve named Nadir. The team estimates that the srater formed around the same time that another asteroid — Chicxulub, the dinosaur killer – slammed into what’s now Mexico….If fonfirmed, it could mean that nonbird dinosaurs met their demise by a one-two punch of asteroids….

      …if an asteroid was responsible for the terrain, it was probably over 400 meters wide. What’s more, the researchers estimate that the impact would have rocked the ground like a magnitude 7 earthquake and stirred tsunamis hundreds of meters high.

      Despite that fallout, the Nadir impact would have been far less devastating than the one from the roughly 10-kilometer-wide Chicxulub asteroid….

      The Nadir structure’s age is another uncertainty. The seismic data show it appears to have formed sometime near the end the Cretaceous Period or maybe a little later….

Beavers Help Fight Climate Change

[These excerpts are from an article by Richard Kemeny in the 10 September 2022 issue of Science News.]

      In the upper reaches of the Skykomish River in Washington state, a pioneering team of nature’s civil engineers is keeping things cool. Relocated beavers boosted water storage and lowered stream temperatures, indicating such schemes could help mitigate the effects of climate change.

      Just one year after their arrival, the new recruits brought average water temperatures down by about two degrees Celsius while nearby streams without beavers warmed by 0.8 degrees C. Beavers also raised water tables by as much as about 30 centimeters….

      …They build dams, ponds and wetlands, deepening streams for their burroughs and lodges. The dams slow the water, storing it upstream for longer, and cool it as it flows through the ground underneath….

      At the five sites that saw long-term construction, beavers built 14 dams, and the volume of surface water increased to about 20 times that of streams with no new beaver activity. Meanwhile below ground, wells at three sites showed that after dam construction, the amount of groundwater grew to more than twice what was stored on the surface in ponds….

Zimbabwe Find Illuminates Dawn of the Dinosaurs

[These excerpts are from an article by April Reese in the 2 September 2022 issue of Science.]

      During the late Triassic period, when the terrestrial world was a single sprawling land mass called Pangaea, a dog-size plant-eating dinosaur perished near a river in the southern part of the continent. When the river flooded, the body was buried by sediment….

      Until now, the earliest known dinosaurs, also dating to about 230 million years ago, were found in Argentina and Brazil, with a few partial specimins from India. When the continents were gathered together to form Pangaea, those sites all lay about 50o south….Earth was warmer at the time, lacking icecaps, and climate models suggest that latitude on Pangaea had a wet, temperate climate with hot summers and cool, rainy winters. Researchers have suspected the first dinosaurs needed this type of climate, and that this limited their spread across the supercontinent. But to confirm that idea, they needed dinosaur fossils from other parts of the same climate belt….

      Taken together, the fossils are the strongest evidence yet that the earliest dinosaurs and their relatives were constrained to a temperate climate belt bordered by arid ones….Dinosaurs were restricted to their semihumid oasisnfor a few million years, until the arid regions to the north and south began to become wetter….

Trickle-Down Climate Risk Regulation

[These excerpts are from an editorial by Anne M. Perrault and Gael Giraud in the 2 September 2022 issue of Science.]

      …The European Central Bank, for example, is signaling to bankls that they must plan and make their transition away from financing of fossil fuels—to respond not only to their own risks but also to the science pointing to the necessity of this transition for the planet and financial system. Yet in the US, the primary regulators of national and community banks are narrowly zeroing in on risks posed to the larger banks—those with over $100 billion in total consolidated assets—without attention to these banks’ role in financial greenhouse gas-emitting activities and what they mean for other important financial actors….

      Big banks should be worried about climate risks. Loans for fossil fuel-related activities are at risk of rapidly losing value, causing banks that hold them to suffer major losses. Bank balance sheets will also suffer when property damage creates loan defaults. Still, despite promises by most to reach “net-zero” emissions by 2050, big US banks remain the world’s largest fossil fuel financiers, apparently believing they can ditch their fossil assets before the energy transition torpedoes their value and that physical impacts to investments in one location can be offset by safe investments elsewhere.

      …Yet scientists show that climate change poses new and substantial risks, requiring greater attention to the interconnectedness of financial and environmental systems and what those relationships imply for other financial actors and risk management measures. As climate change simultaneously, repeatedly, and often permanently affects natural and human systems across geographic areas—and as borrowers and taxpayers struggle to pay their bills in response—many community banks and municipalities, ignored by the trickle-down approach, could fail….

      Despite having only 15% of total industry loans, community banks are lifelines for rural and underserved communities, representing ~90% of regulated US banks. With lending concentrated in agriculture, mortgages, and commercial real estate, they are especially vulnerable to climate change….The 20 and growing number of lawsuits against fossil fuel companies by municipalities needing financial help to deal with climate-related losses are warnings for municipal bondholders and those dependent on public-sector services. For now, government subsidies, including additional annual federal spending of $25 to $125 billion on costs such as disaster relief and insurance, are making financial harms to these entrities….

National Parks Ban Single-Use Plastics

[These excerpts are from an article by Nick Mallos in the Fall 2022 issue of the Ocean Conservancy newsletter, Splash.]

      …Phasing out the sale of single-use plastic products from 440 million acres of federally managed lands over the next decade ensures that national parks will continue to set the example for the 330 million people who visit each year. And it will also help protect our oceans. We know that trash travels. A lightweight plastic wrapper lost in Yellowstone can travel hundreds of miles via river or waterway before eventually winding up in our ocean. It’s crucial we push for policies that reduce single-use plastics throughout the country, but especially in places so essential for cultivating the next generation of environmental stewards.

      …With more than 11 million metric tons of plastic entering our ocean each year and plastic production expected to triple by 2060, we need advocates like you to continue to help us to tackle this issue….

We Continue to Accelerate Our Drumbeat for Solutions to the Climate Change Crisis – the Greatest Environmental Threat to our Ocans and our Planet

[These excerpts are from a letter by Janis Searles Jones in the Fall 2022 issue of the Ocean Conservancy newsletter, Splash.]

      …Simply put, migration is the “long haul” weapon. We must reduce the CO2 in our atmosphere, and we can do that only be moving from fossil fuels to renewable and alternate energy sources, like wind, solar and wave power. But even if we convince governments and industries to do that tomorrow, it would be years before the impacts of fossil fuels on our environment are mitigated.

      Adaptation is what we can and must do in the meantime.

      Through adaptation, human and natural systems engage innate fortitude to adjust to the conditions caused by climate change….

      If we are to prevail, we must not shy away from wielding the “double-edged sword” of adaptation and mitigation. The fight for solutions remains imperative. Failure to mitigate carbon pollution today means more extreme adaptation will be required tomorrow – from fish stocks, marine mammals, ocean ecosystems, human beings. Let’s fight together to help ensure the best benefit possible….

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work on Climate Solutions

[These excerpts are from an article in the Fall 2022 issue of the Ocean Conservancy newsletter, Splash.]

      …As climate change accelerates around the world, humans and other species are already finding ways to adapt to its harmful impacts. Of course, efforts to slow the rapid pace of climate change remain as urgent as ever. But knowledge about how communities can protect themselves and marine life ecosystems from climate impacts – such as hotter temperatures, more acidic waters, sea-level rise and devastating storms – will also be crucial in the years ahead….

      The IPCC sounded the alarm on climate change with the first report in 1990, which paved the way for international climate agreements like the Kyoto Protocol and Paris Agreement. More recently, IPCC reports have included insights that can help coastal communities and island nations adapt to predicted changes and develop new tools to reduce or sequester carbon….

      One example relates to how climate change is disturning the world’s fisheries. Since the 1950s, marine life has been migrating to cooler waters – shifting to the North or South Pole by about 60 km per decade, around the length of Washington State’s coast. Conflicts can arise as fish populatiuons move into new areas. Fishery-dependent coastal economies and Indigenous peoples and cultures are particularly vulnerable as the effects of climate change worsen….

Cruise Ships Are Destroying Our Oceans

[These excerpts are from an article in the Summer 2022 issue of Friends of the Earth Newsmagazine.]

      …Cruise ships dump enormous amounts of waste into the marine ecosystem. Items like food, glass and plastic are expelled into our oceans, ending up in the bellies of fish, sea turtles and other marine wildlife. Animals cannot process the man-made materials, which choke them and destroy their digestive systems…..

      Whales also suffen violent collisions with cruise ships. These ships are so big that they’re often unaware of an accident until they arrive in port with a dead whale across their bow. In the last five years, at least 112 whales that washed up dead were identified by the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) as having injuries that were consistent with shiop collisions. But this startling statisticdoesn’t include whales that never wash ashore. The true number of whales harmed is currently unknown….

      Cruise ships are a disaster for reefs, pumping oily bilge water, scrubber wastewater, hazardous waste, and sewage into the oceans. This waste can increase acid in the water while decreasing oxygen levels—fertile conditions for algal blooms that threaten magnificent coral reefs and the abundant wildlife that they host….

The First Global Vaccination Campaign

[These excerpts are from an article by Hannah Seo in the September/October 2022 issue of Discover.]

      On Nov. 30, 1803, military physician Francisco Xavier de Balmis set off from the port of La Coruna in northwest Spain on what would become a three-year mission. On board with him were 22 orphan boys. Their goal: to complete the first global immunization campaign.

      The world was then riddled with small pox, which killed one-third of all infected. Though Edward Jenner had discovered in 1797 that pus from a cow’s cowpox blisters could be used as a vaccine, the majority of the world had no access to the inoculation. Cowpox was such a local disease, mostly found in England and occasionally France or Italy, that it was unclear how anyone could scale vaccination to more people….

      Children were the only subpopulation tha could keep the vaccine alive, so Balmis recruited 22 orphan boys, aged 3 to 10 years old. King Charles announced that the crown would take care of all these boys as compernsation for their bravery, taking on all expenses related to the boys’ wellbeing and ensuring their schooling until they were old enough to support yhemselves….

      So the expedition set off for Venezuala, docking in the nick of time – only one of the vaccinated boys still had active pus blisters from which to draw. Balmis rushed out as soon as they landed, immediately vaccinating 28 local children to keep the reservoir of vaccine alive….

The Norsemen Take on North America

[These excerpts are from an article by Cody Cottier in the September/October 2022 issue of Discover.]

      …It consists of eight timber-frame buildings with thick walls of sod, built in the same style as Viking settlements in Greenland and Iceland. Some were dwellings, others forges and workshops. The digs uncovered evidence of iron production and ship repair, among other activities. Experts estimatethat this cluster of homes and workshops could have supported 70 to 90 people year-round, and likely took at least two months to construct….

      One theory claims that they were simply driven out by the Native peoples (whom they called Skraelings) – a problem they never faced in uninhabited Greenland and Iceland. Indeed, this is the reason given by The Saga of Erik the Red. Though trade between the two groups began amicably, the situation quickly devolved, and it seems the Vikings more or less fled in “a great shower of missiles.” After a deadly skirmish with the Natives, the saga states, they “were now of the opinion that though the land might be choice and good, there would be always war and terror overhanging them, from those who dwelt there before them.”

      Of all the artifacts at L’Anse aux Meadows, only one may speak to the relations between Vikings and Native Americans: a single arrow lodged in the wall of a house. Of course, it’s impossible to say whether it arrived there directly via bow, or whether it already existed within a piece of sod the Vikings used in building the house….

      L’Anse aux Meadows, the only proof we’ve discovered that Vikings reached North America, matches the description of Straumfjord, the year-round settlement that, according to The Saga of Erik the Red, the Vikings used as a launching point for deeper journeys into Vinland. But if the saga rings true – and there’s no reason to think that it doesn’t, broadly speaking – the Vikings built a second settlement – and it remains undiscovered….

On the Origin of Lactose Intolerance

[These excerpts are from an article by Bruce Bower in the 27 August 2022 issue of Science News.]

      …Europeans tapped into milk-drinking about 9,000 years ago when dairying groups reached southeastern Europe….Yet it took several thousand years before large numbers of Europeans evolved a gene for digesting lactose, the sugar in milk.

      …But during periodic famines and infectious disease outbreaks, lactose-induced diarrhea became fatal for severly malnourished individuals in farming communities, the scientists suggest. Those recurring threats hot-wired the evolution of lactose tolerance….

      …Investigators must also keep in mind that cheese and other low-lactose dairy products date to as early as about 7,400 years ago in Europe. If these foods were available, it’s unclear whu lactose-intolerant Europeans would not have survived times of famine or disease….

      But archeologist Ron Pinhasi…is not convinced the famine and diarrhea theory holds up. Diarrhea causes death more often in malnourished children, he says, so he questions whether it would have led to enough adult fatalities to trigger the evolution of milk tolerance. No current proposal explains how lactase persistence spread….

Lab-made Proteins Can Stop Malaria

[These excerpts are from an article by Aimee Cunningham in the 27 August 2022 issue of Science News.]

      …The shot, which contains monoclonal antibodies, would primarily be intended for infants and children in countries with the most malaria transmission….These young children have the highest risk of dying from severe malaria….

      Monoclonal antibodies could provide an option that requires only one shot, once a year. But it will take more research to see how well the antibodies work against malaria outside of the laboratory and how cost-effective the shot is….

      Malaria sickened roughly 241 million people and killed 627,000 worldwide in 2020. Most of these deathes were in sub-Saharan Africa in children younger than 5. These littlest kids haven’t had the chanceto develop immunity to the disease and are more susceptible to dying….

      Monoclonal antibodies are a lab-made version of antibodies, the proteins that the immune system produces in response to a vaccine or natural infection. Monoclonal means that it contains clones, or copies, of one articular antibody….

Tiny Crustaceans ‘Polinate’ Seaweed

[These excerpts are from an article by Jake Buehler in the 27 August 2022 issue of Science News.]

      When it comes to reproduction, one type of red algae gets by with a little help from its friends: small sea crustaceans that transport sex cells between male and female algae, just like pollen-laden bees that buzz between flowers.

      It’s the first known example of animal-driven “pollination” in algae….Both the red algae and crustaceans belong to far more ancient groups than land plants do, raising the possibility that a form of pollination first evolved in the ocean and hundreds of millions of years earlier than thought….

      In the lab, the researchers placed male and female algae 15 centimeters apart in tanks with no water movement. Some tanks also included the centimeters-long Idotea balthica, an isopod crustacean, while others didn’t. When a successful fertilization occurs on the body of a female red algae, it creates a bubblelike structure called a cystocarp. By counting cystocarps, the team quantified how many spermatia were reaching and fertilizing the female algae. When isopods were present, fertilization success was about 20 times as high as in their absence….

      Today some primitive plants like mosses are fertilized by tiny arthropods, so animal-driven fertilization on land could go back to the origin of land plants, some 470 million years ago. But red algae are possibly more than 800 million years old, and complex animal life dates back more than half a billion years….

How to Make a Green Jet Fuel

[These excerpts are from an article by Nikk Ogasa in the 27 August 2022 issue of Science News.]

      Jet fuel can now be siphoned from the air. Or at least that’s the case in Mostoles, Spain, where an outdoor system producedbkerpsene with a few simple ingredients: sunlight, carbon dioxide and water vapor. If the system can be scaled up, solar kerosene could replace petroleum-derived jet fuelin aviation and stabilize greenhouse gas emissions….

      Jet fuel can now be siphoned from the air. Or at least that’s the case in Mostoles, Spain, where an outdoor system producedbkerpsene with a few simple ingredients: sunlight, carbon dioxide and water vapor. If the system can be scaled up, solar kerosene could replace petroleum-derived jet fuelin aviation and stabilize greenhouse gas emissions….

      When heated with sunlight, the ceria reacts with CO2 and water vapor to make syngas—a mixture of hydrogen gas and carbon monoxide. The syngas is piped to the tower’s base where a machine converts it to kerosene and other hydrocarbons.

      Over nine days of operations, the tower converted about 4 percent of the solar energy used to heat the ceria into roughly 5,200 liters of syngas. From the syngas, this proof-of-principle setup made about a liter of kerosene a day….

Ancient DNA from the Near East Probes a Cradle of Civilization

[These excerpts are from an article by Andrew Curry in the 26 August 2022 issue of Science.]

      …Their genetic story starts with the early days of farming, a period known as the Neolithic. Farming began in Anatolia in what is present-day Turkey. But the DNA shows that the people who experimented with planting wheat and domesticating sheep and goats starting about 10,000 years ago weren’t simply descendants of earlier hunter-gatherers living in the area. Dozens of newly sequences genomes suggest Anatolia absorbed at least two separate migrations from about 10,000 to 6500 years ago. One came from today’s Iraq and Syria and the other from the Eastern Mediterranean coast. In Anatolia they mixed with each other and with the descendants of earlier hunter-gatherers. By about 6500 years ago, the population had coalesced into a distinct genetic signature.

      Another genetic contributon came from the east about 6500 years ago, as hunter-gatherers from the Caucasus entered the region. Then about 5000 years ago, a fourth group—nomads from the steppes north of the Black Sea, known as the Yamnaya—arrived, adding to the genetic picture but not fundamentally redrawing it….

      This scenario supports existing evidence that agriculture arose in a network of people interacting and migrating in this region….

How Much Heat Can We Handle?

[These excerpts are from an article by Carolyn Gramling in the 27 August 2022 issue of Science News.]

      …Recent research suggests that people’s tolerance to heat stress may be lower than previously thought. If true, millions more people could be at risk of succumbing to dangerous temperatures sooner than expected. That’s bad news as climate change cranks up the temperature….

      Heat waves ravaged many countries this year. In April, Wardha, India, saw a high of 45o Celsius (113o Fahrenheit); in May in Nawabshah, Pakistan, temperatures rose to 49.5o C (121.1o F). And extreme heat alerts have blared across Europe. The United Kingdom shattered its highest-ever record July 19 when temperatures reached 40.3o C in the English village of Coningsby.

      …In hot, dry areas, where the outside temperature may be much hotter than skin temperature, human bodies rely entirely on sweating to cool down….In warm, humid areas, where the air temperature may be cooler than skin temperature (but the humidity makes it feel warmer than it is), the body can’t sweat as efficiently. Instead, the cooler air passing over the skin can draw away the heat….

      By naming and ranking heat waves, officials hope to increase citizens’ awareness of the dangers of extreme heat and help cities tailor their interventions to the severity of the event. Six metro areas are testing the system’s effectiveness: four in the United States and Athens, Greece, and Seville, Spain. On July 24, with temperatures heading toward 42o C, Seville became the first city in the world to officially name a heat wave, sounding the alarm for Heat Wave Zoe….

Wishful Thinking in Climate Science

[These excerpts are from an article by Naomi Oreskes in the August 2022 issue of Scientific American.]

      At last year’s Glasgow COP26 meetings on the climate crisis, U.S. envoy and former U.S. secretary of state John Kerry stated that solutions to the climate crisis will involve “technologies that we don’t yet have” but are supposedly on the way. Kerry’s optimism comes directly from scientists….

      Stop and think about this for a moment. Science—that is to say, Euro-American science—has long been held as our model for rationality. Scientists frequently accuse those who reject their findings of being irrational. Yet depending on technologies that do not yet exist is irrational, a kind of magical thinking. That is a developmental stage kids are expected to outgrow. Imagine if I said I planned to build a home with materials that had not yet been invented orbuild a civilization on Mars without first figuring out how to get even one human being there. You’d likely consider me irrational, perhaps delusional. Yet this kind of thinking pervades plans for future decarbonization.

      …for years industry has pumped carbon dioxide or other substances into oil fields to flush more fossil fuel out of the ground. But carbon dioxide doesn’t necessarily stay in the rocks and soil. It may migrate along cracks, faults and fissures before finding its way back to the atmosphere. Keeping pumped carbon in the ground—in other words, achieving net negative emissions—is much harder. Globally there are only a handful of places where this is done. None of them is commercially viable.

      …In 2016 the Massachusetts Institute of Technology closed its Carbon Capture and Sequestration Technologies program because the 43 projects it was involved with had all been canceled, put on hold or converted to other things.

      It’s obvious why ExxonMobil and Archer Daniels Midland are pushing CCS. It makes them look good, and they can get theb taxpayer to foot the bill….

Oyster GPS

[These excerpts are from an article by Kate Golembiewski in the August 2022 issue of Scientific American.]

      …Australian flat oysters’ microscopic larvae drift in currents and swim with hairlike cilia, searching for a hard surface—ideally a thriving reef made of shells from other oysters—to cement themselves to for the rest of their lives. If no established reef is nearby, the babies float aimlessly over the sandy seafloor; only a luckt few find homes on stray rocks. Conservation scientists have tried to start new reefs by introducing limestone boulders for larvae to settle on, but most remain lost at sea.

      Previous studies demonstrated that other sea creatures can navigate toward the sounds of healthy ecosystems—sounds that have become increasingly rare as reefs fall silent and ships dominate the ocean soundscape. Oysters lack ears but sense sound vibrations, so the team wondered if the larvae could follow a sonic beacon of their own: the crackle of snapping shrimp.

      These reef-dwelling creatures snap their claws to unleash jets of water that stun prey, producing a staticky-sounding, 210-decibel cacophony—as loud as a rock concert. In their laboratory and in an ocean experiment, the scientists found that oyster larvae navigated toward recorded shrimp sounds and settles on hard surfaces nearby. Larvae had difficulty locating those surfaces without the sounds playing or with boat noise disrupting them….

      And this sound technique might eventually help more than just oysters….Where oysters go, more life will follow. And although tricking larvae into settling on a lifeless reef might seem like a cuel bait and switch, rest assured the plankton and algae that oysters eat are nearly omnipresent in the water, so the bivalve trailblazers won’t starve while they wait for the rest of the reef community to arrive.

Buzzkill

[These excerpts are from an article by Darren Incorvaia in the August 2022 issue of Scientific American.]

      …a chemical human use to protect crops may have an unexpected side effect of making certain bees less attractive to mates, potentially threatening populations of the crucial pollinators.

      The common pesticide fenbuconazole is classified as relatively safe for bees because it specifically targets fungi (which are taxonomically very different from bees) and because exposure to it does not typically kill bees directly. Previous research has found that insecticides deemed “low risk” for bees can still impact their development, feeding behavior and learning….

      But there was, in fact, a surprising effect: fenbuconazole exposure altered two distinct components of male horned mason bees’ courtship ritual. A male typically vibrates his thorax alluringly and also relies on his scent to attract females. Exposure to the fungicide lowered the vibrational frequency (possibly by influencing muscle contractions) and additionally altered the males’ chemical profiles, changing their scent. Females seemed put off by these changes; they preferred unexposed males. The study authors speculate that such female mating avoidance could reduce populations of horned mason bees and other species with similar mating systems….

Snowflakes

[This excerpt is from chapter 4 in Islands of Truth by Ivars Peterson.]

      One secret is revealed by comparing snowflake formation with the freezing of water in a pond or in a refrigerated ice tray. The water doesn’t normally freeze into a branched pattern. Ice first forms at the container’s walls, then gradually spreads smoothly toward the middle. The walls drain away excess heat, which represents the energy that water molecules give up when they stop moving and settle into place. Snowflakes, however, freeze and take shape in moist air, free from any walls. A typical snowflake begins as a dust particle or some other airborne impurity. The particle snares some of the water molecules that happen to be wandering about nearby. Gradually, as more molecules arrive, a microscopic layer of ice forms.

      As it takes on water molecules, the snowflake must get rid of its excess heat to keep growing. That happens most effecently when the snowflake has a wrinkled, rather than a smooth, surface. Because added roughness increases its surface area, the more it becomes like a pincushion rather than a ball, the more effectively a burgeoning snowflake can shed heat.

      How quickly and readily heat diffuses is governed by how steeply the temperature changes near the snowflake’s surface. The steeper the temperature gradient, the faster snowflake growth will be at a given point. But that process is complicated by the fact that settling water molecules themselves release heat, warming the neighborhood. That heat must be removed before further solidification can take place.

Moo-ving the Dial on Methane

[These excerpts are from an article by Joanna Foster in the Summer 2022 issue of Solutions.]

      …The dairy’s more than 2,000 milking cows also help generate enough electricity to power the entire farm, cheese factory and 300 local homes. The miracle of cow poop power dervies from two massive anaerobic manure digesters that capture the methane released as the manure is processed into liquid fertilizer and bedding material for cows….

      Methane is an extremely potent greenhouse gas, with more than 80 times the warming power of carbon dioxide in the short term. It is responsible for 25% of the global warming we’re experiencing today. Globally, agriculture is the largest source of human-caused methane emissions. And in the U.S., agriculture is responsible for about one-third of total methane emissions. That’s on a par with the oil and gas industry. Unlike in the oil and gas industry however, when tightening a valve may be all it takes to stop a methane leak, that’s not the case on farms….

      To diminish the belching problem, farmers are turning to feed additives that interrupt the microbian processes in a cow’s gut that produce methane. One of the most well-studied food additives, 3-NOP, marketed as Bovaer, has been shown to reduce methane from belching bovines by about 30%. It was recently approved for use in the EU, Chile and Brazil and is currently being evaluated for U.S. approval. Another promising additive, still in development, is a red seaweed (Asparagopsis spp.) that may cut methane from belching by as much as 70%....

      Because these additives must be administered daily, however, they are only viable for dairy cows, which live in a barn, not for beef cattle left to graze in grasslands. These cattle may require the development of a one-time vaccine, slow-release treatment or selective breeding….

Hope in Hard Times

[These excerpts are from an editorial by Fred Krupp in the Summer 2022 issue of Solutions.]

      …The cost of solar declined 90% between 2009 and 2021. A few months ago, renewable electricity briefly produced almost 100% of California’s power—a historic first. In addition, carbon markets, which are considered the fastest way to reduce emissions, now exist in over 40 nations, covering more than 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions. We’re working to see that they are designed and implemented to function efficiently and equitably….

      Two recent developments are very encouraging. One of the fastest ways to slash climate pollution is to stop the destruction of tropical forests. Last year, we helped launch the largest-ever private sector effort to fund tropical forest preservation and sustainable development. LEAF…has already raised $1 billion, and if enough is raised to fund every eligible proposal it has received, that could protect an area larger than the European Union.

      There’s been progress, too, on reducing methane pollution. Today’s emissions of methane will harm the earth, over the next ten years, more than all the carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels. This makes slashing methane pollution the quickest way to slow global warming….

      Meanwhile, in the United States, the bipartisan $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, enacted in November, will improve mass transit, upgrade the nation’s power infrastructure and help build a network of charging stations for electric vehicles. And EPA’s new clean car standards will prevent more than 3 billion tons of climate pollution by 2050….

Chickens Arose in Southeast Asia

[These excerpts are from an article by Bruce Bower in the 2 July 2022 issue of Science News.]

      …In two new studies, scientists lay out a potential story of chicken origins. This poultry tale begins surprisingly recently in rice fields planted by Southeast Asian farmers around 3,500 years ago….From there, the birds were transported westward….

      Domesticated fowl then arrived in Mediterranean Europe no earlier than about 2,800 years ago….The birds appeared in northwest Africa between 1,100 and 800 years ago….

      Archeological evidence indicates that chickens and rice cultivation spread across Asia and Africa in tandem….But rather than eating early chickens, people may have viewed them as special or sacred creatures. At Ban Non Wat and other early Southeast Asian sites, partial or whole skeletons of adult chickens were placed in human graves. That behavior suggests chickens enjoyed some sort of social or cultural significance….

      The expansion of the Roman Empire around 2,000 years ago prompted more widespread consumption of chickens and eggs….In England, chockens were not eaten regularly until around 1,700 years ago, primarily at Roman-influences urban and military sites. Overall, about 700 to 800 years elapsed between the introduction of chickens in England and their acceptance as food….

Learning to See What’s There

[These excerpts are from an article by Paul G. Hewitt in the July/August 2022 issue of The Science Teacher.]

      …a large photo of what seemed to be random black splotches on a white background was displayed on a wall….A close look seemed to confirm that the spots were entirely random. Then an Exploritorium explainer would direct a viitor’s attention to the right side of the image and point out a Dalmation dog—with its head in the middle sniffing the ground. Voila! Once it was pointed out, most people saw the dog. If they returned to the photo in a subsequent visit, they’d see the dog right away. He trained eye sees what is there, just as the trained ear of a musician hears what others miss. Using our senses is an ongoing learning experience. We learn to perceive what is there….

      When I first began teaching at the San Francisco Exploratorium, founder Frank Oppenheimer took me on a tour of the visual illusion exhibits….He wrapped up this personal tour with a great illusion involving my hands. He asked me to raise my hands higher than my head, with one hand half as far from my eyes as the other, and make a casual judgement as to which hand looks bigger. My belief that my hands are the same size influenced my answer, which was that the closer one looked slightly larger. Then he directed me to overlap my hands a bit so I could clearly see that the closer hand was twice as tall as the far hand….Aha! And twice as wide, all according to perspective and the momentarily forgotten imverse square law! So the near hand was four timesthe size of the far hand. Without the overlap, I’d be less apt to view them that way….

Teaching Societal Issues in the Science Classroom

[These excerpts are from an editorial by Ann Haley MacKenzie in the July/August 2022 issue of The Science Teacher.]

      …We live ata a time when noneducators often decide what should be included in the curriculum, sometimes at a huge cost to scientific literacy. These decisions can post a danger to our society, especially if they preclude young adults from learning how societal issues impact them at the personal, community, state, federal, and international levels.

      Exploring societal issues in science affords our students the opportunity to generate enduring questions; experience positive confusion; engage in reflective thought; and develop an understanding of differences in values, priorities, and definitions of morality among people all over the world….

      A current societal issue is COVID. Could it have been predicted? Could it have been avoided? What will be the long-term impact of our international community experiencing a two-year long pandemic? What can be done to prevent future pandemics? As of now, COVID appears to be a part of our lives for the long term, much like the flu. What science is involved in these long-term phenomena? How will COVID impact communities, if it becomes endemic to our society? How will people living in poverty be affected within our country and throughout the world? All of these questions need to be explored in the science classroom when discussing viruses, evolution, disease transmission, or areas in other disciplines of science….

How Dinos Survived Triassic Cold Snaps

[These excerpts are from an article by Carolyn Gramling in the 13 August 2022 issue of Science News.]

      Widespread volcanic eruptions around 202 million years ago triggered a mass extinction that killed off three-fourths of the planet’s species, including many large reptiles. Yet dinosaurs, somehow, survived.

      Dinosaurs are often thought of as heat-loving, well suited to the steamy Triassic Period. But their secret to survival may have been adaptation to the cold. Their warm coats of feathers could have helped them weather relatively brief but intense bouts of volcanic winter associated with the massive eruptions….

      Evidence of feathers has been found in the fossils of many types of dinosaurs. Recent reports that flying reptiles called pterosaurs also had feathers suggest that the insulating fuzz may have appeared as early as 250 million years ago.

      Thanks to those insulating feathers, dinosaurs were able to survive the lengthy winters that ensued during the end-Triassic mass extinction….Dinosaurs might then have been able to spread rapidly during the Jurassic, occupying niches left vacant by less hardy reptiles….

Reusing the Heat beneath our Feet

[These excerpts are from an article by Nikk Ogasa in the 13 August 2022 issue of Science News.]

      …Just as cities warm the surrounding air, giving rise to urban heat islands, so too does human infrastructure warm the underlying earth….An analysis of groundwater well sites across Europe and parts of North America and Australia now reveals that roughly a couple thousand of those locations possess excess underground heat that could be recycled to warm buildings for a year….

      What’s more, even if humans managed to remove all this accumulated thermal pollution, existing infrastructures at about a quarter of the locations would continue to warm the ground enough that heat could be harvested for many years to come. That could reduce reliance on fossil fuels and help mitigate climate change….

      Groundwater warmed by all that trapped heat and piped to the surface could heat buildings…providing some communities with a reliable and low-energy means to warm homes….

      Constructing systems to take advantahe of human heat pollution today could one day help residents harvest heat from climate change….

Why We Do What We Do

[These excerpts are from a book review by Rob Dunn in the 5 August 2022 issue of Science.]

      …what to some will be a radical idea: that humans are just another animal species. We may be unusual, and hence “special”, in some of our behaviors, but so too, she argies, is the sea slug that abandons its body when attacked by parasites only to grow a new one from its disembodied head.

      …Genes, she argues, influence behavior, but how they do so depends on the environment. Similarly, the environment influences behavior, but how it does so depends on the genes….

      The book also considers those cases in which animals’ behaviors help them to avoid disease, Chimpanzees self-medicate by eating plants that help to kill their intestinal parasites, as do goats and sheep. Some populations of house sparrows bring cigarette butts to their nests to kill ticks. Ants gather antimicrobial resins and incorporate them into their mounds.

      …Like chimpanzees, humans use plants as medicines. Like many animals, humans exploy social distancing in the presence of parasites. And like one African ant species, humans use a mix of techniques to wash pathogens off their bodies to reduce the risk of infection….

Ambitious Bill Leads to 40% Cut in Emissions, Models SHow

[These excerpts are from an article by Erik Stokstad in the 5 August 2022 issue of the EDF newsletter, Science.]

      …They plugged major provisions, including subsidies for renewable energy and tax cuts for electric vehicles, as well as controversial incentives for the fossil fuel industry, into their models. Three models now agree that if the bill’s provisions are carried out, U.S. greenhouse gas emissions would fall be perhaps 40% by 2030, although only part of that stems from the bill alone. One model also finds that the renewable energy subsidies will likely create 1.5 million jobs and prevent thousands of premature deaths from air pollution, especially in disadvantaged communities.

      …Variables such as the price of natural gas account for much of the uncertainty: If gas prices drop, utilities might favor gas over renewable power, slowing the decline in carbon emissions….

      All the analyses find the two most important factors driving down emissions are clean electricity tax cedits—which the bill provides for at least a decade—and expanded tax credits for both new and used electric vehicles. The subsidies will help utilities install more capacity from wind farms and solar panels and help keep nuclear power plants financially viable as they face competition from cheap natural gas. Previous analyses had also pointed to green electricity generation and transportation as crucial to reducing emissions….

      The measure won’t be enough, however, for the United States to reach its Paris goal of a 50% greenhouse emissions reduction by 2030….

Climate Miseducation

[These excerpts are from an article by Katie Worth in the July 2022 issue of Scientific American.]

      …Over the past two years school board meetings around the country have erupted into shout fest over face masks, reading lists and whether to ban education about structural racism in classrooms. In Texas, a quieter political agenda played out during the lightly attended process to set science education standards—guidelines for what students should learn in each subject and grade level. For the first time, the state board considered requiring that students learn something about human-caused climate change. That requirement came under intense dispute between industry representatives interested in encouraging positive goodwill about fossil fuels and education advocates who think students should learn the science underlying the climate crisis unfolding around them….

      For at least a decade the fossil-fuel industry has tried to green its public image. The Texas proceedings show that the actions do not always reflect that image. In little-watched venues, the industry continues to downplay the crisis it has wrought, impeding efforts to provide clear science about that crisis to a young generation whose wor;d will be defined by it….

      All sources of energy come with costs. But a fixation on “cost-benefit analysis” is a plank in a raft of arguments supporting what climate scientist Michael Mann has called “inactivism”—a tactic that doesn’t deny human-caused climate change but downplays it, deflects blame for it and seeks to delay action on it. Sure, this brand of thinking goes, fossil fuels have their ills. But what form of energy doesn’t? Mann and others have criticized such arguments for their false equivalencies: the environmental and health costs of rare earth minerals for certain renewable energy sources are small compaired with hose of fossil fuels….

      …The nation’s most popular middle school science textbooks are replete with language that conveys doubt about climate change, subtly or otherwise. In one textbook that, as of 2018, was in a quarter of the of the nation’s mddle schools, students read that “some scientists propose that global warming is due to natural climate cycles.” In fact, the number of climate scientists who support that idea is effectively zero.

      Texas isn’t the only major buyer of textbooks. Other large states such as California have adopted standards that embrace the science of climate change, leading to a divide. Textbook publishers create one set of products to sell in Texas and states that lean the same way and a second set of products for states aligned with California. This poses an equity problem: the education a child receives on an issue central to the modern world depends on what state they happen to live in….

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