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+ - This Is the Most Anti-Science Congress in Recent History 1

Submitted by merbs
merbs (2708203) writes "Over the last four years, Congress developed a reputation for institutionalizing an “anti-science” attitude. During the 112th and 113th Congresses, the label was typically applied to its Republicans, who controlled the House of Representatives, and typically because of their propensity to dismiss climate change science. Typically, but not only—misinformed musings about women’s reproductive processes, support for creationist education, attempts to remove the peer review process at the National Science Foundation, and efforts to roll back funding for research programs also ignited the ire of the science-loving public.

Now, Republicans have taken over the Senate, and historians, scientists, and policy experts worry it's going to get even worse."

+ - Climate Change Will Fuel the World's Longest-Burning Fires

Submitted by merbs
merbs (2708203) writes "Peat is the stuff of bogs and wetlands; it gives rise to our swamp things and our Scotch. But peat burns, and to ugly effect. It doesn’t burst into flames so much as smolder—instead of towering fires, it produces thick walls of foggy smoke. These fires are already the largest in the world in terms of carbon output, and, in a category they share with coal blazes, they are the longest-lasting. 'Smoldering fires' can go on for years.

Now, new research published in Nature Geoscience indicates that in the age of climate change, vast swaths of the world’s peatlands are poised for ignition."

+ - How Close Are We to Engineering the Climate?

Submitted by merbs
merbs (2708203) writes "The scientists had whipped themselves into a frenzy. Gathered in a stuffy conference room in the bowels of a hotel in Berlin, scores of respected climate researchers were arguing about a one-page document that had tentatively been christened the “Berlin Declaration.” It proposed ground rules for conducting experiments to explore how we might artificially cool the Earth—planet hacking, basically. This is the story of scientists' first major international meeting to tackle geoengineering."

+ - Harvard Scientists Say It's Time to Start Thinking About Engineering the Climate

Submitted by merbs
merbs (2708203) writes "Harvard has long been home to one of the fiercest advocates for climate engineering. This week, Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences published a research announcement headlined “Adjusting Earth’s Thermostat, With Caution.” That might read as oxymoronic—intentionally altering the planet’s climate has rarely been considered a cautious enterprise—but it fairly accurately reflects the thrust of three new studies published by the Royal Society, all focused on exploring the controversial field of geoengineering."

+ - The Software Big Oil's PR Firm Uses to 'Convert Average Citizens'

Submitted by merbs
merbs (2708203) writes "The CEO of the world’s largest PR firm has a policy when it comes to campaigns that focus on the environment. “We do not work with astroturf groups and we have never created a website for a client with the intent to deny climate change," Richard Edelman wrote in a blog post in August. That may actually turn out to be true. Technically. Edelman may not work with astroturf groups. Instead, it appears to prefer to build them itself, from the ground up, using sophisticated proprietary software platform designed to “convert” advocates and then "track" their behavior."

+ - The US-China Climate Deal Changes Everything

Submitted by merbs
merbs (2708203) writes "As a result of the deal, which negotiators have reportedly hashed out over a nine-month period, in secret, the US has promised to double the rate at which it's cutting carbon pollution—slashing emissions over a quarter from 2005 levels by 2025. Meanwhile, China has pledged to ensure its greenhouse gas output peaks by 2030. The two nations are by far the world's largest contributors to global warming—combined, they account for a jaw-slackening 40 percent of the world's emissions.

And until now, the two nations have not seen eye to eye on fighting climate change. In fact, it's closer to the opposite: they've been outright hostile."

+ - Buying goods to make nuclear weapons on eBay, Alibaba, and other platforms->

Submitted by Lasrick
Lasrick (2629253) writes "The blossoming of online Internet-trading platforms has at least one downside: insufficient inspectors and product controls when it comes to goods relevant to nuclear proliferation.'On Alibaba (and other platforms), one can purchase many of the specialized items needed for the manufacture of nuclear weapons. A short list of items advertised for sale on the site include metals suitable for centrifuge manufacturing, gauges and pumps for centrifuge cascades for uranium enrichment, metallurgical casting equipment suitable for making nuclear weapon ‘pits,’ and high-speed cameras suitable for use in nuclear weapon diagnostic tests. A company on an Alibaba-owned Chinese Internet-trading platform even posted an ad for the sale of the rare metal gallium, which the seller trumpeted could be used to stabilize plutonium.' Although many companies have strict compliance procedures in place to help avoid proliferation, many do not. There are several procedures these platforms can put into place to minimize risk, and both national (and international) regulators have a role to play, as well as shareholders. Great read."
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+ - These Drones Hold the Key to Understanding How Fast Greenland Is Melting

Submitted by merbs
merbs (2708203) writes "Thank glaciologist Jason Box for the Arctic bird’s-eye view of one of the most serene, alien landscapes on the planet. Box spends much of his time in Greenland, where he uses drones to measure 'dark snow'—snow that has accumulated soot and dust, thanks to human activity—which absorbs more sunlight and melts faster. Drone photography, then, may hold the key to understanding just how fast Greenland is melting."

+ - Can doctors be trained to use open source to save hospitals from bankruptcy?->

Submitted by jenwike
jenwike (2888285) writes "Luis Ibanez is a software engineer at Google and before that worked on open science at Kitware. He lays out the financial crisis many US hospitals are in after they have purchased closed, proprietary Electronic Health Records systems they cannot maintain and do not understand. So, how much would it cost to implement VistaA, an open source software EHR system developed by the VA? Zero dollars. And, how many developers would it take to employ to run and maintain VistA in hospitals across the country? Four. Do the math."
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+ - One more thing to worry about: Salt is turning farmland into wasteland worldwide->

Submitted by Lasrick
Lasrick (2629253) writes "This article by Brian Merchant looks at how poor irrigation pracetices are ruining farmland to the tune of about 8 square miles a day, perhaps permanently. Even good quality water contains salt, and poor irrigation systems leave behind too much of it. 'The UN report brings some fairly astonishing findings—his team estimates that 2,000 hectares of farmland (nearly 8 square miles) is ruined daily by salt degradation. So far, nearly 20 percent of the world’s farmland has been degraded, an area approximately the size of France.' Since the problem is especially acute in arid areas, climate change is expected to make things worse. Great read at Motherboard."
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+ - Laser-Propulsion Could Give Space Rockets a Serious Boost->

Submitted by Zothecula
Zothecula (1870348) writes "Russian scientists have proposed a novel way to accelerate a spaceship while in flight – firing a ground-based laser up its backside. The new technique uses a plasma flow caused by laser ablation to increase the exhaust efficiency of a traditional rocket propulsion system, and could theoretically accelerate an aircraft beyond Mach 10."
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+ - The Airplane of the Future Won't Have Windows 7

Submitted by merbs
merbs (2708203) writes "Hope you're not too attached to looking out the windows when you fly—the designers of tomorrow's airplanes seem intent on getting rid of them. A Paris design firm recently made waves when it released its concept for a sleek, solar paneled, windowless passenger jet. Before that, Airbus proposed eschewing windows and building its cabins out of transparent polymers. Now, the Center for Process Innovation has floated its own windowless plane concept, and it's attracting plenty of headlines, too."

+ - Wind Power is Cheaper than Coal, Leaked Report Shows 4

Submitted by merbs
merbs (2708203) writes "A leaked report shows that wind is the hands-down cheapest energy source in Europe, beating the presumably dirt-cheap coal and gas by a mile. Conventional wisdom holds that clean energy is more expensive than its fossil-fueled counterparts. Yet truly honest cost comparisons show that renewable energy sources are often cheaper than their carbon-heavy competition. The report demonstrates that if you were to take into account mining, pollution, and adverse health impacts of coal and gas, wind power would be the cheapest source of energy, period."

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