Monday, June 24, 2019

Short Takes

Image result for scientists
Environmental & Science Education
Edward Hessler

Climate Dilemma

Sofia Kjellman is a PhD student in climate science at UiT The Arctic University of Norway (Tromso). Recently she was called a hypocrite for flying several times a months for field work and meetings. Since she started graduate school in February 2018 she has taken "34 flight legs." This corresponds to more than 70,000 kilometres (~44,000 miles) and about 5.6 tonnes (~6 tons)  of carbon dioxide. In a career column in Nature, Kjellman considers whether she needs to fly (she decides she does) and what she has done and plans to do to reduce her carbon footprint "while protecting my career."

Juliana v. U.S.

It has been about 4 years since 21 children and adolescents (ages 8 and 19), including Kelsey Juliana filed a suit against the federal government charging that government inaction on addressing climate change violated their constitutional right to life, liberty, and property. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in early June to decide whether the case will proceed to trial in district court in Oregon. In a perspective in the New England Journal of Medicine discuss "the adverse effects of continued emissions of carbon dioxide and fossil-fuel-related pollutants threaten children's right to a healthy existence in a safe, stable environment." The authors and some 80 physicians and doctors and 15 health organizations...have submitted an amicus brief to help educate the Ninth Circuit about this extraordinary threat."

Species & Ecosystems

European roe deer are much smaller than their American counterparts. Unlike white-tail deer, roe deer are solitary, have a small home range, and are not territorial. This led graduate student Nathan Ranc to wonder "What makes them stay in such a small space for their entire lifetime?" He and others are studying how roe deer make foraging decisions through a research design that makes smart use of GPS collars and by adjusting the availability of supplemental corn feeding. Additionally, in another project in Italy, researchers are studying roe deer that have been reintroduced to an area where they were hunted to extinction.This presents "ideal conditions to study how their home ranges emerge," or how species become ecosystems. Ranc notes that their work with roe deer is "part of a turn in ecology toward understanding the importance of individual animals' behavior." To put it in a broader context, "studying how animals use space is to understand how humans can conserve and coexist with them." The research is described in Harvard Magazine.

On Vaccine Safety: Results from a Large Survey about Science and Health

A Wellcome Trust Survey on science and health involving more than 140,000 people from 140 countries found that some 80% of respondents worldwide agree that vaccines are safe. France is the outlier--the highest percentage in the world where one in three disagree that vaccines are safe. People living in wealthy countries are more likely to question the safety of vaccines than people living in poor countries. The survey was on science and health and the major findings are nicely summarized in key findings, short videos, infographics, and photographs. In addition the report/chapters may be read on-line. BTW, 57% of those surveyed "don't think they know much--if anything--about science."


Many scientists are also parents who do field work. A careers essay in Nature by Emily Sohn describes the experience of several parents who take their kids on fieldwork trips. Because most grants for field work seldom include a line item for paying caregivers, when they must be hired "local norms (must be researched) to work out how much to pay caregivers." Sometimes a research topic as well as locality must be changed. One large interview study of anthropologists on balancing field work and children, by a researcher who switched his research topic when he and his wife had premature triplets, found that "most had family support to help subsidize their research." A husband-wife team who "stayed in a large house with the rest of the field team," brought ear plugs for everyone. It is not clear that they were used, though. A non-parent member of the team thought "that it was good for the team, having a baby around. It was relatively amusing for everyone getting up in the morning and having breakfast with a baby. It gave us all a distraction from work when we needed it.'" A huge issue is health insurance and this requires considerable ingenuity in solving. Human geographer Kelly Dombroski now has a blog (Throwntogetherness) which includes several essays on parenting in the field. Among the benefits for kids is living in another culture and learning a new language, e.g., a four-year old in the story "can speak English, Swedish, Arabic, and some French, thanks to her exposure to a multinational research team." Her father, archaeologist John Ward, says "Life is short: children are part of that, and it's not a hindrance." A University of Minnesota geographer, Kathryn Grace, who studies maternal and child health is among those featured but I leave it to you to learn more about her experience and observations, including how it has affected her teaching. This essay is delightful and includes a fieldwork with children checklist.

No comments:

Post a Comment