Nearly 7 million bats have died in the 5 years since white-nose fungus was first detected in New York (source). And the news is getting worse.
Yesterday I learned that it's been found in an endangered species of bat, the gray bat (Myotis grisescens). Here's a bit of the story from Tuesday's Washington Post.
Gray bats so far are the only infected species that live year-round
in caves, giving the plague an opportunity to kill them more efficiently
and in larger numbers, biologists said. Ninety percent of gray bats gather in nine caves in five states, in colonies as large as 1 million and no smaller than 200,000.
could potentially be wiped out in just a couple of years," said Ann
Froschauer, the Fish and Wildlife Service's national communications
leader on white-nose syndrome. "If the disease behaves in a similar way
it has in the Northeast, we really could be looking at losing this
It's a very sad story, but it's one you should read if you care about our natural heritage.
The first thing is to realise that statistics is no substitute for thinking. If you are a scientist, you should be able to decide for yourself what an important effect is, e.g. if a difference of 8 IQ points is important. Now, statistics can help here by providing the, um, statistics that are important. For example an effect size (e.g. a difference between control and treatment, of the slope of a regression line), or the amount of variation explained (i.e. R2 in regression). We can also tell you the uncertainty: that's confidence intervals and standard errors. So if you estimate a difference of 0.2 IQ points with a standard error of 20, you know the estimate is uncertain, and there could still be a realistic difference. But if the standard error is 0.0002, the estimate is precise, but still small (remember that the population standard deviation is about 15).
But you really owe it to yourself to go read the whole thing.1
I didn't study Latin in school, though I managed to teach myself enough that I read the Aeneid and some other works in the original.1 I'm not going to argue that anyone should spend a lot of time learning Latin, but it is a little sad to read this:
A little while ago at a meeting, someone handed me a note which read, inter alia,
'this must be done ab inissio.' Somehow this stumped me, and it took me
a minute or so to realise that the writer was talking Latin, and that
what he had wanted to say was 'ab initio'. Welcome, then, to what's left
of the world of Latin. (source)
Ferdinand von Prondzynski argues that Latin was "condemned to death when the Roman Catholic church decided to celebrate the Mass in the vernacular." Until last year, there was another holdout. The International Code of Botanical Nomenclature required that all descriptions of new taxa include a diagnosis in Latin. That bulwark fell last year in Melbourne. As of the International Botanical Congress held there last year, "descriptions of new taxa may now appear in
English or Latin" (source, p. 1511).
You may remember that last January I signed the Elsevier boycott. If you remember that, you may also remember that I realized the next day that we had just returned revisions of an invited paper to an Elsevier journal.
Well, it's happened again. I just realized that a paper I am co-author on appeared in an Elsevier journal. I don't have a good defense. It was a paper that's part of a student's dissertation, and it's in a field where I don't know the journals well. I'd regard that as a better defense if I'd encouraged the student to consider other alternatives, but (here's what's so embarrassing): I didn't think to check on who published the journal before she submitted it. I'm enough of a wimp that I might not have said anything about it, even if I knew, but I'm embarrassed that I didn't even check.
I promise that I'll do better in the future. Of course, that's an easy promise to make. All of the journals I normally submit to are either independent (my preference) or published by Wiley-Blackwell or Springer (not pillars of virtue, but not as bad as Elsevier).
Map of the Connecticut River, New England, USA. This map was prepared by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, and as a product of the United States Government is in the public domain and not subject to copyright restrictions. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
What's a blueway? "A blueway or water trail
is a water path or trail that is developed with launch points, camping
locations and points of interest for canoeists, paddle boarders and
kayakers" (Wikipedia). OK, so what's a national blueway? Well, yesterday Secretary of the InteriorKen Salazar
signed a Secretarial Order establishing a National Blueways System and
announced that the 410-mile-long Connecticut River and its 7.2
million-acre watershed will be the first National Blueway-- covering
areas of Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Connecticut.
The new National Blueways System is part of the America's Great Outdoors
Initiative to establish a community-driven conservation and recreation
agenda for the 21st century. The Department of the Interior and the
Department of Agriculture both identified the Connecticut River as an
important priority under America's Great Outdoors. (Department of Interiorpress release, 24 May 2012)
I'm pleased both that Secretary Salazar has established a National Blueways system and that the Connecticut River is the first National Blueway to be recognized.
I've been trying to learn more about data visualization, and Maria Popova (@brainpicker) recently pointed out a site (the Selected Tools page at datavisualization.ch) with a collection of pointers to visualization tools that look amazing. The screen capture above shows only a few of the tools that are listed. (Click on the image for a full-size screen capture that will be easier to read.)
I already use ColorBrewer (via RColorBrewer in R), and I've heard of a couple of the others (D3.js and Google Refine), but there are many others that look extremely powerful and flexible. Most are intended for visualization on the web, rather than for statistical graphics, but I'm going to have to take a closer look at several of them to see if - how - I might be able to use them.
Scott Denning spoke for the scientific consensus at the Heartland Institute's International Conference on Climate Change 2010 and 2011. On May 14, he posted a commentary on Heartland's vile billboard campaign at the Yale Forum on Climate Change and the Media. Among the things included in that commentary is this very reasonable paragraph:
Besides the Heartland conferences, I do a lot of public presentations on
climate change, and I particularly enjoy engaging with hostile
audiences. My experience has been that a lot of pleasant, decent people
are predisposed to doubt the science. They're not evil. They care deeply
about their children's and grand children's' futures, and genuinely
want to do what's right. These people are reachable, there are thousands
of times more of them than there are climate scientists, and a lot of
them vote. Not surprisingly, they often find unpersuasive an arrogant
attitude that dismisses them as anti-intellectual fools.
Seems to me that he hits exactly the right tone. Most people care, most people are reachable, there are a lot more of them then there are climate scientists, a lot of them vote, and most are reasonably intelligent and open to persuasion. The only thing I'd add is that as scientists we may understand the consequences of different choices better than non-scientists, but that doesn't mean that our preferences for one set of consequences versus another deserves more weight than those of non-scientists. We our citizens and our preferences for the kind of world in which we want to live matter, but they don't matter more than those of non-scientists.
So far so good.
Predictably, those who deny that humans influence the climate don't accept Denning's analysis. Christopher Moncktonjust had to respond. Also predictably, Monckton denies the importance of consensus, because the consensus view is sometimes wrong. I've written about that before, so I will only point out that I'd rather have an engineer who accepts the consensus views of physics build the next plane I fly on than one who has his own "brilliant" approach to aerodynamics.
Monckton's piece led to "a series of exchanges that led the Editor of this [the Yale Forum], for the
first time, to end the comments period on a particular thread after
offensive postings and submissions had become excessively repetitive and
incendiary." John Abraham posted the final commentary on May 20, and concluded with these paragraphs.
So, where does this leave us? Scientists and other frequent visitors to The Yale Forum
site want to encourage candid debate. I congratulate the editors on
their Herculean efforts to accomplish this. Part of candidness is giving
voice to persons who disagree. On the other hand, there must be a
standard of intellectual honesty, integrity, and expertise for those who
submit to The Forum, a unique marketplace of ideas expressed through original reporting and by leaders in the field.
It would be a great disservice for the community if that marketplace
were soiled with extremist, incorrect, and misleading commentary. I do
not envy Forum editors, but encourage them to continue pursuing
their mission and holding their contributors to a standard higher than
that found around a bar stool.
One more thing: Make no mistake that climate scientists do, in fact,
receive threatening mail and phone calls and e-mails, both at their work
and at their homes. Some of it is humorous, but most of it is vile. My
own experiences have taught me that letters having no return address are
likely to be hate mail. Much of this hate mail results from climate
change deniers having encouraged their followers to contact faculty
members and their universities -- to bully and intimidate them. There is
no room for such behavior, and anyone encouraging or condoning threats
to science researchers should not be afforded public venues to further
A very civil way to outline the challenge that the editors of The Yale Forum face, and a stellar example of how contentious issues can be discussed without demonizing those who disagree.
National Initiative Launched to Change the Way Biology Departments Approach Undergraduate Education PULSE program seeks faculty to help lead systemic change
A new national initiative promises to improve college biology education by engaging faculty members in an effort to change how post-secondary life sciences departments approach education. PULSE, which stands for Partnership for Undergraduate Life Sciences Education, is a collaborative effort funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). Program organizers also announced today that they are accepting applications from faculty members interested in becoming Vision and Change Leadership Fellows - individuals who will lead a national effort to stimulate systemic change in how post-secondary educational institutions approach biology education. The intent of the program is to develop a strategy to implement the findings from a 2011 report.
College students and faculty members have long argued that the approach to undergraduate education in the life sciences should be modernized to reflect what we now understand about how students learn. Twenty-first century science demands that students develop scientific and technical skills, and also the capacity to work beyond traditional academic boundaries. Undergraduate students, regardless of their major, deserve and need a life sciences education that helps then understand biology and how scientific research is conducted. Informed decision-making, whether managing one's health, deciding what food to eat, or understanding how individual actions influence the environment, requires an appreciation of the nature of science.
In 2006, the NSF initiated a multi-year conversation with the scientific community, with assistance from the American Association for the Advancement of Science. That dialogue, which was co-funded with the National Institutes of Health and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, generated the 2011 report, Vision and Change in Undergraduate Biology Education: A Call to Action .
The scientific community actively informed the recommendations in the Vision and Change report. Among these were a recognition that a 21 st century education requires changes to how biology is taught, how academic departments support faculty, and how curricular decisions are made.
"There is now broad consensus about the change that is needed," said HHMI's Cynthia Bauerle. The way biology is taught needs to change in order to "spark student interest in science and prepare them for the challenging scientific problems we face in the 21 st century."
Prior efforts to reform post-secondary life sciences education have focused on helping individual faculty members improve their teaching methods. These initiatives have created points of excellence at institutions across the country, but have failed to produce the systemic change that is needed to fundamentally improve college-level biology education.
To foster this widespread change, the NSF, NIH, and HHMI have partnered to launch the PULSE program. Supporting the effort are Knowinnovation and the American Institute of Biological Sciences.
The PULSE initiative will facilitate the systemic change that was identified as a national priority in the Vision and Change report.
Clifton A. Poodry of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, the division of NIH providing funding to PULSE, notes that NIH has a long-standing commitment to training the next generation. "We look forward to furthering this goal through our partnership with NSF and HHMI to implement recommendations of the Vision and Change report for improving undergraduate biology education," said Poodry.
This year PULSE will select 40 Vision and Change Leadership Fellows. The selection process will identify individuals experienced in catalyzing undergraduate biology education reform at institutional, departmental, or divisional levels in the nation's colleges and universities. The Fellows will represent research universities, regional or comprehensive universities, liberal arts colleges, and community colleges. The Fellows will be engaged in a yearlong effort to develop an implementation strategy for the Vision and Change report.
"What we are trying to achieve is systemic change, transformation of undergraduate biology education in this country," stated Judith Verbeke of the NSF. This is why the PULSE effort is encouraging current or former biology department heads to apply. "The focus is intentional," said Verbeke, "because it's at the level of the department that so many decisions are made. We are looking to the department as the most appropriate unit to make real change."
Ideal applicants will be aware of the history and discourse of reforming undergraduate life sciences education; have undergraduate teaching experience as well as experience mentoring, motivating and evaluating other faculty; and will have experience as current or former chairs or department heads. Applicants should be active in cultivating the mix of scholarship in teaching and life sciences research appropriate to their type of institution. Successful candidates will have a record of working collaboratively and creatively with individuals from different backgrounds.
It is through diversity of perspective that we achieve change, Bauerle said, "We seek not only those who are already members of the choir, but also committed life scientists and educators who question how best to proceed."
More and more people I know are using R. Fewer and fewer are using SAS.1 Of course, part of the reason for that may be that I've been singing the virtues of R for quite awhile now. My recent students have done all of the statistical analyses for their dissertations in R.2 It's extraordinarily flexible, it has modules for just about any analysis you can imagine (and you can write a new one if it doesn't have what you want), it's open source, it's freely available, and it works almost the same on Windoze, Mac OS X, and Linux.3
Why do I mention all of this?
Over at r4stats.com there's an interesting post arguing that 2015 may be the year in which use of R in academic research exceed that of SAS and SPSS. Some of the analysis is, as you might expect, based on statistical extrapolation of citation trends (data harvested from Google Scholar). But the most interesting part of the post is the "Colbert forecast" based on "truthiness", i.e., gut instinct.
This growth will be driven by:
The continued rapid growth in add-on packages (Figure 10)
The attraction of R's powerful language
The near monopoly R has on the latest analytic methods
Its free price
The freedom to teach with real-world examples from outside
organizations, which is forbidden to academics by SAS and SPSS licenses
(it benefits those organizations, so the vendors say they should have
their own software license).
What will slow R's growth is its lack of a graphical user interface that:
Is easy to use
Provides journal style output in word processor format
Is standard, i.e. widely accepted as The One to Use
Peter Nicholls is stepping down as Provost at the end of this month. On May 10th, there was a very nice reception in his honor in the North Reading Room of Wilbur Cross. There were many wonderful things said about Peter, including remarks by his children.1But the highlight for most of us was a performance of a piece written by Jeremy Teitelbaum, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, modeled on Gilbert and Sullivan.
If you've been reading this blog for awhile, you've read a few references to #arseniclife. If you're interested in hearing a discussion about the whole among four articulate microbiologists, including Rosie Redfield, Episode #32 of This Week in Microbiology has a podcast I highly recommend.
And I'm delighted to learn that the American Society of Microbiology sponsors This Week in Microbiology. I don't know how wide its audience is, but it's the kind of outreach effort that more professional societies should engage in.
Now, more than ever, science is fundamentally intertwined with national
and international political issues, yet less than
one-third of Americans can pass a science literacy
test with questions like "Does the Earth revolve around the sun?" and
human beings live alongside dinosaurs?" When only a
small percentage of our populace--including our policy-makers--has a firm
grasp on the science behind the debates, we are doomed
to make grievous errors in our decisions on a wide variety of issues,
from climate change and genetically modified foods to
stem cell research and public health and vaccinations. The question
isn't whether America has a problem--it's how to solve
Sound like the usual complaint about science illiteracy that will lead to a call for better science education? Maybe so, but it's not. It's the opening paragraph in a guest editorial by Christie Wilcox in The Biological Bulletin -- calling for scientists to embrace social media. Here's the concluding paragraph.
Whether we like it or not, social media is for more than just catching up with old flames or sharing what you ate for breakfast--it is an integral part of conducting and disseminating science in today's world. Our hesitation as a whole to embrace these new technologies has placed us in a perilous position. Not only must we rectify our reticence, we must destroy the stigma attached to these online communication mediums and encourage their use in scholarly pursuits. If we are putting our time and resources into communicating science but we're not on social media, we're like a tree falling in an empty forest--yes, we're making noise, but no one is listening.
If you care about science literacy and ensuring that science is properly incorporated into public policy, go read the whole thing. It's short, and it's well worth your time.
From my inbox (via Julie Palakovich Carr at AIBS):
Digitizing Science Collections: Unlocking Data for Research and Innovation
Tuesday, June 5, 2012, 2:00-3:00 pm
2325 Rayburn House Office Building
Natural science collections are research facilities and infrastructure that house irreplaceable specimens and data. New technologies and techniques make it possible to move this information from the shelves of a science collection to a computer in a research laboratory, classroom, or home.
This briefing will explore how scientists and natural science collections managers are working to digitize the nation's natural science collections to press forward the frontiers of research, spur new technology, and provide information to answer pressing societal problems.
The Value of Biological Collections to Science, Education, and the Economy
Speaker: Dr. Mary Liz Jameson, Associate Professor at Wichita State University
Digitization: Exponentially Increasing Access to Collections Data
Speaker: Dr. Larry Page, President of the Natural Science Collections Alliance and Curator of Fishes at Florida Museum of Natural History
Protecting and Using America's Irreplaceable Resource Now and in the Future
Speaker: Dr. Michael A. Mares, Director of the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History and Professor of Zoology at University of Oklahoma
Is what academics do really important? Are they relevant? Does it matter?
If I didn't think what academics do is important and relevant, if I didn't think it mattered, I'd be doing something different. Partly what we do matters because we share what we've learned with students and help them to make sense of their world, and partly what we do matters because we learn new things about the world. Sometimes those discoveries lead not only to the wonder and fascination of new understandings, but also to new technologies and new artistic expressions.
But we're often pretty lousy at letting those outside of our cloistered world know about those new discoveries.1
Jurgensen points out that two common themes on this blog -- ensuring wide access to the scholarly literature and encouraging public outreach and engagement -- are closely related. Specifically, he argues that
There are two different, yet equally important, ways academics need to make their ideas accessible:
(1) Accessible by availability: ideas should not be locked behind paywalls.
(2) Accessible by design: ideas should be expressed in ways that are interesting, readable and engaging.
To conclude, academics have a responsibility to make sure their insights, research and solutions are publicly relevant. And the current irrelevancy crisis academia is suffering is not just the fault of an anti-intellectual public but also because academic work is simply not accessible. It's not accessible because the work is not available when locked behind excessive paywalls, and it is not accessible because few would want to read the work even if it were free.
I encourage you to read the whole article. It's not locked behind a paywall, and it's readable and engaging.
University of Birmingham (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Earlier this year, Alice Roberts was appointed Professor of Public Engagement in Science at the University of Birmingham. In addition to her teaching and graduate advising responsibilities, "this new role will also involve promoting the University of Birmingham's
academics and their research to the general public, and inspiring
people about science." It's an interesting and creative approach to helping scientists communicate with the public.
In this video from The Guardian, Roberts argues that it's not enough to hire people like her. Rather, universities need to make sure that public engagement by their faculty is valued.
We need to make sure that public engagement is part of academic life, just as teaching is, just as research is.
As I wrote yesterday, "[I]f we think public support is important for science education and research, we need to recognize and value the efforts of those who reach beyond our campuses."
Since the mid-1990s, proposals submitted to the National Science Foundation have been judged on two criteria: intellectual merit and broader impacts. The current version of the Grant Proposal Guide describes the broader impacts criterion as follows:
How well does the activity advance discovery and understanding while
promoting teaching, training, and learning? How well does the proposed
activity broaden the participation of underrepresented groups (e.g.,
gender, ethnicity, disability, geographic, etc.)? To what extent will
it enhance the infrastructure for research and education, such as
facilities, instrumentation, networks, and partnerships? Will the
results be disseminated broadly to enhance scientific and technological
understanding? What may be the benefits of the proposed activity to
In the panels on which I've served, the last two questions have received especially keen attention. In a recent PLoS One paper, Elaine Howard Ecklund and her collaborators report results from semi-structured interviews of academic biologists and physicists to understand the target and type of outreach in each community. The sample is small (only 97 interviewees), but the patterns are revealing.
Biologists and physicists are equally engaged in public outreach.
Women are more involved in outreach than men, and the gap is larger in biology than in physics (biology: 69 percent of women, 32 percent of men. physics: 76 percent of women, 58 percent of men).
A plurality of outreach efforts involve school-aged children, e.g., presentations to elementary or high-school students.
In scientists' own words, science outreach is a bleak prospect with limited room for improvement.
...The barriers to science outreach are generally attributed to one or more of the three elements that shape science outreach: scientists, the academy, and the public.
The barriers from scientists are "that scientists are poor interpersonal communicators or that nonscientists perceive them to be uniformly inept at communication".
There's a solution for that: practice. I can't claim to be good at it, but I think I am getting better.
The barriers from the academy are what you'd expect. At research universities, the focus is on publishing high quality research, not on sharing the results of that research with other audiences. Interestingly, physicists seem more aware of how important it is to provide exciting insights into their latest work for the simple reason that continued funding for research and education depends on public support.
As for the public, the scientists blame ignorance and disinterest. I agree that we haven't done a good job in teaching science to non-scientists so that many know little about what we do or about what science has taught us about our world. I also agree that many people really aren't interested in science. While both ignorance and disinterest pose challenges to ensuring that solid scientific understanding underlies the formulation of public policy, science isn't unique in facing those challenges. Just ask an economist, an historian, a sociologist, a psychologist, or a political scientist.
The lessons? For us as individuals, if we think communication is important, we need to seek resources to help us improve. For institutions, scientific societies and universities, if we think public support is important for science education and research, we need to recognize and value the efforts of those who reach beyond our campuses.
Rosie Redfield has questions about PeerJ, and she links to a discussion that expresses the same kind of skepticism about what PeerJ will be able to do for only $99 per lifetime membership. Her conclusion is more skeptical than mine:
The soon-to-be-former Publisher of PLoS ONE, Peter Binfield, is
apparently behind PeerJ. He certainly should know what he's doing, but
this combination of spin and secrecy is something I expect of companies
looking to make a buck out of the unwary.
It's hard for me to believe that Peter Binfield is out "to make a buck out of the unwary", but it is hard to understand how PeerJ is going to achieve what it seems to promise for such a radically low price.
It describes the thought processes that lie behind some of the data graphics that appear in the Times, including preliminary sketches like the one below, intermediate stages with mentions of the software used and the data sources, and the final product. You won't learn how to use R, Adobe Illustrator, or any other package to do what they do at the Times, but you'll get an outline of what you need to learn to do what they do at the Times.
For someone like me, who is graphically challenged, it promises to be a great way to pick up some rudimentary skills in visualizing data.
Peter Binfield is leaving PLoS One on May 18th. He's starting a new, even more radical approach to Open Access publishing -- PeerJ.
PeerJ is based on lifetime memberships, starting at just $99, that give authors rights to publish in its peer-reviewed journal. It's mission is to
Provide a platform to openly publish peer reviewed scholarly research at
a price that reflects the dramatic decrease in costs brought about from
We believe an open model such as this will accelerate the outcome of
research for both the individual researcher and the community. (from the PeerJ website)
It's hard for me to see how PeerJ will manage to provide Open Access publishing for such a low lifetime cost, but I signed myself up for the mailing list. If you'd like to sign up too, please use my referral link:
[Benjamin Carson] believes in natural selection, but not in the traditional
evolutionary sense. "They say that natural selection is proof that
things can change," Carson said. "I say natural selection is proof that
we have an intelligent creator who gave his creatures the ability to
adapt to their environment." (source)
Who's Benjamin Carson you ask? He is Professor of Neurosurgery, Oncology, Plastic Surgery, and Pediatrics, Director of the Division of Pediatric Neurosurgery, and Co-Director of the Johns Hopkins Craniofacial Center. He is, in the words of Mitch Smith (writing for Inside Higher Ed), "a well-respected academic lauded as an inspirational speaker".
He will also be a commencement speaker at Emory University and receive an honorary doctorate.
By all accounts, Dr. Carson has made wonderful contributions, not only through his medicine but through the Carson Fund, which has provided more than $4 million in scholarships to deserving students. Nonetheless, 494 people signed a letter to the editor of the Emory Wheel expressing their concern about Carson's dismissal of evolution. I share their concern. Dr. Carson's humanitarian contributions are laudable, but it is unfortunate that someone so highly trained in science cannot accept the plain evidence of evolution.
In 2006, 77 percent of Americans believed that there was solid evidence that the earth was warming.1 Although fewer Republicans accepted the evidence that Independents or Democrats, the great divergence of opinion did not occur until 2008 and 2009. Many have tried to explain that divergence. Part of the reason may be the news sources that people depend on.
The underlying premise of this paper is that narratives matter. Not that there aren't "real" interests at work, but politics is also a battle of narratives, counter-narratives, and counter-counter-narratives. We know that the story is in some ways the most popular form of human communication, and that stories--narratives with a plot (a beginning, a middle, and an end), a cast of characters (heroes and villains and victims), and a point--have the power to shape beliefs, evoke emotions, and appeal to values. Of particular interest are the stories that the media tells and transmits. Whatever else they are, the media are in the storytelling (and selling) business. Sometimes, journalists and commentators are the direct providers, sometimes they are brokers between those who peddle a tale and those they hope will hear it, but always the currency is the story. (source)
Frederick Mayer was a Shorenstein Fellow in Fall 2011, and he analyzed the stories that different news outlets told from 2001 to 2010. The figures above illustrate the differences between ABC News and FOX News. (Click on the images for full-size versions in a pop-up window.) As you can see, viewers of ABC news saw stories dominated by what Mayer calls the "climate tragedy" narrative, while viewers of FOX news saw stories dominated by the "hoax" narrative or the "he said/she said" narrative. Is it any difference that viewers of these two networks would see very different worlds?
Firmly establishing the urgency of the global water crisis as the
central issue facing our world this century, this documentary
illuminates the vital role water plays in our lives, exposes the defects
in the current system and shows communities already struggling with its
ill-effects. Featuring activist Erin Brockovich, respected water
experts including Peter Gleick, Jay Famiglietti and Robert Glennon and
social entrepreneurs championing revolutionary solutions, the film
posits that we can manage this problem if we are willing to act now.
I hope the movie comes to Hartford, because I'm not likely to get down to New York to see it. I do plan to buy a copy of the score. It's available on iTunes or as a CD on demand from Amazon.com. The clip above is from the opening title sequence. I'm particularly interested in the score because it was composed by my cousin, Jeff Beal.
Kent Holsinger has been a field biologist, a mathematical modeler, an
expert on plant mating systems, and a national advocate for teaching
the theory of evolution.
He has been a leader in the University Senate, president of three
national biological societies, and, recently, interim vice provost for
graduate education and dean of the graduate school.
And now, he is a Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor of
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Holsinger was one of two professors
chosen this year for the University's highest faculty honor (the other
is Lynne Healy, professor of social work), and the 28th faculty member
in CLAS chosen for the honor.
You might say that, like the subject he teaches, he has evolved a lot.
If for some reason you want to read the whole article. Head over to CLAS today. There's another photo of me, that I like better than the one in UConn Today -- not so many bumps and wrinkles.
On 5 March 2010, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service published the following notice in the Federal Register:1
We, the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service (Service), announce
three 12-month findings on petitions to
list three entities of the greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) as
threatened or endangered under the
Endangered Species Act of 1973, as
amended (Act). We find that listing the
greater sage-grouse (rangewide) is
warranted, but precluded by higher
priority listing actions. We will develop
a proposed rule to list the greater sage-
grouse as our priorities allow.
If -- when -- the Service decides to list the greater sage grouse, the impacts on land use will be even more widespread than when it listed the northern spotted owl a couple of decades ago. It could affect land use in 11 western states that harbor populations.
If federal biologists impose the act, they would have to affirm that
any project -- coal mine, oil well, wind farm or other -- wouldn't
threaten grouse populations. For instance, the oil shale, tar sands, oil
and gas ringing eastern Utah's Book Cliffs could become off-limits. (source)
Wyoming has about 40 percent of the remaining individuals, and declines have slowed since the 1960s and 1970s. Habitat loss and modification appear to be the primary threats.
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert appointed a working
group after a late-December BLM announcement that district managers must
start considering grouse when approving development plans. An interim
guideline recommends a three-mile buffer around each lek (a flat opening
in the sagebrush where males return to puff and strut each spring).
The Utah group includes federal, state and
county officials, a university expert, energy-industry executives and a
Nature Conservancy representative. It's charged with quickly -- this
spring -- fashioning a Wyoming-style plan that the Fish and Wildlife
Service might accept in place of either BLM rules or stricter
"Everybody will have to bend," said group
coordinator Kathleen Clarke, the governor's top public-lands adviser.
The idea is to save birds so the state can save its industry -- and to do
it, more or less, through consensus.