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Some science news and notes

Posting these here to clear them out of some browser tabs...

New, space-based view of human-made carbon dioxide. I find it interesting that the thumbnail photo in the picture focuses on Europe and northern Africa. It seems to me that this tool could be helpful from a consciousness-raising perspective. Will it shift our understanding of sources and sinks of carbon dioxide?

Are US school teaching hands-off science? Lots to unpack in this article. High school continues to be one of the biggest critical periods for science education. But my perspective is shaped by working with students right out of high school.

The Obama administration outlines path for climate change resiliency. This is the product of a 3-year project, and I was happy to encounter it because I often get discouraged by how terrible we humans are at planning for the future. I'm reminded of another article that talked about how most of the effort in agribusiness is focused on pests, whereas pests are only one element of the multifaceted challenges that lie ahead for agriculture. Drought tolerance and soil fertility deserve more attention, for example. [on that note: I get routinely pissed off by "Feed the world" imperialist rhetoric!]

Warning: This lab may cause injury or death, all about lab safety (or the lack thereof) at universities. I'm not so sure that extra oversight (i.e. added bureaucratic layers) is the answer. I think forward-thinking institutions are instead focusing on creating better safety culture. My current lab, for example, has regular conversations about different safety issues, which is great. I also liked how Nebraska implemented a "near-misses" program, to encourage people to report cases that could have been horrible accidents but that were avoided. They then take those stories, reflect on them, and share them because they highlight potentially common mistakes that could have disastrous consequences.

Comments

( 4 remarks — Remark )
tylik
Nov. 3rd, 2016 05:46 pm (UTC)
Occasionally I think "gosh, wouldn't it be fun to chuck it all and go teach science in some under-served community?"

...but I'm really not sure that I'd want to do anything like that, in public schools, with the current curriculum. I mean, until you hit full time research, there often seems to be a tension between "learning science facts, and learning how to do science" which are pretty different things, though there are ways of teaching more towards the places where they intersect. But teaching science facts by themselves just depresses me - it's the generative aspects, the creative parts of science that I want to inspire and pass on.
twoeleven
Nov. 4th, 2016 06:39 pm (UTC)
I think that's a constant difficulty in education: teaching the right answers vs teaching how to get the right answers. Given a fixed amount of time to teach, yeah, they're in tension.

I have a similar bias against teaching facts in isolation, but without some facts, we seem to lack anything solid to stand on.
twoeleven
Nov. 4th, 2016 06:33 pm (UTC)
I'm reminded of another article that talked about how most of the effort in agribusiness is focused on pests, whereas pests are only one element of the multifaceted challenges that lie ahead for agriculture. Drought tolerance and soil fertility deserve more attention, for example.
For the first two (bugs, weeds, and fungi vs drought tolerance) I think this is as it should be. I guess the shortest answer is that bugs et al will always be with us, but drought doesn't effect every place every season. Soil fertility is its own special can of worms (or their lack :) ) so I'm not sure lumping it in with the others makes sense.

I get routinely pissed off by "Feed the world" imperialist rhetoric!
I'm confused: why is that imperalist?
rebeccmeister
Nov. 4th, 2016 08:30 pm (UTC)
Here's one contemporary answer (below). At the moment I need to work on too many other things to dig up a more historically-grounded answer, but my understanding is that the notion that one country should be trying to fix the problems of other countries often stems from Colonial attitudes.

http://blog.ucsusa.org/margaret-mellon/lets-drop-feed-the-world-a-plea-to-move-beyond-an-unhelpful-phrase-229?

But do see also: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/38005970_Planting_improvement_the_rhetoric_and_practice_of_scientific_agriculture_in_northern_British_America_1670-1820
( 4 remarks — Remark )

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