When I talk about Climate Change, I don’t talk about science.

#SciComm, climate change, Conservation, Natural Science, ScienceJanuary 3, 2017

Climate Change is real. It’s happening now. And the best available data points to us as the cause.

That the foundational science is settled is a point of unending frustration to scientists, science writers, and policy advocates who face continuous partisan push back, from whitewashing government websites to threatening scientists with legal repercussions for reporting the data.  During my International Marine Conservation Congress keynote last year, I argued that Climate Change denial is not a science literacy problem, but rather a product of increasing political bifurcation. Political ideology is a much stronger predictor of Climate Change understanding than science literacy.

The term “Climate Change” is now loaded with so much political baggage that it becomes almost impossible to hold a discussion across political lines. In stakeholder interviews, people generally understand and acknowledge the impacts of climate change on local and regional scales, as long as you don’t call it “Climate Change”. This has been my experience working in rural coastal communities, which tend to be strongly conservative and intimately connected to the changing ocean.

Which is why, when I talk about Climate Change, I don’t talk about science.  (more…)

Bachelor contestant wears a shark costume and calls it a dolphin costume

#SciComm1

Last night was the premiere of the Bachelor, which is just about the only reality TV show that I do not watch. However, an incident occured on last night’s episode that several of you brought to my attention. Apparently, one of the contestants wore a shark costume for the entire episode…but kept referring to it as a dolphin costume. (While not everyone can reasonably be expected to know the difference between a shark and a dolphin, this contestant stated that she wants to be a dolphin trainer.)

Here is a screenshot:

Screenshot from the Bachelor season 21 premiere, H/T Buzzfeed

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Monday Morning Salvage: January 2, 2017

Monday Morning SalvageJanuary 2, 20170

Welcome to 2017 and the ninth year of marine science and conservation at Southern Fried Science!

Flotsam (what we’re obsessed with right now)

  • Alex Warneke knows exactly how to push all of my ocean outreach buttons: Low-cost teaching tools? Check! Hands on student engagement? Check! Open-source materials and datasets? Check! 3D Printing? Check! Meet 3D Cabrillo:

Courtesy A. Warneke, DSN.

Jetsam (what we’re enjoying from around the web) (more…)

Fun Science Holidays – The World’s Smallest Snowman

A Renewed Sense of Wonder, Fun Science Friday, Life in the LabDecember 31, 20160

As 2016 winds to a close, and in the spirit of the holiday season behold the world’s smallest snowman, measuring in at 3 microns. To put that into perspective, the smallest grains of sands are approximately 60 microns.

Mini snowman, ~3 microns in height (Photo credit: Western Nanofabrication Facility)

This creation is the work of Canadian nanotechnologists from the Western Nanofabrication Facility. The snowman is made from three ~1 micron silica spheres stacked using electron beam lithography. The eyes and mouth were cut with a focused ion, beam while the arms and nose were sculpted with platinum.

Tiny snowman amongst other 1 micron silica spheres. (Photo credit: Western Nanofabrication Facility)

A cool feel good story to round off 2016 as we head into 2017.  Happy New Year all!

Thursday Afternoon Dredging: December 29th, 2016

Thursday Afternoon DredgingDecember 29, 20160

Cuttings (short and sweet):

Taken from a NOAA Okeanos Explorer video

Taken from a NOAA Okeanos Explorer video

Spoils (long reads and deep dives):

Feel free to share your own cuttings and spoils in the comments below!

Deep-sea Researchers Support Nomination of the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument as a UNESCO World Heritage Site

ConservationDecember 28, 20160

Early this December, the National Park Service announced that the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument made the short list for UNESCO World Heritage designation. Though hidden beneath the water’s surface, the Mariana Trench, a unique geologic and ecologic landmark and a natural treasure, dwarfs the Grand Canyon in scale and scope.

The Mariana Trench is more than a mile deeper than Mt. Everest is high and hosts Challenger Deep, the deepest point on Earth. It is also home to numerous sites of exceptional scientific value, including submerged volcanoes that host deep-sea hydrothermal vents, the largest documented mud volcanoes, coral atolls and fringing reef ecosystems that support apex predators like sharks and whales, as well as habitat-forming stony corals.

(more…)

Monday Morning Salvage: December 26, 2016

Monday Morning SalvageDecember 26, 20160

Welcome back! We missed a week while I was traveling across the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands and Guam, so dig in and enjoy!

Flotsam (what we’re obsessed with right now)

  • The Mariana Trench!

The Mariana Trench Monument

(more…)

Here’s what top science news stories of the year listicles said are the top marine science news stories of the year

BloggingDecember 23, 20160

Year-in-review news roundups are one of my favorite parts of December. I really enjoy remembering all of the interesting and inspiring things that happened over the past year, especially after a rough year like this one. I especially enjoy “top science news of the year” roundups, and I was pleased to see marine science stories make the cut on many of them. For your “but why is this considered a top story but that isn’t” debating pleasure, here are the marine science news stories that made top science news stories of the year listicles!

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Thursday Afternoon Dredging: December 22nd, 2016

Thursday Afternoon DredgingDecember 22, 20160

Cuttings (short and sweet):

  • Watch this hammerhead shark hunt and catch a stingray, from “Hunting the Hammerhead” on the Smithsonian Channel
From the Smithsonian Channel's "Hunting the Hammerhead"

From the Smithsonian Channel’s “Hunting the Hammerhead”

(more…)

Fun Science FRIEDay – Harnessing Synthetic Biology to Fight Ocean Pollution

#OceanOptimism, Conservation, Environmentalism, Fun Science Friday, marine science, Natural Science, Science, toxicologyDecember 16, 2016

Plastics, more importantly microplastics, clog our oceans. This phenomena in the ocean has been likened to smog around cities. These plastic particles are dangerous because they can absorb toxins, subsequently be consumed by zooplankton and invertebrates, and bioaccumluate up the food web to fish that are consumed by humans. A study in Nature found that 25 percent of seafood sold contains microplastics! There has been a recent awareness of the unseen harm that exists when plastic pollution in the ocean degrades into microplastics. A report in Environmental Research Letters estimated that “accumulated number of micro plastic particles… ranges from 15 to 51 trillion particles, weighing between 93 and 236 thousand metric tons.” That is cray cray. Despite a better awareness of the impact of microplastics on marine ecology, we still have a poor spatial understanding of microplastics in the ocean. The presence and density of microplastics is determined by trawling the ocean (i.e., researchers go out with a net and physically count the pieces of plastic they pick up). As you can imagine, this is not very effective.

Conceptualization of plastic degrading in the ocean. (Photo credit: Archipelagos Institute)

(more…)

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