Thursday Afternoon Dredging: May 4th, 2017

Thursday Afternoon DredgingMay 4, 2017

After a month hiatus for packing, moving, and unpacking, we’re back!

Logo by Ethan Kocak

Cuttings (short and sweet):

  • Watch a dogfish swim around British Columbia, video by GEERG.

Video by GEERG

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The time to defend the EPA is now!

Conservation, EnvironmentalismMay 1, 2017

Executive Order 13777 created a Regulatory Reform Task Force to oversee the evaluation of existing regulations to make recommendations about potential repeal, replacement, or modification to the Environmental Protection Agency. The dissolution of the EPA would be catastrophic for this country. Fortunately, the wheels of bureaucracy turn slowly, and before any recommendations are formally issued, the federal government must seek input from the public. The public comment period ends at midnight on May 15, 2017. You have until then to submit a comment on the value, importance, and benefits of the EPA.

Evaluation of Existing Regulations
Call for Public Comment

 

Our friends at Deep Sea News have done an excellent job extolling the value of the EPA (as have many others from across the internet):

Public Comments are important. They do get read (probably by an intern) and are incorporated into the official federal response. This is a tangible chance to make you voice heard, and Southern Fried Science is here to help. Below is a short template I’ve prepared highlighting the economic and human health benefits of the Environmental Protection Agency as well as the potential consequences of a significant reduction in the EPA’s funding or scope. Feel free to adapt, modify, and use this to help craft your own comment. Personal anecdotes are valuable, so make sure to begin you comment with a short statement about how the EPA has personally impacted or improved your quality of life.

[INCLUDE PERSONAL STATEMENT ABOUT THE VALUE OF THE EPA HERE]

The Environmental Protection Agency provides an essential cornerstone for US economic growth and well-being. Its mandate to ensure that all Americans are protected from significant risks to their health from the environment where they live, learn and work, based on the best available science is essential to the long-term viability of our natural resources, the health of our population, and our continued economic inertia. This includes regulations enforced fairly and effectively for all parts of society, including communities, individuals, businesses, and state, local, and tribal governments. Substantively reducing the scope and effectiveness of the EPA is a short-sighted and partisan-motivated action which will result in the loss of 47 years of bi-partisan supported environmental safeguards, significant increases to the national debt, a dramatic decrease in the viable US workforce, an increase in Medicaid coverage, and reduced quality of life for American citizens while harming the long-term trajectory of the US economy.

Whereas:

  1. Economic growth is tied to the health and well-being of the population. Significant reduction in the EPA’s scope will result in greater environmental health impacts, more severe and persistent environmentally-mediated chronic conditions, greater rates of preventable disease, including cancers, respiratory conditions, and metal poisonings, leading to a decline in the overall health of the US population and resulting in a greater Medicaid burden and decreased workforce capacity.
  2. Increased medical costs related to treating illnesses related to chronic and acute exposure to environmental contaminants will result in enhanced financial hardship, greater treatment-induced bankruptcies, and a significant drain on the US GDP.
  3. Access to clean outdoor environments encourages exercise, increases productivity, and is foundational to the national identity, producing both tangible and intangible benefits and promoting a culture of self-sufficiency.
  4. Significant declines in air and water quality will prompt major economically-influential business leaders in emergent technology and knowledge industries to relocate overseas, exporting environmental harms to the US while redirecting economic gains to more forward-thinking nations.
  5. Healthy natural resources underpin all sectors of the economy; clean air and water is a consistently undervalued resource. Consider the costs of cleanup to return air and water to the necessary status for manufacturing, worker health, and resident safety. New York City’s unfiltered water system shows environmental protections are an order of magnitude less costly than water treatment after contamination.
  6. Creation of the EPA was a bipartisan, popular effort in response to major dangers as a result of lacking environmental regulation (rivers on fire, water supplies poisoned, soils too contaminated for crops, etc). It does our forebears a major disservice to forget their efforts and, more importantly, the motives behind them.
  7. Access to clean, potable water is a human right.

A significant reduction in the scope of the EPA is short-sighted and conducted for partisan goals which do not reflect the values and desires of the American People. Any such reduction is symbolic of a fundamental failure in both vision and leadership by the current administration.

When you’re ready, submit your comment through this docket, under Evaluation of Existing Regulations.

Evaluation of Existing Regulations
Call for Public Comment

 


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Climate change denial, open-science hardware, some missing pink dolphins, and more! Monday Morning Salvage: May 1, 2017

Monday Morning Salvage

Fog Horn (A Call to Action)

Flotsam (what we’re obsessed with right now)
(more…)

Fun Science FRIEDay – Immune System Amnesia

Fun Science FridayApril 28, 2017

Ah the measles, a childhood illness that most of my generation has never experienced; due in large part to the success of measles vaccination. A lot of people think the measles isn’t that big of a deal, its just some combination of a rash and fever that goes away in due time. While this is true in most people, in about 1 in 1,000 cases the infection becomes systemic and moves to the brain resulting in death, in what is known as  measles encephalitis.  The measles vaccination resolved this issue but also had an unexpected secondary effect.

16th-century Aztec drawing of someone with measles (Photo credit: Unknown – (2009) Viruses, Plagues, and History: Past, Present and Future, Oxford University Press, USA, p. 144)

When the measles vaccine was first introduced in America in the 1960s, scientists were perplexed why childhood deaths from all infectious diseases plummeted along w/ the measles; even deaths from diseases like pneumonia and diarrhea were cut in half.  An obvious assumption was the drop in childhood deaths was just a result of our advances in modern medicine. While there is undoubtedly truth in the assertion that modern medicine was advancing rapidly in the mid-20th century, whenever the measles vaccine was introduced to Europe a few years later, and even now as its being introduced to third world countries, the same phenomena has been observed. Places that have the measles vaccine see a steep decline in deaths from all other childhood diseases. So whats going on?

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The Holy Grail of the portable hardware-hacking lab: A cordless soldering iron that actually works.

Gear Reviews, Reviews and InterviewsApril 25, 2017

This is a mess. This isn’t even everything I brought for Make for the Planet.

All electronics kits are not created equal. Between the OpenROV, Oceanography for Everyone, and hack-a-thons around the world, my work has taken me out of the lab and into the field, fantail, and classroom to build instruments, hack oceanographic equipment, and train next generation of open-science oceanographers. This has placed a huge new demand on my standard kit, a collection of electronics and hardware tools and components that allow a creative maker to build anything, anywhere. Portability is key, but portability comes with it’s own challenges, especially for that most vital of electronics tools, the humble, powerful soldering iron.

A good soldering iron is absolutely critical to the kinds of projects and workshops I run. Without it, we can to the delicate electronics work necessary for getting a piece of equipment working in the field. But traveling with soldering irons is a nightmare. These high-wattage devices don’t always play nice with local electrical infrastructure. Even using the *right* power converters we’ve blown fuses and burned out power supplies. In the best case scenarios, the irons just don’t produce enough heat to get the job done. In remote regions, local options are often non-existent. When we go, we bring everything with us.

There are portable soldering irons, but they have their own problems. Gas-powered irons require a fuel source that may not be easily obtained and are not always welcome on flights. They also lack the fine control we need. Electric options tend to be of the “cold heat” variety, which is a poor tool for circuit board work and can generate a current that burns out components and shorts your project. Heat-based electric soldering irons are weak, short-lived, and often utterly ineffective. I resigned myself to lugging large soldering stations around the world, hoping for the best when it comes to finding an adequate power supply.

And then I discovered the Hakko FX-901(more…)

The impact of the March for Science

ScienceApril 24, 2017

Along with an estimated forty thousand other scientists, I braved the rains to attend the March for science in Washington DC. I went with a bit of trepidation, as I was wondering if anyone would attend, but the staging post at the based of the Washington Monument was absolutely packed.

Donald Trump blamed rain (a brief smattering of drizzle) for poor numbers at his inauguration, but pouring rain and cold did not deter the masses of scientists who attended the March. Although we be derided as “snowflakes” for protesting the current administration, clearly scientists are snowflakes made of Titanium.

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Deep-sea Disco, Giant Icebergs, Pokémon Go, and more! Monday Morning Salvage: April 24, 2017

Monday Morning Salvage

Fog Horn (A Call to Action)

  • Still time! The EPA is seeking public input on the new administrations approach to environmental regulations. They are required to seek public input. They are required to respond to public input. Go tell them how you feel. Public comments close May 15. Here’s the docket with instructions on how to comment: Evaluation of Existing Regulations.

Flotsam (what we’re obsessed with right now)

  • This deep-sea mining Disco video is something.

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

March for the Science that uplifts humanity.

BloggingApril 22, 2017

The March for Science has a diversity problem.

Ok, to be clear, the committee organizing the march is the one with the problem. As they’re about to find out, a movement like this will resist, among other things, the efforts of a few to take ownership over a much grander view of life. The Science March on Washington (and the marches in your home state) is bigger than one organization.

Five months ago, we issued a mandate for Southern Fried Science, that we would strive to tear down barriers, to breach the dam, because Diversity is Resilience. Seeing the March for Science struggle and seemingly succumb to the same weathered barricades reinforced, for me, exactly why we need that mandate.

“Science isn’t political” is a lovely Platonic platitude that we whisper reassuringly into comfortable ears.

It is not so.

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Titanic tourists, nodule mining, right whales, and more! The Monday Morning Salvage: April 17, 2017

Monday Morning SalvageApril 17, 2017

Fog Horn (A Call to Action)

  • The EPA is seeking public input on the new administrations approach to environmental regulations. They are required to seek public input. They are required to respond to public input. Go tell them how you feel. Public comments close May 15. Here’s the docket with instructions on how to comment: Evaluation of Existing Regulations.

Flotsam (what we’re obsessed with right now)

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

(more…)

Hone your social media #SciComm skills with ocean science pros.

BloggingApril 14, 2017

Looking to boost your ocean outreach skills in a more formal setting? We’ve got two opportunities for social media training with ocean science and ocean communications experts from Southern Fried Science:

LUMCON Summer Course: Join me at the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium on the Gulf Coast for a week-long workshop on Science Communication Using Social Media led by yours truly. We’ll cover the foundations of social media platforms and best practices for communicating your research to both general and targeted audiences. We’ll also discuss metrics and measuring how effective your outreach really is.

Duke Environmental Leadership Program: For the fifth year, Dr. Amy Freitag and I will run Social Media for Environmental Communications, a 7-week, online-only course that digs deep into the fundamentals of using social media for environmental communications, provides a critical assessment of the available tools, and teaches student to design effective communications campaigns and assess their impact.

 

Staff: Andrew David Thaler (1158), David Shiffman (532), Amy Freitag (237), Guest Writer (77), Chris Parsons (56), Kersey Sturdivant (54), Michelle Jewell (20), Chuck Bangley (18), Administrator (2), Solomon David (1), Iris (1), Sarah Keartes (1), David Lang (1), Lyndell M. Bade (0), Michael Bok (0)
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