Sunday, May 29, 2011

Part 2 of Sustainability News Linkspam for the week ending May 28, 2011

Time for sustainability news from outside of Michigan. I may concentrate on Michigan for this blog, but I also cover the research universities in the neighboring states of Wisconsin, Indiana, and Ohio, along with a smattering of sustainability news from commercial sources for Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday on Daily Kos, so I may as well cover them here.

As for the post I promised based on Model D Media's Buzz page, I'll do that after midnight. The month is winding down and I'm starting to feel like mailing it in. As I wrote a week ago:

I don't have to worry about finding something to write about the rest of the month. Blogging about sustainability in metro Detroit means never running out of material. Instead, I have to worry about finding the time and maintaining my energy and discipline. Here's to that "maybe" coming true the rest of the month.
I'm about to hit the wall on my "energy and discipline" and I'm glad there are only two days and posts after this one. If you want more details on this, read my post on Dreamwidth about my attitude and what I plan on doing about it--or not. I'm so mailing it in that I'm going to copy that entry and post it here.

That said, the linkspam, which has a lot of good material, comes after the jump. I may be mailing it in today, but I have quite an impressively large package for you all.

General Sustainability

Daily Kos: Green diary rescue: Memorial Day 2030
by Meteor Blades
Green Diary Rescue is a regular Saturday feature at Daily Kos. Inclusion of a particular diary does not necessarily indicate my agreement with it.
Green Diary Rescue is a digest of all the primarily environmental diaries on Daily Kos from the preceding week. If you want to see a good sample of what national progressive activists are writing about the environment and the issues that concern them, this series is a good place to start.

Environment, including science and technology

Columbia University via Study finds local temperature influences belief in global warming
May 27, 2011
A study by Columbia Business School Professor Eric Johnson, co-director of the Center for Decision Sciences at Columbia Business School, Ye Li, a postdoctoral researcher at the Center for Decision Sciences, and Lisa Zaval, a Columbia graduate student in psychology, found that those who thought the current day was warmer than usual were more likely to believe in and feel concern about global warming than those who thought the day was unusually cold. The study, recently featured in Psychological Science, explains why public belief in global warming can fluctuate, since people can base their thinking off of the day's temperature. The researchers behind this study are also affiliated with Columbia University's Center for Research on Environmental Decisions, CRED.
University of Wisconsin via Human impacts of rising oceans will extend well beyond coasts
May 27, 2011
Identifying the human impact of rising sea levels is far more complex than just looking at coastal cities on a map.

Rather, estimates that are based on current, static population data can greatly misrepresent the true extent – and the pronounced variability – of the human toll of climate change, say University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers.

"Not all places and not all people in those places will be impacted equally," says Katherine Curtis, an assistant professor of community and environmental sociology at UW-Madison.

In a new online report, which will publish in an upcoming issue of the peer-reviewed journal Population and Environment, Curtis and her colleague Annemarie Schneider examine the impacts of rising oceans as one element of how a changing climate will affect humans. "We're linking economic and social vulnerability with environmental vulnerability to better understand which areas and their populations are most vulnerable," Curtis says.
Purdue University: Cities affect storms, but downwind areas can get the worst of it
May 26, 2011

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Urban areas modify thunderstorms that can eventually get stronger and more violent as they leave the cities and move to downwind areas, according to a Purdue University study.

Using 10 years of data from storms around the Indianapolis metropolitan area, Dev Niyogi, an associate professor of agronomy and earth and atmospheric sciences, observed how storms altered as they approached an urban area.

"About 60 percent of the daytime thunderstorms seem to change their characteristics," said Niyogi, lead author of the findings reported in the Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology. "Before the storms approach the urban area, we see them as a more organized line of storm cells. As the storms get past the urban area, there are smaller but more cells, signifying splitting. So, quite often, we see storms approach the city, split around it and come back together on the other side to create a more intense storm."
May 24, 2011
COLUMBUS, Ohio – A new study aimed at refining the way scientists measure ice loss in Greenland is providing a “high-definition picture” of climate-caused changes on the island.

And the picture isn’t pretty.

In the last decade, two of the largest three glaciers draining that frozen landscape have lost enough ice that, if melted, could have filled Lake Erie.

The three glaciers – Helheim, Kangerdlugssuaq and Jakobshavn Isbrae – are responsible for as much as one-fifth of the ice flowing out from Greenland into the ocean.
University of Warwick (UK): Research shows a visit to a zoo boosts science and environment knowledge
May 27, 2011
Research from the University of Warwick shows a trip to the zoo can boost your child's science and conservation education more than books or classroom teaching alone.

In research conducted at ZSL London Zoo, more than 3,000 school children aged between seven and 14 were asked about their knowledge of animals, habitat and conservation and then tested again after their trip.

The results show that 53% had a positive change in educational or conservation-related knowledge areas, personal concern for endangered species or new empowerment to participate in conservation efforts. The study proves that their trip around the zoo provided a statistically significant increase in scientific learning about animals and habitats. When zoo visits were supplemented by an educational presentation by zoo staff this increase in learning almost doubled against self-guided visits.
Society, including culture and politics

University of Wisconsin: High-risk Minority Groups Not Being Screened for Diabetes
May 26, 2011
Madison, Wisconsin - Although people from certain ethnic groups are at high risk for getting diabetes and should be screened, a new study suggests that such screenings are not being done as often as they should.

Dr. Ann Sheehy, a hospitalist and clinical assistant professor of internal medicine at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, was lead author of the findings, which will appear in the June edition of Diabetes Care.

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) says that African-Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, Asian-Americans, and Pacific Islanders should be screened through fasting blood tests. The research gathered data from more than 15,000 patients between 2003 and 2007.
I could almost have put this under general sustainability, as it has elements of society, science, and economics in it, but I decided that it fit better as a society entry.
USA Today: Obama administration buying 101 Chevrolet Volts
May 24, 2011
The Obama administration is buying 116 Chevrolet Volts and other plug-in electric vehicles -- despite their high cost -- and installing charging stations in five cities.

All but 15 of the electric vehicles will be General Motors' Volt extended-range electric. The General Services Administration didn't say what price it is going to pay, but the Volt compact cars are priced at $41,000 for consumers. Although the move is aimed at spurring electric-car adoption, it's not that the Volt was a slow seller: GM is basically sold out of the car through the end of the year because of limited production.

At least the electrics will be pittance compared to the 650,000 vehicles that the government manages overall in its fleet.
Indiana University: Journal article examines effectiveness of state-level energy policies
May 23, 2011
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- States have taken the lead in developing energy policies in the U.S., experimenting with a variety of approaches while the federal government has remained deadlocked over energy and climate policies.

Sanya Carley, an assistant professor in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University, examines the state-level policies and assesses their effectiveness for meeting energy and policy goals in the current issue of Review of Policy Research.

"The states are putting their best foot forward, and that is admirable," Carley said. "But they need to be deliberate and coordinated in their approaches in order to be effective. And there are limitations to what can be accomplished with policies at the state and regional levels."
University of Wisconsin: Chancellor Martin: Flexibilities in the budget would be a win for all
May 27, 2011
As state lawmakers continue the budget process, UW-Madison Chancellor Biddy Martin says she is optimistic that legislators on both sides of the aisle have heard the call for greater flexibilities for UW-Madison, as well as for all other UW System institutions.

"I'm confident that some of the important items that could improve the way we operate — something that I've been advocating for months — will be part of the budget," Martin says.

Through the discussion about the New Badger Partnership and Martin's vision for the future of UW-Madison, the university and the entire UW System is likely to emerge with more than what has been possible in past budget cycles, which have solely resulted in cuts.

"This would be an unprecedented outcome," Martin says. "It gives us a chance to be better stewards of our resources and delivers the first step toward a new business model."
University of Wisconsin: Under proposed budget, most school districts would get less state aid, have to reduce property taxes
May 23, 2011
Despite a majority of Wisconsin school districts losing substantial amounts of state aid, most districts will be forced to reduce school property taxes under Gov. Scott Walker's proposed budget, unless voters agree to raise revenue limits, a new University of Wisconsin-Madison study finds.

"The combined impact of Governor Scott Walker's proposal to reduce state aid to schools by 8.4 percent and to lower the state-imposed revenue limits by 5.5 percent would sharply limit overall resources available to local school districts," says Andrew Reschovsky, an economist with the La Follette School of Public Affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The Legislature's Joint Finance Committee is expected to address the school funding provisions in the proposed budget soon.
Whatever policies Scott Walker and his fellow Republicans pursue, you can be assured they are not equitable, the key adjective for sustainable policy at the intersection of economy and society.

Purdue University: Purdue expert: Gasoline likely to stay below $4 this summer
May 24, 2011
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Drivers have something worth honking their horns over: Summer gasoline prices likely will remain below $4 a gallon, a Purdue University agricultural economist says.

Market conditions that caused oil prices to shoot past $110 a barrel have improved in recent weeks, pushing oil back under $100 a barrel, said Wally Tyner, an energy policy specialist. He cautioned that pump prices could rise again if oil production is interrupted.

Memorial Day weekend traditionally marks the beginning of the summer driving season.

"If crude oil stays below $100 - meaning that there are no further production disruptions in the Middle East or elsewhere and we have no further weather conditions or other factors that cause refining outages - we have seen the worst," Tyner said. "We can hope for steady or even somewhat falling prices over the next few months."
University of Wisconsin: University spinoffs represent a new face for agricultural production
By David Tenenbaum
May 25, 2011
Agricultural experts at University of Wisconsin-Madison have long played a key role in a state known for corn, milk and cheese.

But even as organic farms continue to be one of the hottest sectors of agriculture, a new approach that might be called production biology is evident in high-technology spinoffs related to energy, eggs, ornamentals, feed additives and, of course, to the small-grower market itself.

No comments:

Post a Comment