Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature
Source: Environmental Research Letters
We analyze the evolution of the scientific consensus on anthropogenic global warming (AGW) in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, examining 11 944 climate abstracts from 1991–2011 matching the topics ‘global climate change’ or ‘global warming’. We find that 66.4% of abstracts expressed no position on AGW, 32.6% endorsed AGW, 0.7% rejected AGW and 0.3% were uncertain about the cause of global warming. Among abstracts expressing a position on AGW, 97.1% endorsed the consensus position that humans are causing global warming. In a second phase of this study, we invited authors to rate their own papers. Compared to abstract ratings, a smaller percentage of self-rated papers expressed no position on AGW (35.5%). Among self-rated papers expressing a position on AGW, 97.2% endorsed the consensus. For both abstract ratings and authors’ self-ratings, the percentage of endorsements among papers expressing a position on AGW marginally increased over time. Our analysis indicates that the number of papers rejecting the consensus on AGW is a vanishingly small proportion of the published research.
Bird-Friendly Building Design (PDF)
Source: American Bird Conservancy
A unique publication that provides planners, architects designers, bird advocates, local authorities, and the general public with a clear understanding of the nature and magnitude of the threat glass poses to birds and solutions to eliminate the threat. This edition includes a review of the science behind bird collisions, real-world examples of solutions in action, and an investigation into what information is still needed.
Who’s Winning the Clean Energy Race? 2012 Edition
Source: Pew Charitable Trusts
In less than a decade, clean energy transitioned from novelty products to the mainstream of world energy markets. The sector emerged not so much in a linear fashion as episodic—in fits and starts associated with the worldwide economic downturn, continent-wide debt crises, national policy uncertainty, and intense industry competition. Through it all, however, the clean energy sector moved inexorably forward, with overall investment in 2012 five times greater than it was in 2004.
This report examines key financial, investment and technological trends related to clean energy in the Group of Twenty (G-20), the world’s leading economies. It documents the continued growth and dynamism of clean energy investment in these economies. Countries that succeed in attracting investment can realize the economic, security and environmental benefits of the global race to harness clean, renewable energy sources.
Who’s Winning the Clean Energy Race?Who’s Winning the Clean Energy Race: 2012 Edition documents how the old order is changing technologically and geographically. Clean energy is gaining ground in the global energy mix. Even as several pioneering countries have stumbled, new markets have opened, and the center of gravity for clean energy investment has shifted from West to East.
Guestworkers in the high-skill U.S. labor market: An analysis of supply, employment, and wage trends
Source: Economic Policy Institute
This paper reviews and analyzes the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) labor market and workforce and the supply of high-skill temporary foreign workers, who serve as “guestworkers.” It addresses three central issues in the ongoing discussion about the need for high-skill guestworkers in the United States:
- Is there a problem producing enough STEM-educated students at sufficient performance levels to supply the labor market?
- How large is the flow of guestworkers into the STEM workforce and into the information technology (IT) workforce in particular? And what are the characteristics of these workers?
- What are the dynamics of the STEM labor market, and what are the employment and wage trends in the IT labor market?
Analysis of these issues provides the basis for assessing the extent of demand for STEM workers and the impact of guestworker flows on the STEM and IT workforces.
New GAO Reports and Testimony
Source: Government Accountability Office
1. Climate Change: Future Federal Adaptation Efforts Could Better Support Local Infrastructure Decision Makers. GAO-13-242, April 12.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/653740.pdf
2. Data Center Consolidation: Strengthened Oversight Needed to Achieve Cost Savings Goal. GAO-13-378, April 23.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/654091.pdf
3. Defense Infrastructure: Communities Need Additional Guidance and Information to Improve Their Ability to Adjust to DOD Installation Closure or Growth. GAO-13-436, May 14.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/654598.pdf
1. Data Center Consolidation: Strengthened Oversight Needed to Achieve Billions of Dollars in Savings, by David A. Powner, director, information technology management issues, before the Subcommittee on Government Operations, House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. GAO-13-627T, May 14.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/654606.pdf
Source: Migration Policy Institute
Migration resulting from environmental change has been a topic of preoccupation since the 1990s, but in practice there has been very little policy development within the European Union on this topic. This brief finds that while such migration is likely to be largely concentrated in areas outside of Europe, there are far-reaching implications for policy.
Source: Energy Information Administration
Energy-related carbon dioxide emissions vary significantly across states (Figure 1), whether considered on an absolute or per capita basis. The overall size of a state, as well as the available fuels, types of businesses, climate, and population density, play a role in both total and per capita emissions. Additionally, each state’s energy system reflects circumstances specific to that state. For example, some states are located near abundant hydroelectric supplies, while others contain abundant coal resources.This paper presents a basic analysis of the factors that contribute to a state’s carbon dioxide profile. This analysis neither attempts to assess the effect of state policies on absolute emissions levels or on changes over time, nor does it intend to imply that certain policies would be appropriate for a particular state.
The term "energy-related carbon dioxide emissions" as used in this paper, includes emissions released at the location where fossil fuels are used. For feedstock application, carbon stored in products such as plastics are not included in reported emissions for the states where they are produced.
It is also important to recognize that the state-level carbon dioxide emissions data presented in this paper count emissions based on the location where the energy is consumed as a fuel. To the extent that fuels are used in one state to generate electricity that is consumed in another state, emissions are attributed to the former rather than the latter. An analysis that attributed "responsibility" for emissions with consumption rather than production of electricity, which is beyond the scope of the present paper, would yield different results.
New GAO Reports
Source: Government Accountability Office
2. Superfund: EPA Should Take Steps to Improve Its Management of Alternatives to Placing Sites on the National Priorities List. GAO-13-252, April 9.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/653647.pdf
Different Types of Laughter Modulate Connectivity within Distinct Parts of the Laughter Perception Network
Laughter is an ancient signal of social communication among humans and non-human primates. Laughter types with complex social functions (e.g., taunt and joy) presumably evolved from the unequivocal and reflex-like social bonding signal of tickling laughter already present in non-human primates. Here, we investigated the modulations of cerebral connectivity associated with different laughter types as well as the effects of attention shifts between implicit and explicit processing of social information conveyed by laughter using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Complex social laughter types and tickling laughter were found to modulate connectivity in two distinguishable but partially overlapping parts of the laughter perception network irrespective of task instructions. Connectivity changes, presumably related to the higher acoustic complexity of tickling laughter, occurred between areas in the prefrontal cortex and the auditory association cortex, potentially reflecting higher demands on acoustic analysis associated with increased information load on auditory attention, working memory, evaluation and response selection processes. In contrast, the higher degree of socio-relational information in complex social laughter types was linked to increases of connectivity between auditory association cortices, the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and brain areas associated with mentalizing as well as areas in the visual associative cortex. These modulations might reflect automatic analysis of acoustic features, attention direction to informative aspects of the laughter signal and the retention of those in working memory during evaluation processes. These processes may be associated with visual imagery supporting the formation of inferences on the intentions of our social counterparts. Here, the right dorsolateral precentral cortex appears as a network node potentially linking the functions of auditory and visual associative sensory cortices with those of the mentalizing-associated anterior mediofrontal cortex during the decoding of social information in laughter.
A Multi-Platform Draft de novo Genome Assembly and Comparative Analysis for the Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao)
Source: PLoS ONE
This Whole Genome Shotgun project has been deposited at DDBJ/EMBL/GenBank under the accession AMXX00000000 (SMACv1.0, unscaffolded genome assembly). The version described in this paper is the first version (AMXX01000000). The scaffolded assembly (SMACv1.1) has been deposited at DDBJ/EMBL/GenBank under the accession AOUJ00000000, and is also the first version (AOUJ01000000). Strong biological interest in traits such as the acquisition and utilization of speech, cognitive abilities, and longevity catalyzed the utilization of two next-generation sequencing platforms to provide the first-draft de novo genome assembly for the large, new world parrot Ara macao (Scarlet Macaw). Despite the challenges associated with genome assembly for an outbred avian species, including 951,507 high-quality putative single nucleotide polymorphisms, the final genome assembly (>1.035 Gb) includes more than 997 Mb of unambiguous sequence data (excluding N’s). Cytogenetic analyses including ZooFISH revealed complex rearrangements associated with two scarlet macaw macrochromosomes (AMA6, AMA7), which supports the hypothesis that translocations, fusions, and intragenomic rearrangements are key factors associated with karyotype evolution among parrots. In silico annotation of the scarlet macaw genome provided robust evidence for 14,405 nuclear gene annotation models, their predicted transcripts and proteins, and a complete mitochondrial genome. Comparative analyses involving the scarlet macaw, chicken, and zebra finch genomes revealed high levels of nucleotide-based conservation as well as evidence for overall genome stability among the three highly divergent species. Application of a new whole-genome analysis of divergence involving all three species yielded prioritized candidate genes and noncoding regions for parrot traits of interest (i.e., speech, intelligence, longevity) which were independently supported by the results of previous human GWAS studies. We also observed evidence for genes and noncoding loci that displayed extreme conservation across the three avian lineages, thereby reflecting their likely biological and developmental importance among birds.
Quality Employment for Women in the Green Economy: Industry, Occupation, and State-by-State Job Estimates
Source: Institute for Women’s Policy Research
This report provides the first-ever estimates of women’s employment in the green economy, state-by-state, by industry, and by occupation. The analysis draws on the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey; the Brookings-Battelle Clean Economy database; and the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics Green Goods and Services survey. The report examines women’s share of employment in the occupations predicted to see the highest growth in the green economy and includes two alternative state-by-state estimates for growth in green jobs. Focusing on investments in green buildings and retrofits, the report includes a state-by-state analysis of employment in key construction occupations by age, race, ethnicity, and gender. This report was funded by a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation’s Sustainable Employment in a Green US Economy (SEGUE) Program. It is the first of a series of publications investigating strategies for improving women’s access to quality employment in the green economy; future reports will address good practices in workforce development for women in the green economy.
Source: National Research Council
The US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) are responsible for protecting species that are listed as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and for protecting habitats that are critical for their survival. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible for registering or reregistering pesticides under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and must ensure that pesticide use does not cause any unreasonable adverse effects on the environment, which is interpreted to include listed species and their critical habitats. The agencies have developed their own approaches to evaluating environmental risk, and their approaches differ because their legal mandates, responsibilities, institutional cultures, and expertise differ. Over the years, the agencies have tried to resolve their differences but have been unsuccessful in reaching a consensus regarding their assessment approaches.
As a result, FWS, NMFS, EPA, and the US Department of Agriculture asked the National Research Council (NRC) to examine scientific and technical issues related to determining risks posed to listed species by pesticides. Specifically, the NRC was asked to evaluate methods for identifying the best scientific data available; to evaluate approaches for developing modeling assumptions; to identify authoritative geospatial information that might be used in risk assessments; to review approaches for characterizing sublethal, indirect, and cumulative effects; to assess the scientific information available for estimating effects of mixtures and inert ingredients; and to consider the use of uncertainty factors to account for gaps in data. Assessing Risks to Endangered and Threatened Species from Pesticides, which was prepared by the NRC Committee on Ecological Risk Assessment under FIFRA and ESA, is the response to that request.
Source: Microsoft Research
Providing personalized and interactive education (as in one-on-one tutoring) remains an unsolved problem for standard classrooms. The arrival of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), while having provided a unique opportunity to share quality instruction with massive number of students, only exacerbate this problem with an even higher student to teacher ratio. We believe that automated intelligent tutoring can play a revolutionary role in this context. In this article, we motivate four problem definitions, namely problem generation, solution generation, feedback generation, and content authoring in the context of intelligent tutoring. We describe how formal methods can play a useful role in addressing these problems. We present some recent results that have been applied to a variety of STEM subject domains (including logic, automata, programming, arithmetic, algebra, and geometry) as illustrative examples.
New Report: The Law That’s Saving American Fisheries
Source: Ocean Conservancy
“The Law That’s Saving American Fisheries: The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act” is a primer and collection of stories that highlight pioneers of American fishery management as well as innovators who are opening fishing frontiers, revealing:
- How a salmon fishing pioneer’s courage in making sacrifices for long-term sustainability set the stage for Alaska’s success
- How successful fishermen from Alaska to Florida used discipline to turn around two decades of overfishing
- How West Coast fishermen found the flexibility to make a living within rebuilding programs
- How fishing entrepreneurs in Port Clyde, Maine, turned leadership into opportunity
- Why rebuilding important recreational species such as summer flounder, bluefish and lingcod provides economic as well as enjoyment payoffs
- What commercial and recreational fishermen believe we get from good stewardship
Report on the National Stakeholders Conference on Honey Bee Health (PDF)
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
From press release:
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today released a comprehensive scientific report on honey bee health. The report states that there are multiple factors playing a role in honey bee colony declines, including parasites and disease, genetics, poor nutrition and pesticide exposure.
“There is an important link between the health of American agriculture and the health of our honeybees for our country’s long term agricultural productivity,” said Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan. “The forces impacting honeybee health are complex and USDA, our research partners, and key stakeholders will be engaged in addressing this challenge.”
“The decline in honey bee health is a complex problem caused by a combination of stressors, and at EPA we are committed to continuing our work with USDA, researchers, beekeepers, growers and the public to address this challenge,” said Acting EPA Administrator Bob Perciasepe. “The report we’ve released today is the product of unprecedented collaboration, and our work in concert must continue. As the report makes clear, we’ve made significant progress, but there is still much work to be done to protect the honey bee population.”
WMO Annual Climate Statement Confirms 2012 as Among Top Ten Warmest Years
Source: World Meteorological Organization
The World Meteorological Organization’s Statement on the Status of the Global Climate says that 2012 joined the ten previous years as one of the warmest — at ninth place — on record despite the cooling influence of a La Niña episode early in the year.
The 2012 global land and ocean surface temperature during January–December 2012 is estimated to be 0.45°C (±0.11°C) above the 1961–1990 average of 14.0°C. This is the ninth warmest year since records began in 1850 and the 27th consecutive year that the global land and ocean temperatures were above the 1961–1990 average, according to the statement. The years 2001–2012 were all among the top 13 warmest years on record.
Horizontal cooling towers: riverine ecosystem services and the fate of thermoelectric heat in the contemporary Northeast US
Source: Environmental Research Letters
The electricity sector is dependent on rivers to provide ecosystem services that help regulate excess heat, either through provision of water for evaporative cooling or by conveying, diluting and attenuating waste heat inputs. Reliance on these ecosystem services alters flow and temperature regimes, which impact fish habitat and other aquatic ecosystem services. We demonstrate the contemporary (2000–2010) dependence of the electricity sector on riverine ecosystem services and associated aquatic impacts in the Northeast US, a region with a high density of thermoelectric power plants. We quantify these dynamics using a spatially distributed hydrology and water temperature model (the framework for aquatic modeling in the Earth system), coupled with the thermoelectric power and thermal pollution model. We find that 28.4% of thermoelectric heat production is transferred to rivers, whereas 25.9% is directed to vertical cooling towers. Regionally, only 11.3% of heat transferred to rivers is dissipated to the atmosphere and the rest is delivered to coasts, in part due to the distribution of power plants within the river system. Impacts to the flow regime are minimal, while impacts to the thermal regime include increased river lengths of unsuitable habitats for fish with maximum thermal tolerances of 24.0, 29.0, and 34.0 ° C in segments downstream of plants by 0.6%, 9.8%, and 53.9%, respectively. Our analysis highlights the interactions among electricity production, cooling technologies, aquatic impacts, and ecosystem services, and can be used to assess the full costs and tradeoffs of electricity production at regional scales.
Source: PLoS ONE
Voice, as a secondary sexual characteristic, is known to affect the perceived attractiveness of human individuals. But the underlying mechanism of vocal attractiveness has remained unclear. Here, we presented human listeners with acoustically altered natural sentences and fully synthetic sentences with systematically manipulated pitch, formants and voice quality based on a principle of body size projection reported for animal calls and emotional human vocal expressions. The results show that male listeners preferred a female voice that signals a small body size, with relatively high pitch, wide formant dispersion and breathy voice, while female listeners preferred a male voice that signals a large body size with low pitch and narrow formant dispersion. Interestingly, however, male vocal attractiveness was also enhanced by breathiness, which presumably softened the aggressiveness associated with a large body size. These results, together with the additional finding that the same vocal dimensions also affect emotion judgment, indicate that humans still employ a vocal interaction strategy used in animal calls despite the development of complex language.
Source: National Institute of Standards and Technology
Across the nation, headlines tell the story of evidence that has been mishandled, misplaced, lost, or destroyed. Often the blame for these mishaps is directed toward property and evidence custodians housed in law enforcement agencies nationwide. Many law enforcement agencies do not properly address, recognize, or support the efforts of their property rooms. Although these agencies bear ultimate responsibility for maintaining the integrity of the evidence, the real problem lies with a systemic failure to properly account for evidence from collection through final disposition. This failure reduces the public’s confidence in the criminal justice system to produce just results in criminal and civil proceedings.
Biological evidence refers to samples of biological material—such as hair, tissue, bones, teeth, blood, semen, or other bodily fluids—or to evidence items containing biological material (DNA Initiative 2012). This biological evidence, which may or may not have been previously analyzed at a forensic laboratory, should be retained in an appropriate storage facility until needed for court or for forensic testing. Such evidence is frequently essential in linking someone to or excluding someone from crime scene evidence. The criminal justice system depends on presenting evidence to judges and jurors to help them reach a conclusion about the guilt or innocence of the defendant. All criminal justice stakeholders, including law enforcement officers, lawyers, forensic analysts, and fact finders, should be certain that the biological evidence they are considering has been properly preserved, processed, stored, and tracked to avoid contamination, premature destruction, or degradation. In addition, individuals who come into contact with biological evidence, such as evidence custodians, need to be confident that it has been packaged and labeled in a way that will allow them to efficiently locate relevant evidence for a case. To establish this confidence, all handlers of biological evidence should follow well-defined procedures for its optimal preservation.
The Biological Evidence Preservation Handbook offers guidance for individuals involved in the collection, examination, tracking, packaging, storing, and disposition of biological evidence. This may include crime scene technicians, law enforcement officers, healthcare professionals, forensic scientists, forensic laboratory managers, evidence supervisors, property managers, storage facility personnel, lawyers, testifying experts, court staff members, and anyone else who may come in contact with biological evidence. While many of the recommendations relate to the physical storage, preservation, and tracking of evidence at the storage facility, this handbook also covers the transfer of the material between the storage facility and other locations and discusses how the evidence should be handled at these other locations.
This report is divided into five main sections that detail issues and make recommendations related to biological evidence storage, tracking, preservation, and disposition. A glossary, which provides standard definitions of the technical terms used in this report, follows these sections.