Elephant Refugees Flee to Last Stronghold in Africa

We’re not talking about refugees. Not the kind that are flocking to Europe from Syria, but the four legged kind that are being over hunted.

A national park in Botswana is struggling to support the staggering number of animals fleeing from poaching in other countries.

Read about it over at National Geographic!

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More expensive plastic bags = fewer plastic bags!

The number of plastic bags found on UK beaches has fallen by nearly half over the last year.

And it was all due to the massive cost of plastic bags now imposed on the British public! Just kidding, it’s only a 5p levy.

Read about it over at the guardian, and start implementing a levy on all plastic bags!

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Stand up for NIH funding

Elizabeth Warren recently posted a piece on Medium about a bill to help advance medical innovation in the United States. But, as she points out, this bill does not provide money to basic research funded through the NIH, but rather is meant to make it easier for pharmaceutical companies to make money by lying to the public.

Needless to say this is upsetting, and given the current funding rates and the tightening of the federal budget for scientific research (NIH funding was cut by 20% over the last dozen years…), this bit of science news should inspire you to call your senator or congressman.

Read the piece here, and remember: This is not normal.

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Make America Informed Again

One thing that sprung out of the 2016 Presidential Election is the role that fake news played in the spread of misinformation, and potentially lead to the current disastrous result.

Sometimes this is because the editorial staff has a slant on an issue that they are actively pushing. But sometimes there’s simply bad reporting because it’s easier to do and can make you more successful than good reporting does. Even when addressing something as objective as science.

Think about it: a new study comes out, with a sweeping groundbreaking conclusion. There’s a press release that accompanies the study, if you’re a journalist do you:

  1. Only write about it if you, yourself, are an expert in the field, capable of digging into the details and evaluating it in the context of everything else known yourself?
  2. Consult with a slew of experts, assuming you’re not one yourself, to ensure you evaluate the release properly — as best you can — before you craft your narrative?
  3. Call a few people to interview them, writing down quotes, so that when you write about the study and its conclusion, you can add in either affirming or dissenting opinions from experts?
  4. Or do you simply write a catchy headline designed to highlight the new, spectacular conclusions, and base your story entirely on the press release?

Forbes wrote an article addressing this exact problem. 

Or if you want the TL;DR version watch this Last Week Tonight clip, where John Oliver explains how important it is to understand science.

This Thanksgiving, Be Thankful for Science

In a deeply divided country, some people are dreading going home for the holidays. The anticipation of political conversation, about who voted for who, and about the racist, misogynist bigot who is planning to soon lead the United States.

So instead of talking through some of these issues (although I encourage civil discord!), the New York Times has given us a list of science and health stories from 2016 that you can discuss instead!

You could talk about how science views fat and what we know about weight loss! Or instead of talking about fleeing the country, perhaps consider a move to Mars instead! Or you can talk about dogs, and what science knows about their relationships! 

Or you can talk about climate change, funding rates, the importance of teaching evolution and minorities in STEM! Not recommended by the NYTimes but always recommended by NiB.

Also, consider subscribing to the New York Times.

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Defend the Role of Science in the New Political Era

The Union of Concerned Scientists has posted a statement worth reading (here):

Defend the Role of Science in the New Political Era

Independent science is critical to decisions on everything from climate change to lead poisoning to drug safety. But we are concerned that transition team members and those in administration leadership positions have a history of attacking and censoring science. We are concerned that an emboldened Congress may bring back legislation that rejects science and rolls back existing public health and environmental protections. And we are concerned that government scientists may not get the resources they need to carry out their agencies’ missions.
Please join Nobel Laureates, prominent scientists, and fellow experts on a statement outlining expectations for the use of science in the Trump administration.

Add your name to the statement today.

We will share this powerful statement with decision makers, opinion leaders, journalists, and others who will be charged with holding the Trump administration accountable for respecting the role of science in policy making.

Learn more about what the Trump presidency will mean for American science policy, and check out our blog series on the Trump administration.

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