I’ve got a piece at Huffington Post today about scientific illiteracy and public disengagement–and some possible answers. An excerpt:
Take clean energy, the industry of the future. Globally, the clean energy economy is booming–and China is now its clear leader. The U.S. fell into a distant second place last year in clean energy investment and finance, as China spent $ 34.6 billion to our $18.6 billion.
A similar story emerges in the biomedical arena, where our research investments haven’t kept pace with national health priorities. For instance, Alzheimer’s disease is now the seventh leading cause of death in the US, and accounts for 34 percent of total Medicare spending. Yet in terms of research, it’s a stepchild: Funding through the National Institutes of Health is currently less than $ 500 million per year.
How do you make Americans more focused on the centrality of science to our future? It isn’t easy given the nature of our national conversation–with serious science news vanishing from the media–and our already limited attention constantly directed elsewhere, including debating whether to elect global warming denying candidates to Congress this November 2. Read More
..okay not exactly. But anyone who reads The Intersection regularly likely knows I have an affinity for the sea cucumber–the charismatic little critter I studied in graduate school up at UMaine. What I haven’t shared previously is that because I worked on them for years, I also became extremely sensitive to the toxin they produce–as many researchers working with different echinoderms do. In fact, I am now severely allergic to cucumaria frondosa. Needless to say, you don’t want to mess with them.
So I’m not surprised to learn that unlike many species at risk from ocean acidification–already adversely affecting marine organisms like clown fish–echinoderms seem to be less vulnerable. From the BBC:
When the animals, known as echinoderms, were exposed to water high in carbon dioxide early in their lives, there were no adverse effects.
Echinoderms are a diverse group that includes sea cucumbers and starfish.
Their natural resilience could represent a competitive advantage under some climate change scenarios.