Sound Science and Sound Journalism in an Era of Fake News

by Arturo Herrera on December 22, 2017

Public health, energy resources, climate change challengesWed, Jan 31, 2018 1:15 PM – 2:15 PM EST- http://bit.ly/2Dv9Q5X

Join Island Press and the Security and Sustainability Forum in a sixty minute discussion about how journalists conduct their research and investigations, confirm facts, ferret out false information and maintain a sound basis for their reporting.

Island Press in partnership with the Security and Sustainability Forum has set a date for our upcoming webinar featuring Carey Gillam, veteran journalist and author of Whitewash: The Story of a Weed Killer, Cancer, and the Corruption of Science.

Paul Thacker Paul Thacker

The discussion will be moderated by journalist Paul Thacker and will be followed by a question and answer session. 

 

 

 

Join Island Press, in partnership with the Security and Sustainability Forum, for our upcoming webinar featuring veteran journalist Carey Gillam, who is Research Director for the non-profit U.S. Right to Know and author of Whitewash: The Story of a Weed Killer, Cancer, and the Corruption of Science.

Carey will be joined by Dr. Dana Barr, Environmental Health Professor at Emory’s Rollins School of Public Health for a conversation on the impacts of glyphosate on our food and health and how this research serves as a case study for the importance of scientific and journalistic rigor. The discussion will be moderated by journalist Paul Thacker and will be followed by a question and answer session.

Carey Gillam Carey Gillam

 

 

 

 

 

Dr Boyd Carr
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We are not even a year into the Trump Administration, but its reflexive and unthinking attack on the government it supposed to be running is well underway. Inconvenient but life-saving regulations are being eliminated, environmental rules are relaxed or unenforced, key positions are left vacant and now we have a tax law that includes a wide variety of anti-public measures. I know it’s popular to believe that the private sector is a paragon of efficiency and government is simply waste, fraud and abuse–but it is simply not true. Even more destructive is the idea that the private sector can succeed without an effective public sector. At the federal level, we are in the fourth decade of an effort to starve the (federal government) beast. The number of federal employees continues to shrink while the dollars spent on federal contractors continues to grow. Young people interested in public service have largely given up on a career in the U.S. federal government.

The most prosperous, successful and sustainable cities are those that demonstrate the skill to foster partnerships between the public and private sectors. Real estate developers, retailers, and other commercial businesses need government to provide public safety, public space, health care, mass transit links, energy supply, water, sewage and solid waste disposal services. To attract employees, they need good schools, cultural institutions, entertainment and restaurants. They also need clean air, clean water and a toxic-free environment. The best way to deliver these services is through public-private partnerships. Almost two decades ago I wrote about this and analyzed the distinct roles of the public, private, and nonprofit sectors in delivering public services. Back then I called it “functional matching”, which was an academic’s way of saying that some things are better done by private for-profit organizations, some by mission-driven nonprofits, and some by the government. The ideological battle between the communists and the capitalists is over. We need both individual incentives and community-funded and directed services. In a global economy, with highly mobile businesses, starving the public sector has the effect of driving away the private sector.

Here in New York we’ve gotten used to a federal government that takes more than it gives, but at least it tended to stay out of our way. The new tax law sets a cap on state and local tax deductibility at $10,000. Once we hit the cap, and many of us will, the money we pay for our schools, roads, trains, public hospitals, fire, police and other public services will now be counted as income on our federal taxes and so in “high tax” states we will pay tax on our taxes. This is an attack by anti-government red states on the blue states that have a robust public sector and tend to charge more for the services offered in that state. Another anti-public-sector clause in this tax bill is that the “529” accounts that allow you to shelter up to $10,000 a year for college savings accounts can now be used for private elementary and high school costs as well. The same law that attacks the source of revenue for public schools will help subsidize private schools.

The media pundits tell us that the anti-tax fever will now spread even more intensely to the blue states, and that federal entitlements like Social Security and Medicare will now be attacked since the federal government will have to reduce its expenditures. I am too much of an optimist to believe that will happen. The Republicans in Washington will learn the hard way that senior citizen entitlements are the third rail of American politics. Those cuts will never happen. Governments in high tax states like New York, California, New Jersey and Connecticut will be under greater financial pressure to reduce taxes, but will also be under political pressure to continue to deliver services. These high tax states also tend to be high income states, and may find themselves taxing their higher income people to make up for their inability to raise property and other no longer deductible taxes.

In short, high tax states will need to take back the tax cuts for the wealthy given by the federal government if they are to adequately fund state and local services. Since these wealthy individuals are far from over-taxed, there is little harm in taking back these tax cuts. Perhaps some rich people will move out, but others will move in. Maybe the president will make a show of moving from Trump Tower to Mar-a-Lago in Florida, but then again, I don’t think it’s in his financial interest to encourage rich people to leave high-priced Manhattan real estate.

The symbolic policies made in Washington have to survive a real-world reality test in our local communities. The president believes the tax cut will stimulate an economic growth rate of 6%. Unless he frees up immigration, we don’t have the labor force to generate that level of growth, even if American businesses became that exuberant. But in addition to rhetoric and symbolism, the federal government is doing damage to governmental capacity. The federal government has become an unreliable partner to states, cities and businesses. Staff and grant cutbacks, declining morale, regulatory uncertainty and non-enforcement are rippling through the nation and their long-term effects will not be good. Even worse, the promised trillion-dollar infrastructure program, so desperately needed by communities throughout America, seems to be either a shell game or a mirage. The multi-billion-dollar tunnel from New Jersey to New York, finally agreed to by those states, awaits a commitment from the federal government. Trump’s idea of a trillion-dollar infrastructure investment seems to be similar to his real estate investment strategy: invest other people’s money and then put your name on the property.

We have now experienced eleven months of this administration’s incompetence, immorality and inability to tell the truth. Other American institutions have done their best to fill the gaps left by our declining national government. Within America, many of those gaps will be filled. Outside our nation, the administration’s inability to understand the role of state department diplomats, or even commercial, visa and immigration staffs will harm our participation in the global economy. It will take a few years for these problems to become obvious and their impact to be measured and understood. There is no substitute for the federal government in foreign affairs and so those gaps will not be filled.

The modern global economy is an outgrowth of the nation-based industrial economy that America once dominated. It is a natural outgrowth of advances in the technology of communication, computing, transport, automation and production. Just as America’s 19th century farms grew due to the public-private partnerships that built, for example, the Erie Canal and our land grant colleges, our 20th century industry required government-built infrastructure for transportation, energy and water. The 21st century’s requirements are still emerging, but we know they require a competent, effective public sector. The better we get at building public-private partnerships, the stronger our economy will be and that in turn will help build healthier communities and a higher quality of life. The nasty, ideological wars in politics emphasize the few things we disagree about and ignore the many things all Americans have in common. The president’s personal, ceaseless negative tweets about real and imagined attacks set a tone that is difficult to ignore, and reinforces differences rather than common goals. It is essential that we rise above Washington’s useless battles and focus on building the collaborations that have long made this nation great. Our long tradition of public-private partnerships must survive this attack on the public sector.

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November is a big month for climate science. Please join the National Council for Science and the Environment and Second Nature for a rich discussion about the recent release of the Fourth National Climate Assessment and the outcomes from the international climate meetings in Bonn – UNFCCC COP 23. NCSE Executive Director Michelle Wyman will facilitate the discussion between NCSE Senior Fellow Kathy Jacobs and Dr. Katharine Hayhoe, Climate Scientist, as they review the high points of the report and the draft of the second volume. Thereafter, Second Nature President Tim Carter will provide a first-hand summary of the events and outcomes during the UNFCCC COP 23 meetings held in Bonn, Germany.

 

The Fourth National Climate Assessment and Outcomes from the UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn – COP 23 from Security & Sustainability Forum on Vimeo.

Michelle Wyman, Executive Director, National Council for Science and the Environment – Michelle Wyman has worked on energy and environmental policy with states and local governments for over 15 years. In close consultation with regional and local governments and their constituencies, she developed strategic and tactical solutions to their energy planning, climate mitigation, and adaptation challenges. She previously served as the Director of Intergovernmental Affairs at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Michelle’s extensive experience includes founding Applied Solutions- Local Governments Building a Clean Economy, and leading ICLEI USA, both nonprofits engaging directly with cities, counties, and states on clean energy, environmental, and sustainability issues.

Confirmed Speakers

Katharine Hayhoe, PhD, Director, Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University  — Dr. Hayhoe is a professor in the Department of Political Science and director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University, part of the Department of Interior’s South-Central Climate Science Center. Her research currently focuses on establishing a scientific basis for assessing the regional to local-scale impacts of climate change on human systems and the natural environment. To this end, she analyzes observations, compares future scenarios, evaluates global and regional climate models, builds and assesses statistical downscaling models, and constantly strive to develop better ways of translating climate projections into information relevant to agriculture, ecosystems, energy, infrastructure, public health, and water resources.

 

Kathy Jacobs , Director, Center for Climate Adaptation Science and Solutions, University of Arizona  — Katharine Jacobs is director of the Center for Climate Adaptation Science and Solutions (CCASS) and professor in the department of soil, water and environmental science at the University of Arizona. From 2010 to 2013, Jacobs served as an assistant director in the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) in the Executive Office of the President. Jacobs was the director of the 2014 National Climate Assessment, and also was the lead advisor on water science, policy and climate adaptation within OSTP.

 

Tim Carter, PhD , President, Second Nature  –– Dr. Carter currently serves as the President of Second Nature, leading climate commitments within higher education. Prior to this, Dr. Carter was the founding Director of Butler University’s Center for Urban Ecology (CUE), and built the center from a fledgling unit with two interns and a program manager to a thriving academic center with over $3M in externally funded initiatives. The CUE also led efforts to develop Butler’s climate strategy including signing the ACUPCC, developing Butler’s Climate Action Plan, and hiring Butler’s first sustainability officer. Dr. Carter received his Ph.D. in Ecology with distinction from the University of Georgia.

 

Reed Schuler -Senior Policy Advisor for Climate and Sustainability, Governor Jay Inslee of Washington State

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Please join Island Press and the Security and Sustainability Forum in a 45 minute online conversation with David Orr, Oberlin College and Erik Assadourian, World Watch Institute, about climate, education and democracy.
This is a follow up to a recent webinar featuring WWI’s latest publication in its State of the World annual series, “EarthEd – Rethinking Education on a Changing Planet”.

Climate, Education and Democracy – A Conversation with David Orr and Erik Assadourian_ Climate, Education and D from Security & Sustainability Forum on Vimeo.

PANEL:

David Orr –“The elections of 2016 in Western democracies showed the fault lines emerging in our civic culture. They are a dispute between advocates of competing paradigms about the possible and desirable scale of human domination of the ecosphere and who benefits and who loses.”

 

 

Erik Assadourian – “Education alone will not save humanity, but it may play an essential role in enabling people to get through the turbulent times ahead with their humanity intact.”

 

 

Elisabeth Graffy, Arizona State University, will moderate the discussion.

The session format is a panel discussion rather than slide presentations, and audience Q&A.

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Issues in sustainability science are increasingly being addressed using “big data” and data analytics.  Data rich modeling techniques can assist in improving systems thinking to integrate business operations, people, ecosystems and climate. The result can be improved decision making, greener supply chains and optimization of business operations — all leading to increased corporate profits and important social benefits.  The ultimate goal of big data science is to foster economic development, improve social livelihoods, and enhance environmental quality.
SSF, leaders from Chatmine Technologies and Boston University participated in a free webinar demonstrating the application of computational modelling of natural and social processes to identify patterns, trends, and associations that can inform sustainability decision making. The webinar was organized around five case studies focused on integrating multi-scale and multi-source data and applying spatial statistical techniques, artificial Intelligence algorithms, and systems modeling to derive business insights and strategies.  The presentations are appropriate for a non-technical audience and include:
  • Behavioral Correlations: Are hybrid or electric car drivers more likely to solarize their roofs? This project explores behavior and attitudinal data of some consumers in Massachusetts.
  • Analyzing Flood Risk: Flood insurance is increasingly important for residential and commercial property owners. Flood risk is still mapped using USGS 100 year flood maps. These maps have to be completely updated and revised using new satellite data that can be analyzed to provide better risk probability profiles based on International panel on Climate Change (IPCC) models. This example reports on work for a commercial insurance company.
  • Forensic Environmental Investigations Using Neural Networks: Urban sustainability includes protecting urban trees and forests. Panelists applied unsupervised neural networks to examine the impact of natural gas leaks caused by aging infrastructure that resulted in tree mortality in Boston
  • Predicting Malaria Hot Spots: Increasing temperatures in the highland regions of East Shoa in Ethiopia have led to increased incidence of malaria. Spatial statistical analysis, shown in this example, predicted the clusters or hot spots of malaria.
  • Municipal Resilience Snapshots: Designing and implementing sustainability metrics for a neighborhood or town can provide a quick snapshot of its current or future social and natural resiliency, as illustrated in this example.

Making a Big Impact on Sustainability with Big Data from Security & Sustainability Forum

CLICK HERE FOR SLIDES

Panel:
 
 GIS, data mining and information visualization and artificial neural networks
Suchi Gopal
Suchi Gopal, PhD is a professor at Boston University; her research interest is multidisciplinary dealing with spatial analysis and modeling, GIS, data mining and information visualization and artificial neural networks. She has applied spatial analysis to address a variety of problems in biology, environmental science, public health, and business. Suchi is currently working on urban sustainability issues. She is also the CEO of Chatmine Technologies that specializes in big data analysis and business insights for industry, business and government clients, including the healthcare, technology, packaging, and financial sectors.
 
Josh Pitts
Joshua Pitts is a data scientist and software engineer, with a focus on integration of unique data sets to model complex systems. Recent work includes GIS-based environmental/climate modeling and visualization for the MacArthur Foundation, Conservation International, and the National Park Service. Josh also serves as CTO of Chatmine Technologies, where he manages the big data analytical program.
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Webinar- Beyond Doom and Gloom: Essentials to Move the Needle for Green Energy

August 3, 2017

While individual and organizational commitments to sustainability are growing, there is not enough civic engagement for green energy policy. Fossil fuel companies and some utilities are damaging the environment and our shared future through advocating for bad energy policies. In this webinar, we share non-partisan materials that any person or organization can easily use to […]

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Drawdown – 60 Minutes with Paul Hawken

August 3, 2017

Project Drawdown is facilitating a broad coalition of researchers, scientists, graduate students, PhDs, post-docs, policy makers, business leaders and activists to assemble and present the best available information on climate solutions in order to describe their beneficial financial, social and environmental impact over the next thirty years. The book, Drawdown, reports on this research to map, measure, model, and […]

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Webinar: Earth Ed – Rethinking Education on a Changing Planet

July 24, 2017

We present another Closing the Environmental Literacy Gap webinar in collaboration with the World Watch Institute and Island Press. This webinar features contributors to WWI’s latest State of the World publication, “EarthEd – Rethinking Education on a Changing Planet“.   EarthEd addresses applying a systems approach to environmental learning at all levels of development, from preschool to professional. Its guidance can inform teachers, policy makers, […]

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The Science, Business, and Education of Sustainable Infrastructure Building Resilience in a Changing World

June 30, 2017

Systems thinking and a sustainability framework can serve to effectively guide investment in natural, built, cyber, and social infrastructure.  The trifecta of science, business and education working together, presents an opportunity for infrastructure to be built, rebuilt, maintained or upgraded to meet standards of sustainability. Innovation in all fields of natural sciences, engineering, computing, social […]

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Global Atlas of Marine Fisheries – What is happening with marine life?

June 22, 2017

Until now, there has been only one source of data on global fishery catches: information reported to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations by member countries. An extensive, ten-year study conducted by The Sea Around Us Project of the University of British Columbia shows that this catch data is fundamentally misleading. Many […]

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