All things environmental

Musings about the environment and all it touches, from education to city planning

2014 in review I: the news in science

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SFU's Lynne Quarmby at a Speaking for Science rally.  After what she saw on Burnaby Mountain, Lynn decided to run for the Greens.

SFU’s Lynne Quarmby at a Speaking for Science rally. After what she saw on Burnaby Mountain, Lynn decided to run for the Greens.

Ah, the year end reviews. As usual, there’s been lots of developments on the environmental front. But even with the usual disasters, the year is concluding on a decidedly upbeat note. I’ll get to why later, but first, here’s a compendium of the better reviews of the year in science. There were, as always, lots of scientific breakthroughs this year, and environmental science has been featured prominently among everything else. Here’s a review of reviews:

In Discover, fourteen of the magazine’s hundred top science stories of the year (paywalled, unfortunately) have an environmental angle. Right behind number one (the Ebola epidemic ) is “Climate in crisis”, with the collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet, record temperatures (despite the polar vortex in eastern US), heat absorption by the deep ocean revealed, and the International Panel on Climate Change report. The Guardian, in its review of science in 2014, likewise featured the decline the ice sheet as the most significant item of the year (Science News also featured it). Discover also noted the pulse experiment that sent water down the Colorado river to the Sea of Cortez for the first time in decades, bringing new life to the delta; the spill of coal ash with as yet unregulated MCHM in West Virginia; Japan’s “scientific whaling” halted by the International Court of Justice; new linkage established between neonic pesticides and bird deaths; the unexplained, mars-like gully found in Ellesmere Island; the arrival of Chikungunya virus in Florida; and the discovery of five new animal species, including a tree frog, a marsupial, and a weird deep-sea mite. Quite fun.

The emag ThinkProgress had a year-end feature on what scientists did this year, which includes winning a Nobel for LED, contributing to the 5th IPCC report and the appeal for biodiversity in the Living Planet report; and becoming more involved in politics, such as these who met with Florida governor Rick Scott demanding climate action. Locally, SFU molecular biologist Lynne Quarmby was one of the prominent activists on Burnaby Mountain, and what she saw convinced her of the necessity of defending the environment in the political realm – she will be running a Green candidate in the next federal elections.

Finally, Buzzfeed ran a very interesting feature about how climate scientists feel; after all, they know the most about what’s coming down. But among the expected fear about the consequences and anger about inactivity, it is heartening to hear about hope about the future.


Written by enviropaul

December 31, 2014 at 4:29 pm

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  1. […] mentioned in earlier posts in this series that 2014 provided many reasons for feeling good about the future. Developments in […]

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