Listen to Chris talk about his life in science

A post by Chris RowanI was recently interviewed by Dr. Marie McNeely, host of the ‘People Behind the Science’ podcast – a show that lets scientists talk about their lives and experiences to provide a more rounded view of what scientists actually do in their day jobs, and outside of it. I had a great time talking about my life in science so far, and dispensing what meagre wisdom I’ve accumulated up to this point. Our discussion has now been posted, and I think it came out pretty well, mainly because Marie is a generous and articulate interviewer who managed to make me sound much more profound than I actually am.

1509033_765022133542692_8414235391211578448_nHead over for a listen, and you might want to think about checking out some of the other interviews, or subscribing to the podcast, while you’re there. 164 episodes and counting of interesting science and valuable perspectives on how to cope with the ups and downs of the scientific life, await you. Plus, anything that helps to establish scientists as fully-rounded human beings, rather than moustache-twirling villains or emotionless sociopaths, is worthy of support.

Categories: public science

Environmental Earth Science in the News Roundup #3

From composting to ways the Earth can kill you. We’ve got a bit of everything in this week’s roundup.

Categories: by Anne, teaching

Environmental Earth Science News Roundup #2

A post by Anne JeffersonMore linky goodness from Anne’s Environmental Earth Science class at Kent State University.

Categories: by Anne, environment, teaching

Environmental Earth Science News Roundup #1

A post by Anne Jefferson Anne is teaching Environmental Earth Science this fall. Because environmental earth science is pervasive in our lives, it’s also a frequent topic of news coverage. In order to encourage students to pay attention to where environmental earth science pops up in the news, they are responsible for finding and sharing at least five links over the course of the semester.

Categories: by Anne, environment, teaching

Mountaintop removal mining: what it looks like and what it does to Appalachian streams

A post by Anne Jefferson This semester I’m teaching Environmental Earth Science to a fantastic group of students at Kent State. In tomorrow’s class about fossil fuels, we’ll be talking about coal formation, use, and environmental consequences. A big one I think they should be aware of is the practice of mountaintop removal mining in West Virginia. We’ve already talked about it a bit, but I think this video gives some nice visuals, even if the narration veers a bit from overly dramatic to “boys with toys”.

From the Smithsonian:

Several well-respected scientists are working to figure out the impact of mountaintop removal mining on stream ecosystems. The coal companies haven’t exactly lined up to fund their work and provide access to the sites. So what *do* we know about the impacts of mountaintop mining on Appalachian streams and rivers? Here’s just one example, from the abstract of Bernhardt and Palmer (2011):

Southern Appalachian forests are recognized as a biodiversity hot spot of global significance, particularly for endemic aquatic salamanders and mussels. The dominant driver of land-cover and land-use change in this region is surface mining, with an ever-increasing proportion occurring as mountaintop mining with valley fill operations (MTVF). In MTVF, seams of coal are exposed using explosives, and the resulting noncoal overburden is pushed into adjacent valleys to facilitate coal extraction. To date, MTVF throughout the Appalachians have converted 1.1 million hectares of forest to surfacemines and buried more than 2,000 km of stream channel beneath mining overburden. The impacts of these lost forests and buried streams are propagated throughout the river networks of the region as the resulting sediment and chemical pollutants are transmitted downstream. There is, to date, no evidence to suggest that the extensive chemical and hydrologic alterations of streams by MTVF can be offset or reversed by currently required reclamation and mitigation practices.

Here’s an overview of the consequences and some suggested policy recommendations, presented in Science in 2010.

Among the scientists working on the environmental consequences of mountaintop removal, Margaret Palmer has become perhaps the most visible. Here she is on the Colbert Report:

(Note: the content appears to be unavailable tonight. Hopefully it will be made available again soon.)

Finally, here’s an profile of Margaret Palmer and her work on mountaintop removal mining, published earlier this year in Science magazine.

For more information:

Categories: by Anne, environment, hydrology, society, teaching