The Science of What We Do (and Don’t) Know About Data Visualization

Read the full story at HBR Blogs.

Visualization is easy, right? After all, it’s just some colorful shapes and a few text labels. But things are more complex than they seem, largely due to the the ways we see and digest charts, graphs, and other data-driven images. While scientifically-backed studies do exist, there are actually many things we don’t know about how and why visualization works. To help you make better decisions when visualizing your data, here’s a brief tour of the research.

Climate Change, Wine, and Conservation

Via Docuticker.

Source: Conservation International

From humanature blog:

True or false? Wine grapes may soon be growing around Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. Wines from New Jersey are statistically indistinguishable from French wines. A little over a century ago, Algeria was the world’s largest wine exporter. China is the world’s fastest growing wine-producing country.

As it turns out, all of these statements are true — and each has an important lesson for conservation….

The area north of Yellowstone will be one of the areas with the greatest increase in suitability for growing wine grapes in the next 50 years. The reason is climate change. Temperatures are warming, and suitable lands for wine grape growing are moving north.

This shift may have a big conservation impact on the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative (Y2Y), an innovative attempt to connect wildlife habitats between Yellowstone and Canada’s Yukon Territory. Vineyards would be a major impediment to this connectivity. They provide poor habitat for wildlife, and would probably have to be fenced to avoid bears snacking on the grapes.

These changes in North America are symbolic of changes happening across the globe. Wine suitability is moving toward the poles. In South Africa, Chile and Australia, there is little land left in the direction of the South Pole, and suitable area for vineyards is declining. In the north, there is a lot of high-latitude land, and area suitable for vineyards is expanding. This will result in a global redistribution of wine-producing regions, with some serious consequences for ecosystems and wildlife habitat.

UK: Pollinators and Pesticides

Via Docuticker.

Source: House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee (UK)

From Summary:

Insects are exposed to many environmental factors, but recent research suggests that one group of insecticides—neonicotinoids—is having an especially deleterious impact on insect pollinators. The body of peer-reviewed science on that point has developed appreciably in the course of our inquiry, but certainty is—as yet, if ever—unachievable. Our inquiry therefore focused on how Defra and the European Commission addressed monitoring, risk assessment, regulation, risk management, precaution and mitigation in response to the emerging science.

The system for approving pesticides is opaque. The Government should seek reforms whereby the European Food Safety Authority clearly identifies action points in its assessments that the European Commission must explicitly address before approving pesticides for use in the EU, and Member States should not undertake the initial assessment of products developed in their own countries in order to avoid conflicts of interest.

Defra should strategically support insect pollinators in the UK to preserve biodiversity, protect the environment and sustain a key ecosystem service….

Defra’s application of the precautionary principle involves economic factors becoming entangled with environmental decision making, which not only contradicts Defra’s stated commitment to the precautionary principle, but risks overlooking the significant economic value of insect pollinators to UK agriculture. Defra should prepare to introduce a moratorium in the UK on the use of imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam by 1 January 2014, and support such a proposal in the EU.

A Zero Waste Spring Break

Read the full story from Rural Action.

Ohio University students who participated in the Beyond Athens alternative spring break trip didn’t anticipate how much the trip would change their perspective on waste in Appalachian Ohio. What Ohio University Senior Allison Hight learned during this experience, however, was that small improvements, such as cleaning a dump site, are integral to tackling broader social, economic, and environmental change.

Rural Action partnered with the Ohio University Campus Involvement Center and United Campus Ministries (UCM) to lead students on various service learning opportunities throughout Athens, Hocking, Perry, and Vinton counties from March 6th to March 9th. As part of the trip’s programming, the AOZWI organized a cleanup of an illegal dumpsite across from Iron Point Cemetery in Shawnee and facilitated a zero waste journaling project throughout the week.

‘Artificial Leaf’ Gains the Ability to Self-Heal Damage and Produce Energy From Dirty Water

Read the full story from the American Chemical Society.

Another innovative feature has been added to the world’s first practical “artificial leaf,” making the device even more suitable for providing people in developing countries and remote areas with electricity, scientists reported here today. It gives the leaf the ability to self-heal damage that occurs during production of energy.

New Approach to Testing Health, Environmental Effects of Nanoparticles

Read the full story from the American Chemical Society.

Earlier efforts to determine the health and environmental effects of the nanoparticles that are finding use in hundreds of consumer products may have produced misleading results by embracing traditional toxicology tests that do not take into account the unique properties of bits of material so small that 100,000 could fit in the period at the end of this sentence.

That was among the observations presented here today at the 245th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the world’s largest scientific society, by one of the emerging leaders in nanoscience research. The talk by Christy Haynes, Ph.D., was among almost 12,000 presentations at the gathering, which organizers expect to attract more than 14,000 scientists and others.