Day: August 4, 2020

Should Plants and Animals That Relocate Because of Climate Change Be Considered Invasive?

Read the full story at The Revelator.

Thousands of plant and animal species are already shifting their ranges in response to a changing climate. Will they be welcome?

Lead released in Notre-Dame Cathedral fire detected in Parisian honey

Elevated levels of lead have been found in samples of honey from hives downwind of the Notre-Dame Cathedral fire, collected three months after the April 2019 blaze.

In research outlined in Environmental Science & Technology Letters, scientists from UBC’s Pacific Centre for Isotopic and Geochemical Research (PCIGR) analyzed concentrations of metals, including lead, in 36 honey samples collected from Parisian hives in July 2019.

Associated journal article: Kate E. Smith, Dominique Weis, Catherine Chauvel, and Sibyle Moulin (2020). “Honey Maps the Pb Fallout from the 2019 Fire at Notre-Dame Cathedral, Paris: A Geochemical Perspective.” Environmental Science & Technology Letters Article ASAP
DOI: 10.1021/acs.estlett.0c00485

The Worst-Case Scenario for Global Warming Tracks Closely With Actual Emissions

Read the full story at Inside Climate News.

With scientists divided between hope and despair, a new study finds that the model projecting warming of 4.3 degrees Celsius is “actually the best choice.”

Associated journal article: Christopher R. Schwalm, Spencer Glendon, Philip B. Duffy (2020). “RCP8.5 tracks cumulative CO2 emissions.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 202007117. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2007117117

Why does climate denial still receive more news coverage than climate action?

Read the full story at Anthropocene.

It’s not always clear who and what drives the public discourse about climate change.

A Northeast US climate initiative has had a major side benefit—healthier children

Read the full story at The Daily Climate.

Researchers estimate a climate effort in the Northeast U.S. helped the region reduce toxic air pollution and avoid hundreds of asthma and autism cases, preterm births, and low birth weights.

Associated journal article: Frederica Perera, David Cooley, Alique Berberian, David Mills,and Patrick Kinney (2020). “Co-Benefits to Children’s Health of the U.S. Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.” Environmental Health Perspectives 128(7) CID: 077006

Moving To Virtual Programs: A Discussion with Natural Resource Professionals

View the webinar.

Hear from five presenters from around the country who will share their experiences and lessons learned in moving their programs to a virtual platform. They will cover topics ranging from things you can do in your own backyard to large-scale conferences. This event is open to everyone, but is targeted for natural resources professionals who are considering organizing virtual events in the future.

As COVID-19 spreads throughout the United States, organizations are having to quickly adjust and adapt to the rapidly changing guidance and restrictions placed upon businesses, communities, and individuals in the state. For many organizations, adjusting to the pandemic meant cancelling in-person events and workshops and turning to technology to continue to provide content to their audience. Some organizations have quickly adapted to using online technology to meet their audience needs while others continue to look for solutions. The experiences and lessons learned herein can be used or adapted to effectively plan and conduct virtual programs.


Related Files

The Call of the Wild: Using Sound to Help Imperiled Species and Ecosystems

Read the full story from The Revelator.

Noise pollution has harmed species across the planet. Could social recordings help bring them back to their habitats?

Science publishing has opened up during the coronavirus pandemic. It won’t be easy to keep it that way


by Virginia Barbour, Queensland University of Technology

Scientific publishing is not known for moving rapidly. In normal times, publishing new research can take months, if not years. Researchers prepare a first version of a paper on new findings and submit it to a journal, where it is often rejected, before being resubmitted to another journal, peer-reviewed, revised and, eventually, hopefully published.

All scientists are familiar with the process, but few love it or the time it takes. And even after all this effort – for which neither the authors, the peer reviewers, nor most journal editors, are paid – most research papers end up locked away behind expensive journal paywalls. They can only be read by those with access to funds or to institutions that can afford subscriptions.

What we can learn from SARS

The business-as-usual publishing process is poorly equipped to handle a fast-moving emergency. In the 2003 SARS outbreaks in Hong Kong and Toronto, for example, only 22% of the epidemiological studies on SARS were even submitted to journals during the outbreak. Worse, only 8% were accepted by journals and 7% published before the crisis was over.

Fortunately, SARS was contained in a few months, but perhaps it could have been contained even quicker with better sharing of research.

Fast-forward to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the situation could not be more different. A highly infectious virus spreading across the globe has made rapid sharing of research vital. In many ways, the publishing rulebook has been thrown out the window.

Preprints and journals

In this medical emergency, the first versions of papers (preprints) are being submitted onto preprint servers such as medRxiv and bioRxiv and made openly available within a day or two of submission. These preprints (now almost 7,000 papers on just these two sites) are being downloaded millions of times throughout the world.

However, exposing scientific content to the public before it has been peer-reviewed by experts increases the risk it will be misunderstood. Researchers need to engage with the public to improve understanding of how scientific knowledge evolves and to provide ways to question scientific information constructively.

Traditional journals have also changed their practices. Many have made research relating to the pandemic immediately available, although some have specified the content will be locked back up once the pandemic is over. For example, a website of freely available COVID-19 research set up by major publisher Elsevier states:

These permissions are granted for free by Elsevier for as long as the Elsevier COVID-19 resource centre remains active.

Publication at journals has also sped up, though it cannot compare with the phenomenal speed of preprint servers. Interestingly, it seems posting a preprint speeds up the peer-review process when the paper is ultimately submitted to a journal.

Open data

What else has changed in the pandemic? What has become clear is the power of aggregation of research. A notable initiative is the COVID-19 Open Research Dataset (CORD-19), a huge, freely available public dataset of research (now more than 130,000 articles) whose development was led by the US White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Researchers can not only read this research but also reuse it, which is essential to make the most of the research. The reuse is made possible by two specific technologies: permanent unique identifiers to keep track of research papers, and machine-readable conditions (licences) on the research papers, which specify how that research can be used and reused.

These are Creative Commons licences like those that cover projects such as Wikipedia and The Conversation, and they are vital for maximising reuse. Often the reading and reuse is done now at least in a first scan by machines, and research that is not marked as being available for use and reuse may not even be seen, let alone used.

What has also become important is the need to provide access to data behind the research papers. In a fast-moving field of research not every paper receives detailed scrutiny (especially of underlying data) before publication – but making the data available ensures claims can be validated.

If the data can’t be validated, the research should be treated with extreme caution – as happened to a swiftly retracted paper about the effects of hydroxychloroquine published by The Lancet in May.

Overnight changes, decades in the making

While opening up research literature during the pandemic may seem to have happened virtually overnight, these changes have been decades in the making. There were systems and processes in place developed over many years that could be activated when the need arose.

The international licences were developed by the Creative Commons project, which began in 2001. Advocates have been challenging the dominance of commercial journal subscription models since the early 2000s, and open access journals and other publishing routes have been growing globally since then.

Even preprints are not new. Although more recently platforms for preprints have been growing across many disciplines, their origin is in physics back in 1991.

Lessons from the pandemic

So where does publishing go after the pandemic? As in many areas of our lives, there are some positives to take forward from what became a necessity in the pandemic.

The problem with publishing during the 2003 SARS emergency wasn’t the fault of the journals – the system was not in place then for mass, rapid open publishing. As an editor at The Lancet at the time, I vividly remember we simply could not publish or even meaningfully process every paper we received.

But now, almost 20 years later, the tools are in place and this pandemic has made a compelling case for open publishing. Though there are initiatives ongoing across the globe, there is still a lack of coordinated, long term, high-level commitment and investment, especially by governments, to support key open policies and infrastructure.

We are not out of this pandemic yet, and we know that there are even bigger challenges in the form of climate change around the corner. Making it the default that research is open so it can be built on is a crucial step to ensure we can address these problems collaboratively.

Virginia Barbour, Director, Australasian Open Access Strategy Group, Queensland University of Technology

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

The Conversation

Review Your Environmental, Health And Safety Management Systems To Minimize Regulatory Enforcement Risks Post-Quarantine

Read the full story at JD Supra.

Businesses—even those that do not make use of the EPA’s COVID-19 enforcement policy—should take this opportunity to review their environmental compliance policies and the overall effectiveness of their environmental, health and safety (EHS) management systems. COVID-19 has upset many routine corporate practices, including environmental protocols, and may have also resulted in the loss of key EHS personnel. As such, even businesses with robust compliance programs could benefit from an assessment of how these programs have been implemented during the pandemic.

The Trump EPA is vastly underestimating the cost of carbon dioxide pollution to society, new research finds

Read the full story at Yale Climate Connections.

A recent study estimates that the ‘social cost of carbon’ is 100 times greater than the agency’s estimate.

Associated journal article: Hänsel, M.C., Drupp, M.A., Johansson, D.J.A. et al. “Climate economics support for the UN climate targets.” Nature Climate Change 10, 781–789 (2020).

%d bloggers like this: