Archive for May, 2009

26
May
09

What happens if GOP filibusters Sotomayor?

tschaller_lg.jpg Political Science Professor Tom Schaller

Sonia Sotomayor is a triple-dipper pick: Yes, a woman, and yes a Latina, too. But also a smart, tough judge. That giant sucking sound you hear are Latinos votes disappearing from the Republican side of the ledger for a decade, maybe more.

07
May
09

“Smog Blog” Paints Picture of Air Pollution for SciAm

Scientific American.com article on UMBC's "Smog Blog"

Scientific American.com article on UMBC's "Smog Blog"

UMBC PHYSICS PROFESSOR and JOINT CENTER FOR EARTH SYSTEMS TECHNOLOGY DIRECTOR RAY HOFF and his team’s “Smog Blog” were heavily featured over at Scientific American’s site today.

UMBC’s own U.S. Air Quality blog, a.k.a. the “Smog Blog,” is a big part of Scientific American’s article and slideshow on how the U.S. government and UMBC researchers use satellite data to chart the quality of the air we breathe.

Hoff has run the Smog Blog with a team of current and former graduate students and other volunteers since 2003. “From a personal perspective, I thought it would be a good teaching tool,” he notes, “but it turned out to be much more than that.”

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07
May
09

Stop trying to “save” the planet

UMBC GEOGRAPHY and ENVIRONMENTAL SYSTEMS PROFESSOR ERLE ELLIS tells us to wake up to a new “post-natural” environmentalism in an Op-Ed in Wired Magazine:

Nature is gone. It was gone before you were born, before your parents were born, before the pilgrims arrived, before the pyramids were built. You are living on a used planet.

Yes, nature is still around ― back-seat driving, annoying us with natural disasters from time to time, and everywhere present in the background ― but definitely in no position to take the wheel. That’s our job now. Don’t blame nature for global warming, sea level rise, invasive species, mass extinctions, crop failures and poverty. That’s our thing.

Society needs to learn from recent scientific efforts to explain changes in greenhouse gases and the biosphere during the Anthropocene. Three lines of evidence demonstrate that we live on a planet reshaped by humans for thousands of years.

Click here to read more.

04
May
09

in case of tornado, keep your seatbelt fastened

RICK BISSELL, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR EMERGENCY HEALTH SERVICES

For 50 years the National Weather Service (NWS) has been advising people driving in the path of tornados to abandon their cars or mobile homes and lie flat in a ditch if no other shelter was available, and the Weather Channel has repeated this advice since launching 20 years ago.

That was until late last week, when the Weather Channel broadcast new tornado safety guidelines my team developed for the American Red Cross, which recommends staying in your car with the seatbelt fastened and ignition running throughout a tornado warning.

As head of the Preparedness Subcouncil of the American Red Cross, we recently spent a year reviewing scientific literature behind public safety messages related to natural hazards such as tornadoes, hurricanes, wildfires, floods, etc. We found no evidence to support the NWS suggestion that people should lie in a ditch during a tornado if they cannot find solid shelter. Instead, we found evidence that automobiles provide substantially more protection than mobile homes or being outside. (By the way, who would want to lie in a ditch in a storm with pounding rain, hail, and lightning?)

Working with one of the most active researchers in tornado safety, Dr. Tom Schmidlin from Kent State University, we developed new tornado public advisory guidelines for the Red Cross and our federal partners (FEMA, NOAA, HHS, NWS, etc). We recommended that if you are outside, or in a mobile home, and can reach a car but cannot reach a sturdy building, you should get in the car. I sent this new public advisory and the supporting literature to Dr. Greg Forbes at the Weather Channel and he immediately broadcast the updated guidelines. Click here to watch the new advisory.

American Red Cross updates tornado safety guidelines for driving

American Red Cross updates tornado safety guidelines for driving

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