Kevin Novak sets the table with his opening statement: Whatever you think about the U.S. government or our elected officials, it does have guardrails in place to protect its citizens. For pharma and food products, it’s the FDA. For workplace safety there’s OSHA. For mobility safety, it’s the Department of Transportation. For safe investments, there’s the SEC. For consumer protection, there’s the Federal Trade Commission. For AI and emerging tech, there’s nothing.
Several polls in the past couple of years (including from Ipsos, YouGov and most recently Savanta on behalf of Kings College Policy Institute and the BBC) have been examining the kinds of conspiratorial beliefs people have. The findings have led to a lot of concern and discussion. There are several revealing aspects of these polls. Magda Osman, Principal Research Associate in Basic and Applied Decision Making, Cambridge Judge Business School, is interested in what claims are considered conspiratorial and how these are phrased. But she is also interested in the widespread belief that conspiracy theories are apparently on the rise, thanks to the internet and social media. Is this true and how concerned should we really be about conspiracy theories?
Stephen Buchmann is a pollination ecologist specializing in bees, and an adjunct professor with the departments of Entomology and of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Arizona. He draws on his experience studying bees for almost 50 years to explore how these creatures perceive the world and their amazing abilities to navigate, learn, communicate and remember. Here’s some of what I’ve learned.
El Niño is coming, and ocean temps are already at record highs – that can spell disaster for fish and corals
During El Niño, a swath of ocean stretching 6,000 miles (about 10,000 kilometers) westward off the coast of Ecuador warms for months on end, typically by 2 to 4 degrees Fahrenheit (about 1 to 2 degrees Celsius). A few degrees may not seem like much, but in that part of the world, it’s more than enough to completely reorganize wind, rainfall and temperature patterns all over the planet. White corals indicate bleaching from heat stress. Marine heat waves can trigger coral bleaching. Dillon Amaya is a climate scientist who studies the oceans. After three years of La Niña, he advises that it’s time to start preparing for what El Niño may have in store.
Privacy and cybersecurity issues impact every aspect of our lives – home, work, travel, education, health and medical records – to name but a few. On a weekly basis Pete Weiss highlights articles and information that focus on the increasingly complex and wide ranging ways technology is used to compromise and diminish our privacy and online security, often without our situational awareness. Four highlights from this week: Global internet connectivity at risk from climate disasters; The Insecurity of Photo Cropping; These 26 words ‘created the internet.’ Now the Supreme Court may be coming for them; and NSA Releases Best Practices For Securing Your Home Network.
Hannah Della Bosca, PhD Candidate and Research Assistant at Sydney Environment Institute, University of Sydney addresses a distinct form of emerging climate denial. You may have experienced it and not even realised. It’s called implicatory denial, and it happens when you consciously recognise climate change as a serious threat without making significant changes to your everyday behaviour in response.
What’s going on with the Greenland ice sheet? It’s losing ice faster than forecast and now irreversibly committed to at least 10 inches of sea level rise
Alun Hubbard is a field glaciologist who has worked on ice sheets for more than 30 years. The past few years in particular have been unnerving for the sheer rate and magnitude of change underway. Current teachings that ice sheets respond over millennial time scales is definitely not what we’re seeing today. If every year were like 2012, when Greenland experienced a heat wave, that irreversible commitment to sea level rise would triple. That’s an ominous portent given that these are climate conditions we have already seen, not a hypothetical future scenario.
Light pollution is disrupting the seasonal rhythms of plants and trees, lengthening pollen season in US cities
City lights that blaze all night are profoundly disrupting urban plants’ phenology – shifting when their buds open in the spring and when their leaves change colors and drop in the fall. New research Yuyu Zhou coauthored shows how nighttime lights are lengthening the growing season in cities, which can affect everything from allergies to local economies. In the study, Zhous and his colleagues analyzed trees and shrubs at about 3,000 sites in U.S. cities to see how they responded under different lighting conditions over a five-year period. Plants use the natural day-night cycle as a signal of seasonal change along with temperature.