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Spanning the globe to bring you the constant variety of science... the thrill of discovery... and the agony of failed experiments... the human drama of scientific advancement... This is the Blue Streak Science Podcast!

Aug 9, 2018

  • Hurricane Maria’s death toll in Puerto Rico over 1,100
  • The Trump Administration Proposes to Scrap Automobile Fuel Efficiency Standards
  • Also, Donald Trump picks a White House science officer
  • The US state of California Hits Its Emissions Target Years Early!
  • Interview with Dr. Grant Ballard, Chief Science Officer of Point Blue Conservation Science

Science News with Nevena Hristozova and JD Goodwin

Hurricane Maria’s death toll in Puerto Rico over 1,100

It is a story we keep mentioning and we will keep mentioning for as long as it’s necessary. Puerto Rico - the American territory which seems to be completely forsaken by the American administration, probably because they don’t have fancy golf courses there right now. The government claims 64 deaths between landfall in September 2017 and December 2017, while the official average comes to about 1140 people who lost their lives. Talk about fake news the government seems to be the best in cooking these up. Next to that the, months-long power shortages, the contaminated water supplies, the extreme flooding are part of the daily struggles of the people of Puerto Rico a year after the hurricane hit. Good job, to president Trump and his cabinet for taking care of their own people...]

LA Times, New Scientist

GOP Administration Proposes to Scrap Automobile Fuel Efficiency Standards

Last Thursday, Donald Trump released a proposal to scrap federal fuel-efficiency standards for passenger vehicles. His administration has also threatened to remove California’s ability to set its own emissions guidelines.

The reaction from the science community, as well as government officials in California was swift and negative. On Twitter, Governor Jerry Brown wrote, “California will fight this stupidity in every conceivable way possible.”

What’s the Trump administration’s argument?

  • Current standards drive up vehicle prices
  • these standards would  increase the number of deaths from traffic accidents by encouraging consumers to keep driving older cars that aren’t as safe as new ones.

According to John DeCicco, a University of Michigan engineer who studies the environmental impact of vehicles, “I don’t believe the administration has any solid engineering or economic ground to stand on. It is basically political opportunism.”

With Trump’s new proposal the projected CO2 emissions would increase by roughly 20% compared to the projected output under the current regulations.

Trump’s plan would also revoke a waiver granted to California that allows the state to set air-quality standards that are stricter than those enacted by the federal government. The waiver also lets other states to adopt California's standards.

Even car makers are advising the GOP administration to back off because this could create a legal mess that could get dragged out for years.

We’re not gonna let this happen.  

Nature, New York Times

New Pick for White House Science Office is Not Bad

Our next story takes us back to you know who! Donald Trump.

Mr. Trump assumed office more than a year and half ago. Among his accomplishments is the fact that he has gone longer without a science adviser than any first-term president since 1976.

Here’s the biggest surprise. His choice to be director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy is not a d*%#head.

He is a meteorologist and his name is Kelvin Droegemeier. He’s an expert on extreme-weather events, and has been the vice-president for research at the University of Oklahoma since 2009. Kelvin Droegemeier also served on the National Science Board, which oversees the National Science Foundation, under presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush.

This guy is a good choice.

Granted, he’ll be stepping into an Office of Science and Technology Policy that has been eviscerated from a staff of 130 employed by President Obama to that of only 50 by Donald Trump.

But this one appointment is a good choice, and Donald Trump should be commended for it.

Science, Scientific American

California Hits Its Emissions Target Years Early!

JD, for a country that pulled out of the Paris agreement, showing nothing but disregard for scientific and popular opinions by the office running it, your own state is doing really well! California set a goal in 2006 to reduce its greenhouse emissions to levels equal those of 1990 by 2020. A recent study published by the Air Resources Board reviewing data from 2016 shows that California has already hit that target with few years to spare!

Emissions from the power sector mark the biggest drop - around 35%. At the same time California’s economy was still growing, mind you - for those who believe that degrowth is the only way to return to healthier planet. And also, for those who believe the greener future is a poorer future - you are wrong and California just proved you wrong with very convincing numbers!

Japan Times, Green Matters

Dr. Grant Ballard, Chief Science Officer

Point Blue Conservation Science

It was my privilege today to talk with Grant Ballard, the Chief Science Officer of Point Blue Conservation Science. We discussed the history, mission, and current projects being undertaken by this many-faceted conservation organization.

Point Blue is a leader in climate-smart conservation, helping to ensure that wildlife and our own communities continue to thrive in the decades to come. We believe that our collaborative climate-smart conservation actions today can lead to ecosystems that sustain healthy wildlife and human communities well into the future. As leaders and innovators in conservation science, we have the vision, scientific rigor, passion, and ability to inspire others to act to make positive conservation outcomes possible for a healthy blue planet.

  • Point Blue Conservation Science website


Recommended by The Team

Book: Unthinkable - And Extraordinary Journey Through the World's Strangest Brains

Author: Helen Thomson

In Unthinkable Helen Thomson tells the stories of nine extraordinary people. From the man who thinks he's a tiger to the doctor who feels the pain of others just by looking at them.

This is a terrific book that helps us to understand ourselves by helping us to understand the unique brains of some extraordinary people.

In Next Week’s Episode

Interview with Dr. Amber Stuver of Villanova University

We talked all about LIGO and gravitational waves.

Don't miss it!

In Closing

Thanks to Grant Ballard of Point Blue Conservation Science

And that concludes this episode of the Blue Streak Science Podcast.

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This show is produced by the Blue Streak Science team, and edited by Pro Podcast Solutions.

And our hosts today were Nevena Hristozova, and me!

I’m JD Goodwin.  

Thank you for joining us.

And remember...follow the science!