It’s celebration time for the iconic polar bear, the poster child of climate change. Or better, it’s a different type of celebration. Every year, February 27—International Polar Bear Day—highlights the challenges that this big, charismatic creature faces in a warming Arctic, and becomes a day of action to reduce carbon emissions. The nineteen subpopulations of polar bears spend their winter on sheets of frozen ocean water, which melt and retreat in warmer months, to then advance again in the fall. As ice keeps melting because of higher temperatures, their natural habitat shrinks, affecting their capacity to travel, hunt, and breed. In other words, their lives are tied to the annual spread and shrinkage of Arctic sea ice.
Polar bear silently stepping from an ice floe by Andreas Weith [Wikimedia Commons – Creative Commons Attribution–Share Alike 4.0]
Lewd Pointing by Quinn Dombrowski/Flickr/CC-BY-SA 2.0
In a recent tell-all letter to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology tackled the issue of sexual harassment of women in the academic scientific community. The committee defined the issue as a “pernicious problem,” and stated that “sexual harassment is not outside the norm for women in academia.” Continue reading →
The editorial staff and Editors at the SETAC journal Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management (IEAM), with heavy hearts, share with you the loss of our dear friend and colleague Peter M. Chapman. Peter left us much, much too soon on 26 September 2017.
We wish to dedicate this IEAM blog post to his memory. And we invite everyone reading this column to contribute their thoughts and favorite memories from Peter’s stellar career. We invite you to help us build one of many lasting remembrances to our dear friend.
We live in the world of fast fashion, which Kate Fletcher defines as low-cost clothing collections based on current, high-cost luxury fashion trends—it is a system that encourages disposability and is based on the rapid production of a large variety of clothing items that are not made to last and are used only a few times before being thrown away. Not surprisingly, the global production of clothing doubled between 2000 and 2014. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 15.1 million tons of textile waste was generated in 2013 in the United States and, of these, only 2.3 million tons were recovered through recycling. Sustainability is not a concept that consumers typically associate with fashion—the result is a general lack of awareness of the environmental impact of clothes manufacturing. With the increased rapid production of large amounts of newly generated textiles, it’s time to examine on the extent of this impact. Continue reading →
We face a steady, sobering news stream about the deforestation of the humid tropics, the warming of the Arctic, and more recently, the greening of Antarctica. In contrast, we hear very little about drylands, the arid regions that cover more than 40% of Earth’s land surface. Although the United Nations has periodically focused on drylands, the popular and scientific media have given little coverage to them, partly because of the absence of a focused international program. However, in the past few years, we have been hearing more about drylands, including the recent unveiling of what has been touted as a secret—they are home to large forests, much larger than previously thought. Continue reading →
Back in 1999, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) acknowledged that female professors suffered from pervasive, albeit unintentional, discrimination. Charles M. Vest, MIT President at the time, said in the Faculty Newsletter: “I have always believed that contemporary gender discrimination within universities is part reality and part perception. True, but I now understand that reality is by far the greater part of the balance.” The statement introduced an accompanying study unveiling the MIT pattern of discrimination — or, under a more current perspective, gender bias. Continue reading →
During the past few decades, coral reefs—the rainforests of the sea—have been declining at an alarming rate around the world. The threats faced by these extremely diverse and fragile ecosystems are numerous and difficult to control. In addition to weather-related damage, pollution, ocean acidification, coral mining, disease, overfishing and destructive fishing practices, coral reefs are subjected to the negative effects of global warming—increasing sea surface temperatures lead to coral bleaching, a process that makes corals become bone white and often die. A couple of years ago, David Gruber wrote in the New York Times, “It is difficult being a coral reef scientist in 2012. The system we are studying is dwindling—and we feel there is an urgent need to understand the ecosystem while it still has a pulse. Coral reefs are on target to be one of the first major ecosystems to be pushed to an unproductive state.” Continue reading →