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 Post subject: Re: from current journals as of 2015 10 10
PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2016 10:01 pm 
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setnahkt wrote:
Nature 24 September 2015
Cannabis
The “Outlook” subject for this issue of Nature; sponsored by a pharmaceutical company, interestingly enough.
The cultivation of weed
It’s noted that the genetics of marijuana are complicated. Since research has been fairly difficult, there have by fewer genetic studies than for tobacco or wine grapes (although it’s cautioned that tobacco is often used as a model organism independent of its production of a psychoactive drug).
Research without prejudice
Israel is in the forefront of cannabis research. American researchers note that in the U.S., cannabis is still a Schedule A drug, which means it has no medical use; therefore the Federal government only allows research into what harm it might cause, not possible benefits. Several researchers have therefore transferred their study programs to Israel, where a prominent Orthodox rabbi recently ruled marijuana was kosher.


Science 29 April 2016
AAAS News & Notes
Marijuana policy patchwork not based on science
The AAAS sponsored a Neuroscience and Society event; participants expressed frustration with current legislation on marijuana. Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia currently allow some use of marijuana for "medicinal" purposes, despite what the AAAS panel called a lack of studies demonstrating medicinal properties; part of the problem is that as a Federal Schedule I illegal drug, marijuana is legally defined as having no medicinal properties. While it's theoretically possible to study marijuana, the process is "very, very difficult".


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 Post subject: Re: from current journals as of 2015 10 10
PostPosted: Wed Jul 27, 2016 9:34 pm 
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setnahkt wrote:
setnahkt wrote:
setnahkt wrote:
Nature 1 October 2015
This Week
Testing times
The editorial discusses the Volkswagen scandal. I don’t know exactly what Volkswagen did, other than devise a way to determine if a car was undergoing an emissions test and adjust engine performance accordingly. I heard – no confirmation – that the tests were done on a dynamometer, and the Volkswagen “defeat device” was software to detect steering wheel movement; if there were no constant, minor steering adjustments it was assumed there was no driver. Could be. At any rate, the article notes the test fraud was discovered by the International Council for Clean Transportation, described as a “non-profit … counterweight to the influence of the global automobile and energy industries in policy debates”. The ICCT gave a $50k grant to the University of West Virginia Center for Alternative Fuels, Engines and Emissions that discovered the fraud; Nature notes that the EPA had a R&D budget of $537M and the European equivalent had a $371M budget yet it was this relatively small entity that found test fraud apparently going back to 2009. I find myself pretty annoyed with Volkswagen, of course, but the scandal points out a major problem with environmental regulations (and perhaps government regulations in general); the regulatory agencies spend a lot of time and effort writing them but very little verifying that they are being followed.


Earth November-December 2015
Comment
Pipe Dreams: What We Have Learned From the Volkswagen Clean-Diesel Scandal
The authors note that the scandal provided "important lessons" about consumer behavior, markets, and the temptation to cheat. In particular consumers don't want to sacrifice performance for environmental considerations; Volkswagen used that in a commercial that compared a VM Jetta with a Toyota Prius. The article also noted a discrepancy between how much consumers say that are willing to spend to protect the environment and how much they actually spend.


Nature 7 January 2016
Seven Days
Volkswagen sued
The DOJ sued Volkswagen on January 4, 2016, claiming 600000 Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche vehicles had been fitted with "defeat devices". Still no explanation as to exactly what the "defeat devices" were.


Nature 7 July 2016
Seven Days
Volkswagen to pay
Volkswagen settled for $14.7G. $10G will go to buy back or modify affected cars, $2.7G to "clean up environmental pollution", and $2G will be invested in "clean car technology".


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 Post subject: Re: from current journals as of 2015 10 10
PostPosted: Fri Jul 29, 2016 10:51 pm 
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setnahkt wrote:
setnahkt wrote:
Science 25 September 2015
Features
Ecology’s tough climb
Starting in 2000, the NSF began working on NEON (National Ecological Observatory Network). There would be 20 “core” and 17 relocatable terrestrial sites, and 20 core and 14 relocatable aquatic sites. Each terrestrial site would consist of a tower, with environmental sensors at various heights, and a utility shed to provide power and collect data. The towers were to be stacks of modular segments. Each aquatic site would have solar powered buoy taking automated water samples and shore-based hydrological and meteorological sensors.
NEON is apparently just a hair short of a fiasco. The project is 18 months behind schedule and $80M (out of $434M) over budget. The scientific staff has had a gruesome turnover rate; the article interviews participants at scientific levels from director to field worker; all the interviews expressed a high level of dissatisfaction with the way NEON was run. The “observatory director” complained that despite the title he had little influence over how the network was being build or the activities of the scientific staff; he left the position after less than a year; he was one of five who have held the director position and resigned since 2007. At one point the entire scientific advisory panel considered a mass resignation on the grounds that despite their status as “advisors” no one was listening to their advice. A low level employee interviewed, the site manager for a the NEON station near Gainesville, Florida had a masters in biology and initially was enthusiastic about the job; she resigned after five months in frustration, saying her bosses discouraged her from showing any initiative or using her knowledge. The Puerto Rico site was abandoned after two security guards were murdered.
The factors the article quotes are probably familiar to anyone who’s ever worked on a large project. The funding source, NSF, is used to working with projects – observatories and space missions are given as examples – that have a fixed single goal. The NEON scientific staff expected to have to adapt at each site; NSF wanted a single design for everything. The project managers found it was impossible to recruit ecologists that had any experience in facility design or engineers that had any experience in ecology – they didn’t exist. There was a “festering” disagreement over whether a NEON site was operation or not; the scientists wanted the site considered operational as soon as it was generating data, while the NSF didn’t consider a site operational until it had data available on line. The difference seems trivial, but its noted that until the site was officially “operational”, money for running it came out of the construction budget rather than the operational budget; that led to cost overruns in construction (there’s no explanation as to why the available data couldn’t go online quickly; I can think of some, though). Finally, the NEON management group was cited by Congress for spending management funds on “inappropriate” activities; the one cited is a Christmas party. Another major hurdle was intergovernmental infighting. NEON doesn’t own any of the sites; as a result any work requires numerous permits from the various Federal, state and local agencies involved. A manager noted that network construction required “5 to 10 times more” permits than was planned for and was a huge drain on resources. One NEON component, STREON (Stream Experimental Observatory Network), proposed adding various things to streams (phosphorus and nitrogen are what’s mentioned) and/or removing various aquatic organisms to see what would happen. The environmental permitting “hurdle” for this proved to be too high and STREON was abandoned. The permitting process for Alaska and Hawaii has proved to be so onerous that NSF proposed dropping NEON sites there, ecologists “reacted with horror” and the proposal was dropped. NEON managers remain cautiously optimistic, hoping to have 60% of NEON operating by September 2016 and the entire network running by 2017.


Nature 17 December 2015
This Week
NEON Inc. out
The NSF has dropped NEON, Inc. as the contractor for NEON sites after hearing that the project was $80M over budget. A new contractor hasn't been selected yet.


Science 8 July 2016
News
NEON's price tag goes up
The NSF has selected a new contractor for NEON, Battelle Memorial Institute, and agreed to raise the budget by $35.5M. The money will come from NEON's maintenance and operations budget, which leads to worries about where maintenance and operations money will come from once the system is operational. All sites are still supposed be operational by the end of 2017.


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 Post subject: Re: from current journals as of 2015 10 10
PostPosted: Mon Aug 01, 2016 10:31 am 
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setnahkt wrote:
Comment
Democracy is not an inconvenience
Sociologist Nico Stehr warns climate scientists not to become disillusioned with democracy because of impatience with slow government action on climate change. Good to have that reassurance.


Plus, there are a couple of other excellent reasons to be disillusioned with democracy.


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 Post subject: Re: from current journals as of 2015 10 10
PostPosted: Thu Apr 27, 2017 9:00 pm 
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setnahkt wrote:
setnahkt wrote:
setnahkt wrote:
Nature 1 October 2015
This Week
Testing times
The editorial discusses the Volkswagen scandal. I don’t know exactly what Volkswagen did, other than devise a way to determine if a car was undergoing an emissions test and adjust engine performance accordingly. I heard – no confirmation – that the tests were done on a dynamometer, and the Volkswagen “defeat device” was software to detect steering wheel movement; if there were no constant, minor steering adjustments it was assumed there was no driver. Could be. At any rate, the article notes the test fraud was discovered by the International Council for Clean Transportation, described as a “non-profit … counterweight to the influence of the global automobile and energy industries in policy debates”. The ICCT gave a $50k grant to the University of West Virginia Center for Alternative Fuels, Engines and Emissions that discovered the fraud; Nature notes that the EPA had a R&D budget of $537M and the European equivalent had a $371M budget yet it was this relatively small entity that found test fraud apparently going back to 2009. I find myself pretty annoyed with Volkswagen, of course, but the scandal points out a major problem with environmental regulations (and perhaps government regulations in general); the regulatory agencies spend a lot of time and effort writing them but very little verifying that they are being followed.


Earth November-December 2015
Comment
Pipe Dreams: What We Have Learned From the Volkswagen Clean-Diesel Scandal
The authors note that the scandal provided "important lessons" about consumer behavior, markets, and the temptation to cheat. In particular consumers don't want to sacrifice performance for environmental considerations; Volkswagen used that in a commercial that compared a VM Jetta with a Toyota Prius. The article also noted a discrepancy between how much consumers say that are willing to spend to protect the environment and how much they actually spend.


Nature 7 January 2016
Seven Days
Volkswagen sued
The DOJ sued Volkswagen on January 4, 2016, claiming 600000 Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche vehicles had been fitted with "defeat devices". Still no explanation as to exactly what the "defeat devices" were.


Nature 9 March 2017
A study claims the Volkswagen emission cheating caused 1200 premature deaths in Europe, based entirely on modeling. I suppose so.


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 Post subject: Re: from current journals as of 2015 10 10
PostPosted: Fri Apr 28, 2017 7:54 pm 
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In Italy, that's probably enough to win a manslaughter case.


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 Post subject: Re: from current journals as of 2015 10 10
PostPosted: Mon May 01, 2017 7:59 am 
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I'd post a LOL emoji if ^^^that^^^ weren't true...

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