Did you know that science and engineering have driven half of the US’ growth in GDP over the past half-century? Science is pretty cool, and pretty important to our nation’s health. Science Debate is an initiative to get political candidates to address science issues in their campaigns, so to highlight the increasing need for accurate scientific information in political decision making, and the vital role scientific innovation plays in spurring economic growth and competitiveness. This year’s presidential candidates have answered 14 questions about science and the use of science in policy-making. Now, a local effort has started to get Washington’s gubernatorial candidates to do the same. Jay Inslee himself endorsed the national initiative, as did our CoEnv Dean, Lisa Graumlich. Are you interested in hearing what the candidates have to say about science and its importance for our economic and political strength as a state? Fill out this survey, and sign on to the national initiative here to lend your voice.
ScienceDebate.org and multiple partners have encouraged the two main presidential candidates–Barack Obama and Mitt Romney–to answer 14 questions on some of the biggest scientific and technological challenges facing the nation. President Obama and Governor Romney have now answered these Top American Science Questions, which are available at DotEarth (the ScienceDebate site has been swamped all day!) Read up!
Sea lions have been congregating for the past decade to feast on salmon waiting to climb the fish ladders at the base of the Bonneville Dam on their spring voyage upriver to spawn. A controversial cull of California sea lions, to conserve salmon, may now have left the field open for a new predator. Read more here.
Fish-consumption rates are more controversial than they sound, because they affect how much pollution industrial and municipal plants are allowed to discharge into lakes, rivers and Puget Sound. Business and local-government interests reacted with alarm after the Washington Department of Ecology suggested last year that its revised regulations would require that people need to be safe eating 157 to 267 grams per day, or 11 to 18 pounds per month. Current rates are set between 6.5 and 54 grams per day. Read more here.
Sierra Magazine, the official publication of the Sierra Club, once again placed the University of Washington in the top echelon in the country for its initiatives to operate sustainably and limit its contributions to global warming. This is the fifth year the UW has been among the top-ranked schools; it was first last year. Read more here; also check out the complete list of “cool schools”.
The southern Puget Sound’s struggling population of orcas could lose federal protection if a new effort succeeds at removing the whales from endangered species list. Orcas in Puget Sound were placed on the federal endangered species list in 2005. A report last year concluded Puget Sound orcas were inbreeding so much that their genetic diversity could be diminishing, further jeopardizing their ability to survive. Read more here.
Last week, at the University of Washington, a state panel discussed a wide range of draft recommendations for how Washington can tackle ocean acidification along its coasts. Gov. Chris Gregoire appointed the panel –a collection of scientists, shellfish industry officials, and federal and state government representatives; it is scheduled to present its recommendations to her on Oct. 1. This is the first state effort of its kind in the nation. Read more here.