Jeffrey Epstein’s influence in the science world is a symptom of larger problems | Kate Darling

In a system stacked against women, we must direct our harshest judgment at people and institutions who remain silent Many of us are reeling from the recent news that MITs Media Lab, where I work as a researcher, took funding from Jeffrey Epstein, the late financier who faced federal sex-trafficking charges. For me, the Epstein connections dont stop there: Epstein had close ties to John Brockman, the founder of the heavy-hitting science literary agency that recently sold my first book. The Epstein web can appear inescapable, and for those entangled in it, theres a temptation to break out and cut all ties with his enablers. While I understand and respect that decision, Ive made a different one. I will not …

The physics professor who says online extremists act like curdled milk

Hate may be less like a cancer and more like bubbles, says Neil Johnson, who applies physics theory to human behavior Lone wolves. Terrorist cells. Bad apples. Viral infections. The language we use to discuss violent extremism is rife with metaphors from the natural world. As we seek to understand why some humans behave so utterly inhumanely, we rely on comparisons to biology, ecology and medicine. But what if weve been working in the wrong scientific discipline? What if the spread of hate is less like the spread of cancer through the proverbial body politic and more like the formation of bubbles in a boiling pot of water? That is the contention of Neil Johnson, a professor of physics at …

Trump administration weakens protections for animals near extinction

Changes to how Endangered Species Act is implemented come as world scientists warn biodiversity crisis will put humanity at risk The Trump administration is scaling back the US governments latitude to protect species nearing extinction, as world scientists warn that a biodiversity crisis will soon put humanity at risk. The 1,600 species are considered officially at risk in the US. A United Nations report this spring found humans are disrupting the natural world and putting North American wolverine, a species that depends on a cooler climate to survive. The 3ft-long creature, which resembles a small bear with a bushy tail, hunts across a vast range. But if temperatures rise at the expected rate, wolverines could lose a third of their …

He, she, or … ? Gender-neutral pronouns reduce biases study

Researchers find usage boosts positive feelings towards women and LGBT people More than 100 failures litter the battleground that is the hunt for an English gender-neutral singular pronoun. From thon, ip and hiser to hem, ons and lers, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, those who used gender-neutral pronouns for the cartoon task were more likely to use non-male names in their short story. The gender-neutral pronoun also appeared to improve positive feelings towards LGBT people. The word hen, the researchers believe, helped to combat mental biases that favoured men, and raise awareness of other genders. Sabine Sczesny, a professor of social psychology at the University of Bern, said the research was further evidence that gender-inclusive language could …

What I learned writing about climate change and the US south for a year

I crisscrossed a region my own that is mired in a culture of denial and delay. The conversation on the climate crisis has not changed fast enough Its 96 degrees in downtown Beaufort, North Carolina, a place where I spent much of my childhood. The sidewalk is too hot for dogs to walk on. The iconic wild horses, visible on Shackleford Banks, wade in the marsh, munching cordgrass. Ive been watching the horses since I was in elementary school, and now Im sharing them with my elementary school-aged daughters on summer vacation. My girls love them, as I did. The legend is that the horses swam to safety from an old Spanish shipwreck. Its moving to watch the small, strong …

Marianne Williamson: the ‘leftwing Trump’ preaching the Politics of Love

As 20 candidates prepare for todays second Democratic presidential debate, Stefanie Marsh meets the celebrity self-help guru accused of being a dangerous wacko who just wants the United States to harness love The left-wing version of Marianne Williamson was written off as a joke until last month when, almost 30 minutes into the televised Democratic debate, as if emerging from a pupa of deep meditation, she calmly blindsided Joe Biden, Tony Robbins or Laura Dern in her 20s, Williamson had transformed herself into Hollywoods spiritual darling by her mid-30s. Shes unique among the Democratic candidates in having been both Oprah Winfreys spiritual adviser and the officiator at Elizabeth Taylors eighth and final wedding at Neverland (where Michael Jackson was best …

War on science: Trump administration muzzles climate experts, critics say

Whistleblowers and groups tracking agency decisions say administration is ignoring science and censoring expertise The Trump administration is disregarding science and expertise across a wide range of government work, as documented by whistleblowers and groups tracking agency decisions. Trump officials are censoring warnings about the climate crisis, moving critical agencies out of Washington and enacting far-reaching changes in what facts regulators can consider when they choose between industry and the public good. The White House and its agencies have kept their own experts from explaining how pollution from power plants and cars is increasing global temperatures, threatening both lives and economies. One former climate scientist for the National Park Service, Maria Caffrey, filed a whistleblower complaint this week and testified …

Inside Trump’s DC hotel, where allies and lobbyists flock to peddle their interests

Fossil fuel interests, pro-gun groups, foreign delegations and all manner of allies stay at the Trump International Hotel to cozy up to the administration, say watchdogs On 25 July, the conservative Heartland Institute is slated to host a one-day meeting at the Trump International Hotel, just a few blocks from the White House. It will feature leading climate science deniers who will discuss issues like the benefits of ending the Democrats war on fossil fuels, according to the institute. Last month, as Donald Trump was kicking off his 2020 campaign and boasting again of draining the swamp of Washingtons powerful lobbyists and elites, a couple of dozen oil and gas executives with the Domestic Energy Producers Alliance were checking into …

Largest earthquake in decades hits southern California

No serious damage or injuries reported after 6.4 magnitude earthquake, the most powerful to strike region since 1994 The largest earthquake to hit southern California in decades rumbled across the region on Thursday morning, striking a remote part of the state with a magnitude of 6.4 on the Richter scale. The earthquakes center was near the small city of Ridgecrest, near Death Valley national park and about 100 miles (160km) from Los Angeles. There were reports of people in Las Vegas and Los Angeles feeling the tremors. There were no immediate reports of serious damage or injuries after the earthquake struck at 10.33am. A series of small aftershocks followed. It was the most powerful earthquake to strike the region since …

Science institute that advised EU and UN ‘actually industry lobby group’

International Life Sciences Institute used by corporate backers to counter public health policies, says study An institute whose experts have occupied key positions on EU and UN regulatory panels is, in reality, an industry lobby group that masquerades as a scientific health charity, according to a peer-reviewed study. The Washington-based a 2015 email copied to ILSIs then director, Suzanne Harris, and executives from firms such as Coca-Cola and Monsanto, ILSIs founder Alex Malaspina, a former Coca-Cola vice-president, complained bitterly about new describes as a longtime scientific and regulatory affairs leader said he expected many nations to follow the new guidelines, adding: We have to consider how to become ready to mount a strong defence. According to ILSIs declared mandatory principles, …

There’s a climate crisis but Trump’s cabinet continues to backtrack on science | Kate Aronoff

Conservative donors and fossil fuel companies have the most to lose from large-scale decarbonization and they know it In an effort to suppress federal climate research, the Trump administration will direct state agencies to no longer consider worst-case scenarios of global warming. Climate modelers working for federal agencies will only be permitted to forecast to 2040, decades before the as-much-as 8C degrees of global warming that could take place by 2100 if we continue on our current path. William Happer most recently famous for written, with their desperate need to deny the reality of global warming, or belittle its implications, nonetheless understand something that is fundamentally true. To avert climate chaos, we need to challenge the free-market fundamentalism that has …

White House physicist sought aid of rightwing thinktank to challenge climate science

William Happer contacted Heartland Institute, one of the most prominent groups to dispute that fossil fuels cause global heating A member of the climate crisis, a trove of his emails show. Jim Bridenstine, the Nasa administrator, had accepting the science of climate breakdown. In May 2018, an exchange between Happer and Heartlands Wysmuller called Bridenstines change of heart a puzzle and copied in the temperature increases and Nasas deputy administrator, about emissions actually benefit the planet rather than drive harmful climate disruption, once claiming that carbon dioxide has been demonized much like the poor Jews under Hitler. The physicist was previously a leader and co-founder of an advocacy group called the Mercer Family Foundation and the Noaa) and the Environmental …

Revealed: Mobil sought to fight environmental regulation, documents show

Revealed: documents from the early 1990s show oil giant looked to make tax-exempt donations to promote the companys interests Oil giant Mobil sought to make tax-exempt donations to leading universities, civic groups and arts programmes to promote the companys interests and undermine environmental regulation, according to internal documents from the early 1990s obtained by the Guardian. The documents shine a light on the ways corporations have used their money to buy influence, amass prestige and shape public policy through grants to academic programmes and advocacy groups. The documents come to light as ExxonMobil, formed when Mobil merged with Exxon in 1999, is now recommended contributing a total of $25,000 to the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis, saying the center had …

Indiana Jones of climate science: the professor who escaped a 70ft crevasse

After filming himself as he clambered out with a pickax, John All has resumed his Himalayan mission One spring morning in 2014, before breakfast or even coffee, outside magazine The trip had been fraught since the beginning. The five-member teams initial expedition to Everest had come to an abrupt end when a massive avalanche struck the Khumbu icefall and base camp, killing 16 Sherpas, including one from Alls team. After much deliberation, they re-routed to Himlung, about 160 miles west of Everest. But his teammates were struggling with altitude and fatigue and had descended lower, leaving All by himself at Camp II, on a small snowfield at nearly 20,000ft. Now here he was in the crevasse, peering at a pinhole …

Nasa to allow commercial access to the International Space Station

Move will allow private astronauts to spend up to 30 days in low-Earth orbit and businesses to shoot film and adverts in space Nasa will allow unprecedented commercial access to the International Space Station (ISS) for marketing, business and space tourism, the agency announced on Friday. The change paves the way for the wealthy to rocket from Earth and spend time aboard the astronaut home and laboratory in space, through trips planned by private enterprise, and for businesses to develop products or shoot film including adverts in space. The move is part of Nasas effort to put the first woman and another man on the moon by 2024. Until now, the space station has only been used for research and …

Republicans give platform to climate science deniers at hearing on biodiversity

Conservative members of Congress called on climate change deniers at hearing on endangered species The climate crisis has become a critically wounding biodiversity on Wednesday, conservative members of Congress called on career climate science deniers to testify alongside them. While a small but growing number of moderate conservatives acknowledge the urgency of the manmade problem, many Republican members of the House of Representatives in leadership positions do not. called two prominent science deniers to criticize a landmark report that 1m species are at risk of extinction largely because of humans, including because of rising temperatures from fossil fuel use and other unsustainable activities. The conservatives invited Marc Morano, who founded a website to question climate science, and Patrick Moore, the …