GOP Senators Demand Probe of Federal Grants on Climate Change
A group of Republican senators are calling for an investigation of the National Science Foundation (NSF) over a program that "[turns] television meteorologists into climate change evangelists," according to a Wednesday press release from the office of Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas).
Cruz, along with Sens. Rand Paul (Ky.), James Lankford (Okla.) and Jim Inhofe (Okla.), all signed a letter to NSF Inspector General Allison Lerner to investigate the NSF's grant-making process, specifically the $4 million in federal funding the agency gave to the nonprofit news organization Climate Central.
They targeted several grants awarded to Climate Central's "Climate Matters" program, which trains meteorologists to address climate issues and encourages them to communicate climate science to the public.
The program has been in place since 2012 and has educated more than 500 meteorologists about global warming, according to NBC News.
NBC News noted that the program is working:
So far, the efforts have paid off. The number of stories on global warming by television weather people has increased 15-fold over five years, according to data from the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University. If the trend continues this year, there will be more than a thousand stories that touch on climate delivered during local TV weathercasts, up from just 55 such climate stories in 2012.
The senators, however, argue that the reporting by meteorologists is not science but "propagandizing."
"Research designed to sway individuals of a various group, be they meteorologists or engineers, to a politically contentious viewpoint is not science—it is propagandizing. Such efforts certainly fail to meet the standard of scientific research to which the NSF should be devoting federal taxpayer dollars," the wrote.
Climate Central CEO Ben Strauss dismissed the GOP senators' claims, telling NBC News via email: "Climate Central is not an advocacy organization, and the scientific consensus on climate change is not a political viewpoint."
While the vast majority of climate scientists are convinced about human-caused global warming, the partisan divide over the issue is growing wider—and it may be due to President Donald Trump.
A recent Gallup poll found that after a year of President Trump—who thinks global warming is a "hoax," dropped climate change from a list of top national security threats, and made it known that America is at odds with the rest of the world by withdrawing from the 2015 Paris agreement—Republicans have become more skeptical than ever about climate change.
The poll found that only a third of Republicans said they worry about climate change or even acknowledge that it has already begun. Seven in 10 Republicans think the seriousness of global warming is exaggerated in the news. The percentage of Republicans who affirm the scientific consensus of global warming is down 11 percentage points since last year.
TV weather casters unite to spread #climatechange awareness as heat wave season begins. #MetsUnite @ed_hawkins… https://t.co/OS7NLDmsKz— Susan Hassol, Climate Communication (@Susan Hassol, Climate Communication)1529589370.0
Sweden's reindeer have a problem. In winter, they feed on lichens buried beneath the snow. But the climate crisis is making this difficult. Warmer temperatures mean moisture sometimes falls as rain instead of snow. When the air refreezes, a layer of ice forms between the reindeer and their meal, forcing them to wander further in search of ideal conditions. And sometimes, this means crossing busy roads.
- San Antonio, Texas Unveils Largest Highway Crossing for Wildlife in ... ›
- Wildlife Crossings a Huge Success - EcoWatch ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
- Climate Change Will Be Sudden and Cataclysmic Unless We Act Now ›
- There's a Heatwave at the Arctic 'Doomsday Vault' - EcoWatch ›
- Marine Heatwaves Destroy Ocean Ecosystems Like Wildfires ... ›
By Aaron W Hunter
A chance discovery of a beautifully preserved fossil in the desert landscape of Morocco has solved one of the great mysteries of biology and paleontology: how starfish evolved their arms.
The Pompeii of palaeontology. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<h2></h2><p>Although starfish might appear very robust animals, they are typically made up of lots of hard parts attached by ligaments and soft tissue which, upon death, quickly degrade. This means we rely on places like the Fezouata formations to provide snapshots of their evolution.</p><p>The starfish fossil record is patchy, especially at the critical time when many of these animal groups first appeared. Sorting out how each of the various types of ancient starfish relate to each other is like putting a puzzle together when many of the parts are missing.</p><h2>The Oldest Starfish</h2><p><em><a href="https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/216101v1.full.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Cantabrigiaster</a></em> is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. It was discovered in 2003, but it has taken over 17 years to work out its true significance.</p><p>What makes <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> unique is that it lacks almost all the characteristics we find in brittle stars and starfish.</p><p>Starfish and brittle stars belong to the family Asterozoa. Their ancestors, the Somasteroids were especially fragile - before <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> we only had a handful of specimens. The celebrated Moroccan paleontologist Mohamed <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2016.06.041" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Ben Moula</a> and his local team was instrumental in discovering <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031018216302334?via%3Dihub" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">these amazing fossils</a> near the town of Zagora, in Morocco.</p><h2>The Breakthrough</h2><p>Our breakthrough moment came when I compared the arms of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> with those of modern sea lilles, filter feeders with long feathery arms that tend to be attached to the sea floor by a stem or stalk.</p><p>The striking similarity between these modern filter feeders and the ancient starfish led our team from the University of Cambridge and Harvard University to create a new analysis. We applied a biological model to the features of all the current early Asterozoa fossils in existence, along with a sample of their closest relatives.</p>
Cantabrigiaster is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<p>Our results demonstrate <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> is the most primitive of all the Asterozoa, and most likely evolved from ancient animals called crinoids that lived 250 million years before dinosaurs. The five arms of starfish are a relic left over from these ancestors. In the case of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em>, and its starfish descendants, it evolved by flipping upside-down so its arms are face down on the sediment to feed.</p><p>Although we sampled a relatively small numbers of those ancestors, one of the unexpected outcomes was it provided an idea of how they could be related to each other. Paleontologists studying echinoderms are often lost in detail as all the different groups are so radically different from each other, so it is hard to tell which evolved first.</p>
- Biden Reaffirms Commitment to Rejoining Paris Agreement ... ›
- Biden Likely Plans to Cancel Keystone XL Pipeline on Day One ... ›
- Joe Biden Appoints Climate Crisis Team - EcoWatch ›