The Eco News Roundup brings stories and commentary about issues related to climate change, renewable energy and the environment.
In the era of the Internet, the government’s decision to shut down access to websites and data sets has made research difficult for many weather and climate researchers.
Take Bruce Vaughn, who runs a climate science lab at the University of Colorado, Boulder. His lab analyzes samples of greenhouse gases collected from around the world by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
But when the shutdown hit Tuesday, he was faced with losing access to the NOAA computers he needs to do his work.
It looks like even Antarctica isn’t far away enough to avoid getting caught up in the government shutdown.
That’s because it’s currently springtime there, and scientists who study this remote, rugged continent are poised to take advantage of the few months when there’s enough daylight and it’s warm enough to work. Advance teams have already started working to get things set up and ready for the researchers, who usually begin heading south right about now.
But they’re hearing that the government’s contractor for logistics in Antarctica, Lockheed Martin, will run out of funding for its Antarctic support program in about a week. A decision about whether they will need to start pulling back personnel is expected very soon.
Nature doesn’t stand still. For scientists who keep tabs on important but constantly changing ecosystems, that fact looms large as the U.S. government shutdown continues.
Ecosystem studies often depend on extensive time-series data sets to tease out sometimes subtle shifts, and missing even a single field season can create unfillable gaps. Scientists are used to having peers pull the plug on their research as part of the merit review process, and they also know that some research interruptions are inevitable. But they’re bristling at the prospect of losing data as a side effect of an unrelated political brawl.
WASHINGTON — The Environmental Protection Agency has stopped monitoring mercury contamination in the Everglades and testing water after the recent floods in Colorado.
An $8 billion space telescope, the largest in the world, waits to be tested at minus-400 degrees Fahrenheit in a closed government facility in suburban Maryland, facing the possibility of costly delays.
The clock ran out for the U.S. Congress to agree on a budget bill and avoid a federal government shutdown. In addition to furloughs keeping thousands of government workers from their jobs, the shutdown will have wide consequences for the country’s science, innovation and health.
From a panda cam gone dark and national park visitors getting the boot, to a halt on the government’s flu program, here’s a look at six ways the shutdown will impact science.
The federal shutdown’s effects on science and medicine are many. There’s halted food safety inspections, kids with cancer who won’t be able to join clinical drug trials, and suspension of disease outbreak monitoring. Conservation studies have been thrown into disarray and at least one NASA Mars mission is at risk of being delayed for years.
But one area where the devastating effects aren’t getting much public attention is basic biomedical research. What’s happening to the thousands of researchers and billions of dollars dedicated to understanding human disease and development? I talked to a government biomedical scientist about the shutdown’s effect. Because the scientist was instructed not to speak with the media, this person will remain anonymous. Below is an edited version of what the scientist told me.
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