Signs & Portents
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Pagan News Beagle: Earthy Thursday, April 13 2017
Studies indicate the possible long-term effects of lead exposure. NASA prepares to launch more nuclear-powered spacecraft. And activists talk about what the March for Science next week means. It's Earthy Thursday, our segment about science and Earth-related news. All this and more for the Pagan News Beagle!
Scientists have long known that lead exposure can be harmful to human health. But in the wake of the Flint disaster a lot more attention has recently been devoted to ascertaining its long-term effects, especially in children. So far the findings are not good. According to Popular Science "even moderate exposure" can lead to a lifetime decline in children's intelligence.
When people talk about "save the bees" they often mean honeybees, which play an important role in agricultural production both by producing honey as well as by pollinating crops. However, it seems that bumblebees may be in even more trouble. In recent news, the U.S. government has no re-classified the American bumblebee as endangered.
As NASA sends more and more spacecraft into the far reaches of our solar system, traditional power sources are reaching their limits. Beyond the orbit of Jupiter, solar power is largely ineffective which is driving the use of so-called "nuclear batteries" that run off the decay of radioactive isotopes like plutonium-238. Now, as production of plutonium gears up the method become more affordable for NASA, lowering the cost of space exploration.
So far global warming has been slow, gradual, and largely undramatic, aside from some extreme weather that might be causally linked. But that could change in the near future. According to glaciologists, the East Antarctica ice sheet is dangerously close to catastrophic collapse.
After the March for Women many scientists and science advocates announced they would be launching a similar March for Science in April to raise awareness for science and protest the Trump administration's policies on the environment and other science-related issues. But the March for Science shouldn't be a climax but a start say many activists. Brian Kahn at Grist has more.
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