Science Education & Policy

Climate science is right – but it isn't winning. NASA, CC BY

By Mathis Hampel, University of East Anglia

Scientists tell us the world is warming and that a climate catastrophe is imminent.

They’re probably right.

Yet climate change framed by scientists, politicians and economists as a straightforward pollution problem will neither convince skeptics nor advance the difficult decision-making process.

Throughout the European Union, environmental elites have to scramble a bit to rationalize their anti-GMO stance while trying not to sound silly. That's not easy. How can modern GMOs be Frankenfood while the previous generation of genetically modified foods, made using less precise mutagenesis, are not only allowed but considered organic?

The government's ad promoting proposed changes to higher education. Is it legal? And if so, should it be? Youtube screen grab, CC BY-SA

By Andrew Hughes, Australian National University

Hurricane Sandy pummeled cities along the east coast in 2012, causing billions of dollars in damage. Shutterstock

By Delavane Diaz, Stanford University

Climate change is as much an economic problem as an environmental one.

The effects of climate change, such as damage from more severe weather or health problems from higher temperatures, will impose a cost on society. On the other hand, moving away from a fossil fuel-based energy system will require significant investments into low-carbon technologies. How does society determine which efforts are most cost-effective?

Some groups want to label foods that contain anything created with modern genetic modification. Yet the previous generation of genetically modified foods, using mutagenesis, can be labeled organic. And why not label all pesticides used on food, whether synthetic or organic, if awareness is important? If a Bt genetic modification is important to know about, why isn't Bt spray on organic food important to know about.

The only thing less valuable than most proposed labeling changes are the existing labels, according to a new paper - at least if the goal is improving nutrition. 

Can the promise of free community college be delivered? President Obama at Pellissippi State College in Knoxville, TN Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

By Donald E. Heller, Michigan State University

Last week, President Barack Obama announced a proposal to guarantee that students could attend a community college for free for their first two years. The announcement was one in a series of previews of domestic policy proposals he is planning to include in his State of the Union speech later this month.

Memorizing the ions is one of the most challenging part of mastering the basics of inorganic nomenclature.  As I agree with Gerhand, Lind (1992), students of chemistry should master the naming and writing inorganic compounds. With this, I am suggesting the following aids that students and teachers of general chemistry may find helpful.

Funding for institutions of higher education in Norway is partially determined by how many publications their employees produce. While there are already six troubling problems with this system, one of them is about to get much, much worse.

A group of experts was commissioned by the Ministry of Education and Research to suggest improvements in the financing system. Their report includes one proposal that is not only mathematically garbled; it is also an incentive to corruption.

Poverty causes more deaths than climate change. Otis Historical Archives, CC BY

By Andrew Papworth, University College London