What Jeff Sessions Doesn’t Understand About Medical Marijuana

By C. Michael White On Jan. 4, Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded the Cole memo , a 2013 document that limits federal enforcement of marijuana laws. This opens the door for a crackdown in the nine states with legal recreational marijuana. The Cole memo is one of two documents that prevent the U.S. Justice Department from treating marijuana as a Schedule I drug , defined as a substance with no accepted medical treatment and high potential for abuse. The other is the 2014 Rohrabacher–Farr amendment . This legislation bars

Can Road Salt and Other Pollutants Disrupt Our Circadian Rhythms?

By Jennifer Marie Hurley Every winter, local governments across the U.S. apply millions of tons of road salt to keep streets navigable during snow and ice storms. Runoff from melting snow carries road salt into streams and lakes, and causes many bodies of water to have extraordinarily high salinity . At Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, my colleague Rick Relyea and his lab are working to quantify how increases in salinity affect ecosystems. Not surprisingly, they have found that high salinity has negative impacts on many species . They have also discovered that some species have the ability to cope with these increases in

With Science Under Siege in 2017, Scientists Regrouped and Fought Back: 5 Essential Reads

By Maggie Villiger 2017 may well be remembered as the year of alternative facts and fake news. Truth took a hit, and experts seemed to lose the public’s trust. Scientists felt under siege as the Trump administration purged information from government websites , appointed inexperienced or adversarial individuals to science-related posts and left important advisory positions empty. Researchers braced for cuts to federally funded science. So where did that leave science and its supporters? Here we spotlight five stories from our archive that show how scholars took stock of where scientists

Stinkhorns, Truffles, Smuts: The Amazing Diversity—and Possible Decline—of Mushrooms and Other Fungi

By Alexander Weir “Whatever dressing one gives to mushrooms … they are not really good but to be sent back to the dungheap where they are born.” French philosopher Denis Diderot thus dismissed mushrooms in 1751 in his ” Encyclopedie .” Today his words would be dismissed in France, where cooks tuck mushrooms into crepes, puff pastry and boeuf Bourguignon (beef Burgundy), to name just a few dishes. The French aren’t alone. Mushrooms and their biological relatives feature in global cuisines from Asia to sub-Saharan Africa. Here in North America, they are part

To Succeed, Large Ocean Sanctuaries Need to Benefit Both Sea Life and People

By Rebecca Gruby , Lisa Campbell , Luke Fairbanks and Noella Gray There is growing concern that the world’s oceans are in crisis because of climate change , overfishing , pollution and other stresses. One response is creating marine protected areas , or ocean parks, to conserve sea life and key habitats that support it, such as coral reefs . In 2000, marine protected areas covered just 0.7 percent of

How Carbon Farming Can Help Solve Climate Change

By David Burton Under the 2015 Paris agreement , nations pledged to keep the average global temperature rise to below 2C above pre-industrial levels and to take efforts to narrow that increase to 1.5C. To meet those goals we must not only stop the increase in our greenhouse gas emissions, we must also draw large amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere. The simplest, most cost effective and environmentally beneficial way to do this is right under our feet. We can farm carbon by storing it in our agricultural soils. Soils are traditionally rich in carbon. They can contain as much as five percent carbon by weight, in the form of soil organic matter—plant and animal

Five Claims About Coconut Oil Debunked

By Rosemary Stanton , Nutritionist & Visiting Fellow, UNSW Coconuts have been a valued food in tropical areas for thousands of years, traditionally enjoyed as coconut water from the centre of the coconut, coconut flesh or coconut “milk” (made by steeping the flesh in hot water). Solid white coconut oil (I’ll use this popular term, although technically it’s a fat not an oil) is now the darling of celebrities and bloggers , paleo enthusiasts and sellers of so-called superfoods . Claims for its supposed

‘Geostorm’ Movie and Climate Hacking: Are the Dangers Real?

By Jane A. Flegal and Andrew Maynard Hollywood’s latest disaster flick, ” Geostorm ,” is premised on the idea that humans have figured out how to control the earth’s climate. A powerful satellite-based technology allows users to fine-tune the weather, overcoming the ravages of climate change . Everyone, everywhere can quite literally “have a nice day,” until—spoiler alert!—things do

How Marine Algae Could Help Feed the World

By William Moomaw and Asaf Tzachor Our planet faces a growing food crisis . According to the United Nations, more than 800 million people are regularly undernourished. By 2050, an additional 2 to 3 billion new guests will join the planetary dinner table. Meeting this challenge involves not only providing sufficient calories for every person

How Climate Change and Wars Are Increasing World Hunger

By Leah Samberg Around the globe, about 815 million people—11 percent of the world’s population—went hungry in 2016, according to the latest data from the United Nations. This was the first increase in more than 15 years. Between 1990 and 2015, due largely to a set of sweeping initiatives by the global community, the proportion of undernourished people in the world was cut in half. In 2015, UN member countries adopted the Sustainable Development Goals , which doubled down on this success by setting out to end hunger entirely by 2030. But a recent UN report shows that, after years of decline, hunger is on the rise again. As evidenced by nonstop news coverage of floods , fires , refugees and violence, our planet has become a more

How Trump Could Undermine the U.S. Solar Boom

By Llewelyn Hughes and Jonas Meckling Tumbling prices for solar energy have helped stoke demand among U.S. homeowners, businesses and utilities for electricity powered by the sun. But that could soon change. President Donald Trump —whose proposed 2018 budget would slash support for alternative energy—may get a new opportunity to undermine the solar power market by imposing duties that could increase the cost of solar power high enough to choke off the industry’s growth . As scholars of how public policies affect, and are affected by, energy, we have been studying how the solar industry is increasingly global . We also research what this means for who wins and loses from the renewable energy revolution in the U.

Is Energy ‘Dominance’ the Right Goal for U.S. Policy?

By Daniel Raimi In recent weeks, a new energy buzzword has taken flight from Washington, DC, making stops in Alaska, North Dakota, Texas, Utah and more: “American energy dominance.” Taking a cue from a 2016 speech by then-candidate Donald Trump , top federal officials including Energy Sec. Rick Perry and Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke have begun to trumpet the notion of energy “dominance.” Although no cabinet official