News

PSLF and TEPSLF Are Still Rejecting 99% of Applicants

When I first wrote about PSLF last November, some of my blog readers/friends/colleagues mentioned that the program had only just opened, that some of the rejections were intentional ones aimed at accessing a different Congressional fund for loan forgiveness, TEPSLF, and that given some time the overall statistics might improve.

Now that another year has passed, that’s not the case.

The Amazon is on Fire

There is an ongoing, mostly manmade tragedy unfolding right now in the Amazon rainforest in the form of an 85% increase in forest fires over last year. Many of the fires are intentionally being set to clear trees and jungle vegetation - as well as indigenous territories - for agricultural use.

I am reminded of this standalone comic strip, which in many ways seems quite optimistic to me.

Extinctions and Other Sad Environmental News

Here’s a well-written lament from The Atlantic about the ongoing extinctions of a huge number of native Hawaiian snail species.

Zooming out from just Hawaii, here’s a map of how many species are being pushed to the brink globally.

This is a sad photographic illustration of how littering - even when the litter is biodegradable - negatively impacts wildlife.

Human-Led Environmental Devastation in the News Again

I’m not sure if it was possible to not hear about the horrific recent United Nations assessment on wildlife decline and extinction as it made front page news all over - but if you missed it, here’s one of the many stories covering its findings.

Relatedly, here’s an article discussing how meat consumption plays a huge role in climate change and needs to decrease by 90%. Of course, that’s only one of a multitude of corporate and cultural changes we would have to make…

The Meaning of a Whole Ecosystem

This well-written and devastating feature in The New York Times Magazine, “The Insect Apocalypse is Here,” is worth reading. You might cry, though.

In conversation, sometimes, a student will wish mosquitoes away. I tell them that mosquitoes are an important part of the food chain for a number of species, and that while I, too, would like to be mosquito-free, we must understand that we are one small part of a whole. We may soon manage to become the whole, though, through chipping and choking everything else out. This article is about the decline of all insects and the overall functional extinction of many species - and our often unnoticed acclimation to it all.

The Degree of Global Warming

I’ve shared before how climate scientists have a very hard time getting the public to accept and understand the reality of our present and future situation.

Now here’s another recent look at the current and projected scale of global warming and how it compares to the agreements and actual international practices regarding emissions.

A Selection of Readings

Trump-Era Environmental Damage

In case you haven't been following along (I do understand the appeal of attempting to ignore that Trump is in charge of the USA), here's a list put together by The New York Times compiling twenty-three environmental laws, regulations, and policies that Trump has overturned in the first hundred days of his presidency.  At least Elon Musk is trying his best to get humanity to Mars, since it seems like it'd be best if we just left Earth to the rest of the species that inhabit it and move to a lifeless planet that won't suffer as much from our short-sighted and morally questionable leadership.

Secrecy Never Breeds Corruption, Right?

In yet another disheartening move by the new Trump administration, the United States Department of Agriculture has removed a variety of documentation regarding animal welfare and enforcement of current standards of care from their website.  In a hilariously disingenuous statement, this decision is explained as being based in part due to the USDA's "commitment to being transparent."

The EPA Was Just Frozen by the New US Administration

The Environmental Protection Agency was just frozen, "temporarily halt[ing] all contracts, grants and interagency agreements."  It's also been placed under a media blackout.  I cannot emphasize enough how problematic this is not only for its immediate effect but also for the implications this action has in conjunction with other decisions and promises - including sharply increasing drilling and mining operations in previously protected land - already made by Trump and his team.  This will lead to short-term financial profit at the short-, middle-, and long-term expense of catastrophic environmental mismanagement.  It's not a unique decision, unfortunately, but it is still a deeply wrong one to make.

Bison Are the First National Mammal!

How cool is this - President Obama has signed the National Bison Legacy Act making bison the first national mammal (though bald eagles are still secure in their national animal status).

To celebrate, here's a gallery of all of my bison paintings completed thus far!

Mimosa Pudica Remembers You

Here's a neat article from The New York Times on one of the plants I work with in my interactive installations, the Mimosa pudica or "sensitive plant."  I do have to qualify their results, however, because none of the plants I've grown has ever stopped recoiling from human touch/interaction.  I wonder just how repeated their "repeated exposure" was.

Anti-Intellectualism - an American Cultural Failing We Need to Fix

Most Americans know who Albert Einstein was, but comparatively very few people know who Neil deGrasse Tyson is.  They know who Kim Kardashian is, though!  In the present in the United States, entertainment and lowest-common-denominator appeal are revered and expertise has less impact than demagoguery.  When people stop admiring intelligence, they stop working to attain it.  That's where we are now.  The United States has a lot to learn from other older, more mature cultures, and I hope we can wisen up soon.

Yellowstone Bison Culling

A great op-ed, "The Bison Roundup the Government Wants to Hide," was just published in The New York Times about the politically motivated annual bison cull that takes place in Yellowstone National Park at the taxpayer's expense.  I'm all for the suggestions of the author, Christopher Ketcham, with the clarification that I'd like any seasonal hunting to be restricted to that which encourages an ecological balance as opposed to one based on farm/ranch priorities, fear, or the desire for trophies.

The Pursuit 2015 Article on 3P Quick Cure Clay

The Pursuit, LSU College of Science's annual magazine, wrote an article in their 2015 issue about 3P Quick Cure Clay, Dr. Pojman, and our collaboration (although they accidentally misattributed my role to a Jessica Nelson).  You can read the article, entitled "LSU Chemistry Professor Creates Multi-Use Quick Cure Clay", on page 23 of 60 here if you're interested!