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GoGreenNation News: New Webinar Series on Citizen Science and Satellite Observations
GoGreenNation News: New Webinar Series on Citizen Science and Satellite Observations

Register for the webinar here! https://go.nasa.gov/3uO0ez2 (Credit: NASA ARSET) “Remote sensing” is the process of acquiring information from a distance---as satellites do. NASA observes Earth and other planetary bodies via remote sensors on satellites and aircraft that detect and record reflected or emitted energy. Now you can learn more about how Remote Sensing and Citizen Science go together at an online introductory webinar series provided by NASA’s Applied Remote Sensing Training Program (ARSET). The “Connecting Citizen Science with Remote Sensing” webinar series will provide attendees an overview of citizen science efforts that use Earth observations combined with ground-based information in the fields of climate change, sustainable development, ecosystem monitoring, drought, and landscape change. The three-part training will also highlight case-study examples of successful citizen science projects that are contributing to NASA science.  It will be delivered in both English and Spanish. Attendees will also be provided with case-study examples of successful citizen science projects, with some examples from NASA supported projects and activities. We will highlight projects like NeMO-Net, a global coral reef classification with 2D and 3D images application combined with machine learning; Floating Forests, a Giant Kelp monitoring platform where participants can classify kelp in Landsat images; Snapshot Wisconsin, a project that uses images of wildlife from trail cameras to assist with habitat mapping; and Soundscapes to Landscapes, where bird diversity in California is monitored by identifying specific species through sound recordings. We will also highlight the Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) Program, an international science and education program, and GLOBE Observer, a citizen science app that allows volunteers to report environmental data to support understanding of our changing planet. URLS: ARSET Website Register for Training NASA’s Citizen Science Program: Learn about NASA citizen science projects Follow on Twitter Follow on Facebook News Article Type: Homepage ArticlesPublished: Monday, December 19, 2022 - 09:41

GoGreenNation News: The 10 biggest science stories of 2022 – chosen by scientists
GoGreenNation News: The 10 biggest science stories of 2022 – chosen by scientists

From moon missions to fast-charging batteries and AI-sourced antibiotics, in no particular order, the year’s significant scientific developmentsThe year opened with a bang. Or rather, it didn’t. The successful film Don’t Look Up, in which a comet is found to be on a collision course with Earth, had been released just before Christmas 2021. In the bleak days of post-festive gloom, the news media were on an adrenaline high, chasing any and every story about potential asteroid collisions to cheer us all up. Five asteroids were to pass close to the Earth in January alone! Happily for the health and wellbeing of humanity, none was predicted to come within a whisker of hitting the planet. Nonetheless, the possibility of an asteroid colliding with Earth is a reality – the globe is covered in craters from previous impacts, and it is well known that 65m years ago, dinosaurs became extinct following the impact of an asteroid about 10km across. Can anything be done about saving us from this existential extraterrestrial threat? Fortunately, the international space community has taken the first steps towards reducing the risk of an asteroid catching us unawares. The joint Nasa- Esa mission Dart (Double Asteroid Re-Direction Test) was an ambitious attempt to alter the trajectory of a small asteroid (Dimorphos) as it orbited a slightly larger asteroid (Didymos), by sending a spacecraft to crash into it. In October, we learned that the mission had been even more successful than anticipated, and that the orbit of Dimorphos had changed – showing that we could, if given sufficient time, alter the path of an asteroid if it were on a collision course with Earth. Continue reading...

GoGreenNation News: Reflecting on two decades of progress in environmental health and science communication
GoGreenNation News: Reflecting on two decades of progress in environmental health and science communication

Editor's note: This essay originally published San Francisco Marin Medicine journal. After Theo Colborn, Dianne Dumanoski and I published Our Stolen Future in 1996, we got "slapped" by one of the most prominent science journalists of the day, Gina Kolata writing for the New York Times. Among her criticisms was that one chemical can't cause a plethora of diseases. It was one chemical, one disease, like asbestos and mesothelioma. Talk about progress. That "paradigm" is so broken now it's hard to imagine how any science editor who has been following advances in the environmental health sciences, including endocrine disruption, would allow an argument like that to pass the editorial laugh test. Yes, there are examples other than asbestos that do follow that pattern, but especially in endocrine disruption, they are the exception, not the rule. As Thomas Kuhn wrote in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962), current scientific paradigms have enormous inertia. This is still true. And that's even without the active dissembling focused on resisting change funded purposefully and heavily by vested interests, a fact of life in work on the environmental health consequences of chemical exposures. Despite strong and wily opposition, the environmental health science community using science and communication over the past two decades has shattered multiple paradigms that for decades if not centuries medicine had held dear, preventing its practitioners from embracing the opportunities to prevent diseases by reducing exposures, instead of merely treating them (usually with pharmaceutical chemicals). Some of my favorite broken paradigms? "The dose makes the poison." (We now know that high dose exposures do not predict low dose impacts.)"Nature vs. Nurture" becomes "Nature and Nurture." "Those statistically significant adverse effects are not toxicologically relevant because they aren't the same in both sexes." Actually, for endocrine-disrupting compounds, the default expectation now is that there will be differences between how the sexes respond to exposure. And then there's the still ubiquitous practice among regulatory agencies of testing chemicals one at a time, instead of in the mixtures in which they always occur.The Collaborative on Health and the Environment (CHE) community has played a pivotal role over the last two decades in breaking down these outdated paradigms. How? It has created, purposefully and steadfastly, multiple real and virtual safe spaces where new ideas and results can be examined, discussed and debated, not just by people throwing bricks at the old paradigms, but by thoughtful scientists willing to listen to new ideas, new data, new hypotheses that challenge some of their most cherished notions.More, these spaces by design have welcomed advocates with serious commitments to carry the discussions into the real world, to share this ongoing thunder of scientific understandings with the media, policy advocates, and even, provocateurs. Those safe spaces have been immeasurably valuable for progress. They might not be the flashiest new shiny objects on the block, but they have helped us get beyond old, outdated and sometimes even harmful ideas.CHE has done all that as waves of new scientific results have been published and as the media landscape has changed enormously. The CHE community has embraced the new results and adapted to sweeping revolutions in communication challenges and opportunities. And that's what the next two decades of environmental health science and communication needs more of, turbocharged.Pete Myers is the founder and chief scientist of Environmental Health Sciences, publisher of EHN.org and DailyClimate.org.This essay originally published San Francisco Marin Medicine journal.

GoGreenNation News: NASA’s Plant Science is Rooted in Earth and Shoots for the Stars
GoGreenNation News: NASA’s Plant Science is Rooted in Earth and Shoots for the Stars

NASA supports USDA plant science research that benefits life on our home planet and beyond! This image shows the USDA Biotechnology Lab at EPCOT, located within Walt Disney World Resort. The two illuminated white squares stacked one over the other above the Biotechnology Lab sign are plant growing chambers developed by NASA’s Biological and Physical Sciences Division at Kennedy Space Center. (Credit: Mark Sperry/USDA Agricultural Research Service) Since December 2019, NASA’s Biological and Physical Sciences Division (BPS) has partnered with the USDA on joint plant research for the USDA’s Biotechnology Lab. At the lab, horticulturalists study and propagate a range of horticultural crops and under this partnership, BPS-sponsored scientists at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida work to achieve faster growth and better, increased yields for diverse plant varieties. The key to this process? Microbes. Microbial Magic at Work in Plants The thought of microbes might conjure images of harmful mold or call to mind illness-causing viruses and bacteria. But certain microbes can actually benefit both human and plant health. With this project, scientists study plant-microbial interactions to determine which kinds of microbes enhance plant growth. And they’ve discovered one, the fungus Cladosporium sphaerospermum. “We have a group here at Kennedy that tests what crops can be grown in spaceflight, based on factors including nutritional quality and overall biomass,” said Dr. Anirudha R. Dixit, one of the research scientists contracted at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center to conduct research under this partnership. “The focus of this research is to test the growth promotion abilities of this particular fungus on some of these crops to see if exposure to gases produced by the fungus could help increase their total biomass.” USDA and NASA researchers worked together to sequence this fuzzy, powdery black fungus (dubbed ‘Black Magic’) for the first time, allowing them to monitor the genetic changes as it grows and develops. They’ve found that this specific strain does in fact help promote the growth of plants growing nearby and they suspect that these positive effects are due to volatile organic compounds produced by the fungus. Environmental Test Chambers (ETCs) developed through BPS funding could help confirm whether this theory is correct. Versions of the plant growing chambers tested at Kennedy Space Center for use at the USDA Biotechnology Lab. (Credit: NASA Kennedy Space Center) This image shows two plant growing chambers at the USDA Biotechnology Lab. The chambers were developed by NASA’s Biological and Physical Sciences Division at Kennedy Space Center. (Credit: Mark Sperry/USDA Agricultural Research Service) In addition to conducting fundamental research on microbes as well as plant growth and development testing, BPS’s other major role in this partnership was to design and build growth chambers specifically for these studies. The USDA Biotechnology Lab is located at Walt Disney World’s EPCOT theme park and is visible to visitors who embark on the Living with the Land attraction, a boat ride that tells the history of farming and gives a glimpse into the varied research conducted at the lab. In December 2022, two chambers were delivered to the lab at EPCOT. Like those on the ground at Kennedy and similar to the Advanced Plant Habitat and Veggie on the International Space Station, the chambers provide USDA researchers with more active control for growth conditions including temperature, humidity, carbon dioxide (CO2) and lighting. The chambers also provide a more closed atmosphere that enables scientists to examine synergistic effects between microbes and plants. “With these chambers, we’re able to continue studying if these volatile compounds are indeed the cause of these growth promotion effects on the plants or if these effects are caused by the amount of CO2 that the fungus produces,” said Ray Wheeler, plant physiologist at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. “If there are volatile compounds, we want to identify what they might be, why they benefit plant growth and the mechanisms behind this.” Plant growing chambers visible at the USDA Biotechnology Lab. (Credit: Mark Sperry/USDA Agricultural Research Service) Scientists at Kennedy have primarily conducted these microbial studies in lettuce and mizuna (a mild-tasting Brassica in the mustard family). These leafy greens were chosen for this research because they grow quickly, which allows scientists to harvest them sooner than they could other plant varieties and therefore repeat experiments more quickly. Stellar Applications on Our Home Planet and Beyond Research conducted under this cross-agency collaboration has potential benefits both in space and on our home planet. “The original objective of this project was to figure out how to increase overall crop productivity in order to benefit terrestrial agriculture,” said Dixit. “We can also apply these methods in the spaceflight environment to maximize the overall productivity of plants grown in the limited space we have aboard spacecraft.” NASA astronaut Jessica Meir harvests leaves from Mizuna mustard greens for analysis and consumption during the Veg-04 experiment, part of a phased research project to address the need for fresh food production in space. Credits: NASA Developing new methods to increase plant yield may not only allow for a greater variety of plants to be grown and eaten in space, as has been done with Veggie experiments on the International Space Station, but these advancements could also contribute to more efficient and productive agricultural methods on Earth. In addition, the joint USDA/NASA plant research could have applications for commercial technologies that support sustainable farming on Earth. “If there’s a way to co-utilize these microbes or fungi where you deliberately inoculate them into the growing media of plants, it could potentially speed up the growth and produce better yields or quicker yields,” said Wheeler. “If we can clearly demonstrate this on the ground, then it would be nice to do a follow-up test in space to see if the same thing occurs in microgravity.” Researchers are working to expand the plant varieties investigated under this partnership to crops including tomatoes. In the future, scientists also aim to test this ground research in space, bringing the microbial magic to the cosmos. Learn more about NASA’s Plant Biology Program Related EFRI ELiS: Bioweathering Dynamics and Ecophysiology of Microbially Catalyzed Soil Genesis of Martian Regolith Dynamics of Microbiomes in Space (DynaMoS) Surviving Space: Extreme Plant Adaptation News Article Type: Homepage ArticlesPublished: Thursday, May 11, 2023 - 09:53

GoGreenNation News: Pete Myers to address US Senate committee on the dangers of plastic
GoGreenNation News: Pete Myers to address US Senate committee on the dangers of plastic

Plastic is overwhelming our planet and this pollution is spurring developmental and reproductive problems in people — but there are ways we can reduce this harmful waste.That is the message Environmental Health Science founder and chief scientist Dr. Pete Myers will bring to the U.S. Senate Committee on the Environment & Public Works on Dec. 15 at 10 AM ET. Myers will testify along with three others — former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Regional Administrator and current Beyond Plastics president Judith Enck, CEO of the Plastics Industry Association Matt Seaholm and co-founder and president of Nexus Circular Eric Hartz — at the hearing, “Examining the Impact of Plastic Use and Identifying Solutions for Reducing Plastic Waste.”“Plastic cannot be considered ‘safe’ until it is thoroughly tested,” Myers writes in his testimony. “And no plastic has ever been thoroughly tested using the tools of modern, 21st century medical science.”Myers is a leading voice linking plastic to harmful chemicals that can block, mimic, increase or decrease our body’s hormones. The compounds, often added to plastics as additives, are dubbed endocrine-disrupting chemicals and include bisphenol-A (BPA), phthalates, fluorinated compounds and others. Properly functioning hormones are vital for our health, and exposure to these chemicals is linked to a host of health problems including cardiovascular disease, obesity and diabetes, impaired brain development and reproductive issues, among others. Myers has spoken extensively about how the rate of plastic production increases the prevalence of these toxics in our environment and bodies. Myers has also worked to chart a healthier future, championing a new set of “3 R’s” — rethink, redesign and reform — to replace the old reduce, reuse and recycle messaging. Myers co-founded the Sudoc company, which aims to reduce and replace harmful chemicals in many different types of products. The company won the On the Rise category of Fast Company’s 2022 World Changing Ideas Awards.Watch the livestream of the hearing on Thursday Dec. 15, 2022, at 10 AM ET. About EHS: Environmental Health Sciences, which publishes EHN.org, is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news and science organization dedicated to driving good science into public policy and public discussion on our environment and health, including climate change. The organization, founded in 2002, has helped drive science-based changes to policy that led to a moratorium on PBDE flame retardants by several states, a ban on the plastic additive BPA in children’s products by the federal government, and science-based chemical reform in Europe. Contact:Douglas FischerExecutive Directordfischer@ehsciences.orgAngela Marie HutchinsonEngagement Directorangela@ehsciences.org

GoGreenNation News: Op-ed: The FDA needs to start protecting us from obesity-promoting food chemicals
GoGreenNation News: Op-ed: The FDA needs to start protecting us from obesity-promoting food chemicals

The Western diet is a triple threat for causing obesity: the diet itself, the additives used in the food processing and the chemicals used in the food packaging are all culprits, according to a new report from the Center for Science in the Public Interest. The center is a science-based consumer advocacy organization that studies nutrition and health, so the focus on nutrition’s role in obesity is not surprising. What is surprising is a report on the role of environmental chemicals, obesogens, in causing obesity. Obesogen science proposes that humans are exposed to chemicals (obesogens) that stimulate the formation of fat cells and fat disposition, disrupt metabolism and energy, and regulate appetite and weight gain, which results in obesity. While obesogens can act across the lifespan, they have their greatest effects in utero and during early life when the metabolic system is developing.The new report examined how much evidence supports the obesogen hypothesis, and how researchers, health advocates and government should respond.And unfortunately it found the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is failing us. What food chemicals are obesogens? The Center for Science in the Public Interest examined all the data supporting the obesogen hypothesis. While the Western diet is obesogenic due to its high fat, high sugar, low fiber, low fruits and vegetables and high content of highly processed foods, the study examined the possible obesogenic effects of chemicals intentionally added to food as preservatives, emulsifiers, flavor enhancers or antioxidants. Data analysis indicated that the preservatives benzoates, propionic acid and parabens, the emulsifier dioctyl sodium sulfosuccinate (DOSS), the psychoactive drug caffeine, the flavor enhancer monosodium glutamate (MSG, and the antioxidant 3-tert butyl hydroxyanisole (3-BHA) are suspected obesogens. Further, they noted ethyl butyrate and methyl salicylate (flavorings) and the color additives red 40, yellow 5 and yellow 6 are potential obesogens, pending confirmation in animal studies. Carboxymethylcellulose, an emulsifier, is also an obesogen via alterations in the gut microbiota, and fructose and low-calorie sweeteners acesulfame potassium, aspartame, saccharin, sucralose and stevia leaf extracts are also obesogenic. In addition, bisphenol A (BPA), perfluorooctanoic acid, and di-ethylhexyl phthalate, known obesogens, are used in food packaging and can be released into the food. There are also pesticide residues used in producing fruits and vegetables, some of which are also obesogens. FDA failures Despite this data, the report noted that the FDA “lacks a framework for identifying and evaluating possible metabolic disruptors and obesogens.” The public relies on the FDA to guide the safety of food and food additives. The FDA has dropped the ball. Consumer health is suffering. The report notes that FDA could greatly benefit from expert input as it seeks to improve its assessments of chemicals added to food. It recommended that the FDA, in collaboration with the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences or the Endocrine Society, should fund the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to develop recommendations for incorporating information on metabolic disruption into its assessments of food chemicals and guidance for companies that seek to introduce substances into the food supply. Furthermore, for substances already on the market, FDA should prioritize substances for reevaluation, taking information on metabolic disruption into account.The FDA’s Redbook — the agency’s guide for toxicological testing — was last updated in 2007 and does “not reflect the current scientific understanding of metabolic disruption and more generally endocrine disruption,” according to the new report. Changes suggested to toxicological testing include: examining a wider range of doses, longer testing to determine adult-onset obesity, more disease-related and modern molecular endpoints, determination of cumulative exposures and consideration of sensitive populations.I applaud the Center for Science in the Public Interest and support the call for the FDA to examine chemicals in food that can lead to obesity. I hope someone at FDA is listening — the health of Americans depends on it.Jerrold J. Heindel is the Director of Healthy Environment and Endocrine Disruptor Strategies, a program of Environmental Health Sciences. His views do not necessarily represent those of Environmental Health News, The Daily Climate, or publisher Environmental Health Sciences.

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