Tuesday, October 3, 2017

2017 Cybils Judge!

 I have been chosen to be a Round 1 Elementary/Middle Grade Nonfiction Judge for the 2017! This is a lovely honor, since I am still so inactive - work and life have taken over all my so-called "free-time." As I type this is really should be working on my XRF article (I am running the PXRF right next to me.) I love doing this.

The Elementary/Middle Grade Non-Fiction Category Description is as follows ... 
Kids are curious about the world around them and nonfiction is the perfect way to introduce them to that amazing world. History? Biography? Art? Science? Math? Animals? Sports? It’s all here and more besides! We love text and illustrations or photographs that will wow kids and adults alike and topics so fascinating that kids will want to go digging for more, more, more nonfiction!

Nonfiction Elementary/Middle Grade includes titles with factual content and informational titles. At least 50% or more of the book should be narrative nonfiction (as opposed to experiments, activities, instructional, or collections of facts without a strong narrative thread like encyclopedias). Mythology, folklore, poetry, graphic novels (including nonfiction), and historical fiction should be nominated in the appropriate category (which isn’t this one). We are currently accepting nominations only in print (no ebooks or books containing additional materials like kits) for this category.

How do I decide which category to nominate in?

Elementary Nonfiction
Intended for preschool through beginning readers (picture books, easy readers, and early chapters).

Middle Grade Nonfiction
Intended for elementary age readers up through 5th grade. May include picture books with more complex text and themes as well as chapter books.

And I just realized that there appears to be a problem here - the title says Middle Grade but the description is that same one that was used for Juvenile last year. I will double check this and fix the post to reflect whichever way it is really supposed to read. 

I really do love reading the entries - there are some really great non-fiction books out there for kids and they deserve to be celebrated.

Nominations for all Cybils categories opened October 1st and close on the 15th. The guidelines/categories info and link to nominations page is here.

Submissions from publishers and authors will be accepted October 16-26 and information for that is at the publisher section.

The mission of these awards is as follows ... "The Cybils Awards aims to recognize the children’s and young adult authors and illustrators whose books combine the highest literary merit and popular appeal. If some la-di-dah awards can be compared to brussels sprouts, and other, more populist ones to gummy bears, we’re thinking more like organic chicken nuggets. We’re yummy and nutritious.

So if you have read a great picture book, early reader, chapter book, middle grade or young adult novel, graphic novel, poetry or nonfiction book this past year please nominate them!

Ozone "Hole" and Global Warming ... it's probably not what you think ... it's complicated

First - the "hole" is the ozone layer isn't really a hole but a zone of exceptional depletion that forms over the Antarctic during southern hemisphere Spring (August to October). A much smaller zone forms over the Arctic during northern hemisphere spring. It is caused by some extraordinary conditions and human release of synthetic compounds, most notably CFCs.  Soooo - a toupee won't help.

The key thing about this slow burning environmental disaster is that the world cooperated to find a solution. The Montreal Protocol was an International Treaty, which was initially signed by 24 countries in 1987, though now all UN countries are signatories to the original protocol. It entered into force in 1989, setting a timetable for a mandatory phase out of ozone depleting substances (richer nations first, poorer nations later) and creating a fund to help less developed countries pay for the change.

Embedded Video Player: The Hole - A film on the Montreal Protocol, narrated by Sir David Attenborough

And it worked! Now, on the whole, the ozone layer is improving and the "holes" have gotten smaller. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Montreal Protocol. As part of the anniversary celebrations, the Ozone Secretariat launched a communication campaign ahead of World Ozone Day to be marked on 16 September 2017. (With all the hurricanes and other events, I am not sure many people in the US noticed).

This is a far cry from what would have happened if we didn't phase out use of CFCs - the conditions that create the "hole" break down at the end of spring and the depleted zone mixes in with the rest of the stratosphere - decreasing the total amount of ozone each time - thus that "hole" - really a depletion of ozone - would have expanded to cover most of the planet. Take a look at this NASA visualization below which presents the two cases: the 'world avoided' case, where the rate of CFC emission into the atmosphere is assumed to be that of the period before regulation, and the 'projected' case, which assumes the current rate of emission, post-regulation. Things start off the same but start to diverge radically as you pass the point at which the Montreal Protocol goes into effect. Both cases extrapolate to the year 2065. (You can see the whole article at https://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov//vis/a000000/a003500/a003586/index.html)

So this is more or less where we are now ...

You can check the state of the ozone hole at NASA's Ozone Hole Watch (https://ozonewatch.gsfc.nasa.gov) which is exceptionally cool and has tons of information and visualizations of what is going on there right now!

It is also very important to understand that global warming and the ozone hole are not directly linked and the relationship between the two is complex. The extra ultraviolet radiation that reaches the Earth due to the reduction of ozone in the stratosphere does not heat up the Earth because overall UV radiation makes up only a very small percentage of the incoming solar radiation. The purple line represents inbound solar radiation - you can see that UV makes up only a mall portion of that radiation. The red line is the rebounding black body radiation from the Earth - incident visible range solar radiation is absorbed and re-released at a longer wavelength, the infrared range that we can't see but experience as heat. (This is why a blacktop parking lot can still be burning hot on a sunny day where the air temperature isn't really that high)

UV radiation is also the wrong wavelength to bounce around and be absorbed by the atmosphere like IR (infrared radiation) does. The problem with increased UV radiation is that it harmful to animal and plant cells - high levels destroy cells - you have probably experienced this in the form of sun burn. This is why in regions of the planet near the south (and to a lesser extent north) polar region are experiencing higher levels of skin cancer and damage to crops.

However, the enhanced greenhouse effect is acting to warm the troposphere and cool the stratosphere, acting to further deplete ozone. Cooling in the stratosphere exacerbates the conditions that lead to the destruction of ozone, and as the amount of ozone decreases in the stratosphere, the temperature in the layer cools down even more (i.e. less ozone to absorb UV radiation means the layer cools down even more - what would be a small amount of energy in the troposphere is very significant in the stratosphere), which in turn leads to more ozone depletion. This is what's called a "positive feedback loop." So even though the ozone "hole" is healing, though things could potentially get worse or be delayed by increased global warming (which happens in the troposphere.)

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

What happened to 2017?

So - obviously I have been on something of an unintended hiatus. The combination of being Department Chair and Life have totally overwhelmed me for awhile now.

On the plus side - I have been more active in Twitter - so I am still alive, but apparently only able to communicate in 140 word bursts. Sigh.

I have been working on some new research in addition to lots of administrative planning/drowning in a sea of paperwork.

This is cool stuff ... remotely controlled underwater vehicle that I can videotape with as well as collecting samples (water and soil and grabber arm) ...

So still alive but goodness knows when I can get back to more regular blogging. Probably not while stuck in admin mode. 

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Environmental Legislation Links and Links for Homework

For Homework #1

League of Conservation Voters Score Card   http://scorecard.lcv.org/

Open Secrets 114th Congress List  http://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/summary_all.php

From Class 

Library of Congress  https://www.congress.gov/  (this is where you follow the progress of Bills)

United States Code Office of the Law Revision Counsel   http://uscode.house.gov/  (official one)

United States Code Cornell Law Library  https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text  (easier to search)

Supreme Court  https://www.supremecourt.gov/ 

Executive Orders (which are published in the Federal Register)
or go to https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/presidential-actions/executive-orders

Treaties (on Senate Website) https://www.senate.gov/legislative/treaties.htm 

Federal Register  https://www.federalregister.gov/ 

Electronic Code of Federal Regulations (CFR)  http://www.ecfr.gov/ 
CFR at Cornell Law Library   https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text

Key Terms

• Bill – proposed legislation under consideration by a legislature

• Guidance Documents – documents that allow government agencies to provide technical guidelines and background information without the content becoming law. This allows more governmental discretion in applying the standards delineated and makes it easier to update and alter them.

• Regulation - a form of delegated legislation typically created by federal or state administrative agencies. Statues (laws) are usually written in very general terms and administrative agencies, such as the EPA, must provide the technical details in the form of regulations - regulations have the force of law. Also referred to as rules or administrative law.

• Statue – a formal written acts of a legislative body such as Congress or a state legislature. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Feeling very cranky

'cause National Parks and holding lands in trust for the public is totally a 
waste of exploitable resources! 

Obviously clean water costs too much and impedes business growth! 

And clean air regulations are a huge impediment to growing the economy  

Blow up more mountains, drill more holes, get at those fossils fuels! Regardless of the costs

Bring back those great jobs! 

* like I said - feeling very, very cranky.