In the News

SESYNC in the News
UMD researchers look at the effects of mass opinion on public thoughts
Jun 03, 2015

A communication phenomenon called the “echo chamber” could sway federal policymakers’ attitudes toward climate change — and not always in a positive way — according to a study led by university researchers published last month in Nature magazine.

The study, which began in 2010, received survey responses from 64 members of the U.S. climate policy network, including members of Congress and leaders of nongovernmental organizations. The survey polled respondents on their attitudes toward climate science and policy, as well as their sources of expert information.

“Among the science community, there is a consensus that human activities are contributing to global warming. But we were interested to know why in the policy network, half of voters believed climate change was not human-induced,” said Lorien Jasny, a co-author of the study and a postdoctoral researcher at the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center in Annapolis.

Continue reading at The Diamondback.

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Why the EPA wants to amend the Clean Water Act
May 28, 2015

The Obama administration is looking to clarify the "water" in the Clean Water Act.

The Environmental Protection Agency released the finalized version of a new rule designed to address confusion over which streams and wetlands can be regulated under the landmark 1972 environmental legislation. At the heart of this confusion are so-called temporary waterways: small streams and tributaries that appear and disappear throughout the year due to rain, snowmelt, and other factors.

Taken individually, these seasonal streams are relatively small. Together, however, they are the lifelines of the nation’s major waterways, says restoration ecologist Margaret Palmer.

Continue reading at The Christian Science Monitor.

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Why So Many Politicians Don’t Accept Climate Change, According To Science
May 27, 2015

Scientists have known for a long time what’s causing current climate change. What’s been less clear is why so many U.S. politicians aren’t listening.

Sure, there’s been falsely balanced media coverage of climate science. And there are both financial and ideological incentives to deny that carbon emissions are causing the phenomenon.

But according to new research published in Nature Climate Change, there’s at least one statistically proven reason why more than 56 percent of Congressional Republicans deny climate change: echo chambers.

Continue reading at ThinkProgress.

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How 'echo chambers' lead to government inaction on climate change
May 26, 2015

A study published on Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change found that, at least when it comes to climate change, Congress functions a lot like Facebook.

See, earlier this year, data scientists at Facebook published a study in the journal Science that found that liberals largely tend to read and share news articles written by liberal news sources, and conservatives tend to read and share news articles written by conservative news sources. Facebook insisted that if people on the left and those on the right are living in their own respective worlds, those informational cages were largely ones of their own choosing.

Continue reading at The Daily Dot.

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Thinking Across Disciplines to Drive Science and Policy
May 22, 2015

Right after meeting with post-doctoral students to discuss river hydrology, Dr. Margaret Palmer welcomed me into her office to discuss science, communication and the work of the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) in Annapolis, Maryland.

Founded in 2011, the National Science Foundation awarded funds to create SESYNC. It is the newest in a series of synthesis centers that coalesces research from a range of disciplines, especially the natural and social sciences.

Continue reading at The Huffington Post.

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UI Professor to do Water Research Down Under
Jan 09, 2015

MOSCOW, Idaho – University of Idaho College of Law Professor Barbara Cosens has been selected as a visiting professor with the ANZSOG—Goyder Institute Visiting Professors Program in association with Flinders University in Adelaide, South Australia, for part of the 2015 spring semester.

The competitive selection process required Cosens’ proposal for research in Australia to focus on “addressing the public policy challenges of how finite resource use can effectively be managed through cooperation, with a priority focus on water policy and management."

University of Idaho Vice President of Research, Jack McIver, says “Since it is rare for legal scholars to achieve funding through a National Science Foundation synthesis center, this award signifies both the stature of the investigator and the importance of her work.”

Cosens’ proposal to the ANZSOG-Goyder Institute built on a project she co-chairs with Lance Gunderson of Emory University, Social-Ecological System Resilience, Climate Change and Adaptive Water Governance, part of a series of workshops from the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center at the University of Maryland–an NSF-funded synthesis center.

The synthesis project is focused on six North American water basins and explores the role of law in presenting both challenges and opportunities for adaptive water governance in the era of climate change.

During her time at the ANZSOG-Goyder Institute, Cosens will apply the concepts from the synthesis project to the legal and policy setting of Australian water management. Her focus will be on the Lake Eyre Basin, an internally drained basin covering a large portion of South Australia, Queensland, Northern Territories and a portion of New South Wales, and linked to the Great Artesian Basin.

“International collaboration is just one example of how truly outstanding our College of Law faculty are and the opportunities afforded to students who interact with them,” said UI College of Law Dean Mark L. Adams.

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Conserving Tigers Could Hurt Leopards
Dec 11, 2014

There's a pecking order in the animal kingdom, even among alpha predators: Tigers trump leopards every time. If a tiger decides to take up residence in a leopard's neighborhood, the leopard will move to a different part of the forest, just to avoid the tiger.

These natural dynamics are creating an unexpected predicament in Nepal, where tiger populations—as in the rest of the world—  have been decimated over the past decades, SESYNC reports. But Nepal is committed to doubling its tiger population by 2022, and if all goes according to plan, the country will be home to a lot more tigers, relatively soon. While that's good news for conservationists, it is problematic for leopards—especially when humans are also part of that equation.

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Tiger Conservation Forces Leopards into Human Territory
Dec 10, 2014

There are a mere 3,000 tigers left in the entire world, but while conservationists scramble to save this endangered animal, they are leaving leopards to fend for themselves, forcing them into human territory where they are more at risk, according to new research.

With tiger farming  and poaching being major issues - which involve the killing of tigers for their bones and pelts - conservationists have dedicated their efforts to protecting the iconic species and restoring their numbers by the year 2022.

Continue reading at Nature World News.

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The next water cycle
Oct 29, 2014

Something is drying up the Pangani River. Maybe it is the Tanzania Electric Supply Company, which manages three hydropower plants located on the river, providing up to 17% of the country's electricity. Maybe it is the thousands of farmers and herders, whose traditional furrow irrigation methods deplete the river. Or maybe, as scientists say, drought is to blame for the recent problems. Under climate change and changes in population dynamics, this problem of unpredictable fresh water will only get worse in the Pangani Basin, because more people are depending on the water, and the water sources for the Pangani River — rainfall and glacial meltwater flowing from Mounts Meru, Pare and Kilimanjaro — are rapidly diminishing.

Climate change is affecting the global water cycle like never before. The changing pace of precipitation, droughts and extremes of the two is altering the way farmers, pastoralists and Tanzania's energy company, for example, manage water — with implications for agricultural irrigation and hydropower energy that affect the people they feed and supply energy to. But it's not just the developing world that is adjusting to new uncertainties around freshwater management. All around the world, water managers are finding new ways to work towards adaptation. New techniques and planning for an uncertain future means that both urban and rural development plans are moving away from large, static projects that were once pillars of engineering to solve water problems.

Continue reading at Nature Climate Change.

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Q&A: when a theoretical article is misinterpreted
Apr 15, 2014

Recently, a research paper was written about in the media before it was published. The coverage spread around the world with some misinterpreting the article's findings as a doomsday prediction of the collapse of society.

The paper—"Human and nature dynamics (HANDY): Modeling inequality and use of resources in the collapse or sustainability of societies"—was published this month in the journal Ecological Economics.

Continue reading at Elsevier Connect.

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