Self-appointed experts

NPR did a blog post about Vani Hari aka “Food Babe” the other day.

…as her profile grows, so too do the criticisms of her approach. Detractors, many of them academics, say she stokes unfounded fears about what’s in our food to garner publicity. Steve Novella, a Yale neuroscientist and prominent pseudoscience warrior, among others, has dubbed Hari the “Jenny McCarthy of food” after the celebrity known for championing thoroughly debunked claims that vaccines cause autism.

Hari is a self-styled consumer advocate and adviser on healthful eating. [Read more…]

Arctic feedback cycle

Here’s a disquieting press release from NASA:

NASA Satellites Measure Increase of Sun’s Energy Absorbed in the Arctic

NASA satellite instruments have observed a marked increase in solar radiation absorbed in the Arctic since the year 2000 – a trend that aligns with the steady decrease in Arctic sea ice during the same period.

While sea ice is mostly white and reflects the sun’s rays, ocean water is dark and absorbs the sun’s energy at a higher rate. A decline in the region’s albedo – its reflectivity, in effect – has been a key concern among scientists since the summer Arctic sea ice cover began shrinking in recent decades. As more of the sun’s energy is absorbed by the climate system, it enhances ongoing warming in the region, which is more pronounced than anywhere else on the planet. [Read more…]

Got secularist?

The NSS is taking nominations for Secularist of the Year.

Who do you think should be the 2015 Secularist of the year?

The Irwin Prize for Secularist of the Year is awarded annually in recognition of an individual or an organisation considered to have made an outstanding contribution to the secular cause.

This year’s prize will be presented on Saturday 28 March at a lunch event in central London so please get your nominations to us by Friday 23 January.

The nomination form is right there on the page, so if you have a candidate, get to it.

 

Words are never enough, but have some anyway

So I had to read John Sauven’s* blog post about how sincerely, deeply, utterly sorry he is about the Nazca lines and how strongly he hopes Peru will just take his word for that and stop bothering them.

Words are never enough, he says in the title, and yet they seem to be all he’s offering.

Words are not enough. I know that. But I want to start by saying how deeply disappointed and sorry I am for the activity undertaken in the name of Greenpeace at the Nazca lines in Peru last week during the climate talks.

[Read more…]

If they really are as ashamed as they say they are

Peru is planning to extradite the Greenpeacers who scratched up the Nazca hummingbird site.

Castillo told the Guardian that Peruvian authorities had identified six members of the group who participated in the protest at the Unesco world heritage site last week, adding that prosecutors have filed charges of attacking archaeological monuments – a crime punishable by up to six years in prison.

But the minister said Greenpeace had refused to name all the protesters – leaving Peru no choice but to pursue it “through our legal means”.

“Greenpeace says it wants to take responsibility but in not giving us the names so that those responsible can appear before a judge in Peru it is refusing to do that,” he told the Guardian. “It’s a contradiction in terms.”

“It makes you wonder if they really are as ashamed as they say they are.”

[Read more…]

They cite websites skeptical about immunizations

Michigan has a dangerously low vaccination rate.

That’s the warning from public health experts as more and more schoolchildren are not getting basic vaccinations to protect them — and all of us — from preventable disease.

Michigan makes it easy to avoid immunization and after years of increasing public concerns over side effects and government intervention, the rate of those going unvaccinated is dangerously high.

[Read more…]