Andy Revkin, who writes the dot Earth blog for the New York Times posted an article on Facebook which describes an apparent link between natural gas “fracking” and low birth weights. Revkin did preface the post by acknowledging that the study discussed in the article wasn’t peer reviewed, but a number of critics immediately posted comments questioning the science, Revkin’s judgment, the environmental movement, and (for good measure) climate scientists.

Two points are relevant here. First, the study was conducted by a graduate student, Elaine Hill of Cornell University, and she wasn’t waiting for the peer review process to grind its way through her study before making her findings public. Academic scientists may wring their hands over this, but it reflects a growing trend in science where young scientists are increasingly interested in seeing that their work has an immediate impact on society. Aníbal Pauchard and I argue in Observation and Ecology that this desire in young scientists, which we think is driven by the urgency of today’s environmental challenges, is causing bottom up shifts in how science is being conducted and shared.

Read more at Island Press Blog

Published On: July 27, 2012

Rafe Sagarin

Rafe Sagarin

Rafe Sagarin is a marine ecologist at the Institute of the Environment at University of Arizona. Rafe’s research includes everything from the historical and current sizes of intertidal gastropods (snails) to developing better ideas for national security, based on natural security systems. He is particularly interested in the Sea of Cortez, or Gulf of California, its ecological history, and the fascinating people past and present who have lived, worked, researched and journeyed there.

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