Category Archives: Science

A preview of the March for Science

Scientists, and those who just love scientific method, will march on Washington, D.C. (and hundreds of satellite marches around the globe) this Saturday in support of scientific research and scientific-based public policy decision making. The March for Science, explained:

Inspired by the success of the January 21 Women’s March on Washington, the March for Science will celebrate the scientific method and advocate for evidence-based decision-making in all levels of government. Though the event’s website doesn’t explicitly mention Trump, it’s a protest of his administration’s policies, including his proposal to cut billions in funding for scientific research.

The march is likely to draw a lively crowd — and the nerdiest protest signs you can imagine. Here’s what you need to know about it.

What will happen at the March for Science?

On April 22, science-friendly individuals will gather on the National Mall, and in dozens of satellite marches across the United States and even around the globe. The Earth Day Network — the nonprofit that organizes Earth Day events every year — has taken the lead on programming for the march.

The main event will be co-hosted by Questlove (of the Roots and The Tonight Show) and Derek Muller (who runs a popular science YouTube channel). Jon Batiste and Stay Human (the band for Stephen Colbert’s Late Show) will serve as the house band.

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(Update) Public policy is failing to address the economic disruption from rapidly advancing technology

Another in a series of posts about the technology tsunami rapidly transforming the labor force.

The Washington Post this week has a couple of interesting reports on jobs affected by the Technology Revolution, and the economic disruption it is having on society.

First, Jef Guo writes at the Wonkblog, We’re so unprepared for the robot apocalypse:

Economists have long argued that automation, not trade, is responsible for the bulk of the six million jobs shed by the manufacturing sector over the last 25 years. Now, they have a put a precise figure on some of the losses.

Industrial robots alone have eliminated up to 670,000 American jobs between 1990 and 2007, according to new research from MIT’s Daron Acemoglu and Boston University’s Pascual Restrepo.

The number is stunning on the face of it, and many have interpreted the study as an indictment of technological change — a sign that “robots are winning the race for American jobs” (Clair Cain Miller, The Upshot at The New York Times). But the bigger takeaway is that the nation has been ill-equipped to deal with the upheaval caused by automation.

The researchers estimate that half of the job losses resulted from robots directly replacing workers. The rest of the jobs disappeared from elsewhere in the local community. It seems that after a factory sheds workers, that economic pain reverberates, triggering further unemployment at, say, the grocery store or the neighborhood car dealership.

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Donald Trump commits the U.S. to his anti-science climate change denial (Updated)

Last week the New York Times reported, Arctic’s Winter Sea Ice Drops to Its Lowest Recorded Level:

After a season that saw temperatures soar at the North Pole, the Arctic has less sea ice at winter’s end than ever before in nearly four decades of satellite measurements.

The extent of ice cover — a record low for the third straight year — is another indicator of the effects of global warming on the Arctic, a region that is among the hardest hit by climate change, scientists said.

“This is just another exclamation point on the overall loss of Arctic sea ice coverage that we’ve been seeing,” said Mark Serreze, the director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center, a government-backed research agency in Boulder, Colo. “We’re heading for summers with no sea ice coverage at all.”

Dr. Serreze said that such a situation, which would leave nothing but open ocean in summer until fall freeze-up begins, could occur by 2030, although many scientists say it may not happen for a decade or two after that.

Less ice coverage also means that there is more dark ocean to absorb more of the sun’s energy, which leads to more warming and melting in a feedback loop called Arctic amplification.

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Public policy is failing to address the economic disruption from rapidly advancing technology

Back in December I posted about a New report on automation and AI replacing human labor.

The New York Times editorialized in February that No, Robots Aren’t Killing the American Dream. As evidence, the Times cites “the data indicate that today’s fear of robots is outpacing the actual advance of robots. If automation were rapidly accelerating, labor productivity and capital investment would also be surging as fewer workers and more technology did the work. But labor productivity and capital investment have actually decelerated in the 2000s.”

Sarah Bauerle Danzman, assistant professor of international studies at the School of Global and International Studies at Indiana University Bloomington, and Jeff D. Colgan, the Richard Holbrooke associate professor of political science at the Watson Institute of Brown University, respond today at the Washington Post. Robots aren’t killing the American Dream. Neither is trade. This is the problem.

Unfortunately, [the Times‘] argument leads many people to conclude that globalization and liberalized international trade must be what’s hurting U.S. manufacturing. That’s the argument that Alan Tonelson, a campaign adviser to both Donald Trump and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), made in a more recent Times op-ed. According to Tonelson, the U.S. economy needs protectionist policies to revitalize it.

But they’re wrong. Worse, those arguments distract us from implementing the policies that could most help the American worker. Here’s why.

1) Automation is reducing employment in key industries.

The U.S. economy has steadily lost manufacturing jobs since the late 1970s. In 1970, manufacturing employed close to 25 percent of the workforce; but today employs only about 8.5 percent of working Americans. At the same time, the real median household income for people with high school diplomas but not college degrees fell 27.8 percent.

One key piece of evidence is that the United States shed 5 million manufacturing jobs from 2000-2014, even as output over the same period rose. That suggests that automation is the primary reason for the loss. If international trade were the chief culprit, we would also expect U.S. manufacturing output to decline.

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The battle over a stolen SCOTUS seat begins today

Today’s the day: Donald Trump Supreme Court choice announcement coming Tuesday 8 p.m. ET.

Paul Waldman at the Washington Post reports:

Burgess Everett (Politico) reports that Democrats look like they’re ready to pull the trigger on a filibuster of Trump’s Supreme Court nominee:

Senate Democrats are going to try to bring down President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court pick no matter who the president chooses to fill the current vacancy.

With Trump prepared to announce his nominee on Tuesday evening, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) said in an interview on Monday morning that he will filibuster any pick that is not Merrick Garland and that the vast majority of his caucus will oppose Trump’s nomination. That means Trump’s nominee will need 60 votes to be confirmed by the Senate.

“This is a stolen seat. This is the first time a Senate majority has stolen a seat,” Merkley said in an interview. “We will use every lever in our power to stop this.”

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Arizona’s GOP congressional caucus votes to aid and abet Trump’s violations of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution

I previously posted about the lawsuit against Trump under the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution. The legal team intends to use the lawsuit to try to get a copy of Trump’s federal tax returns, which are needed to properly assess what income or other payments or loans Trump has received from foreign governments.

As I pointed out at the end of the post:

Sen. Ron Wyden (OR), the top Democrat on the Senate’s tax-writing committee, along with Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA), introduced legislation earlier this month to require all sitting presidents and nominated presidential candidates to release their tax returns for the past three years. Want President Trump to release his tax returns? There’s a bill for that.

Will Tea-Publicans in Congress pass this bill? Or will they enable Trump by aiding and abetting his display of contempt for the public’s right to know and possible violations of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution?

Burning_constitution

This past week we learned the answer: aiding and abetting Trump’s display of contempt for the public’s right to know and possible violations of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution it is!

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