Sunday, September 30, 2007

Environmental Science and Environmental Justice

Environmental Justice is not an uncommon phrase among many African-Americans, especially those of us who rally for social justice. NAACP's magazine the Crisis July and August 2007 issue is special report on Environmental Justice. However, the term isn't all that common among all segments of the American population. A friend and colleague who teaches at a rather large southern university asked her freshman biology and environmental science students if they were familiar with term. None were. Most of her students are white. She thought this was a generational thing, since most of her students were young, <>environmental science. Make me shake my head. Understanding environmental processes - water cycles, interdependence of living creatures on each other, the fragile & necessary relationship between the biotic and abiotic parts of the environment, as well as the chemical, geological, biological and geographical concepts related - is fundamental to tackling environmental justice issues that plague poor people and people of color in the U.S. and throughout the world.

This week's dose of science is a link to Environmental Science . ScienceDaily is an online science research news source that covers a wide breadth of science research topics.

Enjoy your environmental science tutorial.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Multiple Studies Reveal Dire Meltdown in Arctic

Okay, now. Global warming is very serious. Let me repeat...VERY serious. The melting of the polar regions is the most alarming symptom of our planet's balance being out of whack. Not the be a complete alarmist (because, let's just face it. I am), there are things we can do.

In fact, some young people in Canada are doing their part. And you can get started. Our Green friends at Treehugger have some action-oriented recommendations.

Read and Take Action.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Advancing our Scientific Prowess

"The only protection against injustice in man is power -- physical, financial and scientific."
- Marcus Garvey

I pulled this quote from the Electronic Village and it spoke to me. Even among the ashes of Reconstruction and segregation and political & economic disenfranchisement, our great leaders recognized the importance of scientific knowledge. Education is important. Though W.E.B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington disagreed over tactics, they both agreed on strategy. EDUCATION held the true redemptive and salvation capacity for the Negro in the New World.

And scientific education was a key component for all three leaders - Garvey, DuBois, & Washington. Science as Agriculture was especially important to Booker T. Washington. His Tuskegee Institute was essentially an Agriculture and Industrial College for Southern Blacks. Young men (mostly) attended school to gain knowledge about better farming practices and land & animal management resources to take back their family farms.

But today, African-Americans (as well as Latino and Native Americans) lead our nation's statistics for poorest scores in all academic subjects - language arts, math, and science. Advancing out understanding and appreciation of science - as an endeavor and a way of knowing - is imperative to our success. But more than just knowing how to understand your doctor or vote on policy, Science more than any other discipline is an exercise of intellect. Science is about observing, asking questions, accountability, resolution, and action. And these, too, are the keys to fighting injustice.

Observation: keeping an eye on people, agencies, businesses, the government, etc. and making sure they don't step out of line

Asking questions: what's going on? why are you doing this? how can I be involved?

Accountability: holding those responsible for keeping their promises, following through

Resolution: making sure the end product is what was promised or aligns with the answers you were given to your questions.

Action: making informed decisions, understanding the consequences of your behavior, doing the right thing to make your community better.

Let's get back to basics and let's not overlook the importance of sound science education as a basic tenet to our success.

Friday, September 21, 2007

What would Matthew Henson think? Polar Ice is melting

Matthew Henson is arguably one of the greatest recent era explorers of America. He is noted as the first Black Man to reach the North Pole and was one of 12 of the brave expedition. His humble beginnings as an orphan and cabin boy were not limitations to his interests or life's aspirations. This is a great chapter in African-American History and it should be shared with others, especially our children and charges. He is considered a national hero and is buried at Arlington National Cemetary. But with the recent announcements that both of our planets Polar regions are in grave danger, it gives pause.

This week's science meal is about Arctic Ecosystems and the threat the North & South Poles face from climate change snapping at our heels. Two articles about the decline and melt of the poles were published this week: The North Pole is melting and NASA: Antarctic Snowmelt Increasing. It gives a sense of urgency and panic to the work related to International Polar Year, which if you didn't know is a great celebration, education focus, and research push to learn as much about Arctic ecosystems before they all disappear. Plus it's an exciting science education learning theme.

So, open up and have a heaping helping of science! Delicous.
The Urban Scientist

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Weekly dose of Science - Delta SEE Radio

Since ybpguide called out the line-up for being too thin on the environmental side, I've been thinking that maybe we (the black blog-o-sphere) could stand to be a bit more balanced. Discussing politics, economics, and social issues is great. But we really do need to brush up our science and technology conversation repertoire.

So, each week, I'll be posting some some links to great, easily digestible science articles or podcasts.

Installment 1: Delta SEE radio podcasts

African-American Sorority, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. features a GREAT science radio program. Each week African-American Scientists and Engineers are interviewed on various topics. These radio programs are great tutorials about relevant science, technology, and engineering issues as well as career exploration topics for young people.
I know the YBG Community loves its technology. How about downloading something in addition to music and videos.

Especially if you mentor young people 9or spend time with the neices, nephews, church kids, etc., this is a great filler of time.
Give it try!!

Monday, September 10, 2007

African-American attitudes toward the environment

youngblackprofessional guide posted an essay about this topic earlier today.

I posted a couple of response comments about the topic. But of course, this has been a rally call of mine for some time. See blog entries about environment education.

Interesting topic. I'm VERY glad the Black Blog-o-sphere is at least bringing the topic to the fore. Keep it up. A regular introduction of science and environmental topics would be great, too. Because being well informed about current issues in science and technology is ybp, too.

But only one note to the essay's author, Fredric, AAEA's isn't the only blog discussing environmental issues, this one is too.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Diversity & the U.S. Environmentalism Movement

Yale has recently publiched a report, Diversity & the U.S. Environmentalism Movement. It features interesting titled articles about the current state of diversity, why diversity in the field is imperative, and even addresses environmental justice issues. I'll be reading articles and posting reviews and commentaries of select articles.

Environmental justice is an interesting point. A friend and colleague at Georgia Southern University mentioned this term to her environmental science studies. None of them had ever heard of the term. She was sure this was a fluke - her students are teenagers, afterall, minds and days filled with frivolity. So, she asked her father, a smart, civically engaged man. He had never heard of the term either. Admittingly, she & I are rather politically engaged individuals, we tend to be concerned with the social justice and conservation aspects of the environmental justice. Often, civil right action groups focus mostly on the social justice issues. But this still floors me. Hmm, perhaps the general public's ignorance of environmental justice is the first battle.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Learn by Doing

Typically, we think of quality learning as quite pupils awaiting instruction and information from a more knowledgeable tutor. "Sage on the Stage". But as a BIG proponent of experiential education, student-centered learning, and informal education approaches -- hands-on minds-on learning is best. Formal education is great, in fact essential. (You can earn a Ph.D. on streets, no matter what great lessons, you learn). But informal education is just as important, if not in some cases more important. Everything you need to know or learn in life isn't communicated in a text book or by your teach. There are other ways to learn, LiveScience recently posted a nice article to detail the benefits of 'life skills learning", read it here. And ofttimes, the best, most meaningful and long-remembered lessons are the ones we learn from doing.