In a sweeping encyclical, the Pope calls for swift action on climate change

From the New York Times

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis on Thursday called for a radical transformation of politics, economics and individual lifestyles to confront environmental degradation and climate change, as his much-awaited papal encyclical blended a biting critique of consumerism and irresponsible development with a plea for swift and unified global action.

The vision that Francis outlined in the 184-page encyclical is sweeping in ambition and scope: He described a relentless exploitation and destruction of the environment, for which ...

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Naomi Oreskes, Climate Change Lightening Rod

From the New York Times (June 15, 2015)

The job interviewer scrutinized the young American geology student sitting across from him. She was about to graduate from the Royal School of Mines in London, and was trying to break into a field long unwelcoming to women.

What, he wanted to know, might she have to contribute to the geology of mining? Naomi Oreskes had a simple answer: “I want to find ...

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Hopkins Lab hatches bluebird outreach project with Blacksburg High School

From VT News

Blacksburg, June 5, 2015

This spring, Blacksburg High School students peeked into wooden nest boxes and found one of three things: an empty nest, powder blue eggs, or best of all, a feathery baby bird.

As part of a partnership with Virginia Tech, approximately 50 wooden bird boxes were placed on a natural stretch of the high school’s property so that students can learn about bird biology, the scientific method, and environmental problems like climate change.

“The project has ...

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Dr. Kendra Sewall awarded grant from the Jeffress Memorial Trust

Kendra Sewall, Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences and Global Change Center Faculty Affiliate, received a grant from the Jeffress Memorial Trust, which provides $100,000 awards to conduct innovative interdisciplinary pilot studies in fields such as biosciences, chemistry, engineering, and environmental sciences.  She joins a select group of VT researchers to win this award in recent years, which has been limited to four submissions per institution per year.

The project is entitled, “”Using Social Network Models and Manipulations of Glucocorticoids to Understand How The ...

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Texas: a history of flooding is compounded by development and warming impacts

From the New York Times

The holiday and the type of hazard have changed, but once again fast-growing Texas is seeing outsize (and tragic) impacts from extreme weather events. On Labor Day weekend in 2011, the disaster was heat- and drought-fueled fires that whipped through the exurbs east of Austin, most of which didn’t exist just a few decades earlier. Now, Houston is flooded and Hays County, west of Austin, is still in search and rescue mode after Memorial Day weekend flash flooding ...

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Dr. Cayelan Carey partners with the United Nations to confront global water crisis

From VT News

BLACKSBURG, Va., May 19, 2015 – A Virginia Tech ecologist provided potential solutions to the world’s water problems in an article published recently in the United Nations’ Chronicle.

The report will assist the United Nations in finalizing its post-2015 sustainable development goals, which include ensuring the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

The goals were proposed by world leaders at the Rio+20 conference held in Brazil in 2012 and were meant to set realistic, ...

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Engineers and scientists to examine antibiotic resistance in food chain

Virginia Tech College of Engineering

Growing evidence suggests that agricultural practices, especially widespread antibiotic use, could be contributing to the increasing antibiotic resistance problem in humans. In order to learn how to effectively control this spread of antibiotic resistance from livestock manure, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has awarded a $2.25 million grant to a Virginia Tech team of engineers and scientists to examine the food chain from farm to fork.

One of the team’s immediate concerns is to determine ...

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Amy Pruden receives best paper award from Environmental Science and Technology

From VT News

BLACKSBURG, Va., May 11, 2015 – Amy Pruden, associate dean for interdisciplinary graduate education in the Graduate School and professor of civil and environmental engineering in the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech, received a best paper award for 2014 from the journal Environmental Science and Technology (ES&T).

Her paper, “Balancing Water Sustainability and Public Health Goals in the Face of Growing Concerns about Antibiotic Resistance” was named the top paper in the feature section.

Pruden’s paper discussed ...

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IGC Fellows Estrada and Medina work on issues that address declining species worldwide

Video: In the rainforests of Central America, a research team studies a skin disease that may be the tipping point for amphibian life on the planet.

From VT News

As the clock ticks, populations of endangered species decline and threaten the functioning of healthy ecosystems.

Pollution, hunting, habitat degradation, climate change, and invasive species have dealt blows to global biodiversity. Climate change alone is putting one in six species on Earth at risk of extinction, according to a meta-analysis of 131 published studies ...

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Ben Vernasco studies the social dynamics and physiology of dancing birds

From Fralin Spotlight

by Cassandra Hockman

Ben Vernasco knew he wanted to pursue a Ph.D. in conservation biology while studying tropical birds in Peru. After his trip, he got in touch with his mentor, Brandt Ryder, a research ecologist at the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park in Washington, D.C.

Ryder and his Virginia Tech colleague Ignacio Moore, an associate professor of biological sciences in the College of Science, had just received a National Science Foundation ...

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IGC Fellows engage students at elementary school science fair

The Interfaces of Global Change Graduate Student Organization participated in a recent science fair at Gilbert Linkous Elementary School in Blacksburg. Some of the IGC Fellows served as judges and evaluated the nearly 70 Gilbert Linkous poster presentations. Other fellows operated a photo booth called “Kids Curiosity”. Equipped with plenty of lab and field gear, our graduate students encouraged kids to dress up as scientists and check out some of the cool tools that were on hand.

See the photo gallery below–looks like everyone was having ...

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State of the Amazon: WWF report by Dr. Leandro Castello

​From WWF Global

Amazon reportIn 2014, the World Wildlife Fund Living Amazon Initiative launched the series, “State of the Amazon”, presenting the first report, “State of the Amazon: Ecological Representation, Protected Areas and Indigenous Territories”.

In April 2015, the second report was released: “State of the Amazon: Freshwater Connectivity and Ecosystem Health”. Prominent researchers Marcia Macedo and Leandro Castello wrote the core scientific assessment ...

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Tony Timpano is investigating the impacts of coal mining on Appalachian streams

Tony Timpano is an IGC student and a Ph.D. candidate in Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation. His field research is centered in the Appalachian “coal country” of southwestern Virginia and southern West Virginia.

Tony is interested in understanding how coal mining affects stream water quality and aquatic life. Ultimately, he hopes that his research findings will help guide policies on monitoring and managing salt pollution in streams.

“I want to improve the science of water quality management to enhance the capability of regulators to ...

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Ignacio Moore studies rare “Pinocchio Lizard” in Ecuador

This story by Lindsay Key was originally published at EurekAlert! and VT News

For more than 50 years, scientists thought that the horned anole lizard — sometimes called the “Pinocchio Lizard” for its long, protruding nose — was extinct. But it turns out this is a tall tale.

Scientists re-discovered the lizard in 2005, living elusively at the tops of tall trees in the cloud forests of Ecuador — the only place in the world ...

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Cathy Jachowski’s hellbender research is featured on VT Vimeo

Cathy Jachowski is a Ph.D. candidate in Fisheries and Wildlife Conservation and a fellow in the Interfaces of Global Change interdisciplinary graduate education program at Virginia Tech.

“Growing up in Kentucky, I learned the value of maintaining clean and healthy rivers, lakes and streams for both people and wildlife. As humans, we have all contributed to changes in land use patterns, climate and various types of pollution. These changes can affect the quality of ...

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President Obama links public health and climate change

(CNN) Debates on climate change can break down fairly fast. There are those who believe that mankind’s activities are changing the planet’s climate, and those who don’t.

But a new way to talk about climate change is emerging, which shifts focus from impersonal discussions about greenhouse gas emissions and power plants to a very personal one: your health.

It’s easy to brush aside debates involving major international corporations, but who wouldn’t stop to think — and perhaps do something — about their ...

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Special Seminar: Emma Rosi-Marshall from the Cary Institute will talk about pharmaceuticals as agents of ecological change

This week’s EEB seminar speaker is Dr. Emma Rosi-Marshall from the Cary Institute of Ecosystem studies.

Learn how pharmaceutical pollution harms aquatic life and compromises the health of our nation’s freshwaters. Rosi-Marshall will also outline what is needed to combat the growing problem.”

Title:
Pharmaceutical and personal care products as agents of ecological change in aquatic ecosystems

More about Dr. Rosi-Marshall:
“Dr. Rosi-Marshall conducts research on factors that control and influence ecosystem ...

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Don’t stop explaining climate science

Don’t stop. Don’t give up. Even though it may feel like beating your head against the wall, take every opportunity to explain climate science to your friends, family, church members, students, and even the deniers you encounter on street corners. Kudos to the Interfaces of Global Change Program’s efforts to improve climate science communication.

Recently, 50 U.S. Senators voted “yea” on the following: “it is the sense of Congress that — (1) climate change is real; and (2) human activity ...

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Postcards: Laura Schoenle arrives in Ontario for field season

April 8, 2015

“Hi! I just arrived at the Queen’s University Biological Station (QUBS) in Elgin, Ontario, and while we’re still in the midst of winter up here, the migratory birds are already returning. My personal favorite is the red-winged blackbird, and they are singing right now, even as the snow falls…

My research focuses on the role of hormones in shaping how birds cope with disease.  I have two exciting experiments planned for this summer, and each will become chapters in my Ph.D. dissertation. In ...

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