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[ 6 ways NOAA budget cuts will hurt weather reporting – and Americans ]

Trump’s proposal ignores how science protects American lives and property.

     

[ Wow. The Grand Canyon Is Being Stolen By a Sea of Fog. ]


This story was originally published by HuffPost and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

SKYGLOWPROJECT.COM: KAIBAB ELEGY from Harun Mehmedinovic on Vimeo.

A stunning time-lapse video of the Grand Canyon shows the carved formation as it may have looked millennia ago — but instead of water, it’s filled with what has the appearance of an ocean of fog.

Filmmaker Harun Mehmedinovic has set up his camera at the canyon 30 different times since 2015. During one visit, he managed to witness and film the dramatic changes of a full cloud inversion, which occurs when warm air traps cold air beneath and creates a sea of fog. The inversion lasted the entire day, allowing time for Mehmedinovic to film fog “crashing” on the “shores” of the canyon and swirling through winding passages.

The film made its debut on BBC Earth in early May and has been viewed online millions of times.

The video is part of the Skyglow Project, a crowdfunded operation to record the effects of light pollution from urban areas and contrast them with stunning vistas.

Mehmedinovic is a Bosnian-American who went into hiding in his war-wracked hometown of Sarajevo for three years when he was 9. His family stayed indoors in a cellar of their home to escape the Serbs. He moved to the U.S. when he was 13 and went to film school in Los Angeles.

Check out the Reuters video below for more information about background:

Reuters TV interviews Harun Mehmedinovic from Harun Mehmedinovic on Vimeo.

[ How to Know If You’re a “Super Taster” ]


On our latest episode of Bite, we talked to political journalist Dylan Matthews, someone who couldn’t care less about food. Matthews opts for cheap burritos over caviar and dislikes eating certain textures. The conversation got me thinking—what about those who really enjoy the taste of food?

 

You’ve probably heard of the legendary “supertasters,” people with a higher sensitivity to taste stimuli. I always envied these people—how enjoyable it must be for them to sink their teeth into milk chocolate with a gooey caramel core, or have a leg up in identifying complexities in a glass of red wine from Bordeaux. But that’s not quite the case. Linda Bartochuk, a professor of food science and human nutrition at the University of Florida’s Center for Smell and Taste, says supertasters tend to be pretty picky eaters and prefer to stick to bland food, which means they may have more in common with Dylan Matthews than with restaurant critics.

Here are some more things you may not realize about super tasters and the science of taste:

  • Supertasters aren’t inherently better at things like blind wine tastings.

Being able to recall the varietal, year, region, and make of wine with such accurate (and perhaps smug) detail isn’t due to having more taste buds. It’s often associated with practice and the ability to learn vocabulary and remember taste associations, according to Steven Munger, director of the Center for Smell and Taste. “What [wine expertise] may be doing is changing your ability to access information more efficiently and put it in a context of a memory,” Munger said. 

  • Being a supertaster has health advantages…

Supertasters tend to avoid alcohol and cigarettes because of the strong flavor and unpleasant taste.

  • …and disadvantages.

Given the bitterness or often distinct texture of certain vegetables like leafy greens, super tasters tend to dislike their strong flavors. Bartochuck says this may lead them to incorporate these healthy foods a lot less in their diets than the average eater. 

  • Supertasters tend to be women.

Bartochuck estimates that about 15 percent of Americans are supertasters, and women fall into the category more than men. She proposes this may have to do with how we evolved: A pregnant woman’s sensitivity to bitter foods (sometimes a sign of poison) would have been an advantage for her fetus.

  • Illness can have a negative affect on your taste buds—supertaster or not.

Having a lot of taste buds doesn’t mean they’ll all stay on your tongue forever. Taste nerves found in the inner ear and the back of the throat can be damaged by infections or surgeries on the middle ear or tonsils.

  • You don’t taste certain flavors on certain parts of your tongue.

When a Harvard researcher mistranslated a German scientist’s 1901 study, the idea of “tongue maps” spread and is still found in textbooks today. The concept that sweet is tasted on the tongue’s tip and bitter on the back is a taste myth scientists are still trying to dispel. We experience all five tastes—sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and umami (think broth or soy sauce)—on the front, sides, and back of our tongue.

Taste test: Find out if you’re a supertaster

Tongues are covered with fungiform papillae, mushroom shaped-structures that house our taste buds, and supertasters have a lot more papillae than the average taster. The best way to test if you’re a supertaster, Bartochuk says, is to take a close look at your tongue and compare it with friends’ or family members’.

Here’s an easy test you can do with a group of people: 

1. Get some Q-Tips, blue food coloring, and a magnifying glass.

2. Have everyone put a couple of drops of blue food coloring on a Q-Tip and swab their tongues. Taste buds won’t get as saturated with color as the rest of the tongue—they may remain pink or turn a lighter shade of blue.

3. Use a magnifying glass to look at the tongues. Supertasters’ tongues will be visibly covered by more fungiform papillae.

Then again, if you’d rather avoid dying your tongue bright blue, you can always order a supertaster kit online.

[ Unprecedented outpouring of support for Bears Ears shown during official comment period ]

DJ Tyson

Today, a coalition of conservation groups and others announced that a historic number of comments and petitions of support have been submitted to the Department of the Interior in support of Bears Ears National Monument.  Despite the entirely inadequate 15-day period ending on May 26th prov

[ 8 activities you can do at national monuments ]

Stretching from Maine to New Mexico and Utah to Hawaii, America’s national monuments can be found all over the country, and offer the chance to do everything from exploring ruins and discovering dinosaurs to rock climbing and snorkeling.

[ America needs to invest in programs that protect our lands, waters and natural heritage ]

Michael Reinemer

At a time when America’s parks and other public lands desperately need greater investments and protections, the proposed Trump budget represents a retreat from common sense.

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[ Trump’s EPA budget: 5 critical public health programs on the chopping block ]

The Trump administration is trying to dramatically reshape the federal government's environmental budget, threatening our most basic protections.

     

[ Sold to the highest bidder: new research shines the spotlight on Utah’s continuing history of state land disposal ]

Michael Reinemer

New research shows that the number of state-owned acres sold to the private sector continues to grow despite the risk that poses to Utah’s $20 billion tourism and outdoor recreation economies, which depend upon access to public lands.

[ The “License to Kill” Bill Is As Terrifying As It Sounds ]


Earlier this year, White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon said the Trump administration will be fighting regulations at every turn through “the deconstruction of the administrative state.” The Regulatory Accountability Act, dubbed the “License to Kill bill” by some environmental groups, may kick off that trend by making reigning in the industry much more difficult. The act passed the House in January, and the Senate is now working on its own version. Public health experts and environmental scientists worry that if passed, the legislation would have dire consequences for the health and safety of average Americans.

Government rules and regulations protect consumers in dozens of ways: For instance, think of the laws that require air bags and seat belts in cars, rules that cut down on air and water pollution, control the tobacco industry, ensure food safety, or reign in pesticide use. These rules, enforced by federal agencies like the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency, can take many years to get approved. They require lengthy vetting involving research, panels of scientists, and comments from industry experts and the general public.

Advocates for regulatory reform say federal rules, especially those costing upwards of $100 million, have gotten out of hand, and that less regulation will increase innovation and boost economic growth. In an opinion post in The Hill, William Kovacs, vice president of Environment, Technology, and Regulatory Affairs of the US Chamber of Commerce, wrote that the Regulatory Accountability Act would allow Congress to “make sure that for the costliest one-half of one percent of regulations, the agencies do a better job at finding the facts, getting the science right, involving the public, and ensuring the benefits outweigh the cost.”

But environmental groups worry that the bill favors large corporations over individuals, for instance by making it harder to enact laws protecting consumers from dangerous substances. Take asbestos. This naturally occurring substance was once used for creating heat resistant materials such as building insulation, and is now commonly used in the manufacturing of brake pads and chlorine. The cancer-causing effects of asbestos are widely known. Although the chemical is banned from most products, there’s no federal ban. Given that about 2,500 people die from mesothelioma, a cancer linked to exposure to asbestos, every year, public health experts have been awaiting a federal rule on the material after its original rule was reversed 26 years ago. (In 1989, the EPA issued a final rule banning asbestos, but that rule was overturned two years later by a court of appeals.) Asbestos is again up for EPA review this year. During his Senate confirmation hearing last January, EPA chief Scott Pruitt dodged the question of whether he’d be for an asbestos ban. In his 1997 book, The Art of the Comeback, Trump claimed the nasty chemical “got a bad rap.” 

And if the Regulatory Accountability Act becomes law, the chances of the EPA banning asbestos would be significantly more difficult, according to Richard Denison, lead senior scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund. Denison says the RAA would require the EPA to prove that its decision to ban it is the most “cost effective” option and that the benefits able to be quantified from banning it would outweigh the costs of doing so. The bill would also allow anyone to question the agency’s decision, moving the rule to a hearing and requiring testimonies before an administrative law judge. “This is going to impose so many additional requirements on an agency to regulate anything,” Denison said. “It’s a recipe for grinding regulatory activity to a halt merely by making it that much more difficult to do.”

Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) introduced the Senate version of the Regulatory Accountability Act, along with Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-NC). The Environmental Working Group determined that 35 percent of the donors to Heitkamp’s campaign also supported or lobbied in favor of the act. These donors have ties to or work for corporations such as BP, Exxon, Home Depot, and Walmart—industry giants that might love to be rid of burdensome, expensive regulations.

Fourteen national environmental groups are urging the Senate to vote against the bill. Scott Faber, vice president of policy at the Environmental Working Group, said if the Regulatory Accountability Act passes, its effects would be felt long after the President has left office. “Trump is temporary but the ‘License to Kill bill’ is forever,” Faber said. “If Congress permanently throws sand into the gears of our regulatory process that creates consumer protections, it will be a generation or more until we can do the damage.”

[ How New Mexico led the nation in cutting methane pollution ]

The American people scored a big victory as the Senate defeated an attempt to roll back the Bureau of Land Management’s Methane Waste Rule on May 10th.

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