Journalist Bob Hirshon reports from the Taking Nature Black conference, reporter Shahla Farzan talks about tracking copperhead snakes, and nanoscientist Ondrej Krivanek discusses microscopes with subangstrom resolution.
[Full transcript to come.]
This is Scientific American’s Science Talk, posted on July 21, 2020. I’m Steve Mirsky. On this episode:
That’s Maisie Hughes. She’s a landscape architect and arborist. And on February 27, before the COVID-19 lockdown, she spoke at the Taking Nature Black conference in Chevy Chase, Md. The event was hosted by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and sponsored by the Washington, D.C., region’s Audubon Naturalist Society as part of their Black History Month celebration. The conference attracted hundreds of speakers and attendees who discussed environmental issues and the African-American community. Science journalist Bob Hirshon attended the event and prepared a report.
We’ll also hear a sponsored segment from the Kavli Prize with a new laureate in nanoscience, Ondrej Krivanek. And finally, science reporter Shahla Farzan brings us a story about researchers looking for, instead of running from, copperhead snakes. But first, we’ll go to the conference Taking Nature Black.
In the past week, the president announced a plan that would, according to an NPR report by Jeff Brady, “reduce the types and number of projects that will be subject to review under the ... 50-year-old National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA.” That NPR story includes comments from Sharon Buccino, a senior attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council, that touch on the very concerns just noted by Maisie Hughes and Mustafa Santiago Ali.
Buccino explained that the “law [NEPA] was designed to give a voice to communities long hurt by pollution from highways, pipelines and chemical plants that are disproportionately located in their neighborhoods.” Buccino was also quoted as saying, “NEPA gives poor and communities of color a say in the projects that will define their communities for decades to come. Rather than listen, the Trump administration’s plan aims to silence such voices.” Despite the plan, I suspect he’s going to hear those voices on November 3.
Now we’ll hear a sponsored segment from the Kavli Prize.
[KAVLI KRIVANEK SEGMENT]
Finally, more than 3,000 snake species slither on the planet. Many are hard to find in the wild, which makes them difficult to study. The copperhead is an example: its well-camouflaged body blends in with leaves and branches on the forest floor. Even veteran snake trackers have a hard time spotting a copperhead in the forest. But a group of scientists in Missouri is cheating a little—with technology. Reporter Shahla Farzan has this story.
[FARZAN SNAKE SEGMENT]
That’s it for this episode. Get your science news at our Web site (www.ScientificAmerican.com), where all of our coronavirus coverage is out from behind the paywall, available free.
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