SETAC MultiBrief
Mar. 26, 2015

Are we at a tipping point for open data?
The Scholarly Kitchen
In February, President Barack Obama showed off his dad-joke skills while announcing the appointment of the first U.S. Chief Data Scientist. The focus of much of the White House's messaging around this appointment has been on making the government's own data publicly available. In his "memo to the American people," however, Dr. D.J. Patil talked about acting as a conduit between government, academia and industry. In some ways, this latest move can be seen as a continuation of a U.S. government push toward open data that mirrors efforts in Europe and elsewhere.More

Best things to do in Salt Lake City
U.S. News & World Report
Plan on spending a good chunk of your time exploring Temple Square, the official headquarters of the Mormon Church. This walled neighborhood at the heart of Salt Lake City hosts spectacular religious buildings — such as the Salt Lake Temple — as well as lush gardens and soaring sculptures. But there's more to do: The Great Salt Lake provides a spectacular setting for hiking and picnicking, while the nearby Wasatch National Forest is cross-hatched with scenic trails. More

Understanding influences on microbial responses to oil spills
Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative
What causes different responses in marine microbes to an oil spill? Opportunistic organisms readily degrade hydrocarbons from thousands of small leaks in the Gulf, some natural and others from oil and gas operations. However, after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, scientists observed a range of different microbial responses – from helping dispersion to accumulating particles in marine snow. The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative recently awarded the ADDOMEx consortium a grant to improve our understanding about influences on microbial responses to oil and dispersants and their subsequent fate. More

The weird reason why people recycle flat but not crumpled up paper
The Washington Post
We have a problem, people: Even though we're supposed to put the right stuff in the blue bin, a lot of recyclable material nevertheless winds up crammed into landfills. One of the most noteworthy of these is paper: While 64.6 percent of paper and paperboard got recycled in 2012, that still left 24.26 million tons of the stuff discarded, according to the EPA. More

Finally, an antifreeze your kids can drink!
The Washington Post
Sweet, delicious, non-deadly antifreeze is just around the corner. And that's a good thing. The antifreeze that keeps our cars running through winter is made of the incredibly toxic ethylene glycol, an odorless liquid with a sweet taste that tempts children and animals, then causes symptoms that start off like alcohol intoxication and end with kidney failure. Around 90,000 pets and wild animals are poisoned by antifreeze every year, according to the Humane Society, and the American Association of Poison Control Centers reported 6,000 human poisonings in 2012.More

Gulf Stream slowdown may result in drastic impacts
Nature World News
The Gulf Stream system, one of Earth's most important heat transport systems, is slower than ever before, and researchers warn that it may result in drastic climate impacts, according to a new study. In order to better understand the Gulf Stream system, scientists analyzed data gathered from ice-cores, tree-rings and coral, as well as ocean and lake sediments. Using sea-surface and atmospheric temperature data derived from the samples — exploiting the fact that ocean currents are the leading cause of temperature variations in the subpolar North Atlantic — the team was able to reconstruct Gulf temperatures dating back more than a millennium ago. More

1 in 10 wild bees face extinction in Europe
The European Red List, drawn up by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, found 9.2 percent of nearly 2,000 species are threatened with extinction. Another 5 percent are likely to be threatened in the near future. Threats include loss of habitat from intensive farming, pesticide use, urban development and climate change.More

Surprise finding heightens concern over tiny bits of plastic polluting our oceans
The Huffington Post
Scientists are looking for — and finding — little bits of plastic in a lot of places lately: ice cores, deep sea sediments, coral reefs, crab gills, the digestive system of mussels, even German beer. Now, new research suggests they need not actually be searching for the man-made material to discover it. "We never thought of looking for plastic," said Javier Gomez Fernandez, a biologist at Singapore University of Technology and Design. His team's accidental finding of plastic in the skin of both farmed and wild fish, published online in the supplementary section of their unrelated peer-reviewed paper, adds to already growing environmental and public health concerns about the plastic particles pervading our oceans and waterways.More

Scientists catch up on the sex life of coral to help reefs survive
For the first time, biologists have caught a rare type of coral in the act of reproducing, and they were able to collect its sperm and eggs and breed the coral in the laboratory. The success is part of an effort to stem the decline in many types of coral around the world. More

Chemical exposure linked to billions in health care costs
National Geographic
Exposure to hormone-disrupting chemicals is likely leading to an increased risk of serious health problems costing at least $175 billion (U.S.) per year in Europe alone, according to a study. Chemicals that can mimic or block estrogen or other hormones are commonly found in thousands of products around the world, including plastics, pesticides, furniture and cosmetics.More