By: Andrew J. Hoffman, University of Michigan

Climate marchWhen politicians distort science, academics and scientists tend to watch in shock from the sidelines rather than speak out. But in an age of “fake news” and “alternative facts,” we need to step into the breach and inject scientific literacy into the political discourse.

Nowhere is this obligation more vivid than the debate over climate change. Contrary to the consensus of scientific agencies worldwide, the president has called climate change a “hoax” (though his position may be shifting), while his EPA administrator has denied even the most basic link to carbon dioxide as a cause.

It’s another sign that we, as a society, are drifting away from the use of scientific reasoning to inform public policy. And the outcome is clear: a misinformed voting public and the passage of policies to benefit special interests.

Using data to meet predetermined goals

We saw this dynamic at work when President Trump announced his intention to withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate change. In making his case, he presented an ominous economic future: “2.7 million lost jobs by 2025,” and industries devastated by 2040: “Paper – down 12 percent. Cement – down 23 percent. Iron and steel – down 38 percent. Coal – and I happen to love the coal miners – down 86 percent. Natural gas – down 31 percent.”

These data were drawn from a study – one study! – funded by the American Council for Capital Formation, a pro-business lobbying group, and conducted by National Economic Research Associates (NERA), a consulting firm for industrial clients often opposed to environmental regulations. The New York Times Editorial Board called the data “nonsense” and “a cornucopia of dystopian, dishonest and discredited data based on numbers from industry-friendly sources.”


Nikola Tesla

Tesla was known for discovering amazing things and then forgetting to write them down.
Image: The Oatmeal

Nikola Tesla is one of the most recognizable scientists in history; unfortunately the majority of his life was dominated by poverty, isolation, and intense emotional relationships with pigeons. Even with all of this, Telsa’s story is both inspiring, and often times even funny. Here are a few things you may not have known about Tesla.

He once made $2/day digging ditches
After graduating from university, Tesla had big dreams of revolutionizing discovery and development in electricity. He began that journey by working at Edison’s electric company in Paris, but traveled to the United States in hopes of working directly with Edison. Of course, upon seeing his potential, Edison offered him a job. However, Edison never paid Tesla the promised amount of $50,000 for the design of an improved direct current generator. With this, Tesla left Edison’s lab and dug ditches to make ends meet until he found enough backers to start his own lab.

Telsa paid an overdue bill with a “death beam”
Most people know that Tesla had quite the eccentric personality, but his later years in life really demonstrated this. Tesla picked pigeons over people and jumped from one hotel to another living a life of isolation. In an attempt to pay his overdue bill at the Governor Clinton hotel, he offered the establishment a wooden case containing a “death beam.” Tesla stated that it held a potentially war-ending weapon, but that the hotel must never open it. They listened… for a while. Once Tesla died the hotel opened the box to unveil nothing but old electrical components.


ECS Is Ready for Halloween

IMG_4562Here at the ECS Headquarters, we’re celebrating Halloween with a pumpkin decorating contest! Take a look at some of the staff’s creations while we send some interesting Halloween facts your way.

And don’t forget to take a look at the list we’ve compiled of Halloween-themed scientific experiments that are sure to make your holiday just a little bit more eerie.


IMG_4560Where It All Began
Halloween can be traced back about 2,000 years to a Celtic festival called Samhain. In Gaelic, “Samhain” translates to “summer’s end.” Though the exact nature of this festival is not quite understood, it is thought to have been a time of communing with the dead. Most experts believe that Samhain and All Saints’ Day – due to their close proximity on the calendar – influenced each other and combined into the modern day Halloween.