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Posts Tagged "Environment"

@ScientificAmerican

Urban Lore Debunked in New E-Book: Fact or Fiction: Science Tackles 58 Popular Myths

Did NASA really spend millions creating a pen that would write in space? Is chocolate poisonous to dogs? Does stress cause gray hair? These questions are just a sample of the urban lore investigated in our newest eBook, Fact or Fiction: Science Tackles 58 Popular Myths. Drawing from Scientific American’s “Fact or Fiction” and “Strange [...]

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Beautiful Minds

Q & A with Temple Grandin on The Autistic Brain

RW Temple headshot best_0

To many, Temple Grandin is the public face of autism. Grandin’s story has significantly increased autism awareness around the world, and has increased society’s appreciation of the unique and positive characteristics of the autistic mind. But Grandin is much more than just a label: in addition to being an activist, Grandin is also an author, professor, [...]

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Beautiful Minds

Review of The Autistic Brain

The-Autistic-Brain3-198x300

To many, Temple Grandin is the public face of autism. A professor of animal science at Colorado State University, Grandin’s story has significantly increased autism awareness around the world, and has increased society’s appreciation of the unique and positive characteristics of the autistic mind. Therefore, it is with immense respect, enthusiasm, and attention to detail [...]

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Compound Eye

The World’s Most Viewed Landscape, A Decade Later

bliss1f

Anyone who booted up a Windows computer in the early 2000′s is likely familiar with the grassy hillsides and brilliant sky of “Bliss”, a 1996 photograph by California wine country photographer Charles O’Rear. The image is precisely what a basic background should be: clean, bright, airy, inviting. Fittingly, “Bliss” lacks an immediate point of interest, [...]

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Cross-Check

Should Global-Warming Activists Lie to Defend Their Cause?

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When, if ever, is lying justified? I talked about this conundrum this week in a freshmen humanities class, in which we were reading Immanuel Kant on morality. Kant proposed that we judge the rightness or wrongness of an act, such as breaking a promise, by considering what happens if everyone does it. If you don’t [...]

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Expeditions

Call of the Orangutan: A Camera Trap Menagerie

elephants 1

In order to get more information about the forest here at the Sikundur research station in North Sumatra, I’ve set up four camera traps, which I’m using to get a better look at the wildlife around the site. The traps have been so successful in such a short time period that together with another graduate [...]

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Expeditions

Return to Nepal: Snow Sampling

Snow sampling along an unclimbed glacier near to Cho Oyu, the sixth highest peak in the world.

Editor’s Note: This is the third and final installment in a new series by Ulyana Horodyskyj, who chronicled an earlier expedition to Nepal in a series called, “Climbing Mount Everest,” which can be found by clicking here. Horodyskyj’s work focuses determining how airborne particles such as dust and soot that settle on massive glaciers alter [...]

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Expeditions

Return to Nepal: Digging Sensors Out of Ice and Dirt

Final look at this glacial lake on Ngozumpa glacier, which I had been tracking since 2011 with cameras and instruments.

Editor’s Note: This is the second installment in a new series by Ulyana Horodyskyj, who chronicled an earlier expedition to Nepal in a series called, “Climbing Mount Everest,” which can be found by clicking here. Horodyskyj’s work focuses determining how airborne particles such as dust and soot that settle on massive glaciers alter how snow [...]

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Expeditions

The Return to Nepal: In Search of Soot

Ulyana Horodyskyj drilling on the frozen surface of Spillway Lake, Ngozumpa glacier, Nepal. She is studying the thermal properties of the water, through temperature sensor buoys in the depths of the lake.

Editor’s Note: This is the first installment in a new series by Ulyana Horodyskyj, who chronicled an earlier expedition to Nepal in a series called, “Climbing Mount Everest,” which can be found by clicking here. Horodyskyj’s work focuses determining how airborne particles such as dust and soot that settle on massive glaciers alter how snow [...]

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Expeditions

Call of the Orangutan: Welcome to Camp

The research camp centers around a cabin built by Leuser International Foundation that was renovated in 2013

It’s taken a bit longer than I’d initially anticipated, but I’m finally at my first field site, Sikundur in North Sumatra, which will be my home for the next eight months. The research and monitoring station is located in the east of the spectacular Gunung Leuser National Park, a UNESCO world heritage site, which is [...]

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Expeditions

Climbing Mount Everest: Black Soot on White Snow

Smog in the air, even at 17,000 feet, near Mount Everest base camp.

Editor’s Note: This is the fifth and final post in a series by geologist Ulyana Horodyskyj. She climbed several peaks in the Himalaya Mountains to try to determine how airborne particles such as dust and soot that settle on massive glaciers alter how snow and ice melt, which could affect climate change as well as [...]

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Expeditions

Climbing Mount Everest: Risking Life and Limb for Science

The author and Jake St. Pierre on the Himlung icefall. Steep slopes and warming snow make climbing slow and dangerous.

Editor’s Note: This is the fourth post in a series by Ulyana Horodyskyj, a geologist who is trying to determine how airborne particles such as soot that settle on massive glaciers affect how fast the ice melts. In mid-April she and her team of scientists, volunteers and Sherpas were nearly at base camp on Mount [...]

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Expeditions

The South Pacific Islands Survey–Destination: The Cook Islands!

I’ve already been nicknamed Jeffery. Now, Jeffery, I should mention, is the ship’s jack-of-all-trades. In 2009 I sailed with him and Algalita to the Pacific Garbage Patch and Captain Dale decided I just might be as helpful as Jeff. Well, I can tell you right now that I don’t know how to repair a broken [...]

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Expeditions

Deepwater spill survey: Contaminated Gulf kills thousands of sea cucumbers

Texas A&M, sea cucumber, Deepwater

Editor’s Note: A team of researchers led by John Kessler, Texas A&M College of Geosciences chief scientist and assistant oceanography professor, has traveled to the Deepwater Horizon disaster site to study the methane leaking into the Gulf of Mexico (along with tens thousands of barrels of crude oil) daily at the site of the damaged [...]

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Expeditions

Deepwater spill survey: Scientists embark on methane-examining mission

Texas A&M, Deepwater, oil, environment

Editor’s Note: A team of researchers led by John Kessler, Texas A&M College of Geosciences chief scientist and assistant oceanography professor, has traveled to the Deepwater Horizon disaster site to study the methane leaking into the Gulf of Mexico (along with tens thousands of barrels of crude oil) daily at the site of the damaged [...]

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Food Matters

Eat Small: Why our Big Fish Problem is leading to big fish problems. (VIDEO)

Screen Shot 2014-01-23 at 1.07.58 AM

We like big fish. And that’s a problem, according to Andy Sharpless, CEO of the ocean conservation organization Oceana, and co-author (along with Suzannah Evans) of the book The Perfect Protein. The book describes how regulations from a small group of countries, and a shift in the way we think about seafood, could ensure a sustainable [...]

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Food Matters

Face Off! A Debate About Eating Anything With A Face

Food_FinalCleanWeb

Is it healthier to be a vegetarian? Or an omnivore? And how much of an environmental impact does livestock really have? These questions can spark a lively debate and that’s exactly what happened last week when Intelligence Squared presented Don’t Eat Anything With A Face. Clinical researcher and author Dr. Neal Barnard and Gene Baur, [...]

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Guest Blog

Let’s Expand Terrestrial Parks into the Ocean

A southern elephant seal colony on Argentina’s Patagonia coast. Argentina has for several years been expanding a number of its coastal protected parks for penguins, sea lions and elephant seals to the limits of its territorial sea. (Credit: Cristián Samper/WCS)

“A land ethic,” the great naturalist writer Aldo Leopold observed toward the end of his famous Sand County Almanac, “reflects the existence of an ecological conscience, and this in turn reflects a conviction of individual responsibility for the health of land.” This philosophy of care for the earth’s ecosystems and species provides one of the [...]

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Guest Blog

Whistleblower Who Exposed White House Tampering with Climate Science Dies

Rick Piltz passed away last Saturday. He spent decades working in the federal government and state government in Texas, and was a prominent whistleblower during the Bush administration. He later founded Climate Science Watch. I first met Rick Piltz after reading a 2005 New York Times story exposing a concerted effort by the Bush White [...]

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Guest Blog

“Gene Drives” and CRISPR Could Revolutionize Ecosystem Management

picture of adult cane toad

A note from the authors: With this guest blog post we want to share the key features of an innovative method for the high-precision genome editing of wild populations that has been outlined by our team at the Wyss Institute, Harvard Medical School, and the Harvard School of Public Health. Our technical description of the [...]

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Guest Blog

In Indonesia, a Worrying Silence on Climate Change

Resilient coral. A colony of table coral that broke down, recovered and is now growing into other direction.

Dive into the limpid waters off Indonesia’s resort island of Bali and you’ll spot the beginnings of an environmental success story. Older reefs are recovering from the devastating coral bleaching of 1998 and 2009. New corals are now taking hold. On shore, local fishermen also see improvement. There are, at long last, more and bigger [...]

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Guest Blog

How Much Nature Do We Have to Use?

It’s so easy to slip into debt, but so hard to dig oneself out. Just ask the typical wage earner—even business and national leaders. People who know better still wait for that next paycheck, assumed pay raise or small miracle to help them catch up. As any accountant will tell you, accumulating debt is not [...]

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Guest Blog

The Environmental Fallout of Greener Buildings

Spray Foam Insulation

Newer homes are remarkably energy tight thanks to superior insulating materials that are in wide circulation today. The energy savings can be substantial – homeowners can use up to 60% less energy in the most efficient green homes. Now, a study published by a team of researchers in Building Research & Information makes it clear [...]

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Guest Blog

How Environmentalists Can Respond to Americans’ Need for Personal Space

While reading about social science and environmental communication, I’ve noticed a gap between how environmentalists in the United States view personal space and how their audiences perceive it. If environmentalists tell audiences not to "say ‘eww’ to thrift stores," avoid public transit, or live in suburbs, they may encounter resistance—not because their audiences are opposed [...]

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Guest Blog

Book Review: The Future of Water

The Future of Water: A Startling Look Ahead, by Steve Maxwell, with Scott Yates, Published in 2011 by the American Water Works Association, Denver Colo., ISBN 978-1-58321-809-9 Full disclosure: I answered an open e-mail solicitation for reviewers of this new book and received a review copy for free in exchange for my promise of a [...]

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Guest Blog

Can we capture all of the world’s carbon emissions?

In 2011, the world will emit more than 35 billion tons of carbon dioxide. Every day of the year, almost a hundred million tons will be released into the atmosphere. Every second more than a thousand tons – two million pounds – of carbon dioxide is emitted from power plants, cars, trucks, ships, planes, factories, [...]

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Guest Blog

Impact of the Japan earthquake and tsunami on animals and environment

On Friday, March 11, Japan was rocked by an earthquake. People were displaced, a nuclear reactor was in trouble, and the world watched as a tsunami flooded Japan, threatened the islands of the Pacific, and ultimately hit the western coasts of North and South America. Chris Rowan pointed out that “Very little of the devastation [...]

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Observations

Climate Preparedness Index Reveals Rich–Poor Gap

Alpaca (Wikimedia)

High in the Peruvian Andes 8,000 alpacas died during a particularly harsh period of cold in the summer of 2004. For the herders who raise and shear these long-haired beasts for a living, it was a huge loss amounting to one fifth of all the alpacas living in that region of the highlands. Since then [...]

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Observations

Is There a Future for Wilderness?

wilderness-act-signing

Wilderness is dead, long live the Wilderness Act. On Sept. 3, 1964, President Lyndon Johnson and the U.S. Congress signed into law the Wilderness Act. The law was the culmination of a populist movement that began with the founding of Yosemite all the way back in 1890. But the Act was also about a very [...]

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Observations

Did Climate Shocks Shape Human Evolution? [Video]

In a video, noted scientists debate the connections between ancient climate changes and the emergence of modern human traits.

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Observations

Poaching Could Drive Elephants Extinct in Decades

elephant-carcasses-killed-by-poachers

Two or more dead elephants in one place means one thing: poaching by professional killers. Another tip-off is the lack of a face, as poachers hack off the tusks to be sold for ivory. That ivory is then made into valuable trinkets in Asia or even parts of violin bows in Europe and North America. [...]

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Observations

Obama’s Clean Power Plan Means More Gas to Fight Global Warming [Video]

mountaineer-co2-capture-unit

400 PPM: What’s Next for a Warming Planet Concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have reached this level for the first time in millions of years. What does this portend? » If the power plant goes away, so do the jobs, and then the town. That’s the fear in New Haven, West Virginia, home [...]

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Observations

Submersible Dives Deep and Dies, Disheartening Scientists

Wood Hole’s Nereus sub succumbed to extreme pressure and imploded six kilometers down while exploring the vast Kermadec Trench. Image courtesy of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI).

Efforts to explore the deepest recesses of Earth’s oceans were dealt a heavy blow last weekend when one of history’s most accomplished deep-sea explorers imploded several kilometers beneath the Pacific and resurfaced in pieces. Fortunately, the ill-fated Nereus submersible was a robot and no one was injured when it succumbed to overwhelming subsurface pressure during [...]

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Observations

The Life Cycle of Your Reusable Trash

green arrows forming a triangle to suggest recycling and reusing materials

Check out this Earth Day video featuring LeVar Burton (Geordi La Forge from Star Trek: The Next Generation and Cofounder and Curator-in-Chief of the award-winning Reading Rainbow app and host of the original PBS series). From paper to plastics to metals, the video shows the journey of recycled materials from curbside to paper soup and plastic chips [...]

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Observations

“Team Climate” Gets Sochi Athletes All Abuzz about Climate Change

Members of Team Climate pose with American Olympian Kyle Tress Credit: Courtesy Taylor Rees / Team Climate

This blog appears in the In-Depth Report Science at the Sochi Olympics Climate change poses a well-documented threat to ecosystems and human populations worldwide. But as the inexorable warming trend continues, it’s also endangering the future of winter sports. In a new report published in January by the University of Waterloo, researchers analyzed the suitability [...]

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Observations

Could Your Texts, Tweets and Selfies Be Funding War in Africa?

intel,africa

Hard to believe that our mundane social media banter could have an impact on the civil war raging in the Democratic Republic of Congo for more than a decade. The problem isn’t the content of these messages, it’s the devices used to send them. Smartphones, tablets, PCs and other devices often have electrical components made [...]

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Observations

Why the Moon Looks Different in Winter [Video]

As we steel ourselves against the cold and curse the polar vortex for bringing these bitter winds upon us, it’s helpful to remember that winter can also be a magical time of fluttering snowflakes and beautiful evening skies. This Minute Physics video explains how the earth’s tilted axis makes winter the best season for viewing [...]

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Octopus Chronicles

Will Climate Change Bring an Invasion of the Octopuses—Or Halt It?

Climate change is bad news for many species. Environments are changing more rapidly than plants and animals can adapt to—or move out of—them. Octopuses, however, reproduce so quickly (and multitudinously) and have such short generation times, they are generally well primed to adapt and move.  The common Sydney octopus (Octopus tetricus), for one, is expanding [...]

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Octopus Chronicles

DNA Finds New Octopus Species Hiding in Plain Sight

octopus

Describing a new species for science is not quite as easy as it was in the days of 17th- or 18th-century naturalists. But that just means we have to look a little more closely. Such as, into an organism’s DNA. And rather than hunting through the dense jungles for years, scientists can, with a little [...]

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Octopus Chronicles

How Did a Giant Octopus Lose the Battle of Seattle?

http://cuteoverload.com/2013/10/19/life-in-the-slow-lane/

This time last year, one unlucky Seattle octopus was reportedly beaten to death by a local diver and then brought home to be eaten for dinner. The story riled cephalopod fans near and far and has been covered extensively in the press, including a feature story this past weekend in The New York Times Magazine. [...]

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Octopus Chronicles

Happy International Octopus Day!

octopus day

October 8 is International Octopus day (naturally)—and kicks off International Cephalopod Awareness Days. Perhaps I am a little biased, having written a book about them, but I think these animals deserve at least one day of celebration. Octopuses have some remarkable assets, including eight semi-autonomous arms, thousands of smart suckers, cold-adapted blue blood, three beating [...]

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Octopus Chronicles

8 Awesome Octopus Facts for World Oceans Day

octopus facts world oceans day

Octopuses are amazing. In honor of World Oceans Day, here are eight facts about these incredible creatures. 8. Octopuses are masters of camouflage. However, research suggests that octopuses don’t try to blend into their entire environment—to look like coral, sand and seaweed all at once. A study published last year  found that octopuses, instead, picked [...]

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Octopus Chronicles

Unusual Offshore Octopods: Telescope Octopus Has Totally Tubular Eyes

telescope octopus

Big eyes can be a big benefit—allowing an animal to see potential prey and predators coming from a wider field. For the octopus, this is especially important in the open ocean, where knowing what is around—or above or below—you is crucial for survival. One type of octopus has taken a different approach to wide-angle vision. [...]

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Plugged In

Are Parents More Focused On Earth’s Future?

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In my article over at The Atlantic, I describe an interesting trend in the University of Texas at Austin Energy Poll data. Parents appear to be more likely to express concern about critical environmental issues like climate change and more interested in changing their behavior to be smarter consumers when it comes to purchasing energy [...]

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Plugged In

Liberals May be More Morally Invested on Climate, but Conservatives Are More Likely to be Energy Efficient at Home

Screen Shot 2014-02-07 at 12.10.57 PM

Over at Mother Jones, Chris has a piece about the moral motivations of liberals and conservatives. He points to a new political psychology study led by Linda Skitka of the University of Illinois-Chicago considering the differing moral investments of individuals at both ends of the political spectrum. Skitka and her team report that conservatives feel [...]

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Plugged In

Reign of Error, Part Whatever

You’ve heard us regularly crying for help here in North Carolina as our legislature has tried to turn science on its head. So, committed to keeping you posted, we here at the Plugged In Reign of Error desk thought you’d want to know what’s up. For a moment, anyhow, our governor and his vetoproof Republican [...]

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Plugged In

Et Tu, Virginia? Again with the Sea Level Rise

At the risk of becoming Plugged-In’s “Those crazies are at it again” correspondent, I would like to bring your attention to two noteworthy developments regarding sea level and politics, and then I hope to wash my hands of the topic — with higher sea levels making hand-washing especially convenient, of course. The first concerns the [...]

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Plugged In

The Wrong Time for This

An open letter to the knuckleheads at the International Telecommunication Union: Dear Knuckleheads: I’m hearing that you guys are considering dropping the Leap Second – the second added every year or so to Coordinated Universal Time to make sure CUT, kept by incredibly accurate and complex atomic clocks, squares as closely as possible with astronomical [...]

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Streams of Consciousness

Star Filmmakers Found in Unlikely Spot

Two kids in lab coats and goggles apparently doing an experiment.

In Tyson Schoeber’s class at Nootka Elementary School in Vancouver, 15 fourth through seventh graders struggle to read, write or do math at a level near that of their peers in other classes. Ten-year-olds have entered Schoeber’s program, called THRIVE, virtually unable to read independently (see “One Man’s Mission to Save Struggling Students”). Yet Schoeber [...]

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Symbiartic

Conservation Conversation in Clay

"Quiet as a mouse" by Kate MacDowell, 2011

One of the most fascinating aspects of art is that two artists can use the same exact materials and create vastly different works. Last week, I posted an interview with Heather Knight, an artist who creates abstract porcelain tiles inspired by nature’s patterns and textures. Today, I introduce Kate MacDowell, another artist working in unglazed [...]

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Voices

Oceanographer Sylvia Earle is a Glamour Woman of the Year

Dr. Sylvia Earle speaks onstage at the Glamour 2014 Women Of The Year Awards at Carnegie Hall on November 10, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Glamour)

Her Deepness. The Sturgeon General. And now: Glamour Girl. On Monday night, renowned oceanographer Sylvia Earle earned a new moniker when she joined eight others in receiving a 2014 Glamour Woman of the Year Award at a celebrity-packed Carnegie Hall. Since 1990, Glamour has set aside one evening each autumn to fête the remarkable accomplishments of [...]

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