New & Noteworthy



Archive for October, 2017

31 Oct 2017

BCoN Requests Community Input

The natural history collections community is invited to provide input on a draft report about community progress toward the goals and objectives outlined in the Strategic and Implementation Plans for NIBA. The report is the outcome of a two-day stakeholder workshop held in Washington, DC in January 2017 by the Biodiversity Collections Network (BCoN).

Since the community’s Strategic Plan for a Network Integrated Biocollections Alliance (NIBA) was first published, significant progress has been made toward the goals it articulated. However, as with any effort of significance, it is wise to periodically assess progress.

Although the participants in the workshop and the BCoN Advisory Committee have endeavored to capture an accurate assessment of progress toward NIBA, we have almost certainly missed some significant developments. Thus, we invite you to review this document and share your thoughts and suggestions with us. We also ask that your share this request with colleagues.

We invite comments on the draft document by Friday, November 24, 2017. All comments or questions should be submitted electronically to PublicPolicy@aibs.org.

Read the draft workshop report.

17 Oct 2017

U.S. to Withdraw from UNESCO

The Trump Administration announced earlier this month that the United States is leaving a United Nations body tasked with promoting international collaboration on educational, cultural, and scientific endeavors. The U.S. will formally withdraw from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) at the end of 2018.

In a statement from the State Department, the administration stated that: “This decision was not taken lightly, and reflects U.S. concerns with mounting arrears at UNESCO, the need for fundamental reform in the organization, and continuing anti-Israel bias at UNESCO.”

The U.S. stopped contributing financially to UNESCO about six years ago over concerns about the recognition of Palestine as an independent state. As a result, the U.S. lost its voting privileges four years ago.

UNESCO’s scientific programs include preservation of biologically diverse ecosystems. The international organization also weighed in on the preservation of museums and collections in a 2015 report.

UNESCO’s Director-General Irina Bokova said that the U.S. and UNESCO have partnered on many meaningful projects, including “our interaction with the United States Geological Survey, with the US Army Corps of Engineers, with United States professional societies, to advance research for the sustainable management of water resources, agriculture.”

11 Oct 2017

News Coverage: Bird Specimens and Air Pollution

The New York Times covered a new study that used natural history specimens to measure historical air pollution. In “The Dirty Secrets Saved in Dead Birds’ Feathers,” author Joanna Klein writes about how the soot on bird specimens collected since 1850 can be used to figure out urban air pollution before federal monitoring standards were created.

“We can estimate how much smoke was actually in the atmosphere,” said Shane DuBay, a graduate student in evolutionary biology at The Field Museum and the University of Chicago and co-author of the study. “It might have been worse than the best estimates have predicted.”

Read the article at https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/10/science/birds-air-pollution.html.