Another dangerous fire season is looming in the Western U.S., and the drought-stricken region is headed for a water crisis

Just about every indicator of drought is flashing red across the western U.S. after a dry winter and warm early spring. The snowpack is at less than half of normal in much of the region. Reservoirs are being drawn down, river levels are dropping and soils are drying out.

It’s only May, and states are already considering water use restrictions to make the supply last longer. California’s governor declared a drought emergency in 41 of 58 counties. In Utah, irrigation water providers are increasing fines for overuse. Some Idaho ranchers are talking about selling off livestock because rivers and reservoirs they rely on are dangerously low and irrigation demand for farms is only just beginning.

The Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack and the SolarWinds hack were all but inevitable – why national cyber defense is a ‘wicked’ problem

· There are no easy solutions to shoring up U.S. national cyber defenses.

· Software supply chains and private sector infrastructure companies are vulnerable to hackers.

· Many U.S. companies outsource software development because of a talent shortage, and some of that outsourcing goes to companies in Eastern Europe that are vulnerable to Russian operatives.

· U.S. national cyber defense is split between the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security, which leaves gaps in authority.

Why the inflation rate doesn’t tell the whole story – all it takes is a spike in a category like used cars to cause consumer prices to soar

Markets, economists and policymakers, have been fretting about inflation for months, worried that the trillions of dollars being spent in recent and future government stimulus programs could overheat the economy and send prices soaring.

On May 12, 2021, the worrywarts seemed to have their fears confirmed when the April consumer price index shot up a seasonally adjusted 0.8%, the biggest jump since 2008. The year-over-year inflation rate of 4.2% is double what the Federal Reserve has set as its target.

Why we remember more by reading – especially print – than from audio or video

When reading texts of several hundred words or more, learning is generally more successful when it’s on paper than onscreen. A cascade of research confirms this finding.

The benefits of print particularly shine through when experimenters move from posing simple tasks – like identifying the main idea in a reading passage – to ones that require mental abstraction – such as drawing inferences from a text. Print reading also improves the likelihood of recalling details – like “What was the color of the actor’s hair?” – and remembering where in a story events occurred – “Did the accident happen before or after the political coup?”

Refugee camps can wreak enormous environmental damages – should source countries be liable for them?

While it may seem that much of the world has been locked down during the past pandemic year, more than 80 million people are currently on the move – unwillingly.

Facing conflict in Syria, human rights violations in Myanmar and violence in Eritrea, among other hot spots, refugees are trying to relocate to North America and Western Europe, or at least to neighboring countries.

Large camps of displaced persons can wreak major environmental damage. Refugees use and pollute water, deplete wood supplies for fuel, and poach animals for food, often harming parks, nature reserves and World Heritage Sites. These impacts make host countries less willing to receive more refugees.

Four reasons why migrant children arriving alone to the US create a ‘border crisis’

Children arriving at the southern border without their parents have presented a political and humanitarian challenge for the past three presidents.

Their numbers began rising considerably after 2009, when 19,418 children were taken into custody at the border, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Unaccompanied minors peaked in 2014, with 68,000 apprehensions. Analysts say 2021 is on pace to break that record, with more than 600 children arriving daily to the U.S.-Mexico border. Most are teenagers seeking asylum.

Environmental DNA – how a tool used to detect endangered wildlife ended up helping fight the COVID-19 pandemic

Imagine discovering an animal species you thought had gone extinct was still living – without laying eyes on it. Such was the case with the Brazilian frog species Megaelosia bocainensis, whose complete disappearance in 1968 led scientists to believe it had become extinct. But through a novel genetic detection technique, it was rediscovered in 2020.

Such discoveries are now possible thanks to a new approach that recovers and reads the trace amounts of DNA released into the environment by animals. It’s called environmental DNA, or eDNA – and it takes advantage of the fact that every animal sheds DNA into its environment via skin, hair, scales, feces or bodily fluids as it moves through the world.