Heather Goldstone

Science Editor and Host of Living Lab

Heather Goldstone is science editor at WCAI and host of Living Lab on The Point, a weekly show exploring how science gets done and makes its way into our daily lives. Goldstone holds a Ph.D. in ocean science from M.I.T. and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and spent a decade as researcher before leaving the lab to pursue journalism. She has reported extensively on Woods Hole’s unique scientific community and key environmental issues on Cape Cod. Her stories have appeared in outlets ranging from Cape Cod Times and Commercial Fishery News to NPR and PBS News Hour. Most recently, Goldstone hosted Climatide.org, an NPR-sponsored blog exploring present-day impacts of climate change on coastal life.

Ways to Connect

Sea ice in the Ross Sea, Antarctica.
Brocken Inaglory / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/

While New England is being pummeled by a series of winter storms, a different kind of storm has been wreaking havoc at the North Pole. For the third time this winter, a storm has pushed north from lower latitudes, bringing with it temperatures close to the melting point. It’s the kind of event that typically only happens once or twice each decade.

Meanwhile, sea ice – both Arctic and Antarctic – are at an all-time low for this time of year. What’s the connection? The short answer, of course, is it’s complicated.

John Holdren, science advisor and director of OSTP under President Obama.
Elsa Partan / WCAI

President Donald Trump has yet to name a science advisor, a position that dates back to the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration. It wouldn't be the first time that a president has decided he's better off without one. 

President Nixon wasn’t happy with the advice he was getting from his Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).  He fired his science advisor and he dissolved the office of science and technology. But in 1976, Congress decided the executive branch really needed such an office and so it restored it by law.

John Severns / Wikimedia Commons, public domain

Here's something you don't see everyday: two thirds of a legislative body not only supporting a bill, but actually co-sponsoring it. One hundred thirty-four Massachusetts state Representatives have signed on as co-sponsors of legislation intended to help bees, butterflies, and other pollinators.

9:30 PM - The National Weather Service has extended the blizzard warning until 10 PM, and issued a new coastal flood advisory through midnight. Tides could be as much as 2.5 feet higher than usual, flooding vulnerable basements and shore roads. Erosion is a concern for east-facing beaches on Cape Cod and Nantucket. 

Eversource has restored power to many residents, but more than half of customers in Yarmouth - plus thousands more across the Cape and Islands - are still without electricity. Many school districts are already announcing closures or delays for Friday.

A DC8 packed with atmospheric sensors and samplers is making four laps around the globe.
Craig LeMoult / WGBH

One of the first science policy ideas put out by Trump transition team back in November was a proposal to move all earth science out from under the umbrella of NASA and perhaps give it to another agency, like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. That transfer hasn’t come to pass – at least not yet – and earth science is still carrying on. In fact, right now, scientists from Harvard University, the National Center for Atmospheric Research and – yes – NASA and NOAA are flying around the world trying to get a better handle on what’s going on in our atmosphere.

The Death of Evidence rally in July, 2012, included a mock funeral for scientific programs and practices that had been lost under the Harper administration.
Richard Webster / http://deathofevidence.ca/

President Trump’s early executive actions and rhetoric about climate change and vaccines have a lot of American scientists on edge right now – worried about funding cuts, gag orders, and travel and immigration restrictions. To our north, Canadian scientists might as well be saying “been there, done that.” Between 2006 and 2015, Conservative Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, slashed science funding, dissolved jobs and projects, and severely limited public communication.

Those backing up government climate data estimate they need five petabytes - five million gigabytes - of storage.
Peter Brantley/flickr / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/

Universities, research centers, and science-related professional organizations have been vocal in opposition to the travel and immigration restrictions imposed by President Trump last weekend. They’ve also expressed concern about early White House directives that barred public communication by employees of the USDA and EPA. Others within the science community didn’t wait for President Trump to take office before acting.

Over the past two weeks, President Trump's executive actions have crowded just about everything else out of the news. But, despite widespread anxiety about the new administration's attitude toward science, research is still chugging along. And, last week, we got a great glimpse of true scientific skepticism at work.

A honeybee with full pollen baskets on the hind legs.
Joan Muller / WBNERR

It’s estimated that somewhere between a quarter and a third of the food we eat requires the help of pollinators, like honeybees. Unfortunately, beekeepers have been reporting dire declines in bee populations in recent years, and several species of bees have been added to the Endangered Species List in recent months.

There is a whole host of likely culprits, including habitat loss and pesticides. But bee researcher and advocate Noah Wilson-Rich points the finger squarely at one event in the year 1987.

Salt Marshes Help Keep Us Above Water

Jan 23, 2017
A salt marsh on Plum Island, Mass.
S. Bond

We’ve learned recently from scientists at Umass Amherst that New England will probably experience more warming than the rest of the planet in the near future.