Dave Levitan Profile picture
Writes stuff. Bylines @thedailybeast @newrepublic @sciam @washingtonpost, lots more. Science, climate, politics, etc. Author: NOT A SCIENTIST (WW Norton, 2017)
13 Jul
This is sorta buried in this story for understandable reasons, but:

Tennessee wants people to die of cervical cancer.

eu.tennessean.com/story/news/hea…
A 2020 study with 14 years of follow-up found the HPV vaccine was ONE HUNDRED PERCENT EFFECTIVE. Almost all cases of cervical cancer are HPV-related. Refusing to do outreach on this vaccine is literally guaranteeing that some women will get cervical cancer who otherwise wouldn't.
And in case you're curious, the five-year survival rate for all women with cervical cancer is 66 percent. But it's worse for Black women.

Just like with covid, limiting vaccine outreach is going to harm some people more than others.
Read 4 tweets
10 Jun
It's almost like the IG report was specifically and solely about the actions of the Park Police and there are some questions about other involved parties that still could use some answering.
Seriously did people read those bits and not think it kinda changes the entire message
"It was planned days in advance, it couldn't possibly involve Trump!" sorta falls apart if the Secret Service jumped the gun on the tear gassing, no?
Read 4 tweets
9 Jun
I am not sure there is quite as much distance between "tear-gassed protesters for a photo op" and "took advantage of scheduled tear-gassing of protesters for a photo op" as some people seem to claim there is.
Also I am *intensely* curious what this redacted "request" made by what is likely a WH or Secret Service official!

assets.documentcloud.org/documents/2080…
Hm weird
Read 6 tweets
6 Jun
An interesting exercise is to imagine what exactly, if the existing attempts to limit voting by the GOP are NOT enough, would be enough to convince Manchin otherwise.
One assumes that SOMETHING would do it. Like, say a GOP-led state passed a bill saying only white people can vote. Would "partisan voting legislation" designed to stop that state's law still be off the table?
And if we can assume he WOULD be willing to go to bat for something like that, then it seems like he should have to draw an explicit line. If he feels the need to be able to "go home and explain" his votes, explain this one too.
Read 6 tweets
3 Jun
The supersonic jet company has signed a deal with Prometheus Fuels, which uses a carbon capture tech to make supposedly net-zero jet fuel (and other fuel). Which, okay, but people have been trying to do that at competitive cost for decades now and it hasn't panned out. Yet. So.
I go back and forth on that sort of skepticism so much. EVERY technology didn't exist until it did, so why doubt? But with climate-saving tech, so much has been promised that didn't actually come to fruition, exception being the ever-plunging prices of wind/solar. But... yeah.
Read 4 tweets
27 May
A year ago (+2 days) I wrote for @sciam about whether the planet would "remember" covid, based on drops in emissions and changes in pollution and how that will show up in ice cores, tree rings, and so on. The primary answer was yes, it will. 1/

scientificamerican.com/article/will-t…
Some pollutants, like soot and some aerosols from smokestacks and tailpipes, clearly ended up dropping enough as the world locked down to show up in those paleoclimate records. 2/
But the big one, CO2 -- probably not? As it turned out, even though the pandemic did stretch out, CO2 emissions only dropped less than 7%, and bounced back by the end of 2020. 3/
Read 5 tweets
25 Apr
As usual, a fear-mongering tweet devoid of context from the Post. This is almost entirely a result of a dramatic lack of bat coronavirus sequencing effort in most parts of the world. It's not a new virus; we just haven't looked for them much yet.
Not to mention the fact that the virus is likely not any danger to humans.

From the paper, the virus "is unlikely to be zoonotic" -- meaning jump from animals to humans -- "without mutation."

But hey, get them clicks!
What the study really says is that far more resources should probably be designated for better understanding of bat coronaviruses, as well as for bat conservation.
Read 5 tweets
18 Apr
I don't have access so I can't see the paper this story is about to get the details, but couldn't this at least partially be reflecting that the more jargon-heavy papers are simply more niche and less broadly applicable and thus citation-worthy?
Jargon is usually bad, I'm just not entirely sure the work as described justifies the conclusion in full.

Anyway, if someone wants to send me the paper: royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rs…
Okay I read the paper. And... yeah, I still have the same concern! The authors are more or less ignoring the fact that many, many scientific papers are simply not intended to be widely read outside of extremely specialized fields.
Read 5 tweets
15 Mar
Deb Haaland confirmed as Secretary of the Interior, 51-40.
Fun fact, DOI manages around one-fifth of all the land in the United States. It is called "public land," which certainly has some historical baggage, and now the first Native American in the Cabinet is in charge.
Haaland succeeds David Bernhardt, a fossil fuel enthusiast described as a "walking conflict of interest," and Ryan Zinke, who tried to silence DOI officials worried about climate change's effects on Native communities. So.
Read 6 tweets
2 Mar
A thing I've been thinking about is how the US no longer appears capable of what is generally considered "national trauma." Like, post 9/11 or JFK assassination you had this general, collective grief, manifested in things like enormously high presidential approval ratings.
But more than half a million Americans have died of COVID, and there's barely a hint of collective grief.

Which is not surprising when a decent chunk of the country and the leaders that chunk exalts have spent the entire year more or less denying the tragedy's existence.
"For perpetrators, the memory of trauma poses a threat to collective identity that may be addressed by denying history, minimizing culpability for wrongdoing, transforming the memory of the event, closing the door on history, or accepting responsibility."
Read 8 tweets
20 Feb
This study from researchers @Grantham_IC and elsewhere found that solar geoengineering could increase number of El Nino/Nina events, with some changes in magnitude. The selling point is that they ran the model for 1000 years, rather than just ~50. BUT...

acp.copernicus.org/articles/20/15…
...I am not so sure that running a model where the geoengineering portion -- ie, a dimming of the sun's energy in the stratosphere -- is continuous over that whole period is that relevant? The idea in real life would be to use it briefly while emissions are lowered, right?
One of the study authors took the results to mean something pretty definitive about geoengineering, which is almost certainly true but also not really justified by these results.
Read 4 tweets
20 Jan
lol he's just a retiree eating shitty roast beef at a buffet in Florida now
playing the same two golf courses every day for the next six years, hosting the CEO of a mid-sized refrigeration company based in Dayton, texting Eric that no this weekend's no good for a visit maybe next month
berating the help when even the 15th flush won't banish the floater, calling into Judge Jeannine to announce that Kid Rock will play his 4th of July party prompting Kid Rock to tweet "bitch I'm in Cabo," publishing a book called NO COLLUSION ghost-written by Sarah Huckabee
Read 6 tweets
18 Jan
A "successful" what who did what now

axios.com/trump-off-the-…
By the way, shoutout to Axios for stretching out a single longread into days' worth of clicks and content, really solid work.
WHO COULD POSSIBLY HAVE BEEN THE SOURCE FOR THIS, IT'S A MYSTERY

axios.com/trump-barr-rel…
Read 5 tweets
18 Jan
It's bad every year but over the last few months the more-or-less-official GOP position has been "Black votes should not count" and they're so depraved that they're still all gleefully throwing MLK quotes into the sky.
It's not the most important line in there, but here's a bit from King's Letter from a Birmingham Jail that GOPers might want to remember:

"Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial 'outside agitator' idea."

kinginstitute.stanford.edu/sites/mlk/file…
Read 4 tweets
18 Jan
Republicans celebrating MLK Day with inspirational tweets who also joined a Supreme Court brief in support of the Texas AG's attempt to nullify millions of Black votes: a thread
Rep. Rick Allen
Rep. Jim Banks
Read 14 tweets
16 Jan
Biden is introducing his science team: pscp.tv/w/1DXGyRlbgPyJM
It's the first time the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology has all-female leadership.
[adjusts glasses]

Biden said FDR asked his "science advisor" for guidance in 1944.

But there was no such thing. He asked Vannevar Bush, an unofficial advisor. But there was no such thing as a presidential science advisor for another seven years.

[unadjusts glasses]
Read 7 tweets
15 Jan
🚨🚨🚨Science advisor and OSTP director will become a Cabinet position!🚨🚨🚨

Eric Lander will be among the first non-physicists in the role. This is exciting.

washingtonpost.com/science/2021/0…
If you're following me you're probably aware that the presidential science advisor position is a bit of an obsession for me. Here's the #longread I put up a couple months back on the position's history. It's weird and fun and interesting, I swear.

davelevitan.medium.com/the-presidents…
And here's my piece for @WIRED from late 2016 where I went to the WH and interviewed Obama's science advisor:
Read 13 tweets
15 Jan
This is a remarkable account, and makes clear again that it is absolutely incredible that no lawmakers were killed.

newyorker.com/magazine/2021/…
Also, this seems like the kind of situation where no matter what @SenTedCruz might say about it, if these guys *think* he's on their side, he pretty much is.
Virtually indistinguishable from the rise of the Nazis
Read 5 tweets
30 Dec 20
The big New Yorker thing on covid is very impressive for sure but come on how is table 1 of an academic paper "buried"
lol did none of them read/see The Big Short
Look it's an enormous piece and full of great reporting and I know I'm being Salty Science Writer here but it does have a collection of minor misstatements/mis-characterizations of the science that you aren't likely to find in, say, @edyong209's stories.

newyorker.com/magazine/2021/…
Read 4 tweets
18 Jul 20
Shoutout to all the politicians rapturously memorializing John Lewis today while simultaneously working as hard as they possibly can to restrict voting rights.
Rep. Barry Loudermilk
Rep. Glenn Thompson
Read 20 tweets
3 Dec 19
I decided to do a bit of a close read of one particular part of a 1965 report sent to Lyndon Johnson, on atmospheric carbon dioxide. Because I hate myself, you see.

climatefiles.com/climate-change…
They acknowledge that at that point, firm predictions were hard. Okay. But also, this ⬇️.

[mashes calculator furiously]
[checks current CO2 concentration]

Ah, well, shit.
They knew, in 1965, that the 1885-1940 increase in CO2 likely led to half a degree C of warming. Which uh, maybe should have raised a few more alarm bells?
Read 15 tweets