Nature News

Nature News – Jake Sigg

Richmond Review/Sunset Beacon July 2020

Climate News Roundup: The Link Between Climate Change and Biodiversity

Addressing climate change and conserving biodiversity go hand-in-hand. Our ability to mitigate and adapt to climate change while retaining important ecosystem services, such as pollination, will depend on our ability to protect biodiversity.  Read more

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From the archives

BOOK Review from Science News

WHAT GOOD ARE BUGS? by Gilbert Waldbauer 

We generally view insects as a nuisance.  Yet, as a group, they support virtually every ecosystem by pollinating plants, serving as food for other animals, and disposing of dead organisms–just to name a few key tasks.  In fact, of 775 tropical plants used as food by people, insects pollinate 88%.  Waldbauer is an entomologist with an unwavering verve for his pursuits.  Here he catalogues ecologically important insects by their “occupations” within an ecosystem, explaining how they live and how they make possible life in general.  Among insects’ occupations are their roles in regulating plant and animal populations and tilling the soil.  In some cases, their capabilities and behaviors are nothing short of mind-boggling.  Waldbauer reports that one species of Great Plains ants has brought to the surface about 1.7 tons of subsoil per acre.  An average colony of honeybees harvests 44 pounds of pollen and 265 pounds of nectar a year.  Such anecdotes combine with the author’s keen insight into the mechanics of ecosystems to make a strong case on behalf of the lowly insect. 

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“Fears in modern-city dwellers protect us from dangers that no longer exist, and fail to protect us from dangers in the world around us.  We ought to be afraid of guns, driving fast, driving without a seatbelt, lighter fluid, and hair dryers near bathtubs, not of snakes and spiders.  Public safety officials try to strike fear in the hearts of citizens using everything from statistics to shocking photographs, usually to no avail.  Parents scream and punish to deter their children from playing with matches or chasing a ball into the street, but when Chicago schoolchildren were asked what they were most afraid of, they cited lions, tigers and snakes, unlikely hazards in the Windy City.”

    —Stephen Pinker, “How The Mind Works”

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Are YOU what you read?

1. The Wall Street Journal is read by the people who run the country.

2. The  Washington Post is read by people who think they run the country.

3. The New York Times is read by people who think they should run the country and who are very good at crossword puzzles.

4. USA Today is read by people who think they ought to run the country but don’t really understand The New York Times. They do, however, like their statistics shown in pie charts.

5. The Los Angeles Times is read by people who wouldn’t mind running the country —  if they could find the time — and if they didn’t have to leave Southern California to do it.

6. The Boston Globe is read by people whose parents used to run the country and did a far superior job of it, thank you very much.

7. The New York Daily News is read by people who aren’t too sure who’s running the country and don’t really care as long as they can get a seat on the train.

8. The New York Post is read by people who don’t care who’s running  the country as long as they do something really scandalous, preferably while intoxicated.

9. The Miami Herald is read by people who are running another country but need the baseball scores.

10. The San Francisco Chronicle is read by people who aren’t sure there is a country … or that  anyone is running it; but if so, they oppose all that they stand for. There are occasional exceptions if the leaders are handicapped minority feminist atheist dwarfs who also happen to be illegal aliens from any other country or galaxy provided, of course, that they are not Republicans.

11. The National Enquirer is read by people trapped in line at  the grocery store.

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Population and immigration

A couple people have taken me to task for my stand on immigration.  My history vis-a-vis this subject:

I want to correct an impression that I am opposed to immigration.  That is not true; I am opposed to illegal immigration.  In principle there should always be provision for people escaping oppression—or even just wanting to improve their economic status.  Overpopulation is resulting in, among other things, nations putting up barriers—as is happening today with horrifying consequences for the migrants. 

I am a hawk on overpopulation, which is driving destruction of the natural world and its natural balance, causing problems such as viral epidemics and pandemics.  I am pessimistic on this subject, as people are not yet ready to acknowledge the base of the problem.  Most of my blog postings are about overpopulation, and immigration is a small subset of that topic.  A review of my blogs over the last 15 years will reveal that immigration is seldom mentioned, and always in the context of overpopulation.  I should not be faulted for my views on overpopulation.  If people are not concerned about this—the most serious problem facing the world—then my question is Why aren’t they?

It is tragic that both political parties are playing games with immigration.  Both parties mine the issue for cheap votes, the consequence being that those who suffer most are the immigrants themselves, who are treated inhumanely.  This is outrageous and shows the decline of the United States and what we have stood for.  It is likely that we will have a Democrat in the White House come January and that will stop or slow some of the country’s deterioration, but the political games will go on and the problem left unresolved.

Remember, when Geo. W Bush was president he almost got a bipartisan bill through Congress that would have largely removed this as an issue and prevented much of the cruel treatment of people at the borders.  At the last minute the Republican rightwing torpedoed it, with the consequences we see.

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