Posts filed under Science

Things I have heard on the news Lately

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Wednesday Thoughts

News Hours and Science related Articles

Our alarm clock in the bedroom is the radio, cellphones are banned in there. We listen to the local NPR station, WNYC, which is a good way to wake up, you usually get riled up, but other times it can be depressing. Other than that that I get updates from Huffington Post, New York Times, Washington Post, and CNN. I get other updates too, from sources like the Atlantic, Science Magazine, Wired among a lot of others. I don’t read these sources everyday, I would never have time. Sometimes Facebook spits out article after article, and on top of that my friends share article after article. Most of my friends are science oriented, so the articles that pop up are articles that gear towards nature and climate, but of course articles about all of the worlds problems. Instead I save articles, save them on Facebook, save them in my bookmarks, because maybe later today i will have time to read them. I could probably read article after article for several years now. Most of the times they will be saved and forgotten. At one point I thought about sharing what I had read or heard on the radio, but then I forgot about that too. But here we are and I was thinking about sharing some of the news I have read and heard about these past couple of weeks, maybe there will be an even older article too.

  1. Tetanus. You probably didn’t miss this story, the story about the 6 year old boy from Oregon who got tetanus after he fell and got a cut on his forehead at the family farm. I guess I never quite understood what tetanus mean in reality, even though the Swedish word for it gives it away, stiff cramp. This 6 year old boy had not been vaccinated for tetanus, this is something that the doctor usually give you anyway when you come in to the hospital if they suspect you might be at risk for tetanus, and haven’t received a booster. It is rare that people aren’t vaccinated against tetanus, even though there are a growing number of individuals who choose to not vaccinate their kids against anything. The parents took care of the cut at home, and it wasn’t until six days later he actually arrived at the hospital. This boy had to spend a total of 57 days in the hospital. He had to stay a large portion of those days in a dark room with earplugs and with little to no stimulation, in order to decrease the cramps that light and noise would trigger. The hospital bill came out to about 800,000$. I think the worst part about this story is that even though this boy had to stay 57 days in the hospital and recovery, with brutal muscle spasms fighting for his life, the parents still chose to not go through with the whole series of vaccinations. Which mean that the boy still is not immune to tetanus and can get it again. You can read more about for instance here.

  2. Measles. While we are on the subject of vaccination, we might as well go into the story of the measles outbreak in the US. Unlike tetanus, you will get immune to measles, if you obtain measles, well if you survive. The current measles outbreak in New York is centered in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where 158 people have been sickened, out of which 137 are children. If you google measles outbreak in the US, you will find plenty of years before this year where the US had a measles outbreak. One additional factor that is fueling the measles outbreak, here in New York, is an ultra-orthodox hotline which is serving as a hub for mothers resistant to vaccinating their kids. You can hear an excerpt of the hotline from this link. It is thought that the measles outbreak in Brooklyn, New York stems from travelers visiting Israel where measles are currently on the rise. This is again a story about people being against vaccination, the so called anti-vaxxers. Even though there is nothing that ties anti-vaccination to the orthodox religion in itself, it is thought that maybe this hotline, as I mentioned above, is one of the main reasons? Did you know that the World Health Organization has put Vaccine Hesitancy on the list of Ten Threats to Global Health in 2019?

  3. “Illusion of explanatory depth” - Why Facts Don’t Change our Minds. I think it was after Trump got elected and all of the following events that I stumbled on to this article. It covers a couple of psychological studies, from across the country. What they all conclude is that humans often refuse to accept other peoples opinions or ideas, something that probably dates back to the cave age, or the evolutionary theory of “the fittest will survive”. At the same time we are relying on other peoples knowledge in our every day life, to the point that it is hard to understand where one person’s knowledge starts and another person’s knowledge comes in. The result of this is that people think they know more, than what they actually do. I think it is a fitting article to share after the two previous points about tetanus and measles. You can read the full article here.

  4. “Florida Shuffle” - How Rehab Recruiters are exploiting Drug Addicts. I heard a crazy story on the radio, which I later googled and found an article about from last year (2018), and then the Mother Jones article they talked about on the radio. I am pretty sure no one has missed the opioid crisis currently going on in the US. The latest in the crisis are “patient brokers” that recruit addicts from the street, from anonymous narcotics, even from rehabs themselves, to go to specific rehabs (as long as they have insurance that will cover the stay). These brokers will pay them money to go to a specific rehab, and then keep paying the addict to continue to stay. Once the rehab is over the addict has money to buy more drugs. This “patient broker” would even pay for the drug addicts stay at hotels and provide drugs in between stays at different rehabs, since you have to have some type of drug in your system to be admitted to a rehab. These brokers are often themselves current or former drug users. This is of course an organized insurance fraud, a fraud by the rehabs themselves filling up otherwise empty beds and rooms. The money they earn on the addicts insurance is partially used to pay the brokers.

  5. White House Economic Team interns. Who knows how these interns made the list and who wrote up the list of the interns, but here they are, from the Economic Report of the President, p 624:

    1. Steve Rogers (a.k.a. Captain America)

    2. Peter Parker (Spider-Man)

    3. Bruce Wayne (Batman)

    4. Aunt May (Peter Parker’s guardian)

    5. J. T. Hutt (a superfan abbreviation for Jabba the Hutt, the “Star Wars” gangster who hangs a frozen Han Solo on his wall)

    6. John Cleese

    7. Kathryn Janeway (a “Star Trek” captain)

    8. John Snow (or should it be Jon Snow?)

Posted on March 20, 2019 and filed under Science, Wednesday Thoughts.

America's Last Truly Great Wilderness

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To be a wilderness then was to be “deserted,” “savage,” “desolate,” “barren”—in short, a “waste,” the word’s nearest synonym. Its connotations were anything but positive, and the emotion one was most likely to feel in its presence was “bewilderment” or terror.
— William Cronon - The Trouble with Wilderness; or, Getting Back to the Wrong Nature

Wednesday Thoughts

Arctic Wildlife Refuge

1002 Area

A whole different story from the chanting of “Build that Wall” that I wrote about last week, but still almost the same is going on in the most northern parts of Alaska. The development of the 1002 area, better known as "The Sacred Place Where Life Begins". I have written about it before, but it’s worth mentioning again. It’s been up for debate several times during the past 40 years, but now we are facing the reality of this government and the development of this area. Several articles have been written about Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and that we need to protect it. One of the, for me, most famous instances is the first minute or so in Patagonia’s video the Refuge below. It’s an old recording from hearings in the house, clipped together with environmentalists and other callers to a tv-show. One of the people talking over the phone, who clearly has never been up in Alaska or ANWR describes the "The Sacred Place Where Life Begins" as “Tundra known as wasteland, there is nothing out there, virtual plains as far as the eye can see”. Its a very strong moment in the video and it also highlights the problem of people’s perceptions about wilderness and nature, just look at the old perception about wilderness quoted above from Bill Cronon’s The Trouble with Wilderness; or, Getting Back to the Wrong Nature.

The Porcupine Herd

The Arctic Refuge now contains the largest area of designated Wilderness within the National Wildlife Refuge System, covering about 19.64 million acres of land and water. The history behind the name “The Sacred Place Where Life Begins" that the Gwich'in people call it has to do with how the Caribou utilizes the large area. The porcupine herd utilizes a far greater area than the 1002 area, but come spring and early summer this is THE area all the Caribou from the Porcupine herd utilize as calving area, which makes it a very important area. Click on this LINK if you want to see the migration of the Porcupine herd with beautiful images. If you want to read the absolute latest (as of early January 2019) about the development in ANWR follow this LINK, or read this blogpost for more detailed information. To comment on the draft of Environmental Impact Statement that BLM put together follow this LINK, and you can read more about how to comment and why HERE, also in the actual Environmental Impact Statement. You have until February 11 to submit a comment. You can also submit your comment by mail:

Coastal Plain Oil and Gas Leasing Program EIS
222 West 7th Avenue, Stop #13
Anchorage, Alaska 99513 -7504


I find it important to think about and share the issues we are facing in this day and age. I tend to focus on the environment and wilderness since those areas lay very close to my heart. What current issues are you burning for?

Build That Wall

Canyonlands National Park, January 2013

Canyonlands National Park, January 2013

No, wilderness is not a luxury but necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread. A civilization which destroys what little remains of the wild, the spare, the original, is cutting itself off from its origins and betraying the principle of civilization itself
— Edward Abbey - Desert Solitaire 1968

Wednesday Thoughts

Destruction of Humanity and the Ecosystem

I get scared when I hear the chanting from Trump and his supporters of “build that wall” that echoes the building of walls in other places, such as Germany during the Hitler era. It upsets and scares me when some people fail to see the resemblance between Trumps building of the wall, and Hitlers wall. In the past, different presidents have modified and created bills that are then being put into laws, for instance the Wilderness Act or the Clean Water Act. Most presidents have worked for, and not against the environment. Currently with this government we are moving backwards and not forward. We are bypassing laws that longterm is supposed to benefit us, laws like the Clean Air Act that was put into place to reduce the amount of air pollution, to make the world a better place for us. After all we (the US) now have a president who doesn’t believe in global warming or at least fails to understand what the difference between climate and weather really is. He fails to acknowledge the importance and the value of nature, as many environmentalists were trying to describe as “the New Eden” to others back in the day. The very reason that made many areas protected during the 1800’s.

Saving an Ecosystem

But it is not only areas like the Rio Grande (as you can see in the video above) that are facing a milestone change under this current government. Areas like the Big Bend would face an equally devastating effect of a physical border wall between the US and Mexico. How do you build a wall but still allow animals to travel through? How do we save something so precious from being further developed? At the same time we have to start thinking about our protected areas, our National Parks. Right now people are allowed to roam free through these protected areas because of the government shutdown, that is specifically caused by the wall. People currently destroy these areas, litter here and there, toilets are not available, and many many people are just blown away by the fact parks remain open. No one runs the parks. During previous longer (although this is the longest in history) shutdowns, National Parks and Monuments have been closed for this very reason, but that was also under other presidents. We are facing an even bigger problem though. With nature and the wilderness experience becoming such a popular thing, many National Parks are breaking visitation records every single year, and with that comes the problem of overcrowding. Yellowstone National Park has seen an increase by almost 40% since 2008 (well, the real number is 34%). They have already started to struggle with the number of toilets available for so many visitors. We have also seen issues where people lack understanding about wildlife, and how you should behave in the park and around wildlife. At the same time as the visitor numbers are increasing, Trump wants to cut the funding to National Parks. Even though some of Trumps proposals get shutdown before he can say “National Park”, it does show his true intentions regarding wilderness. The coming years will be crucial for determining how our parks, monuments, and forests will be taken care of and preserved.

Yellowstone National Park, May 2014

Yellowstone National Park, May 2014

Do you have a favorite park you are starting to feel concerned about?