Quickies

Quickies: Division in the Science March, Invasive Wildflowers in Cheerios, and Lord of the Flies in Modern Times

  • Science march on Washington, billed as historic, plagued by organizational turmoil – “Yet for all the excitement, STAT has found, plans for the march are plagued by infighting among organizers, attacks from outside scientists who don’t feel their interests are fairly represented, and operational disputes. Tensions have become so pronounced that some organizers have quit and many scientists have pledged not to attend.”
  • Don’t Plant Those “Bee-Friendly” Wildflowers Cheerios Is Giving Away – “I don’t want to blow this out of proportion: alongside this giveaway, Cheerios is actually doing some good things for bees. And even though the seeds are problematic, they’re not exactly shipping packets of ecological doom. Heck, most of the seeds are probably going to languish in a drawer, unplanted, or be dumped outside and neglected by brown thumbs like me. But some of them, in the wrong place, might well spark a new invasion or might contribute to an already invasive population of nasty weeds.”
  • The most relevant dystopian novel for our time is not ‘1984’ — it’s ‘Lord of the Flies’ – “And as the disordered days and weeks of the Trump administration lengthen and grow more tumultuous, the characters in ‘Lord of the Flies’ seem to me to appear on our television screens every day — but in long pants, not schoolboy shorts. In this scenario Spicer can stand for Piggy; Trump for Ralph; White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon for Jack. They can even switch places without doing much damage to the plot. And who speaks for the talking head in the jungle? Oh, how about that other Stephen, senior advisor Stephen Miller?”
  • If you’re a millionaire, the AHCA gives you $50K. If you’re poor, it costs you $1,420. – “The report combines an analysis of the tax provisions of the act — which repeal the taxes the Affordable Care Act imposed largely on rich people, like a 3.8 percent surtax on investment income over $250,000 and a 0.9 percent surtax on wages over that amount — with changes to the ACA’s coverage provisions.”

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Mary

Mary

Mary Brock works as an Immunology scientist by day and takes care of a pink-loving princess child by night. She likes cloudy days, crafting, cooking, and Fall weather in New England.

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3 Comments

  1. March 22, 2017 at 9:59 pm —

    I enjoy thinking about planting wild flower seeds when it’s going to be 13 (F, -10.5 C) tonight.

    Bug Girl is quoted as an expert in the article. I asked her at Skepchickcon 3 years ago if there was any evidence at the time that neonic pesticides were actually the cause of colony collapse disorder (at the time, cell phone towers and other unlikely causes were also being blamed), and she said there was little to no evidence of that (at least so far), and IIRC, the most likely cause was a combination of parasites and environmental stresses, and the whole thing was somewhat overblown, in that bee colonies (especially honey bees, which aren’t native to North America and were brought here by European settlers) have always suffered from sporadic colony failures. I still get (at least once a week) emails and postal mail urging me to sign petitions and write to the EPA or my congress-person to ban neonics. Usually from the same organizations that want to label or ban GMOs.

    There wasn’t any mention of neonicotinoids in this article, so I wondered if they are still being blamed. The Xerces Society (which features prominently in the article) recommends that neonics be used sparingly and sensibly, and only by people train in their use. They claim recent research (over the last 4 years) has shown harm to pollinators. They, however, do not recommend a total ban on neonics.

    It also seems that neonics are much less harmful to birds and mammals than more traditional pesticides, so they definitely have a place.

    Bug, if you are reading this, does that jibe with your current understanding?

    BTW, according to the article, honey bees are far from endangered since they are basically an agricultural commodity, but it is the thousands of species of native bees and other pollinators that are actually in danger of extinction.

    Of course, with the current EPA, any such regulations are extremely unlikely until the next Anthropogenic Global Famine is in full force.

    • March 23, 2017 at 7:31 pm —

      I don’t have anything in front of me to sight, but I saw an article lately that said that while lab studies show neonics are a problem, field studies don’t back them up.

      Another issue for natives is habitat loss, ie turning open spaces into lawns, golf courses, and shopping malls, with no flowers for them to feed on. And competition with European honey bees.

  2. March 22, 2017 at 10:29 pm —

    I forgot the original reason I commented on the Cheerios-wild-flower article. :-)

    Wouldn’t it make more sense instead of putting a packet of (sometimes inappropriate) seeds in each box, most of which will probably never get planted, instead include a mail-in coupon and/or web link and/or 800 number to get your seeds?

    If kids (I assume the target is mostly kids, though I eat Cheerios on occasion) take an active part in obtaining their seeds, they are more likely to plant them, water them, and observe them. (Science!)

    The best part is General Mills would have to obtain the mailing address to send the seeds, so they could match the seed selection to the region’s climate and avoid invasive weeds. It sounds like the Xerces Society already produces region-appropriate seed mixes and Cheerios already partners with them so this should be trivial.

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