Day: October 17, 2018

Why scientists are so worried about a sudden, huge loss of insects

GettyImages 454207082 0’In Puerto Rico’s rainforest, scientists have observed an astounding loss of life at the very base of the food web. It’s the insects.

As an alarming new study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences outlines, between 1976 and 2013, the number of invertebrates (like insects, spiders, and centipedes) in the Luquillo rainforest caught in survey nets plummeted by a factor of four or eight. When measured by the number caught in sticky traps, invertebrates declined by a factor of 60. These dramatic drops occurred despite the fact that the forest is a protected wildlife area.

The researchers note that this loss of invertebrates — which serve as food for many other forms of life in the ecosystem — has also coincided with losses of birds, lizards, and frogs. “The food web appears to have been obliterated from the bottom,” the Washington Post’s Ben Guarino reported on the study. Guarino’s story quotes one invertebrate expert who called the research “hyper alarming.”…’

Via Vox

Your Covert Racism

Waldman White FragilityA Sociologist Examines the “White Fragility” That Prevents White Americans from Confronting Racism

’In more than twenty years of running diversity-training and cultural-competency workshops for American companies, the academic and educator Robin DiAngelo has noticed that white people are sensationally, histrionically bad at discussing racism. Like waves on sand, their reactions form predictable patterns: they will insist that they “were taught to treat everyone the same,” that they are “color-blind,” that they “don’t care if you are pink, purple, or polka-dotted.” They will point to friends and family members of color, a history of civil-rights activism, or a more “salient” issue, such as class or gender. They will shout and bluster. They will cry. In 2011, DiAngelo coined the term “white fragility” to describe the disbelieving defensiveness that white people exhibit when their ideas about race and racism are challenged—and particularly when they feel implicated in white supremacy. Why, she wondered, did her feedback prompt such resistance, as if the mention of racism were more offensive than the fact or practice of it?

In a new book, “White Fragility,” DiAngelo attempts to explicate the phenomenon of white people’s paper-thin skin. She argues that our largely segregated society is set up to insulate whites from racial discomfort, so that they fall to pieces at the first application of stress—such as, for instance, when someone suggests that “flesh-toned” may not be an appropriate name for a beige crayon. Unused to unpleasantness (more than unused to it—racial hierarchies tell white people that they are entitled to peace and deference), they lack the “racial stamina” to engage in difficult conversations. This leads them to respond to “racial triggers”—the show “Dear White People,” the term “wypipo”—with “emotions such as anger, fear and guilt,” DiAngelo writes, “and behaviors such as argumentation, silence, and withdrawal from the stress-inducing situation.”…’

Via The New Yorker

Mammals Can’t Evolve Fast Enough to Outrun Human-Caused Mass Extinction

1539718253425 An Indian tiger in the wild Royal Bengal tiger 27466438332‘In just 50 years, we will witness dozens of mammals going extinct unless we make major global changes, says a new study published Tuesday. And it will take up to 5 million years before evolution recovers a similar level of diversity on Earth, according to the study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.…’

Via Motherboard

The Case for Abolishing the Senate

Abolish the Senate GQ 2018 101518’The upper chamber has become far more undemocratic than the Constitution’s framers could ever have imagined. What would American government look like without it?…’

Via GQ