E.P.A. Chief- Rejecting Agency’s Science, Chooses Not to Ban Insecticide – The New York Times

“WASHINGTON — Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, moved late on Wednesday to reject the scientific conclusion of the agency’s own chemical safety experts who under the Obama administration recommended that one of the nation’s most widely used insecticides be permanently banned at farms nationwide because of the harm it potentially causes children and farm workers.

The ruling by Mr. Pruitt, in one of his first formal actions as the nation’s top environmental official, rejected a petition filed a decade ago by two environmental groups that had asked that the agency ban all uses of chlorpyrifos. The chemical was banned in 2000 for use in most household settings, but still today is used at about 40,000 farms on about 50 different types of crops, ranging from almonds to apples.”

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Strawberries | EWG’s 2017 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce

I love my beautiful, inexpensive strawberries on granola, but this research means I have to forgo the daily poisoning.

Pesticides + Poison Gases = Cheap, Year-Round StrawberriesBy Bill Walker, Investigations Editor, and Sonya Lunder, Senior Analyst

“Americans eat nearly eight pounds of fresh strawberries a year – and with them, dozens of pesticides, including chemicals that have been linked to cancer and reproductive damage, or that are banned in Europe.

Strawberries tested by scientists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2014 and 2015 contained an average of 7.7 different pesticides per sample, compared to 2.3 pesticides per sample for all other produce, according to a new EWG analysis.What’s worse, strawberry growers use jaw-dropping volumes of poisonous gases – some developed for chemical warfare but now banned by the Geneva Conventions – to sterilize their fields before planting, killing every pest, weed and other living thing in the soil.

For these reasons, strawberries are again on the top of the Dirty Dozen™ list for 2017. USDA tests found that strawberries were the fresh produce items most likely to be contaminated with pesticide residues, even after they are picked, rinsed in the field and washed before eating.

If you want to avoid pesticides and don’t want strawberries grown in soil injected with nerve gases, EWG advises that you always buy organically grown berries. We make the same recommendation for other Dirty Dozen™ foods.”

Source: Strawberries | EWG’s 2017 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce

Surge In Mice Is A Harbinger For Lyme Disease : NPR

“”We’re anticipating 2017 to be a particularly risky year for Lyme,” Ostfeld says.Keesing and Ostfeld, who have studied Lyme for more than 20 years, have come up with an early warning system for the disease. They can predict how many cases there will be a year in advance by looking at one key measurement: Count the mice the year before.”

Source: Surge In Mice Is A Harbinger For Lyme Disease : Goats and Soda : NPR

Edward O. Wilson | American biologist | Britannica.com

“Edward O. Wilson, in full Edward Osborne Wilson (born June 10, 1929, Birmingham, Alabama, U.S.), American biologist recognized as the world’s leading authority on ants. He was also the foremost proponent of sociobiology, the study of the genetic basis of the social behaviour of all animals, including humans.”

“In On Human Nature (1978), for which he was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 1979, Wilson discussed the application of sociobiology to human aggression, sexuality, and ethics. His book The Ants (1990; with Bert Hölldobler), also a Pulitzer winner, was a monumental summary of contemporary knowledge of those insects. In The Diversity of Life (1992), Wilson sought to explain how the world’s living species became diverseand examined the massive species extinctions caused by human activities in the 20th century.”

Source: Edward O. Wilson | American biologist | Britannica.com

A Concerned Citizen’s Plea to America’s Business Leaders – by Tom Friedman – NYT

“. . . And while we’re talking dangerous, why are there record numbers of migrants flooding out of sub-Saharan Africa, the Mideast and Central America, trying to get into Europe and America? Two big reasons are droughts and population explosions. And what do Trump and Bannon propose? Ignoring climate change and halting U.S. government help with family planning in the developing world.”

Tremendous op-ed by Tom Friedman. Comments are also good, but nowhere near as clear as Friedman. Here is one comment I found additive to the Friedman essay.

Look Ahead is a trusted commenter WA 3 hours ago

“The US share of global GDP has fallen from 27% following WWII to 15% in 2016, measured by purchasing power parity. The combined share of Western Europe and the US has dropped from over 50% to under 30%. Demographics will continue the downward trend. The future, especially for US based multinationals, frankly lies in making stuff for the 85%.

You can’t produce goods and services for most of the 85% without accelerating automation, increasing supply chain efficiency or lower wages, in that order.

I know alot of people imagine factories in China to be dark and dismal sweatshops. But some of the most highly automated factories in the world are in, you guessed it, China, because that’s where the capital investment is.

Manufacturing is actually a much smaller part of the economy than retailing and distribution, which is being transformed at lightning speed by on-line shopping and highly efficient supply chains.

Nothing Trump wants to do will change this direction, no walls, no immigrant bans, no for-profit diploma mills funded by taxpayers. And a rising dollar is just growing foreign investment.

Good luck with Trumponomics.”

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Fact-Checking Hillary Clinton’s Economic Speech – The New York Times

“With both major-party presidential candidates vying for working-class voters, Hillary Clinton on Thursday followed Donald J. Trump to Michigan to outline her job-creation plans, answering his economic address on Monday in Detroit. Mrs. Clinton spoke at Futuramic Tool & Engineering Company in Macomb County, long known as a home to political ticket-splitters. Some of her statements deserved a closer look. Here are a few.Claim: “Even conservative experts say Trump’s agenda will pull our economy back into recession. And according to an independent analysis by a former economic adviser to Senator John McCain, if you add up all of Trump’s ideas — from cutting taxes for the wealthy and corporations, to starting a trade war with China, to deporting millions of hardworking immigrants — the result would be a loss of 3.4 million jobs. Now, by contrast, the same analyst found that with our plans, the economy would create more than 10 million new jobs.” ”

Source: Fact-Checking Hillary Clinton’s Economic Speech – The New York Times

The World’s Disappearing Sand – The New York Times

“MOST Westerners facing criminal charges in Cambodia would be thanking their lucky stars at finding themselves safe in another country. But Alejandro Gonzalez-Davidson, who is half British and half Spanish, is pleading with the Phnom Penh government to allow him back to stand trial along with three Cambodian colleagues. They’ve been charged, essentially, with interfering with the harvesting of one of the 21st century’s most valuable resources: sand.

Believe it or not, we use more of this natural resource than any other except water and air. Sand is the thing modern cities are made of. Pretty much every apartment block, office tower and shopping mall from Beijing to Lagos, Nigeria, is made at least partly with concrete, which is basically just sand and gravel stuck together with cement. Every yard of asphalt road that connects all those buildings is also made with sand. So is every window in every one of those buildings.

Sand is the essential ingredient that makes modern life possible. And we are starting to run out.”

Source: The World’s Disappearing Sand – The New York Times

Not many comments yet on this article, but the few I reviewed are excellent, such as:

ando arike

Brooklyn, NY 2 hours ago

“Nearly a fifty years ago, MIT scientists released a computer-modeled study that was published, to great acclaim and controversy, as “Limits to Growth,” predicting a collapse of industrial civilization in the first half of the 21st century. The collapse would be caused, according to their forecast, by growth — in the economy, in population, in pollution, in consumption of finite resources. The depletion of sand described by Mr. Beiser here is yet another sign that those limits to growth have been reached — indeed, surpassed. Where is the leadership humanity needs to reverse our suicidal trajectory of growth, growth, growth? As the environmentalist Edward Abbey put it, “Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.” “

Decline of Species That Pollinate Poses a Threat to Global Food Supply, Report Warns Many pollinator species are facing extinction, including some 16 percent of vertebrates like birds and bats. nytimes.com|By John Schwartz

“The birds and the bees need help. Also, the butterflies, moths, wasps, beetles and bats. Without an international effort, a new report warns, increasing numbers of species that promote the growth of hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of food each year face extinction.

The first global assessment of the threats to creatures that pollinate the world’s plants was released by a group affiliated with the United Nations on Friday in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The summary will be posted online Monday.

Pollinators, including some 20,000 species of wild bees, contribute to the growth of fruit, vegetables and many nuts, as well as flowering plants. Plants that depend on pollination make up 35 percent of global crop production volume with a value of as much as $577 billion a year. The agricultural system, for which pollinators play a key role, creates millions of jobs worldwide.”

Many pollinator species are facing extinction, including some 16 percent of vertebrates like birds and bats, according to the document.
nytimes.com|By John Schwartz

How the Coal Industry Flattened the Mountains of Appalachia – The New York Times

“As the destructive coal mining process known as mountaintop removal ebbs in Appalachia, it is leaving behind what amounts to its own grim field of tombstones: A grossly disfigured landscape pocked with decapitated mountains standing flat as mesas and inhospitable to forest restoration.The blight is more than vertical, for millions of tons of slag waste have been bulldozed down into the surrounding countryside for more than 40 years. The rubble has clogged countless streams and waterways and devastated the Appalachian environment with pollutants, rerouting rain torrents through homes and hamlets below.”

Source: How the Coal Industry Flattened the Mountains of Appalachia – The New York Times