Sturgeon Outlasted the Dinosaurs. Can They Survive Us? – The New York Times

“The American caviar rush began on the lower Delaware estuary, a landscape today crowded with chemical plants, container ports and the sprawl of Philadelphia. But this was the 1870s, when nature edged up to the city’s limits, when probably nowhere else in the country was home to more Atlantic sturgeon: During the spring spawn, an estimated 360,000 adults thronged the reach that marked the brackish threshold between bay and river. Theirs was the roe prized by the Russian czars, whose brokers at one point paid more than $1,400 in today’s dollars for a single female Atlantic sturgeon. Bayside, N.J., came to be known as Caviar, a miniature, pop-up New Bedford in the state’s marshy south. During the fishery’s peak, in 1888, 16,500 Atlantic sturgeon — they can live 60 years and grow to 14 feet and 800 pounds — were “harvested,” or killed. Most were female, and the millions of eggs that each could produce during a spawn never made it into the water within which they were meant to hatch.

For an estimated 10 to 15 million years, Atlantic sturgeon, or Acipenser oxyrinchus oxyrinchus, have spawned in as many as 38 rivers throughout eastern North America. An anadromous fish, it is born in fresh water, spends its adulthood in salt water and returns to its natal rivers to spawn. Because individuals from different rivers do not commonly interbreed, their homing instinct has produced populations whose genetics are unique to the waterways of their birth. But the caviar rush of the late 19th century ravaged the Atlantic sturgeon, and today breeding populations remain in only 22 of its 38 natal rivers. In 2012, the species became protected under the Endangered Species Act.

At the time, researchers estimated that the Delaware population consisted of 300 or fewer spawning adults per year. While the Delaware Atlantic sturgeon is just one branch of the species, its decline epitomizes the global biodiversity crisis. “If you lose one population and their functional genetic diversity, then you’re possibly eliminating the ability for the species to adapt to new conditions in the future,” says Isaac Wirgin, an associate professor of environmental medicine at N.Y.U. Langone Health, who has sequenced Atlantic sturgeon DNA. In other words, when one branch is extirpated, a block from the genetic Jenga tower is removed and the whole family teeters further.”

David Lindsay Jr.

NYT comment:

Thank you Andrew S. Lewis et al. This is an amazing, and depressing story. We should bend over backwards to try and save the North Altantic sturgeon, as well as many other endangered species as well. How do we stop the corruption in our own regulatory agencies? David blogs at InconvenientNews.net

How a Drug Company AbbVie Made $114 Billion by Gaming the U.S. Patent System – The New York Times

7 MIN READ

In 2016, a blockbuster drug called Humira was poised to become a lot less valuable.

“The key patent on the best-selling anti-inflammatory medication, used to treat conditions like arthritis, was expiring at the end of the year. Regulators had blessed a rival version of the drug, and more copycats were close behind. The onset of competition seemed likely to push down the medication’s $50,000-a-year list price.

Instead, the opposite happened.

Through its savvy but legal exploitation of the U.S. patent system, Humira’s manufacturer, AbbVie, blocked competitors from entering the market. For the next six years, the drug’s price kept rising. Today, Humira is the most lucrative franchise in pharmaceutical history.

Next week, the curtain is expected to come down on a monopoly that has generated $114 billion in revenue for AbbVie just since the end of 2016. The knockoff drug that regulators authorized more than six years ago, Amgen’s Amjevita, will come to market in the United States, and as many as nine more Humira competitors will follow this year from pharmaceutical giants including Pfizer. Prices are likely to tumble.

The reason that it has taken so long to get to this point is a case study in how drug companies artificially prop up prices on their best-selling drugs.”

David Lindsay: Excellenet article, but upsetting. It appears that there are many solutions, such as passing a law that says all additional patents to a new drug have to use the same start date as the original patent.

David Wallace-Wells | Britain’s Cautionary Tale of Self-Destruction – The New York Times

Opinion Writer

“In December, as many as 500 patients per week were dying in Britain because of E.R. waits, according to the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, a figure rivaling (and perhaps surpassing) the death toll from Covid-19. On average, English ambulances were taking an hour and a half to respond to stroke and heart-attack calls, compared with a target time of 18 minutes; nationwide, 10 times as many patients spent more than four hours waiting in emergency rooms as did in 2011. The waiting list for scheduled treatments recently passed seven million — more than 10 percent of the country — prompting nurses to strike. The National Health Service has been in crisis for years, but over the holidays, as wait times spiked, the crisis moved to the very center of a narrative of national decline.

Post-Covid, the geopolitical order has been thrown into tumult. At the beginning of the pandemic, commentators wondered about the fate of the United States, its indifferent political leadership and its apparently diminished “state capacity.” Lately, they have focused more on the sudden weakness of China: its population in decline, its economy struggling more than it has in decades, its “zero Covid” reversal a sign of both political weakness and political overreach, depending on whom you ask.

But the descent of Britain is in many ways more dramatic. By the end of next year, the average British family will be less well off than the average Slovenian one, according to a recent analysis by John Burn-Murdoch at The Financial Times; by the end of this decade, the average British family will have a lower standard of living than the average Polish one.”

David Lindsay: Impressive columne, but why. Here the top comments, helps move the analysis along.

Minneapolis Mom
Mpls MNJan. 25

Its interesting how Britain’s decline in real wages coincides closely with the dramatic drop in their corporate tax rates – from 30% in 2008 to 19% today. Conservatives follow the same recipe everywhere – fund tax reductions on corporations and the wealthy by cutting government programs. Motivate voters with xenophobic fear-of-the-other tropes. Rinse and repeat.

15 Replies974 Recommended

Opinion | Early Abortion Looks Nothing Like What You’ve Been Told – The New York Times

Erika Bliss, Joan Fleischman and 

Drs. Bliss, Fleishman and Gomez are co-founders of the My Abortion Network and primary care doctors who provide abortions as part of their primary care practices.

4 MIN READ

“Jewel is a student in her early 20s who lives in Texas. When her doctor confirmed she was pregnant, Jewel felt panicked. She knew it wasn’t the right time for her to have a child, and that abortion was illegal in her state.

Fortunately, Jewel had resources. After doing her research, she packed a bag and flew to New York City, where her sister lives. From there, the two women came to see one of us — Joan Fleischman, a family medicine doctor who has been providing abortions in her small practice in New York City for over 20 years.

Jewel, who asked to be identified by her middle name, told Dr. Fleischman about her experience in Texas. Medical staff members “were trying to push a happy pregnancy, while I was miserable and crying,” she said. Jewel sensed her doctor was afraid to even talk about other options because the doctor feared losing her license.

Dr. Fleischman performed an ultrasound, which dated the pregnancy between five and six weeks. She discussed Jewel’s options and, after confirming that Jewel wanted to end the pregnancy, completed a manual uterine aspiration procedure. This method uses a hand-held device and takes a few minutes to complete in a regular exam room.”

Great article, great comments. Such as:

Edward Blau
WisconsinJan. 22

This excellent article offers facts and truth, unlike the screamers marching with what they claim are aborted fetuses. As a retired physician I can remember the days before Roe when women with status were able to have a safe D&C for “menstrual irregularity” while poor women suffered from septic abortions. Either women are equal citizens who have the same rights to body autonomy as men or they are not equal. it is that simple.

19 Replies2439 Recommended

 
B.Kind commented January 22

B.Kind

Thank you so much for sharing these images. As someone who had difficulty maintaining pregnancies to term, I have been tortured by unspeakable guilt over the pregnancies I lost and the imagined babies I had failed. Seeing the reality has lifted the weight of sorrow and pain I have carried for many, many years.

9 Replies2190 Recommended

bret and gail | There’s a Line on George Santos’s Résumé That No One Can Cross Out – The New York Times

“Switching to Republican embarrassments, Gail, we never got around to talking about George Santos, Republican of Long Island. I’m not sure there’s anything new to say about the sad, surreal, scuzzy, scamming, shameless, soulless man that he is. But boy, what a comment on today’s Republican Party.Gail: Well, Bret, a lying, weird Republican who seems to have made up almost everything in his biography including his prowess at volleyball would have been your problem in a different era. But you’ve spent so much of your time crusading against the deficiencies in your old party, you’re the last one I could blame.Bret: The G.O.P. should be renamed B.T.P., for Bermuda Triangle Party. Enter it, weird stuff happens, and you go straight to the bottom.”

OK column, not great.  I did make a comment:

David Lindsay Jr.

NYT Comment:

@Julian Fernandez Nice comment. You are right that gas is no longer better than electric to cook. I think there was one error when you wrote: “If we ever want to reverse or even slow GCC we must accept that minor facets of our lives will change.” Green Carbon Crap? I think you meant Greenhouse Gas Emissions or GGE, or something about pure pollution. GCC has a different meaning. “One of the earliest such coalitions was the Global Climate Coalition (GCC), formed by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) in 1989 (Franz 1998). Subsequently, a number of political coalitions were formed with the same mission (Brulle 2021). Many of these coalitions continue to obstruct climate action. a historical analysis of the Global Climate Coalition”

Yours, David Lindsay

InconvenientNews.Net

Can Trump Count on Evangelicals in 2024? Some Leaders Are Wavering. – The New York Times

6 MIN READ

On Sunday, the Rev. Robert Jeffress, a longtime supporter of Donald J. Trump who has yet to endorse his 2024 White House bid, shared the stage at his Dallas megachurch with one of the former president’s potential rivals next year: former Vice President Mike Pence.

The next day, Mr. Trump lashed out at Pastor Jeffress and other evangelical leaders he spent years courting, accusing them of “disloyalty” and blaming them for the party’s disappointing performance in the 2022 midterm elections.

While Pastor Jeffress shrugged off the criticism, others weren’t as eager to let it slide, instead suggesting that it was time for Mr. Trump to move out of the way for a new generation of Republican candidates.

The clash highlighted one of the central tensions inside the Republican Party as it lurches toward an uncertain 2024 presidential primary: wavering support for Mr. Trump among the nation’s evangelical leaders, whose congregants have for decades been a key constituency for conservatives and who provided crucial backing to Mr. Trump in his ascent to the White House.”

David Lindsay Jr.

NYT Comment:

Thank you Maggie Haberman AND Michael Bender, for this excellent report. I am confused by the comments, that pastors are breaking the law by appearing with polititicians. My guess is that you do not surrender you first ammendment rights, when you become a non-profit church. Please could someone go into this complicated subject and explain it. Are laws being broken?

David blogs at InconvenientNews.net

Mark Elbroch | Cougars Are Heading East. We Should Welcome Them. – The New York Times

Dr. Elbroch is the director of the puma program at Panthera, a nonprofit group focused on protecting the world’s wild cats and the ecosystems they inhabit, and the author of “The Cougar Conundrum.”

“Numerous cougar sightings were reported east of the Mississippi River last fall, encounters that have become more frequent in recent years. A trail camera glimpsed one in northern Minnesota, for instance, while authorities captured another in Springfield, Ill., after it had made its way there from Nebraska. Yet another was fatally struck by a car on I-88 west of Chicago.

Cougars once had the run of the continent, ranging far and wide. But they were virtually eliminated in the Eastern United States by the early 1900s (except for a small population that survives in Florida), victims of bounty hunting and habitat loss. In recent decades, their numbers in the Western United States, where they were also once targeted for eradication, have rebounded, and now these big cats, also known as mountain lions, panthers and pumas, are slowly moving east.”

“. . . . .  Wary of humans, cougars feed mainly on deer and smaller prey. The risk of a cougar attack — on people or domestic animals — is extremely low, and almost zero with pragmatic precautions. Fewer than two dozen people have been killed by cougars in North America in the past 100 years. (Males range in size from 120 to 180 pounds, depending on where they live; females are much smaller, ranging from 70 to 110 pounds.) Scientists estimate a recolonization of the Eastern United States by cougars could reduce deer-vehicle collisions by 22 percent over 30 years, averting 21,400 human injuries, 155 human fatalities and over $2 billion in costs. The return of cougars to South Dakota in the 1990s, for example, reduced costs of deer-vehicle collisions by an estimated $1.1 million annually.”

David Lindsay: Bring them back, I say.  Here is the top comment, I endorsed:

Ames
New York City8h ago

in 2021, the USDA’s Wildlife Services killed 1.75 million animals, including cougars, wolves, bald eagles and other protected species to protect livestock producers raising cattle and sheep on public — not private — land. How long will we let a government agency like the USDA, and its handmaiden, the Bureau of Land Management continue protecting subsidized ranchers on public lands at taxpayer expense over the cougars and other species who belong on that land, can restore that precious but damaged land…and the public, who owns it? More cougars, please!

8 Replies461 Recommended

David Wallace-Wells | Electric Vehicles Keep Defying Almost Everyone’s Predictions – The New York Times

Opinion Writer

“It is striking that in the same year that Tesla’s stock price dropped by about two-thirds, destroying more than $700 billion in market value, the global market for electric vehicles — which for so long the company seemed almost to embody — actually boomed.

Boom may not even adequately communicate what happened. Around the world, E.V. sales were projected to have grown 60 percent in 2022, according to a BloombergNEF report prepared ahead of the 2022 U.N. climate conference COP27, bringing total sales over 10 million. There are now almost 30 million electric vehicles on the road in total, up from just 10 million at the end of 2020. E.V. market share has also tripled since 2020.

The pandemic years can feel a bit like a vacuum, but there are almost three times as many E.V.s on the world’s roads now as there were when Covid vaccines were first approved, and what looked not that long ago like a climate pipe dream is now undeniably underway: a genuine transition away from fossil-fueled transportation. This week, the Biden administration released a blueprint toward a net zero transportation sector by 2050. It’s an ambitious goal, especially for such a car-intoxicated culture as ours. But it’s also one that, thanks to trends elsewhere in the world, is beginning to seem more and more plausible, at least on the E.V. front.

In Norway, electric vehicles now represent four out of every five new cars sold; the figure was just one in five as recently as 2016. In Germany, more than 55 percent of new cars registered in December were electric or hybrid. In China, where more electric vehicles are sold than everywhere else in the world combined, the rise is perhaps even more dramatic: from 3.5 percent of the market at the beginning of 2020 to 20.3 percent at the beginning of 2022. And growing, of course: Nearly twice as many electric vehicles were sold last year in China as in the year before. The country also exported $3.2 billion worth of E.V.s last November alone, more than double the exports of the previous November. Its largest single manufacturer, BYD, has surpassed Tesla for global market share — so perhaps it should not be so surprising that Tesla’s stock is dimming while the global outlook is so sunny.”

David LIndsay: This is good news. Here is the most popular comment:

Richard Blaine Not NYC Jan. 11

We rode to work in electric cars for 25 years. . They weren’t expensive at all. They didn’t require batteries. We didn’t have to worry about parking or repairs. We had a professional chauffeur, too. . That’s the beauty of an electrified catenary, the miracle of steel wheels on steel rails, and the proper provision of public transit. . Electric automobiles are probably not the solution to Climate Change, although they may be part of it. . The bigger part of the solution is reliable, frequent, electrified public transit.

6 Replies506 Recommended

Rose Abramoff | I Worked at a Government Lab and Was Fired for My Climate Activism – The New York Times

Dr. Abramoff is an earth scientist who studies the effect of climate change on natural and managed ecosystems.

“KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Shortly after the New Year, I was fired from Oak Ridge National Laboratory after urging fellow scientists to take action on climate change. At the American Geophysical Union meeting in December, just before speakers took the stage for a plenary session, my fellow climate scientist Peter Kalmus and I unfurled a banner that read “Out of the lab & into the streets.” In the few seconds before the banner was ripped from our hands, we implored our colleagues to use their leverage as scientists to wake the public up to the dying planet.

Soon after this brief action, the A.G.U., an organization with 60,000 members in the earth and space sciences, expelled us from the conference and withdrew the research that we had presented that week from the program. Eventually, it began a professional misconduct inquiry (it’s ongoing).

Then, on Jan. 3, Oak Ridge, the laboratory outside Knoxville where I had worked as an associate scientist for one year, terminated my employment. I am the first earth scientist I know of to be fired for climate activism. I fear I will not be the last.”

David Lindsay: This is a complicated story, and I had to take a breath, since my sympathies do not lie with the scientist making a scene at the conference.

Here is one of several good comments that articulate some of my concerns:

JW
Washington Dc10h ago

I think this is a case where the agency acted properly. As Federal Employees we are not permitted to use official time, money or authority to advance a personal cause. Based on the author’s own comments she was at the event on travel and in an official capacity. There was no way to separate her official role from her capacity as a private citizen. Removal (firing) was a proper response for anyone improperly using official time and resources. This rule exists so that the public can have confidence government employees are acting impartially when they do their jobs. You can’t mix activism and the public business on the clock. I note the agency did not discipline her for her off duty activism even when it subjected her to arrest. They acted only when the activism occurred on public time. This seems to me to be reasonable even though they might have been able to make out a case that this off duty conduct adversely affected the efficacy of the civil service. They didn’t do that here and I applaud that decision For the record I am a layman when it comes to climate science. Having said that I fully support urgent action to address this existential crisis.

5 Replies226 Recommended
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JMG
Oklahoma10h ago

I also am a geologist and emeritus professor with years of experience and more than 100 scholarly, peer reviewed publications. I and my students have given innumerable presentations at scientific meetings, at the local, national and international level. I do not know the particulars of the incident at the AGU meeting in question but having attended many AGU meetings and having been a member of AGU, I know that AGU and it’s membership are certainly not “climate deniers” and generally support peaceful political action regarding climate. I suspect that something more than holding up a sign happened at this particular meeting. I also know that scientific societies do not tolerate disruptive and violent behavior at their meetings. Not ever and not for any reason. I invite everyone to read the American Geophysical Union’s position statement on climate change: https://www.agu.org/Share-and-Advocate/Share/Policymakers/Position-Statements/Position_Climate.

7 Replies153 Recommended

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Erik Frederiksen commented 8 hours ago

Erik Frederiksen
Asheville, NC8h ago

I believe that those here supporting Dr. Abramoff’s firing do not appreciate the scale of the threat which climate change poses. Over the next several decades as drought and heatwaves and flooding intensify we will see increasingly severe impacts on agricultural regions driving massive famines and economic decline. Then weakened by that we’ll be faced with retreat from the coastal areas where most of our large cities are located as the West Antarctic ice sheet breaks and the rate of sea level rise accelerates dramatically along with maximum storm strength. It is easy to imagine the planet becoming ungovernable under those conditions. These climate scientists are fighting for the survival of human civilization and we’re about out of time on that score, hence the desperation among those who study this subject.

3 Replies148 Recommended

Has the Amazon Reached Its ‘Tipping Point’? – The New York Times

Listen to This Article  Audio Recording by Audm Listen 53:03

“One of the first times Luciana Vanni Gatti tried to collect Amazonian air she got so woozy that she couldn’t even operate the controls. An atmospheric chemist, she wanted to measure the concentration of carbon high above the rainforest. To obtain her samples she had to train bush pilots at obscure air-taxi businesses. The discomfort began as she waited on the tarmac, holding one door open against the wind to keep the tiny cockpit from turning into an oven in the equatorial sun. When at last they took off, they rose precipitously, and every time they plunged into a cloud, the plane seemed to be, in Gatti’s words, sambando — dancing the samba. Then the air temperature dipped below freezing, and her sweat turned cold.

Not that it was all bad. As the frenetic port of Manaus receded, the canopy spread out below like a shaggy carpet, immaculate green except for the pink and yellow blooms of ipê trees, and it was one of those moments — increasingly rare in Gatti’s experience — when you could pretend that nature had no final border, and the Amazon looked like what it somehow still was, the world’s largest rainforest.”

David Lindsay:  This undercuts the idea of a happy new year. Here are two of a number of comments I liked:

Erik Frederiksen
Asheville, NC4h ago

1/2 We see the evidence that just like the organs of the human body the elements of the earth system are causally coupled together, and if you tip one you’re going to have consequences for others. Most notably we know that the Arctic is warming four times as fast as the global average, because of the retreat of the sea ice exposing a dark ocean that absorbs far more sunlight. We know that Arctic warming is accelerating the melting of the Greenland ice sheet and the permafrost which locks up more than twice the carbon that is currently in the atmosphere. Arctic warming is also causing much more rainfall in the arctic that freshens up the surface of the North Atlantic ocean and contributes to an observed weakening of the great overturning circulation of the Atlantic ocean (AMOC) which kind of drags heat at the surface from the southern hemisphere to the northern hemisphere and gives us a nice equable climate in Western Europe but also sets the position of a great band of rainfall all the way around the tropics.

2 Replies28 Recommended

Pablo Mas commented 4 hours ago

Pablo Mas
Chicago4h ago

Coalition of modern nations should seize the Amazon as a vital global resource to secure it before catastrophe. The Americans have the resources and fortitude to lead the initiative. It’s too important to leave solely in the hands of Brazilian politics; they’ve squandered their responsibility and privilege.

1 Reply27 Recommended