Any regular reader of this blog will know I love collections.
Which is one of the many MANY reasons I’m devastated about the fire at the National Museum of Brazilian.
In summary: the fire burned for six hours and left behind ashes where there had been dinosaur fossils (including the reconstructed Maxakalisaurustopai), the oldest human remains in the Americas, Luiza, and the audio recording and documents of indigenous languages that are otherwise extinct.
We will never be able to replace these items and the knowledge they contain is irreplaceable. Our collective knowledge is worse off as a result.
And with the devastated feeling of the incalculable loss, we’re starting to take stock of how this could have been prevented.
I love end of the year book lists. I always compile the ones I come across to make a consensus “reading list” and then try to get through them in the first month of the next year (it never works. Ever).
But this year, I’ve stumbled across another great book list: 10 great health and science books from 2017 (read the whole article here):
The mountains are healing. It is like the miracle pool at Lourdes except it’s not a miracle and you’re not at Lourdes.
The mountains, and their attendant plant life and water features, help to lower blood pressure, stress hormones, and keep heart rate variability normal. These are just some of the health benefits of spending time in nature that studies have found in recent years.
But these beautiful, soothing environments are fairly remote.
You don’t see anything like this on a regular basis. And neither do most people.
So what does it take to get out to the mountains? Read about the privilege here.
Linus Pauling, a two-time Nobel prizewinner, also gave us another important, if less well-known, dictum: that if you want to have good ideas, you must have lots of ideas and learn to throw away the bad ones.
But how do we quantify if that’s true? One academic of emeritus status (John Kirwan) looked back on his career to do just that.
A 2016 study by the Yale Project on Climate Communication and George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication, found only two-thirds of Americans even believe climate change is happening. Just over half believe it is caused by humans. And only 15 percent are aware that more than 9 out of 10 scientists agree on both points.
The dearth of coverage can be explained, at least in part, by the difficulty in covering an issue that defies most journalistic conventions, says Bud Ward, who has reported on the issue for more than 20 years and is editor of Yale Climate Connections, published by the Yale Project. Climate change is often perceived as an abstract concept, he says, lacking a timely news hook: “It affects only polar bears I’ll never see, or it will only take place in 2150 or beyond.” Just as crucially, since nearly all scientists are in agreement on the problem, the issue often lacks clearly defined sides. “The villain is us, or villains are everywhere.”
The science behind the phenomenon, meanwhile, often lacks headline-grabbing revelations. “Science’s goal is to incrementally advance fundamental understanding on very basic questions,” says John Wihbey, an assistant professor of journalism and new media at Northeastern University who recently collaborated with Ward on a paper about climate change coverage for Oxford Research Encyclopedia. “If they [scientists] can collect data, test a hypothesis, and show something new … they’ve done their job.” By contrast, he says, journalists’ goal is to inform as many people as possible in as accessible a way as possible. “They are both dedicated to truth, but the importance of publicity and the scope of the audience is just very different.”