Too many people, too few bees

November 21, 2014

This weekend’s Data Dive features a science theme, replete with visualizations and facts from the past week on the Web.

 Cold, hard facts on climate change

The Weather Channel reports that “400 record lows and record cool highs set, covering 43 states, since Sunday,” much to the glee of climate change deniers. Winter is a favorite time for global warming truthers to trot out their willful misunderstanding of climate science. Fortunately, Vox steps up with a fact-based map and explainer on why right now it is particularly cold in the U.S. but relatively warm in the rest of the world, and Discovery lays out why record cold years are a thing of the past.

Too many people

What happens when too many people live too long? World population is growing dramatically, and a nifty video from the Economist lays out how an increase in aging is overtaking shrinking family size, dramatically recasting world demographics in a way that will be difficult for humanity to support.

Too few bees

But while humans may be aging too successfully, bees are dying at a rate that threatens global agricultureRoughly one-third of our diet comes directly or indirectly benefits from honey bee pollination, so we need them working at peak efficiency. This story from WIRED touches on how sleep deprivation can confuse strung-out bees, which in turn decreases their ability to pollinate.

Fishing for poachers

Another population in a precarious state: world commercial fishing stocks. Quartz reports on globalfishingwatch.org, a partnership between Google and nonprofit groups Oceana and SkyTruth, which allows real-time tracking of fishing boats in a bid to curb illegal fishing. Poaching costs the global economy $23 billion per year and endangers the sustainability of many species of fish (and the communities of people who eat them).

Not all rice is nice

While we’re on the topic of water-dependent foodstuffs, Consumer Reports has put together a package cheerily titled “How much arsenic is in your rice?” It turns out that the staple food of 2 billion people is more dangerous than you’d think.

 

 

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It’s well-known that Reuters has a corporate position that global warming is happening despite temperature evidence that there has been no global warming for 18 years. It is shameful that a news organization should take such a stance and present such statements as “Fortunately, Vox steps up with a fact-based map and explainer on why right now it is particularly cold in the U.S. but relatively warm in the rest of the world, and Discovery lays out why record cold years are a thing of the past.”

The reality is that the past 12 months have seen record cold in many parts of the world, including snow and unusual cold in the Middle East, a deadly blizzard and unusual cold in the Himalayas, the complete freeze-over of the Great Lakes, the record growth of Antarctic ice which even threatens to block shipping lanes between it and South America, along with unusual cold throughout North America which has brought winter late and early in 2014, yet Reuters delights in its own denial.

Selective presentation of the news doesn’t enhance a news organization’s reputation. We all look forward to a return to “Just the facts, ma’am”

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