The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” – Genesis 2:15-17 (NIV)
A recent LOTRW post suggested that scientists face a dilemma. On the one hand, scientists should be non-partisan; else they (we) will be unable to sustain science. Instead its progress will be intermittent, fluctuating wildly with each change in political winds as science falls in and out of favor. This will slow, even compromise innovation. On the other hand, unless scientists learn to be (more effectively) partisan, science can’t and won’t be maintained long term. That’s because science has to demonstrate continuing societal benefit to justify society’s substantial investment in science in the face of competing needs. But societal benefit is necessarily textured, improving the lot and prospects of some more than others – and in today’s world, that’s political.
A specific recent finding from meteorology illustrates this larger problem.
The 100-year floodplain — the area of land projected to be covered by water during a flood event that has a 1 percent chance of occurring in any given year — has become the primary mechanism for determining flood insurance premiums and conveying flood risk, but perhaps it shouldn’t be.
With ten such holidays here in the United States we might envy nations who offer more. Cambodia leads the world with 28. Sri Lanka is not far behind with 25. India and Kazakhstan each hold 21. But a closer look at the countries on this list reminds us there may be no need for jealousy; Cambodia and India have a six-day workweek; Sri Lankans work a half-day on Saturdays. Maybe that second day of weekend 52 weeks of the year is a better deal.
Most nations co-mingle civic holidays with the religious – in some cases multiple religions.
dorsal (dor'-sal). (a) Pertaining to, or situated near or on, the back (not the hind end) or upper surface of an animal or of one of its parts; e.g. toward the brachial valve from the pedicle valve of a brachiopod, or pertaining to the hinge region of the shell of a bivalve mollusk, the side of the uniserial stipe opposite the thecal apertures of a graptoloid, or the spiral side of a trochoid foraminifer. (b) Referring to the direction or side of an echinoderm away from the mouth, normally downward and outward, e.g. toward the point of attachment of the column with blastoid theca or to the part of the crinoid or cystoid calyx located toward the column; aboral. (c) In vertebrates, toward the part of the animal that bears the spinal cord (rather than toward the belly). Ant: ventral.
Meteorologists aren’t alone in making forecasts. Ecologists make them too. One such recent forecast suggests that without major reductions in greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere, terrestrial ecosystems worldwide are at risk of major transformation, with accompanying disruption of ecosystem services and impacts on biodiversity.
Disruption of ecosystem services? Just what are ecosystem services, and how concerned should we be? Some LOTRW readers may be all too familiar with these notions, but here’s a bit of background for the rest of us, lifted from the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, by way of Wikipedia (with some minor edits):
The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment report 2005 defines ecosystem services as benefits people obtain from ecosystems and distinguishes four categories of ecosystem services, where the so-called supporting services are regarded as the basis for the services of the other three categories.