Friday, January 30, 2015

Failing Science, Eating Salamanders, and Seahawk Fever vs. Avian Flu

We’re not going to change the world, for the better we hope, if we don’t use best available science. And let’s not consider endangered species as delicacies for fat cat palates. And, oh, go ‘Hawks but wash your hands.

Nope, nobody’s going to change the world for the better as long as there’s this big difference between how scientists and citizens see science and society. A Pew Research Center poll finds scientists highly esteemed by citizens but that scientists and citizens hold differing views on genetically modified foods, pesticide use, nuclear power, evolution, overpopulation, childhood vaccinations, and human-causes of global warming. According to almost all scientist polled, there’s a problem: people don’t know what they’re talking about.

On the food front, add to the plight of the white rhino, the wolf and the elephant, the rare Chinese giant salamander. The BBC reports that that senior security officials ate a critically endangered giant salamander, also considered a

delicacy, at a lavish banquet. The salamander, which can grow to nearly six feet, was allegedly feasted on in the southern city of Shenzhen. Photographers taking pictures of the attendees were reportedly beaten by police.

Seahawk fever reaches its peak on Super Bowl Sunday and backyard poultry growers around Agnew on the Olympic Peninsula can rest easy that their flocks tested negative for the spreading avian flu virus. There are several subtypes infecting commercial and wild bird populations, including the subtype A(H7N9) which

has infected two people in British Columbia. The virus passes from bird-to-bird much easier than to humans and human-to-human transmittal doesn’t happen easily. Call the health department if you find dead birds. Meanwhile, go ‘Hawks.

--Mike Sato

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