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science, climate change, biodiversity, new study, bees, coffee, chocolate
Photo credit: Alison Harrison / Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 DEED)

PICKS are stories from many sources, selected by our editors or recommended by our readers because they are important, surprising, troubling, enlightening, inspiring, or amusing. They appear on our site and in our daily newsletter. Please send suggested articles, videos, podcasts, etc. to picks@whowhatwhy.org.

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Global Warming and Habitat Loss Hurt Pollinators. That May Hit Coffee and Cocoa Hard. (Maria)

The author writes, “Changes in the climate and land use are combining to dramatically shrink the numbers of insects pollinating key tropical crops. As those problems intertwine and intensify, it likely will hit coffee lovers right in the mug, according to a new study. And that one-two punch will melt some chocolate fans’ dreams too, scientists said. … ‘We’re seeing the climate change is already having this really strong impact on pollinators,’ said study co-author Tim Newbold, an ecologist at the University College of London.”

RFK Jr.’s Independent Run for President Draws GOP Criticism and Silence From National Democrats (Reader Jim)

The author writes, “Republicans attacked Robert F. Kennedy Jr. on Monday as the longtime environmental lawyer and anti-vaccine activist launched an independent bid for the White House, reflecting growing concerns on the right that the former Democrat now threatens to take votes from former President Donald Trump in 2024. The Republican National Committee and Trump’s campaign both took aim at Kennedy’s liberal background while national Democrats stayed silent as Kennedy insisted in a speech in Philadelphia that he was leaving both political parties behind.”

The Hamas Horror Is Also a Lesson on the Price of Populism (Gerry)

The author writes, “The real explanation for Israel’s dysfunction is populism rather than any alleged immorality. For many years, Israel has been governed by a populist strongman, Benjamin Netanyahu, who is a public-relations genius but an incompetent prime minister. He has repeatedly preferred his personal interests over the national interest and has built his career on dividing the nation against itself. He has appointed people to key positions based on loyalty more than qualifications, took credit for every success while never taking responsibility for failures, and seemed to give little importance to either telling or hearing the truth.”

Under Israeli Bombardment, a Humanitarian Catastrophe in Gaza Gathers Pace (Dana)

From The New Humanitarian: “The humanitarian fallout from Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip has been swift, widespread, and indiscriminate, according to local aid workers, who are urgently calling on the international community to establish a safe corridor for the delivery of assistance and supplies as residents of the coastal enclave brace for a likely ground invasion.”   

New Language App Sygmatic Throws Users in ‘the Deep End’ to Get Fluent (Al)

From The Cap Times: “Unlike many language learning apps, Sygmatic won’t offer grammar lessons or vocabulary lists, and it’s not designed for beginners. Instead, it offers a curated collection of video clips of native speakers to help those who are already studying a language level up their skills. A crew of Sygmatic language consultants scours YouTube for content by creators of a variety of ages (‘from 15 to 85’) and backgrounds, then selects clips to embed in the app.” 

150 Dolphins Die As Water Hits Hot Tub Temperature (Mili)

The author writes, “Ocean temperatures are steadily climbing, turning coastal waters into steaming — and deadly — hot tubs. And that’s not some loose analogy to describe the very real dangers of climate change. Earlier this year, sensor buoys off the coast of Florida registered temperatures in excess of 100 degrees Fahrenheit, around the average temperature of a literal hut tub. The effects of these blistering temperatures have been devastating to local marine life, as well as freshwater life further inland.”

Thinking Long-Term: Why We Should Bring Back Redwood Forests (Laura)

From Yale Environment 360: “Only 5 percent of the redwood forests that once stretched across coastal Northern California have never been logged. An initiative to restore these forests is gaining momentum, aided by research showing that redwoods store more aboveground carbon than any forest on Earth.”

Researchers Identify Largest Ever Solar Storm in Tree Rings  (Sean)

The author writes, “An international team of scientists have discovered a huge spike in radiocarbon levels 14,300 years ago by analyzing ancient tree-rings found in the French Alps. The radiocarbon spike was caused by a massive solar storm, the biggest ever identified.  A similar solar storm today would be catastrophic for modern technological society — potentially wiping out telecommunications and satellite systems, causing massive electricity grid blackouts, and costing us billions of pounds.” 

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