Some thoughts on ecology, evolution and economics

A peace treaty with Nature?

On December 20, 2022, the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework was agreed to by 196 countries. The secretary-general of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, called it “a peace pact with nature”. As we have discussed elsewhere on this blog, biodiversity is the variety of life around us and an important key to our happiness. I would… (read more)

After the storm: Canadian healthcare after the pandemic

I remember watching the TV in the hospital visiting room on my last shift as a volunteer before the pandemic. The news was all about Covid. It was clear that the risks had become too great for non-professionals like me. The nurses, doctors and patients would have little choice in the months and years ahead…. (read more)

The Cambrian explosion

Of all the rapid evolutionary events we have explored in this blog , we have yet to look at the biggest and most consequential – the Cambrian Explosion. It is the big bang of evolutionary biology – the origin of animals. Within a period of 25 million years, all of the major body plans existing… (read more)

Are we working smarter?

The saying “Work smarter, not harder” is of particular interest in economics.  Though the typical measure of a country’s wealth is its production divided by its population, or GDP per capita, economists spend a lot of time looking at a slight variation on this, the value of its production divided by the number of hours… (read more)

Ten proposals for Canadian Healthcare

The Globe & Mail ran a ten part series this May on how to improve health care in Canada, a topic of some interest for this blog. The timing of this set of articles is important. The provincial premiers, who are constitutionally bound to make policy for and ultimately pay for public healthcare, are demanding a… (read more)

End of poverty?

Bill C-223 was introduced in Canada’s parliament on December 16, 2021 as part of a long tradition of anti-poverty legislation. Sadly, as a private member’s bill, there is little chance of it coming into force.  However, there is increasing optimism that the bill’s approach of introducing a framework for a guaranteed basic income for all… (read more)

Whither the news?

Information industries are facing re-organization.  This extends to a remarkable range of businesses that specialize in knowing things, whether it is travel agents, lawyers, doctors or academics.  More sophisticated coding and connectivity can process and communicate routine information inputs to make marketable products for consumers with less cost and human involvement.  Journalists have suffered acutely… (read more)

Life in a bland world

Spare a thought for the members of the IPBES – the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services.  We have talked about them before in this blog. While their more famous colleaues on the IPCC – the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – garner continuing headlines, the IPBES languish in obscurity despite the detailed… (read more)

Freedom to tweet

Most people get their news from the internet. Censorship of the news is a serious threat to a free society.  Yet censorship on the internet is a complex affair.  In the United States, this revolves largely around section 230 in the Communications Decency Act.  This is the same section for which President Trump produced an… (read more)

The Maple Leaf Forever

Canadians are passionate about the maple leaf. This is curious since, as a plant species, the sugar maple is not representative of the country.  In fact, maples, in their various forms, are common throughout the northern hemisphere.  So, why Canada? Sugar maples are a common hardwood along the shores of the St. Lawrence River, where… (read more)