Some thoughts on ecology, evolution and economics

Archive for 2018

Wallets and whitecoats

Doctors provide an essential service: they make us well. Shouldn’t they be paid for this? More specifically, shouldn’t those who have wealth or foresight have better access to care than those who can’t or won’t prepare for injury or disease? These are the questions that challenge the concept of universal health care. Yet, except in… (read more)

Taking the measure of nature

The Système Internationale (or SI) offers a coherent and standard way of measuring nature. It is based on seven standard units for time, length, mass, electric current, temperature, brightness and amount of substance. This fussy, academic world has been roiled by passionate debate about the very idea of measurement. Rather than allowing units like the second (1.157… (read more)

Plastics: the problem or the solution?

My wife and I wrap cheese when we put it into our lunchbags.  I use plastic and she uses waxpaper. As the waxpaper is at least twice as thick as the low density polyethylene in my lunch bag, I initially create a smaller waste burden in our local landfill.  Of course, over time, the waxpaper… (read more)

What’s shaking in world trade?

A couple of years ago, I offered a synopsis of world trade patterns on the basis of the Economist’s Pocket World in Figures.  Here is an update of that post for 2018 with a bit of a forecast of how the trade deals (or lack thereof) we keep hearing about might shake things up in… (read more)

Evolutionary genomics

Evolution has always been about the complete package. Traits, like pea shape or hummingbird tongues, do not evolve – genomes do.  It is true that evolution is not real unless the list of instructions that makes up a genome is expressed in the real world but our genetic material is the scorecard of what succeeds and… (read more)