Some thoughts on ecology, evolution and economics

An election primer on Canadian health care

This blog has long  been concerned about sustainable health care , in particular, Canadian health care. In the 2019 election, health care has taken a back seat to climate change and economic issues.  Still, the scope of public health care and the federal government’s role in assuring it is being discussed. Here, I offer a summary… (read more)

Black and White and Grey All Over

This post is written by my daughter , Suzette, thanks to whom I am now a grandfather! Watching the respect that my midwife has for obstetricians and vice versa has given me new hope for how science-based and ‘alternative’ medicine can work together and complement each other. Midwifery pulls from ancient knowledge of breath, touch,… (read more)

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)

Gene therapy

Siddartha Mukherjee is a compelling author and a respected authority on medical science. His latest book, The Gene, traces the history of genetics -the prediction of heredity. Gregor Mendel, the 19th century monk who launched the discipline, features prominently with his experiments on breeding peas . Connecting a particular trait to a piece of DNA is… (read more)

Caring for Americans

Shortly before leaving office in 1974, Richard Nixon proposed a universal healthcare bill that would have assured all Americans of health insurance coverage. Developed countries around the world were passing similar legislation at the time, using some mix of private and public insurance. It was also at this time that the American healthcare system began… (read more)

Caring for Canadians

Four years ago, I highlighted Jeffrey Simpson’s five recommendations for improving the value of  medical care in Canada.  These addressed some of the natural weaknesses of a single payer system, which frequently lead to long wait times.  One of these recommendations, investment in home care, has been seized upon by the Trudeau government as a… (read more)