Wildlife provides a context for teaching empathy

Parents can use wildlife as a valuable context for teaching their children to care for others.

According to National Wildlife Federation naturalist David Mizejewski, wildlife provides valuable context for teaching children to care about others. “All of these are fellow creatures who need a happy and safe habitat,” he said.

Kevin Coyle, the NWF’s vice president of education says research shows that even very young kids can develop a sense of caring about things other than themselves. He and Mizejewski agree that parents who want their children to become empathic adults should take time to explore nature with them.

They urge parents to use the following strategies:

1. Create an awareness of backyard wildlife.

The first stage is awareness. Give your child something to focus on. Talk about how the wild animals living around humans deserve respect and understanding.

2. Help local wildlife.

Children need help putting into action what they know and making the connection between something they do and the benefits to others. A good idea is to set up a bird feeder and allow your child to refill it.

3. Plan meaningful outdoor experiences

Getting outside is important for kids’ growth. Focus on interpreting nature together. A good place to do this is a park.

4. Learn about lifecycles.

Observing a plant or animal pass through its life cycle can be mesmerizing for children. For example, a monarch butterfly has a four-stage life cycle and only lives for a few weeks. However, a turtle’s life cycle is similar to a human’s and the phases are egg, hatchling, juvenile and adult.





Epic safaris outside of Africa

Experience amazing wildlife expeditions outside of Africa.

Many people identify Africa with wildlife safaris. However, if travel to the African Continent is not in your immediate plans, you can experience incredible expeditions in the following five places:

1. The Pantanal Wetlands, Brazil

This is the world’s biggest tropical wetland system. It is in Midwestern Brazil and has a spectacularly biodiverse environment. The best time to go is during the dry season between July and October.

2. Ranthambore National Park, India

India has the world’s largest tiger population. Ranthambore is one of the country’s best tiger reserves. Other wildlife there includes panthers, bears, wolves and monkeys. The best time for tiger sightings is from April to June.

3. Jungles of Malaysian Borneo

Borneo is an exotic land of unexplored jungles and obscure tribes. The rainforests are home to extraordinary wildlife including 44 mammal species found nowhere else in the world. Any time of year is a good time to go.

4. Kamchatka Coast and Chukotka Autonomous District, Russia

These remote areas are some of the most wildlife-rich places in the Arctic region. Kamchatka is famous for its brown bears. The summer salmon run takes place in Chukotka every year. The best time to visit is in the summer from June to August.

5. Kakadu National Park, Australia

Kakadu is a land of monsoonal rivers and waterfalls. Wildlife safaris traverse the park by 4WD and boat. The most breathtaking spectacle is the annual bird migration. The best time to go is the dry season from May to October.


Indigenous peoples manage or own at least one quarter of world’s land surface

A new study sheds light on the large portion of the world’s land that Indigenous peoples own and the implications of this ownership.

A new study reveals that Indigenous Peoples have use, management, and ownership rights over a minimum of the one quarter of the world’s land surface. The data supports the push for the recognition of Indigenous rights to their waters and lands as both an ethical obligation as well as to meet both local and global conservation efforts.

“Understanding the extent of lands over which Indigenous Peoples retain traditional connection is critical for several conservation and climate agreements,” said Stephen Garnett of Charles Darwin University in Australia, who led the international consortium that created the maps. “Not until we pulled together the best available published information on Indigenous lands did we really appreciate the extraordinary scale of Indigenous Peoples’ ongoing influence,” he said.

“We are not surprised this has never been done before,” said Ian Leiper, also from Charles Darwin University. “It has taken three years to track down credible sources of data from around the world.”

“In many countries Indigenous peoples are taking an active role in conservation,” said Neil Burgess of the United Nations Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre in Cambridge. “What this new research shows is the huge potential for further collaborative partnerships between indigenous people, conservation practitioners and governments. This should yield major benefits for conservation of ecologically valuable landscapes, ecosystems and genes for future generations.”

But these partnerships must be created quickly to beat pressure for the development of Indigenous lands.

“Where I work in central Africa, Indigenous Peoples are synonymous with tropical rainforests in the best condition,” said John E.Fa, co-author on the study. “But change is happening fast. Empowering Indigenous Peoples will be key to conserving these forests.”

Researchers analyze conditions that facilitate cooperation in nature

Research team develops a mathematical model of how individual animals inherit their social connections.

There are many examples of cooperation in nature. However, it is also easy to find examples of selfishness and conflict.

Researchers have been studying the conditions that lead to cooperation for years. The implications are for understanding the forces that drive animal behavior, charitable giving and international relations.

A basic doctrine of these studies is that cooperative behavior emerges when individuals interacting in a social network obtain some benefit from being generous with one another. Thus far, social networks are not fixed.

Erol Akçay, an assistant professor of biology at University of Pennsylvania School of the Arts and Sciences, addresses this question of how a developing social network influences the possibility of cooperation in a theoretical social group. He found that where connected individuals are closely related they are more likely to cooperate. Nevertheless, these same groups can trigger a feedback loop that leads to the collapse of cooperation.

“We know from a half-century of study that cooperation is quite easy to evolve in principle,” says Akçay. His academic work points to a reason why. It is the possibility that social structure that brings about high levels of cooperation may not be stable in such a cooperative environment.

He and former postdoctoral researcher Amiyaal llany collaborated on a research study and developed a mathematical model of how individual animals inherit their social connections. This model can explain the structure of social networks in animal groups.

Venice grapples with sea-level rise

Venice is struggling with rising sea levels.

Venetian Mayor Luidi Brugnaro said that his city is “on its knees” in the midst of unprecedented flooding this month, as fears surge of irreparable damage to some of the city’s most prized historic buildings and statues. The acclaimed city on the water is now combating rising sea levels and sinking building foundations, with more extreme flooding expected in years to come.

Water levels rose to nearly 5 feet three times in a single week, after never having done so even twice in a single year. The sea level is rising, according to Venice’s tidy monitoring service, which reported that the ocean is more than 10 inches higher today than it was in 1870. Coupled with this, the city’s foundations are sinking gradually into the underlying mud and marshland.

City officials blame climate change. Brugnaro has urged climate scientists to visit Venice to see an example of the effects of runaway greenhouse-gas emissions on human life.

“We need scientists here, they need to come here and create a permanent place where they can study what is happening here, because of climate change, with all its effects … Venice is a frontier,” he said.

But human construction projects in the twentieth century may also be a factor. Local industries pumped water out of an aquifer beneath the city for decades until the 1970s, while the city rapidly built new ports along the mainland and widened and deepened the channels to enable larger ships to dock. All of these activities may have disrupted the natural flow of water in and out of the area and exacerbated the high-tide events, according to experts.

Diet has fast impacts on sperm quality

Men could boost their own fertility in just one to two weeks just by cleaning up their diet.

Men can improve their sperm health in just one or two weeks if they change their diet, suggests a new study at Linköping University in Sweden. The researchers, who published their study in PLOS Biology, found that male study subjects’ sperm became healthier or less healthy within days based on the study subjects’ daily intake of key nutrients.

The study tested 15 healthy, non-smoking young men and had them all follow a specified diet, in which they received all of their food from the researchers, for two weeks. During the second week, the researchers added about 450 grams of sugar—equal to around 3.5 liters of soft drinks—to the daily food regimen.

The researchers tested the subjects’ sperm at the start of the study, after the first week, and after the second week. One-third of the test subjects exhibited low sperm motility at the beginning, but all test subjects’ motility reached normal levels by the end of the first week.

“We see that diet influences the motility of the, and we can link the changes to specific molecules in them. Our study has revealed rapid effects that are noticeable after one to two weeks,” said Anita Öst, senior lecturer in the Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine at Linköping University, and head of the study.

The researchers also found that small RNA fragments that are related to sperm motility also changed during the course of the study. They now plan to investigate to find out if these RNA fragments affect male fertility itself, and whether the RNA code could be used to develop new diagnostic methods that in vitro fertilization procedures could use to assess sperm quality.

Space Force Ensure U.S. Control of the ‘High Ground,’ Says Trump

President Trump and officials praise the newly forming Space Force.

President Trump praised the newly forming Space Force as a means to “deter aggression and control the ultimate high ground” in a speech Friday at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland. Trump made these remarks while signing the National Defense Authorization Act 2020, whose funding provisions include funds to start the new space-based military division within the U.S. Air Force.

Space Force is to be the sixth branch of the U.S. military. It will focus on protecting U.S. military satellites and other U.S. assets in space from enemy attacks, and it comes amid increasing space activity by Russia and China.

“Because space is the world’s newest warfighting domain. Amid grave threats to our national security, American superiority in space is absolutely vital. And we’re leading, but we’re not leading by enough. But very shortly, we’ll be leading by a lot,” Trump added.

Trump went on to say in his speech that the U.S. military as a whole was “very depleted” and suffering “devastating budget cuts” before he came into office, and he described this latest funding measure as a “watershed event.” The U.S. military budget has actually been increasing continuously since the last two years of the Obama administration, in which it rose from $736 billion in 2015 and $767 billion in 2016 to an estimated $956 billion this year.

Officials said that Space Force is necessary since adversary nations have “turned space into a warfighting domain” and troops need to be prepared to counter future threats from space. Currently, the Air Force operates multiple space satellites within its existing U.S. Space Command division, and other military branches have their own space-satellite programs.

Massive Earthquake Knocks Out Puerto Rico’s Electric Grid Again

Puerto Rico lost power again this week due to an earthquake.

Puerto Rico is facing an island-wide blackout again, this time due to an earthquake, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) said Tuesday. The agency reported that an earthquake of 6.4 magnitude struck the island between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m., and that it comes on the coattails of a 5.8-magnitude earthquake that already hit the island Monday and caused power outages to all of the island’s southern areas.

“The magnitude 6.4 earthquake was widely felt,” states a USGS press release, which adds that “strong to very strong shaking occurred across parts of Southern Puerto Rico closest to the event and moderate shaking occurred across the rest of the island.”

More aftershocks may continue in days to come, the agency warned.

This power outage took place two years after Hurricane Maria, which caused months of power outages across the island. Some areas continue to cope with damage caused by this hurricane.

Eight homes in the municipality of Yauco were destroyed, and the town of Guanica suffered mild damage. Several power plants across the island also incurred damage, but the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority said that it plans to have power restored by this afternoon.

Puerto Rico is at risk of earthquakes as it is squeezed between two large tectonic plates–the North America and Caribbean plates–according to USGS. The agency reported that hundreds of small earthquakes had taken place within the region, leading up to the major Tuesday earthquake.

The island has not had an earthquake with a magnitude topping 6 in more than 40 years, however, since a 6.1-magnitude earthquake that hit the island in 1970. This earthquake is also the second-worst in the island’s history: The record goes to a 7.7 quake in 1943.