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Carbon loss from tropical forests ‘underestimated’ and other news and views for Thursday 22 May

May 22nd, 2014


  • Carbon loss from tropical forests ‘underestimated’ – “The amount of carbon lost from tropical forests is being significantly underestimated, a new study reports. In addition to loss of trees, the degradation of tropical forests by selective logging and fires causes large amounts of “hidden” emissions. The slow moving process has remained almost invisible to satellite observations in the Amazon. Researchers say degradation in Brazil causes additional emissions equivalent to 40% of those from deforestation. The research is due to be published in the journal Global Change Biology.”
  • The party’s over – A review by Jan-Werner Müller of Ruling the Void: The Hollowing of Western Democracy by Peter Mair – “Mair’s most original argument is that the decline of parties, of party government, and hence of party democracy as a whole can’t be blamed on either the people or the politicians. It’s been a matter of mutual withdrawal, with politicians and citizens sharing equally what Mair calls an ‘anti-political sentiment’.”
  • Pakistan: Worse Than We Knew – “For forty years Pakistan has been backing Islamic extremist groups as part of its expansionist foreign policy in Afghanistan and Central Asia and its efforts to maintain equilibrium with India, its much larger enemy. Now Pakistan is undergoing the worst terrorist backlash in the entire region. Some 50,000 people have died in three separate and continuing insurgencies: one by the Taliban in the northwest, the other in Balochistan by Baloch separatists, and the third in Karachi by several ethnic groups. That sectarian war, involving suicide bombers, massacres, and kidnappings, has gripped the country for a decade.”
  • Why pet food isn’t people food – “The Food and Drug Administration released an update Friday on those jerky treats imported from China that appear to be killing and sickening pets, and the news is disturbing in more ways than one. The total number of illnesses now includes “5,600 dogs, 24 cats and three people“ (emphasis mine), according to an FDA bulletin issued late Friday afternoon.”


  • Healthy Vegetables Undermined by the Company They Keep – “Instead of eating vegetables in their simple, unadorned state, Americans often eat vegetables prepared in ways that add calories and sodium. They also tend to eat vegetables in forms that remove dietary fiber.”
  • The 1,000-Year-Old Schism That Pope Francis Seeks To Heal – “Pope Francis travels this weekend to the Middle East, the cradle of the three monotheistic religions, and will meet with Catholic, Jewish and Muslim leaders. But the official purpose of the visit is to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic rapprochement between Catholics and Orthodox and to try to restore Christian unity after nearly 1,000 years of estrangement.”

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