Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Walkabout Wednesday: Michael Pollan, for profit colleges, and wolves.

Michael Pollan doesn't like the paleo diet, for profit college degrees are worthless, and ... wait for it, WOLVES!

My Health

Michael Pollan, author of "The Omnivores Dilemma", is cropping up online in a couple of contexts. He doesn't like the Paleo diet, for instance. I largely agree with his 5 points, except for #2, where he says: "...bread, as it has been traditionally made, is a healthy way to access a wide array of nutrients from grains." Maybe for some people, but for many (like me) the carbohydrate load is too great. I also doubt that there are nutrients available from grain that can't be better obtained elsewhere. Grain is poverty food, enabling societies to grow too large and dense to get by on other sources of calories and nutrients. 

Pollan is also one of 4 authors on an Washington Post op-ed asking for a National Food policy. Coordination of relevant government programs is good, in my opinion. It's also only marginally less likely to happen than a National Energy policy, in my opinion. 

Your Education

For profit educational institutions are an alarming trend, with questionable business models based on milking federal aid to students. Some more anecdotes charging that these degress are "worthless" came out this week.

Our Environment

There's lots of room in the lower 48 for wolves, says the Center for Biological Diversity, and as a result moves to de-list wolves are premature. It's good that there is lots of habitat allowing for further expansion of wolf populations from core areas. I'm not sure it is cause for re-listing. The question should be black and white: has the population met recovery targets set when the species was listed? If so, then de-listing is required, subject to conditions that would ensure the species doesn't need to be re-listed in the future. 
Image credit: Curt Bradley
Terrie Williams became famous as the PI of one of Senator Coburn's top 5 most wasteful research projects for 2014. As part of a project using advanced radio-telemetry to study mountain lions she trained 3 captive lions to walk on a treadmill to calibrate energy use. That's ... just cool. She's written a response, but I have an issue with it. Her facts on funding and the decline of species are spot on. However:
We are losing species because of our scientific ignorance, something that biologists like myself find inexcusable.
Nope. That's the linear deficit model, and it's wrong. We're losing species because we're unwilling to make the trade-offs necessary to protect them and their habitats. This is especially true for large carnivores, like mountain lions and wolves.

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