Beginnings Reporting on science and intelligent design

Heating up

Science | Climate activism takes center stage
by Julie Borg
Posted 9/26/19, 03:48 pm

Environmental activism heated up last week ahead of Monday’s United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York City. The week kicked-off with Emma Lim, a 19-year-old from London, Ontario, who encouraged young people not to have children until policymakers can ensure their safety from the predicted ravages of global warming. More than 3,500 people have already joined the movement #NoFutureNoChildren.

Lim said she became “terrified” when she read the catastrophic warnings in a report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. As global warming hysteria grows and scientists argue over climate data and how to measure it accurately, they are frightening young people like Lim into decisions and actions that could have a profound effect on their lives. “I am not the only young person giving up lifelong dreams because they are unsure of what the future will hold,” she said. “We’ve read the science, and now we’re pleading with our government.”

Following the launch of Lim’s movement, Union Theological Seminary in New York City tweeted about a ceremony it hosted in which students confessed their environmental sins to a group of plants.

“Today in chapel, we confessed to plants,” the school tweeted. “Together, we held our grief, joy, regret, hope, guilt, and sorrow in prayer; offering them to the beings who sustain us but whose gift we too often fail to honor. What do you confess to the plants in your life?"

The accompanying photo showed a group of potted plants sitting on a pile of dirt in a room with a person holding a microphone sitting on the floor, yoga-style, facing the shrubs.

Christians on Twitter responded with a mix of hilarity and criticism. “That’s the gritty Veggie Tales reboot we’ve been waiting for,” Allen Corbin tweeted. “Plants don’t sustain the earth, God does,” wrote Thomas Dierson. “Plants are important to our ecosystem, and we are commanded to care for the earth, but the Plants AREN’T GOD, and the whole exercise is pantheistic and pagan in nature.”

On Friday, schools across the United States allowed students to take an excused absence to attend protests demanding government action to address climate change. The New York City Department of Education tweeted approval for all public school students to skip school for the strike with their parents’ permission. More than 4 million people attended up to 6,000 strikes in more than 1,000 cities in 185 countries, the news site Quartz estimated.

Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a WORLD News Group board member, noted last week on his podcast The Briefing that although the #NoFutureNoChildren movement expresses concern for the safety of the next generation, it reinforces the idea that humans are the problem.

“We cannot be pleased with the desecration of creation, but we can also not be pleased, or ever satisfied, with the idea that creation exists unto itself, that human beings are a blight upon creation, and that it is wrong for human beings to exercise dominion over creation,” he said.

Mohler acknowledged that humans bear a stewardship responsibility to this planet, but “it is a God-given responsibility that actually extends far more comprehensively than anything the climate strikers understand or affirm.” “Ready or not, here I come.”

Rats can play hide-and-seek

Researchers at Humboldt University of Berlin recently learned they could teach rats how to play the classic childhood game of hide-and-seek. Within two weeks, the rats learned how to both hide and seek without switching roles in the middle of the game.

During the study, published in Science on Sept. 13, the rats often appeared to analyze and anticipate how the researchers might respond. They scurried to a hiding place the researcher had previously checked as though they thought she wouldn’t check there again. They also emitted many squeaks when seeking but remained silent when hiding. And they showed they enjoyed the game by jumping with pleasure when the researcher found them. The researcher rewarded the rats with petting and tickling.

Although the experiment might seem like a bit of laboratory tomfoolery, the scientists collected information about the rats’ brain activity through tiny implanted probes. The data showed that the rats’ brain patterns during the game corresponded to similar patterns in human brains when they engage in social behavior and play. The findings may provide useful information for future studies of human brain functioning. —J.B.

PLOS One PLOS One Map of Edomite copper smelting areas

Archaeology shows Bible’s accuracy

Scholars have argued the Bible’s record of Israel’s King David conquering the Edomites (2 Samuel 8:14) was inaccurate because the kingdom of Edom didn’t arise until more than 300 years after the time of David. But a new study, published in PLOS One on Sept. 18, indicates Edom existed and flourished even before Saul became the first king of Israel. The researchers uncovered what they believe is the ancient city of Edom in the Arava Valley, a region that spans areas of Israel and Jordan and served as the center of the Edomite kingdom.

An analysis of copper slag samples, a waste product produced by smelting copper, from the site and other sites around the region convinced the scientists that Edom thrived about 300 years earlier than previously believed.

“Our new findings contradict the view of many archaeologists that the Arava was populated by a loose alliance of tribes, and they’re consistent with the Biblical story that there was an Edomite kingdom here,” said Erez Ben-Yosef of Tel Aviv University. —J.B.

Associated Press/Photo by Seth Wenig (file) Associated Press/Photo by Seth Wenig (file) A woman receives a measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine at the Rockland County, N.Y., Health Department.

Measles outbreak winds down

The nation’s worst measles outbreak in the past 27 years appears to be coming to an end, public health officials announced last week.

New cases have tapered off, and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot declared an end to their city’s public health emergency on Sept. 3. Health officials also declared the outbreak over in New York’s Wyoming County and El Paso, Texas.

Measles outbreaks officially end when two incubation periods—roughly 42 days—have passed since the last infected person was contagious.

The epidemic began about a year ago when travelers became infected overseas and then spread the disease to unvaccinated people in the United States. The nation has seen 1,241 confirmed measles cases in 31 states so far this year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of those cases, more than 10 percent required hospitalization, and 65 people experienced complications such as pneumonia and encephalitis. —J.B.

Julie Borg

Julie is a World Journalism Institute graduate. She covers science and intelligent design for WORLD and is a clinical psychologist. Julie resides in Dayton, Ohio.

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  • momof 13
    Posted: Fri, 09/27/2019 06:57 am

    I sure wish they didn't bundle the MMR. The way they harvested the cells for the rubella is beyond sickening. I was shocked to find they purposely infected women who were planning an abortion with rubella and then tested the aborted baby to see if it was a "suitable" specimen. Sounds more like something Josef Mengele would have done to the Nazi prisoners. How can we still accept these practices and be so pushy against those who reasonable reject such barbaric actions?

    Posted: Fri, 09/27/2019 03:39 pm

    So sad

  • Laura W
    Posted: Sat, 09/28/2019 11:29 pm

    That sure would be disturbing, but do you have a source? The rubella vaccine currently in use was developed with the use of the WI-38 cell line (source). While this cell line was sadly derived from the tissue of an aborted baby, the advantage of this particular cell line for research is that it is free from any viruses (source). Now the virus strain was also isolated from the body of an aborted baby, but as there was an ongoing epidemic at the time (source), it doesn't seem like there would be any need to intentionally infect pregnant women. In fact, because the effects of rubella are particularly severe for children in the womb, some mothers specifically chose abortion because of becoming infected with rubella while pregnant (source).

    I understand why many do have objections to using vaccinations if their research was aided by the deaths of unborn children, but I am not aware of any cases where their deaths were specifically caused for research purposes. That makes the case a bit less morally forceful for me, since while there could be ethical questions raised about profiting from an unjust death in any way, the research did not actually contribute to causing the deaths (source). I wish there were better alternatives, but for now we have to choose from the options given. Declining to vaccinate may put the lives of other unborn children in danger (source).

  • CV
    Posted: Fri, 09/27/2019 02:29 pm

    According to data that I have seen some of the people that came down with the measles were vaccinated. The measles vaccine wanes--it does not provide lifetime immunity. How many people died during this epidemic? It is sad that infants are now susceptible because women who received the vaccine as a child and never had the illness do not provide immunity to their infants. God designed our intricate immune systems. We don't fully understand all of it. I don't think it is wise to put our complete trust in vaccines.

    Posted: Fri, 09/27/2019 03:41 pm

    Scarey. I'm glad I am old and our daughter is grown and doesn't have any children. 

  • Laura W
    Posted: Sat, 09/28/2019 11:21 pm

    That's why kids typically get a second shot of measles vaccine during their childhood, to bring the level of protection up close to 100% (source). I skimmed a few studies, and it does look like there is a somewhat higher chance that babies will be protected via breastmilk if their mother was fully infected with measles, rather than if she had just been vaccinated. But in either case, the protection only lasts for a few months, if that--sometimes the milk provides no protection at all (source). So the best way to protect infants too young to vaccinate is to take precautions to make sure they aren't exposed to the disease (source).