The Tortoise And The Oil Spill

Around the turn of the 20th century, if you were in the upper class in America, you’d have probably, at some point, sat down to a nice dinner of Diamond Terrapin turtle. The species, native to Alabama, was a sought-after delicacy then – now, after decades of industrial growth and commercial fishing, it’s almost extinct. And the University of Alabama biologists who’ve been working hard since 2006 to revive the species are worried that the Gulf of Mexico’s recent oil spill will undo all of their efforts.


“Any community of organisms in the path of that spreading oil slick is in danger, and that is especially the case for a species like the Diamondback Terrapin turtle that is teetering on the brink of extinction in Alabama,” says Thane Wibbels, Ph.D.. He’s the UAB biologist who’s been most active in taking up the Terrapin’s cause.

To keep the Terrapin off the endangered list, Wibbels and his team had established a turtle hatchery on campus, near the Terrapin’s natural habitat in the Cedar Point Marsh – they had planned to launch many of their happy little turtlettes off into the beginning of the rest of their lives this week, setting them off into the wild to integrate into the ecosystem from whence they came. But those plans have been stymied by the oil spill – the team needs to wait until they know how much damage will be done, before they proceed.

So as the spill burns on, the story of the Diamondback Terrapin is just one more illustration of how many creatures, great and small, are at the mercy of Big Oil. Fortunately, Obama’s mad about it, and Big Oil is feeling the heat.

Countries with more butter have happier citizens

Butter supply and life satisfaction are linked – but by causation or correlation?

Image: Carey Tilden/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 2.0
Strange Maps
  • Haiti and other countries with low butter supply report low life satisfaction.
  • The reverse is true for countries like Germany, which score high in both categories.
  • As the graph below shows, a curious pattern emerges across the globe. But is it causation or correlation?
Keep reading Show less

Jordan Peterson on why you need to clean your room

Sometimes the basics really matter.

Dr. Jordan Peterson. (Carlos Osorio/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
Personal Growth
  • Jordan Peterson believes that only by taking care of your immediate environment can you then move onto bigger challenges.
  • The idea stems from millennials who want to change capitalist economic structures though can be applied broadly.
  • In a distracted age, our inability to pay attention to our environment is leading to increased rates of anxiety and depression.
Keep reading Show less

Will Hunt (explorer) – into the Earth: the mysteries and meanings of underground spaces

The catacombs of Paris. Secret graffiti beneath NYC. The hidden cities of Cappadocia. Writer and explorer Will Hunt is your philosophical tour guide to what lies beneath.

Think Again Podcasts
  • "The surface of the earth is where we're rational . . . Part of us dreads the chaos, and part of us is always attracted to it."
  • "There were these things hanging from the ceiling…long strands of bacteria called "snotsicles"… But at our feet was a natural stream that had been running through Brooklyn forever."
  • "It's…about death. Undergoing a death. We're going into the other world and then retreating to the surface… changed in some way."
Keep reading Show less