Bill Richardson: Is the U.N. still relevant?
Bill Richardson is the Governor of New Mexico and former candidate for the 2008 Democratic nomination. Of Hispanic descent, Richardson was born in Pasadena, California, but spent most of his childhood in Mexico City. Richardson graduated from Tufts University, from which he also received a Masters in International Affairs. In 1982, Richardson was elected to the United States House of Representatives. During his time in the House, Richardson focused on foreign affairs as well as on issues of importance to the Native American community. In 1997, Bill Clinton appointed Richardson United States Ambassador to the United Nations; Richardson left that post in 1998 to become Secretary of Energy. Richardson is known for his "shuttle diplomacy" and has been nominated five times for the Nobel Peace Prize. Richardson was first elected the Governor of New Mexico in 2003; he was reelected in 2007 in a landslide, earning 69% of the vote. Richardson is the author of two recent books: the campaign autobiography Between Worlds: The Making of an American Life, and Leading by Example: How We Can Inspire an Energy and Security Revolution.
Question: Is the UN still relevant?
Bill Richardson: Yeah it is relevant. It needs to improve itself. It needs to be more fiscally responsible. We can’t have those oil for food scandals. But on the whole it represents the nations of the world, particularly the Third World. Another positive element about the UN is that when there’s a crisis, the members of the UN Security Council can respond immediately. There’s a mechanism called the UN Security Council where Russia, China, France, the United States and Britain can converge and deal with a problem. To modernize the UN, I would emphasize more its humanitarian side, its issues relating to international peacekeeping. But I’d expand the size of the UN. You know this is . . . The UN today is an instrument of a result of the Cold War. But there are more powers around the world. I’d add Germany to the Security Council, not a veto power. I’d add Japan. And I’d add one country from the Third World. One from Asia, probably India. One from Latin America, possibly Mexico or Brazil. Each of these countries would select themselves in their regions. One from Africa, possibly Nigeria or South Africa. We need to expand the membership to the Security Council so that more countries feel that the United Nations responds to them, and thus goals that the United States pursues by building international support; by caring about issues like genocide in Darfur; by caring about issues like dealing with AIDS, and pandemic diseases, and refugees around the world, and international poverty issues, and micro lending. That’s how we build international support for our national security goals and our objectives as a nation that should again be the conscience of the world, not the world’s policeman.
Recorded on: 11/20/07
A worthy organization in need of reform, says Richardson.
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If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx a team of DNA sequencers has figured that out.
- A team at UMass Amherst recently sequenced the genome of the Canadian lynx.
- It's part of a project intending to sequence the genome of every vertebrate in the world.
- Conservationists interested in the Canadian lynx have a new tool to work with.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx, I can now—as of this month—point you directly to the DNA of a Canadian lynx, and say, "That's what makes a lynx a lynx." The genome was sequenced by a team at UMass Amherst, and it's one of 15 animals whose genomes have been sequenced by the Vertebrate Genomes Project, whose stated goal is to sequence the genome of all 66,000 vertebrate species in the world.
Sequencing the genome of a particular species of an animal is important in terms of preserving genetic diversity. Future generations don't necessarily have to worry about our memory of the Canadian Lynx warping the way hearsay warped perception a long time ago.
Artwork: Guillaume le Clerc / Wikimedia Commons
13th-century fantastical depiction of an elephant.
It is easy to see how one can look at 66,000 genomic sequences stored away as being the analogous equivalent of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. It is a potential tool for future conservationists.
But what are the practicalities of sequencing the genome of a lynx beyond engaging with broad bioethical questions? As the animal's habitat shrinks and Earth warms, the Canadian lynx is demonstrating less genetic diversity. Cross-breeding with bobcats in some portions of the lynx's habitat also represents a challenge to the lynx's genetic makeup. The two themselves are also linked: warming climates could drive Canadian lynxes to cross-breed with bobcats.
John Organ, chief of the U.S. Geological Survey's Cooperative Fish and Wildlife units, said to MassLive that the results of the sequencing "can help us look at land conservation strategies to help maintain lynx on the landscape."
What does DNA have to do with land conservation strategies? Consider the fact that the food found in a landscape, the toxins found in a landscape, or the exposure to drugs can have an impact on genetic activity. That potential change can be transmitted down the generative line. If you know exactly how a lynx's DNA is impacted by something, then the environment they occupy can be fine-tuned to meet the needs of the lynx and any other creature that happens to inhabit that particular portion of the earth.
Given that the Trump administration is considering withdrawing protection for the Canadian lynx, a move that caught scientists by surprise, it is worth having as much information on hand as possible for those who have an interest in preserving the health of this creature—all the way down to the building blocks of a lynx's life.
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