Re: What is the world's biggest challenge in the coming decade?

Jim Wallis: Well I think the fundamental inequality in the world is just . . .  It’s in every conversation.  It’s often not named.  It’s in the room.  Every single conversation.  The gaps between us are growing.  And it isn’t just poverty.  It’s the huge disparity between the top and the bottom.  The life expectancy difference between the rich places and the poor places now in the world is 40 years.  Death is a social disease.  That affects everything now.  The environment, the creation, climate change – these are issues that are affecting all of human life.  These are huge, and a new generation knows we have to deal with them.

    I think that sort of finding a way to move beyond our racial, ethnic, tribal conflict . . .  By 2050, America will be . . .  Mostly Americans will come from Asia, Africa and Latin America.  We’re not ready . . . how do we get ready for that?  And on a global scale, how do we overcome that kind of tribal, racial, religious conflict?  I think the sanctity and dignity of life – all the multiple threats from Darfur to just . . . it doesn’t matter what happens to a lot of people.  Trafficking.  We’re trafficking . . . sexual economic trafficking.  It’s the third most lucrative illegal industry now in the world.  We’re trafficking . . .  There are more people in slavery now than when the slave trade ended 200 years ago.  Now that’s . . . we’re trafficking the image of God.  Now these are huge issues.  I think the breakdown of family and community.  Families are just falling apart, and children are falling between the cracks and having no one to raise that generation of kids.  And the community, you know . . .  Hilary Clinton and Rick Santorum were both right.  “It takes a village.  It takes a family.”  So how do we rebuild the bonds of family and community?  I think those issues are all very crucial.  And finally, you know, finding a better way to resolve our inevitable conflicts than this endless, habitual resort to war which, you know what, isn’t working – pragmatically isn’t working.  The art of conflict resolution is going to be a high priority of the future.  Whoever can figure out how to resolve conflicts, we’re all going to be knocking at their doors.

Start with the income gap.

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Scientists sequence the genome of this threatened species

If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx a team of DNA sequencers has figured that out.

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  • 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.

elephant by Guillaume le Clerc

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.

Why cauliflower is perfect for the keto diet

The exploding popularity of the keto diet puts a less used veggie into the spotlight.

Purple cauliflower. (Photo: Shutterstock)
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  • The cauliflower is a vegetable of choice if you're on the keto diet.
  • The plant is low in carbs and can replace potatoes, rice and pasta.
  • It can be eaten both raw and cooked for different benefits.
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