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Hank CampbellRSS Feed of this column.

I'm the founder of Science 2.0® in 2006 and, since June of 2015, the President of the American Council on Science and Health.

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It used to be that broader understanding of zoology meant intuitively that new species would be harder to find and so it followed that there would be fewer of them when found - that is the nature of rarity.

Now, because newer species are so rare, it is fashionable to label them nearly extinct even though they have just been discovered and so may not have been prolific any time in recent memory, or at all.  It can be a little numbing to the general audience. - when everything is rare, nothing is (see special snowflake).
Beginning in 1988, and until a Republican Congress approved mandates and subsidies for biofuels in 2005 (at which point every Democrat and environmental activist irrationality extolling ethanol must have realized there was something wrong), Al Gore insisted despite a lack of evidence that it was a viable solution to the fossil fuel issue.   He saw 'renewable' and didn't look any farther but he is older and wiser now.

What the non-agenda-based section of science (people in the actual energy industry that is, science bloggers fawned over the stuff) knew all along was this would be an expensive boondoggle and accomplish nothing.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved Advanced Cell Technology for the second human trial of human embryonic stem cells (hESC), in people with macular degeneration, a progressive form of blindness.

Advanced Cell Technology said it would start testing its stem cell-based treatment on 12 patients with Stargardt’s Macular Dystrophy, which usually impacts children between 10 to 20 years of age, resulting in blindness due to degeneration in the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE). 
A study by Wageningen University says radiation from wi-fi networks may be harmful to trees.   

The researchers note that trees in urban areas in recent years have shown an increasing number of cracks, bumps, discolorations and various forms of tissue necrosis but no cause has been identified, so they sought to examine if it was more than biological factors like pests or disease. 
Most researchers regard their work as vital to society, even if that value is only higher order and the chain to societal benefit is tenuous to outsiders.  That's no different than any other job - people at the Department of Motor Vehicles feel like the entire state would halt without them and, in an elaborate food chain, they are right, and the same holds true for environmentalists who worry that some obscure critter going extinct will have a butterfly effect on worldwide ecology.  In a domino world, they are also correct.

But researchers are different than those other examples because they can't just do their jobs, they have to not only show they are doing their jobs, they have to prove they should continue doing them, and then raise the money to do it.
It's common belief that Vikings visited Newfoundland, therefore reaching the New World from Europe before Christopher Columbus, but a new genetic analysis claims not only did Vikings visit North America, they brought natives back to Europe with them.  And had babies.

The report in the latest edition of the American Journal of Physical Anthropology says researchers sequenced the complete mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) genome of 11 people with haplogroup C1, a lineage that was involved in the settlement of North America over 12,000 years ago, from four different families.   No problem, they moved there recently, right?