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Hank CampbellRSS Feed of this column.

I founded Science 2.0® in 2006 and since then it has become the world's largest independent science communications site, with over 300,000,000 direct readers and reach approaching one billion. Read More »

A few species of mosquitoes are nothing but carriers of disease, so pesticides were used to wipe them out in much of North America. Worldwide they remain a public health problem and while some ecologists claim a mythical (and scientifically debunked) 'balance of nature' and therefore insist Aedes aegypti might have some benefit, if we turned them extinct we'd have nothing but less  yellow fever, dengue fever, and Zika worldwide, the way we do in the U.S.
A team of epidemiologists who correlate specific types of calories, rather than simply too many calories, to obesity have written a new paper advocating for cigarette-style warning labels on soda. 
2020 started out being a weird and devastating way to end the decade yet we naively thought those Australian wildfires were as bad as it could get.

Now people outside that country barely remember they happened. Because then we got coronavirus. Luckily, we dodged the murder hornets but then went right to race wars. New York, the city, county, and state, has had the worst of both COVID-19(1) and the looting, but fear not Manhattan, June is probably as bad as it gets for 2020. 

Well, maybe, unless July really has a surprise in store.

In November of 2019 The Atlantic asked "experts" what they would change if they could go back in time. The experts had titles like "mythographer" - no scientists invited - so it's no surprise only one response had real-world relevance.(1) A historian at Rutgers wished agriculture had never been invented. Agriculture, that fundamental progressive achievement which made food plentiful so that we no longer spent our days foraging and could learn things and, you know, create universities, had to be undone.
From Australian wildfires to COVID-19 to murder hornets to race wars in Manhattan, 2020 looks to be a challenging year. It could still get worse, but science shows it won't be due to Yellowstone blowing its top. 

Yellowstone is one of those scenarios doomsday "preppers" worry about. They are right to be concerned if it does happen, but they don't understand hazard (what could happen) and risk (the likelihood of the hazard) any better than environmentalists worrying about weedkillers do. 
The antimalarial drug chloroquine (analogue hydroxychloroquine) is also successfully used to treat lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and autoimmune diseases said to have similar biological mechanisms as COVID-19 and, lacking any remedies besides what can be done for the flu, in March the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted emergency use authorization for those compounds as treatments.