Numlock News: April 25, 2022 • Red Wolves, Cognac, The Bad Guys
By Walt Hickey
Bacardi is suing American Airlines after six pallets and three cases of imported French cognac went missing from a shipment of 24 pallets containing 1,680 cases last year. The flight was from Paris to Los Angeles, and while Bacardi isn’t accusing American of stealing the booze they are saying they should be on the hook for losing $65,820.72 worth of liquor. Shipping became a big business for American during the pandemic, with $1.3 billion in revenue in 2021, double the value of 2019.
The animated Dreamworks feature The Bad Guys unexpectedly nabbed the top spot at the domestic box office with a $25 million opening, yet another sign that families are mounting a return to the cinema. In second place was the new Sonic movie, which continues to be on a tear; but falling 67 percent since its first week in cinemas and hauling in just $14 million was Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, which made history as the first film in the Harry Potter canon where it’s finally revealed and canonically acknowledged that this prequel series is box office poison.
Most solar energy generation comes from photovoltaic solar, which are those panels that use complex chemistry to turn the sun’s light into electricity, but there is some promise from concentrated solar power (CSP), a more niche but nevertheless promising form of harnessing the power of the sun. It’s tiny — just 6 gigawatts of CSP capacity globally, only 2 gigawatts of which are in the United States — but it’s got potential. The idea is that a field of mirrors reflect light onto a target such as a pipe filled with water or a tower-mounted boiler, heating it up from the concentrated sun’s rays and then using that heat to power a generator. It’s advantageous in some industrial uses, like steelmaking and chemical production, that might require lots of heat, and it can also help smooth out the very sun-dependent energy production of photovoltaic cells.
A Nikkei poll in Japan from a month ago found that 53 percent of respondents were in favor of restarting Japan’s nuclear plants given that safety had been checked, which is the first time since the Fukushima disaster that a majority backed resuming the use of nuclear power. That said, opponents constitute a significant chunk of the population: 38 percent said Japan must not proceed with the reopening of reactors. This issue has become acute as Japan stares down climate goals without a ton of domestic energy options, and especially lately as Japanese reliance on Russian fossil fuels has become diplomatically untenable following that country’s invasion of Ukraine. Japan has 33 operable nuclear power plants, of which only five are currently operating.
Bring ‘Em Back
A new survey found 32 percent of U.S. adults favored scientists attempting to bring back extinct animals, with 45 percent opposed. When asked that, in the event that such technology became possible, would they favor reviving extinct species of animal, well, it turns out it depends a lot on the animal. For dodo birds, for instance, 39 percent favored giving them another chance, a bit higher than the Tasmanian tiger (30 percent) but not quite as high as the passenger pigeon (44 percent) or giant tortoise (50 percent). Now those are all species that died out rather recently, and for whom the responsibility ultimately falls on humans, but the survey did not stop there: 24 percent backed reviving the woolly mammoth and 20 percent the saber-tooth tiger, again species that we humans share a bit of a responsibility for but now we’re talking millennia rather than decades. Indeed, 10 percent backed reviving the Tyrannosaurus rex, and I think there was a whole documentary about that detailing precisely why that’s not a particularly great plan.
The black soil region of China in its northeastern provinces became a major contributor to food stability in the country, with the northeast generating half of China’s japonica rice crop, 41 percent of its soybeans and 34 percent of the corn. Black soil is good, rare stuff: It’s found in Ukraine, and in the Red River Valley in North Dakota and Canada, and given its high organic content it’s great for agriculture. That said, the soil itself is in danger: Organic matter is down by 75 percent in the soil and in some parts the black soil is decreasing by 1 to 2 millimeters a year. By 2025, China wants to improve the organic matter in 6.7 million hectares of the black soil by 10 percent.
Up The Wolves
When the Endangered Species Act passed in 1973, there were only 17 red wolves left in the wild, 14 of which were trapped and transferred to captivity and the rest of which disappeared and were declared extinct in 1980. By 1984, the breeding program got the number of red wolves in captivity up to 63, and 60 of them were released to Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge in North Carolina from 1987 to 1994. The wild population peaked at 120 in 2012, but then North Carolina started letting people kill coyotes, and through lots of mistakes the population crashed back down to just 17 to 20 wolves in 2020 and 2021. While 47 wolf pups were born in the wild in 2008, in 2018 just four were, and no wolves were born in the wild in 2019, 2020 or 2022. But, there’s some good news: A new litter of six red wolf pups has been born in the wild. Today, there are 15 to 17 red wolves living in the wild, and 241 in captivity.
Thanks to the paid subscribers to Numlock News who make this possible. Subscribers guarantee this stays ad-free, and get a special Sunday edition. Consider becoming a full subscriber today.
The best way to reach new readers is word of mouth. If you click THIS LINK in your inbox, it’ll create an easy-to-send pre-written email you can just fire off to some friends.