Ants may not be able to adapt when temps rise

In a new study, ants did not adjust their behavior in response to warming temperatures.

Instead, they persisted in less-than-ideal microhabitats even when optimal ones were present.

The findings suggest ants may not be able to adjust their behavior in response to warming ecosystems.

Ants are ectotherms—animals whose body temperature depends on the environment. While these animals experience a range of temperatures in daily life, most ectotherms prefer habitats that are slightly cooler than the so-called optimal functioning temperature in which an ectothermic animal is able to best perform all of life’s functions.

If it encounters an environment warmer than the optimal point, an ectotherm risks approaching the lethal end of its physiology’s spectrum. In other words, if it gets too hot, ectotherms will die.

Little is known, however, about how—or if—insect ectotherms will adjust their behavior to avoid warmer but sublethal temperature ranges—where functioning is physiologically possible but not optimal—which are increasingly likely due to global climate change.

To learn more about how insect species may respond to those warmer, sublethal temperatures, researchers at North Carolina State University studied five species of ants common in North Carolina.

The researchers counted and collected ants in forest ecosystems and measured air temperatures at the collection sites to identify the distribution of available microhabitats. The researchers also used a unique ant thermometer to measure the temperature of the ants themselves (which varied by ant color and body size). Lastly, to determine each species’ preferred temperature, the researchers collected some ants for the lab and placed them in a rectangular chamber with a controlled temperature gradient.

The researchers found that ants in the lab did have distinct thermal preferences, but ants in the field were active in their preferred climates only slightly more often than expected by chance. Instead, most species were collected in sites that were warmer than preferred, suggesting lack of awareness or some limitation in their ability to adjust to increasing temperatures.

“It’s interesting that the worker ants we observed were willing to put themselves in uncomfortable situations while foraging,” says Sara Prado, an adjunct professor and coauthor of the study in the Journal of Animal Ecology.

“I wonder if the food was ‘profitable’ enough for the ants to stretch their comfort levels, or if they are simply willing to sacrifice their well-being for the sake of the colony.”

“Warmer times and places make warmer ants, and they’re not adjusting their activity to match their preferred conditions,” says coauthor Elsa Youngsteadt, a professor of applied ecology.

“For now, this may be a tradeoff that works out fine for them. But if you think of the huge biomass of ants underfoot, their metabolic rates are all creeping upward as the climate changes. Even if it doesn’t kill them outright, what does that amped-up metabolism mean for their life cycle and even the whole forest ecosystem?”

Youngsteadt plans to further investigate this question with urban ants that are effectively living in the future of climate change in comparatively warm cities.

Additional coauthors are from Cornell University and NC State. The USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture and North Carolina State University supported the work.

Source: NC State


Parents revolted against critical race theory. Here's how they won

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The recent action by a California school board to ban the use of critical race theory in instruction highlights the uprising of parents over political indoctrination in the classroom.

As in many school districts, a pro-parent slate of candidates recently won a majority on the school board in Temecula in Southern California. It is often difficult for grassroots candidates to break through, but times have changed.

As one major local radio station noted, the Temecula school board meetings “used to draw sparse attendance, but now parents and concerned citizens are turning out in record numbers to meetings.”

According to the station, attendees voiced concern that the district has embraced an “agenda that is linked to Critical Race Theory,” which categorizes people into oppressor and oppressed classifications based on race.


Joe Komrosky, a parent and one of the successful candidates, said that he wants to keep radical social theories and propaganda out of the classroom.

Parents always remember this: if you are not teaching your kids, someone else is,” says Komrosky. “You want to make sure what is being taught to them is actually good, safe, and correct.”

Komrosky and the new pro-parent majority immediately put their campaign promises into action by passing a policy banning critical race theory from being used in district classrooms.

The ban includes the key tenets of critical race theory, such as “only individuals classified as ‘white’ can be racist because only ‘white’ people control society.”

In addition, the policy banned the notion that meritocracy, hard work, or the scientific method are racist or sexist.

In addition to success in electing pro-parent school board members, parents are challenging critical race theory on an array of fronts.

Some parents, for example, are fighting CRT in court.

Gabs Clark, a low-income African-American mom, filed a federal lawsuit against her son’s high school, which had denied him a diploma for refusing to complete assignments in a required CRT-influenced course.

According to Clark’s lawsuit, the alleged purpose of the course’s curriculum “is to help students ‘unlearn’ what they know about the world, and what their parents have taught them to believe, and instead adopt a new worldview that ‘fights back’ against ‘oppressive’ social structures such as family, religion, and racial, sexual, and gender identities,” with students “required to reveal and discuss their personal views and identities, in order for the teacher and other students to know who needs the most ‘unlearning.'”

Clark’s lawsuit argues that the school had violated her son’s First Amendment free speech rights, his equal protection rights under the Fourteenth Amendment, and rights under federal laws such as the 1964 Civil Rights Act.  

Other parents are fighting CRT by forcing schools to be transparent.

When her daughter’s school refused to divulge details of CRT-influenced teaching, Rhode Island mom Nicole Solas filed approximately 160 public records requests to force the school to reveal what was being taught in the classroom.

In response, the school district threatened to sue Solas, who observed, “this was really their way of letting everyone know that if you asked too many questions, they were going to attack you.”


The district eventually backed down and, in the wake of Solas’ efforts to push curriculum transparency, some states are starting to require schools to post learning materials online.

Finally, parents across the country are organizing.

Groups like Parents Defending Education, Moms for Liberty, and others have started up in order to give parents a voice in curriculum debates.


“We were promised a colorblind vision but now we are told colorblindness is a trait of white supremacy,” says Moms for Liberty co-founder Tiffany Justice.  “Moms are mad and we can see through this nonsense.”

CRT proponents thought they could radically change school curricula and no one would notice. Moms and dads did notice, however, and that is why the great parent revolt has started. As parents stand up, Tiffany Justice says, “the education establishment will have no choice but to recede from encroaching on parental rights.”



Global oil demand could hit record high as China reopens


Global oil demand is expected to hit its highest-ever level this year on the back of China’s swift reopening of its economy.

Oil demand could surge by 1.9 million barrels per day to reach a record 101.7 million barrels per day, the International Energy Agency said in its latest monthly report, released Wednesday.

“China will drive nearly half this global demand growth even as the shape and speed of its reopening remains uncertain,” the IEA said.

Beijing began to dismantle its strict zero-Covid policy in December, paving the way for a rebound in travel, trade and business activity across the world’s second-biggest economy. Most economists expect growth to remain sluggish in the first quarter of 2023 before picking up over the rest of the year.

The rebound in Chinese demand could lead to a tighter global oil market as the “full impact” of Western sanctions on Russian oil starts to bite, the IEA said in the report.

The Paris-based agency said that oil exports from Russia dropped by 200,000 barrels per day on average in December from the previous month after the European Union imposed a ban on imports of Moscow’s crude and G7 nations imposed a cap on the price at which the fuel could be traded.

Prices for Brent crude, the global benchmark, tumbled last year after hitting a 14-year high of $139 a barrel in early March after Russia invaded Ukraine. Prices started to recover in early December, and ticked up 1.7% on Wednesday to hit $87 a barrel.

Where prices could go next is unclear. The IEA said there was a “high degree of uncertainty” over its outlook. Despite an expected drop in supply from Russia, global oil inventories are at their highest levels since October 2021.

A boom in demand for electric vehicles and countries’ efforts to become more energy efficient could also help temper demand, the agency said.

“Measures like these are especially vital in a supply-constrained oil market,” it added.

The IEA’s forecasts come as business leaders express cautious optimism that the world can avoid a recession in 2023, after months of gloomy forecasts about the economic outlook.

That’s thanks in large part to China, whose reopening is expected to unleash a wave of spending that may offset economic weakness in the United States and Europe.

Earlier this month, the International Monetary Fund said that about one third of the world economy would this year likely fall into recession — typically defined as two or more consecutive quarters of declining growth.

In November, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies started slashing their oil output by 2 million barrels per day, a policy set to continue through 2023, as it forecast a drop in demand.

— Julia Horowitz contributed reporting.


Wyden investigation of fish contamination is an important step

I am pretty accustomed to reading headlines detailing the latest health issues plaguing our freshwater fish. It comes with the territory as an ecotoxicologist working on the health of North America’s relatively abundant, but certainly not infinite, freshwater supplies.

The recent announcement that Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), along with other state and federal lawmakers, is calling for an investigation into the toxic contamination of salmon across the Pacific Northwest, however, caught my eye. It fits into a broader question of salmon health that has had my community buzzing for the last couple of years.

Rather surprisingly, it all starts with automobiles.

It’s no secret that Americans love cars. In fact, in 2022, there were 290.8 million registered vehicles in the United States alone, 19 percent of the world’s total. That’s almost one car per person. And while we are always balancing the benefits and conveniences that automobiles afford us with the potential impacts on the environment, it seems as though there was one effect from a chemical we didn’t even know existed, of which we had not even been unaware. Until recently.

The science is pretty complicated but allow me to summarize.

Rubber tires used on cars contain chemicals used to make them stronger and help them withstand the road and the elements. It’s just like a preservative that lengthens the shelf life of a food product in the grocery store, but for tires.

As these protectants breaks down (due to the elements), one of them forms a newly discovered chemical called 6PPD-quinone which can then be washed away into freshwater lakes, rivers etc., with some deadly consequences for the wildlife that resides within.

This can include impacts on freshwater fish species on which many communities depend, such as rainbow and brook trout and, of course, coho salmon, whose recent mass die offs on the west coast had been puzzling researchers for a while.

This matters for many reasons. Coho salmon are popular among recreational fishers, but they are also an environmentally important species within aquatic ecosystems, so a change in their populations could have knock-on effects on the whole food web. 

But the problem is we just don’t have the evidence to prove that either way. The research so far has looked at the impact of 6PPD-quinone on individual species, but not on a freshwater ecosystem as a whole.

When tire run off leaches into a river or a lake, and kills off coho salmon, what does that do to the populations within the lake on which the coho salmon prey? And then what does that mean to the populations in the lake overall? And the water chemistry? And so and so forth.

Our freshwater ecosystems are intricate and complex, and one change in population can have a multitude of domino effects that we may not even anticipate. 

This is why we need more research, on this relatively understudied chemical, ideally in a real-life setting that can reveal the myriad of impacts that cascade through the system.

And while Oregon Wyden’s call for an investigation is very necessary and welcome, it is only once we have a complete picture of what tire run-off is doing to our fresh water, that we can make informed decisions on policy that will protect the health of one of our most importance resources for generations to come.

Jose Luis Rodriguez Gil is International Institute for Sustainable Development Research Scientist for Experimental Lakes Area


Peloton Has a New Hope In Its Turnaround Battle

Tech layoffs were big news in the fourth quarter, with more than 97,000 jobs being axed in 2022, according to a report from Challenger, Gray & Christmas. 

That is a 649% increase from the 13,000 tech jobs that were cut in 2021. 

But the flip side of the equation is that 72% of laid off tech employees found new jobs within three months, according to an analysis by Revelio Labs, Business Insider reported


Iconic American Brand Goes Green in a Surprising Way

The fashion industry is a well-known culprit when it comes to industry effects on Mother Nature. An incredible amount of our clothing — 85% to be exact — eventually makes its way to landfills in our own backyards and across the world only to be dumped in foreign landfills. Our old outfits are most often left to be buried in piles of trash. And all that trash contributes to the emissions of harmful methane gas. Add to that the environmental effects of sewing, dying, packaging, and shipping, and you’ve got a lot of varied factors that have real-world consequences for our planet and its inhabitants. 


U.S. Space Force chief: Russia’s missteps in Ukraine serve as a cautionary tale

Saltzman said he wants to make sure the Space Force is not caught unprepared

WASHINGTON — Before they attacked Ukraine, Russia’s armed forces were viewed as one of the most powerful in the world. But the conflict exposed that as a myth.

The lesson for the U.S. Space Force is that whenever it has to fight the next conflict, it can’t be caught unprepared, said Gen. B. Chance Saltzman, U.S. chief of space operations. 

The U.S. military has the world’s most advanced satellites and hardware but space forces for decades have operated in a relatively benign environment, Saltzman noted, and have not trained for a potential conflict where satellites could become military targets.

“An observation from Ukraine is you’ve got on paper, a very capable Russian military, but they didn’t necessarily have the training, they didn’t necessarily have the operational concepts for multi-domain operations,” Saltzman said on a Space Force Association webcast that aired Jan. 12.

Sometimes leaders focus on the weapon systems “and miss the fact that if you don’t have trained personnel, operational concepts and the tactics to execute with the weapon systems against the thinking adversary, that you only have half the equation,” he said. 

“The Russians didn’t have C2 [command and control] structures and sustainment capability. And they’re coming up a little short,” Saltzman said. In the Space Force, “we have to make sure that not only do we have the systems to do the mission, but that our operators have the training, the experience, and we have validated tactics that actually enable those capabilities.”

To train for space warfare, operators will require a mix of live and virtual training ranges, he said.  Space Force units will need to practice electronic warfare, operations against GPS jamming and how to maneuver satellites. Most of the current training infrastructure was inherited from the Air Force and the Space Force has to invest in updated capabilities.

“We have to build the infrastructure and the processes and procedures to make sure [Space Force guardians] have got what they need, whether it’s a test and training infrastructure, simulators that can replicate adversary threats and the interactions you would get with multiple units working together to solve operational challenges,” he said. “All of that needs to take place before we get into an actual conflict so that our operators are fully ready. And that’s really the priority that I’m going after.”

For example, he said, guardians will have to practice tactics to “control the space domain so that we can do what we want to do with our space assets, achieve the effects that we want to achieve, while denying the adversary the ability to use their space capabilities” to target U.S. forces.

“So we have to have the operational concepts for how we are going to do that. What are those techniques, procedures, and then you have to practice it … What I want to do is make sure we have the skills and the experience on day one of the conflict.”


TikTok still irresistible? 5 steps to ratchet up your family’s privacy now

Despite how powerfully good it can be for those who engage in its entertaining videos and learn new tips, TikTok is increasing a growing threat to our privacy and security.

TikTok has gained a leading position in the social media platform world. All the cool kids use TikTok. And most don’t bat an eye while laughing at, liking, and sharing one video after another.

It’s addictive, informative and fun for millions. TikTok, even more than other social networks, comes at an enormous trade-off to your privacy and security because of how and what it gathers about your life. The threat posed by TikTok is so extreme that some countries have banned it altogether. It’s not uncommon for parents who work at big tech companies to forbid the use of TikTok by their own children.


That’s not slowing its growth. So, how do tame this beast of all its bad traits?

Sure, the safest thing to do is never download or delete TikTok right away, but that’s not going to fly with most people who are deciding to throw caution to the wind.

Follow me here, because I think we can strike a balance and make everyone in the family happy while getting a lot smarter about what TikTok is doing behind the scenes with our lives. There’s one obvious wake-up call I ask of every parent.


TikTok can track your personal information. Here's how to be careful.

TikTok can track your personal information. Here’s how to be careful.
(Fox News)

Ask this one question

Am I okay with the government of communist China having access to my child’s intimate personal details, knowing what gets their attention, and always tracking their whereabouts?

That’s not all TikTok is harvesting of your family’s security and privacy. They are stealthily scraping bits and pieces of your life to serve up videos it’s learned you’ll watch and to turn you into a juicy ad target. That part is the obvious trade-off we expect in a data mining financial model that is standard for every major big tech media company.

The Chinese government can access your data from TikTok

The concerning part unique to TikTok is that it is owned by a parent company ByteDance whose home is in mainland China. And in that country, the government laws require ByteDance to give access to its data for any reason whatsoever and without any sort of court order or warrant. TikTok maintains that it is operated independently of ByteDance but data moving from its U.S. servers to mainland China has already been identified.

So what, right? TikTok collects a massive array of data that it then processes through a machine algorithm to master aspects of your life in extraordinary detail. TikTok is known to record the device you are using, your location, IP address, search history, everything in all your messages, what you watch and for how long, biometric information including your face and voice prints, whom you know and how you interact with them.

TikTok knows more about you than you ever imagined

Sophisticated algorithms driving social media networks like TikTok can identify what topics and emotional tones capture your attention most easily.

All this crafting of your communications and interactions makes for an easy target for TikTok to steer in one direction or another knowing what you will react to like a puppet. It may sound like science fiction, but it is the very reason why many Silicon Valley executives do not allow their own children on TikTok and several other social media platforms.


How to limit TikTok from prying into your privacy and security

Let’s narrow the exposure we are handing over to TikTok by changing a few basic settings. Follow these steps with everyone in the family who uses TikTok. Then, share these tips with anyone you love who could benefit from getting a bit of leverage over TikTok. 

TikTok tracks much of your personal information. There is a way to change the settings to help keep your privacy.

TikTok tracks much of your personal information. There is a way to change the settings to help keep your privacy.
(Fox News)

#1 Disable sharing your contacts with TikTok

How to turn off access to Your Contacts and Facebook Friends

  1. Launch TikTok app
  2. Go to your profile on the bottom right, then tap the three-line menu in the top right corner
  3. Tap Settings and Privacy > Privacy >Sync Contacts and Facebook Friends
  4. Turn toggles off to gray to block access to contacts and Facebook Friends

#2 Turn off ad targeting

How to disable personalized Ad Targeting

  1. Launch TikTok app
  2. Go to your profile on the bottom right, then tap the three-line menu in the top right corner
  3. Tap Settings and Privacy
  4. Scroll down to Ads and click that row
  5. Under Your Ads Settings, toggle Using Off-TikTok activity for ad targeting to gray

#3 Keep your profile anonymous

How to make your account private

  1. Launch TikTok app
  2. Go to your profile on the bottom right, then tap the three-line menu in the top right corner
  3. Tap Settings and PrivacyPrivacy > toggle on Private Account to on position so that it is blue
  4. Toggle off Activity Status


TikTok collects much of your personal information. There is a way to keep your TikTok profile anonymous.

TikTok collects much of your personal information. There is a way to keep your TikTok profile anonymous.
(Fox News)

#4 Limit how people can find you

How to turn off Suggest Your Account to Others

  1. Launch TikTok app
  2. Go to your profile on the bottom right, then tap the three-line menu in the top right corner
  3. Tap Settings and PrivacyPrivacy >  Suggest Your Account to Others > turn off all 4 options

#5 Hide what you ‘like’

How to prevent TikTok from sharing your ‘likes’

  1. Launch TikTok app
  2. Go to your profile on the bottom right, then tap the three-line menu in the top right corner
  3. Tap Settings and PrivacyPrivacy > tap Following List in the Interactions list and set to Only Me


The one thing everyone on TikTok should do for their safety

Download what TikTok knows about you by requesting your data

  1. Launch TikTok app
  2. Go to your profile on the bottom right, then tap the three-line menu in the top right corner
  3. Tap Settings and Privacy > Account > tap Download Your Data

It typically takes a few days to receive the link to your TikTok data to download. Be on the lookout for the TikTok link containing your data report since you only have 4 days before the link expires.

Send me a note if you aren’t as shocked as I was when I saw what TikTok had recorded of my life. That’s one of the reasons I deleted TikTok for good.


For more of my tips, subscribe to my free CyberGuy Report Newsletter by clicking the “Free newsletter” link at the top of my website.

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CDC needs a reset requiring support from the federal level, new think tank report finds


The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is in “a moment of peril” and a “strong, effective, and more accountable” agency is an urgent matter of national security, according to a new report from the Center for Strategic & International Studies’ (CSIS) Commission on Strengthening America’s Health Security.

“This report argues that a significant reset of the CDC is necessary – and possible – if carried out through building actionable recommendations across branches of government and across party lines,” Katherine Bliss, a senior fellow at CSIS, a Washington think tank, said during an event on Tuesday marking the report’s release. The event included CSIS experts, elected officials and public health experts, including past leaders of the CDC.

Reshaping the CDC will need to be a joint effort with the agency’s leaders and the federal government, the report says. It outlines a number of recommendations for the CDC to regain the public’s trust and to become more flexible and accountable, Bliss said.

According to the report, the CDC needs to strengthen its global work in order to detect and prepare for new epidemic threats, improve its data collection process, and it needs to be able to move money in its budget to respond to crises.

“The big picture here is, we all see the need for a reset of the agency. Some of the reset has to be structural, some of it needs to be activity that only Congress can really manage and that has to do with how the budget is structured, the size and scope of the budget and the flexibilities or lack thereof,” said Julie Gerberding, who was the CDC director from 2002 to 2009, and is co-chair of the CSIS Commission on Strengthening America’s Health Security. “And some of it has to do with, I think, modernization – really looking at how the CDC can take advantage of data science and the opportunities to build better data systems, more interoperable data systems and really complete the trajectory that they’ve already started with the data modernization act.”

In August, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walenksy laid out plans to overhaul the agency and create a “public health action-oriented culture at CDC that emphasizes accountability, collaboration, communication, and timeliness” after a sweeping review of the agency’s structures and systems.

She said she would ask Congress to grant the agency new powers, including mandating that jurisdictions share their data and for new flexibilities in the agency’s funding, which would allow the CDC to better respond to public health emergencies.

Walensky and other CDC senior leaders met with the CSIS commission’s working group to help explain what they learned from their own internal review, Gerberding said.

CNN has reached out to the CDC for comment about the report.

The working group also took issue with the CDC’s Atlanta headquarters, saying it limits access to policymakers.

Gerberding said a bigger presence in Washington, D.C., is important.

“If you want to play, you gotta be in the game and the game is not played in Atlanta, unless, you know, you’re a fan of the baseball team there,” she said.

But ultimately, the working group said, the CDC has faced a lot of pressure and challenges over the last three years during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I do really want to emphasize that while there is substantial opportunity here for evolution, modernization and performance improvement at the CDC, it has also done a lot of things well and we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that in the midst of a pandemic there were many other public health activities going on. CDC teams were deployed all over the United States and internationally to assist with local response efforts. The CDC Foundation stepped up and engaged some 3,000 or more people to help the workforce shortages and so forth,” Gerberding said. “So there were a lot of very positive things that happened and we need to make sure that we don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater here when we’re looking at the really critical things that need to be fixed, but also to appreciate and respect what our public health system has been able to accomplish for the past three years.”

“There’s a lot of incredible talent, passion and capability at the CDC and, you know, I’ve seen them do miracles,” she added.