ben head

About ben

Areas of Expertise

Self - Destructive Behavior

Universities

University of Oregon

People don't know I'm good at

Wizardry

Comments & conversations

185965
ben head
Posted over 1 year ago
Buggin' Out: Urban Bug Farming for the Future
This is a good cultural point I hadn't thought of at all, thanks for sharing that side. However, in the wild, a "natural death" is probably pretty rare for insects, they are primary consumers that countless food webs are built on, so perhaps their value is the nutrition they offer to beings higher up on the food chain. Also the level of "sentience" possessed by insects is more comparable to that of a plant than a mammal (plants can respond to stimuli a lot more than some think). To eat anything means extinguishing lives, and i don't know if i think the "soul" of an insect is that much different from that of a veggie, just that insects can move. I'm certainly not arguing your views, just sort of pontificating on the matter myself. I suppose this is more of a philosophical, rather than scientific conversation anyway.
185965
ben head
Posted over 1 year ago
Buggin' Out: Urban Bug Farming for the Future
That's a great idea, it was the first thing I thought of when reading another comment that stated that cricket has comparable protein to beef, per mass, but about 1/3 the calories. That's pretty incredible! It's tough to eat enough protein to build muscle while not eating at too large a calorie surplus to gain fat- doable, but you have to really watch your diet. Having a low calorie high protein source like that would make it so much easier. Also using insect protein ground up in bars or drinks would reduce the "gross" factor since you don't have to look at the creepy crawlies you're about to eat. Top Notch.
185965
ben head
Posted over 1 year ago
Can we control the emergence of zoonotic infectious disease?
I thought the piece from "Spillover" was very interesting, regarding Ebola and the severity with which it can curtail ape populations. I did not even know that Ebola was zoonotic until that reading. Just hearing about researchers being unable to find a single sign of gorillas in prime gorilla habitat in an area where they used to thrive, or finding the normally trafficked Bais completely bereft of gorillas, and the very very few found could not even be approached is quite illustrative. Also the clusters, or "piles" of apes fallen dead in the jungle was a really haunting image, and captures the speed with which an Ebola outbreak can ravage these apes. 98%, damn. It would/will be interesting to see which species starts filling the niche of the extirpated apes, maybe even just other apes immigrating in, or a reestablishment of local populations from resistant survivors/uninfected refugees. In any case, that's a huge ecological event, losing practically all of a large-bodied animal, quickly.
185965
ben head
Posted over 1 year ago
Does urban “green” harbor healthier microbes?
That is a good question, even in that other discussion I don't think anyone had considered the impact of bees on the urban microbiome. I almost think that in this case, the impact of the urban microbiome on bees may be a larger concern than the impact of bees on the urban microbiome. Surely bees have their own endemic microbes, but cities already have a substantial insect population, so I'm not sure how much bees could contribute to the present urban microbial cloud, especially in a way that affects human health. However, with all the concerns of colony collapse threatening bees, it may be wise to examine the health and robustness of bee colonies already in cities (Paris is apparently an urban bee hotspot). Also studying whether making bees more cosmopolitan and widely spread will increase the spread of bee diseases and parasites, and if this significantly negatively impacts their well-being.
185965
ben head
Posted over 1 year ago
Does urban “green” harbor healthier microbes?
I'm not one of the most architecturally inclined, but my understand is that it's largely to increase people's proximity to things to allow more walkable cities, better public transport, and less need for cars. Also there is probably a goal of not spreading urban spaces further out than they need to be, for the sake of the environments that would be pushed out of the way.
185965
ben head
Posted over 1 year ago
Does urban “green” harbor healthier microbes?
If we really are focusing on increasing the density of cities to prevent sprawl, I'm not sure if roofs alone would be enough green space (although they would certainly help!), with such a high concentration of people per area. Better placement of parks and more trees on streets could be another big contributor to making sure mroe people have ready access to green spaces and the health benefits they confer, be they microbial, psychological, or, more likely, a mix of both. If cities really start to get dense enough, perhaps terraced gardens/parks in high rise buildings will become more widespread; I think these are already being experimented with in Italy.
185965
ben head
Posted over 1 year ago
Can urban beehives increase food production?
I agree, good post. The economic incentives seem like a great idea to get the ball rolling in changing the public's perception of bees, it will seem like a smart idea to keep bees around. Additionally, yes, viral marketing via social media about bees could convert people over to the "bee" side even faster than we might think! Yes, people allergic to bees typically carry epi-pens if they think they're at risk, or at least they're supposed to- according to webMD at least. However, webMD also said that half of the people who die from bee stings did not know they were allergic! That could be a problem, so perhaps if urban beehives become widespread, the public should be encouraged to test themselves for bee allergies, carry an epi-pen if needed, taught how to avoid stings, and just how to behave around bees in general.
185965
ben head
Posted over 1 year ago
Can urban beehives increase food production?
I too have terrible grass allergies, compounded by living in the grass seed capital of the world, and have heard that local honey can help that, so for the past year i've been going through it by the jar. It seems it may be helping, today and yesterday have been the first days my allergies have been extra-bad this year, so that could be something, but I still need to see how I hold up over the summer before I'm completely convinced...
185965
ben head
Posted over 1 year ago
Can urban beehives increase food production?
I had the same misgivings about the possibilities of mass-utilization of robotic bees, but they are a cool invention. I doubt they would be cost effective to use as a substitute for biological bees in the near future, though. I also completely agree about education being the key to changing societies' view of bees, especially in children, but it would be necessary for adults as well if urban beehives are going to become a reality. Many peoples' fear of bees seems to be the biggest roadblock in that plan, and since it may help a population already stressed by CCD, letting people of all ages know the benefits of bees and the danger they (bees) could be in would be crucial.
185965
ben head
Posted over 1 year ago
Cats pose a serious threat to biodiversity: Why do we accept it? What should be done?
Great point about urban/suburban environments co-evolving with cats present! Even in rural areas, as some have pointed out, farmers really need cats for pest control, and in America I don't really think cats can cause even a fraction of the damage they can cause in island environments. North America has always had plenty of predators that have interacted and co-evolved with potential prey species, whereas in New Zealand (and many other island nations) there have NEVER been endemic mammalian predators present for things to evolve defenses for, and such an introduction can vastly destabilize a system, even leading to extinction in some cases. The only predator i can find ever being from New Zealand was Haast's eagle which humans also drove to extinction, which, due to its diet of moa and corresponding huge size, was likely not a large source of predation for many of these smaller birds anyway- they were completely defenseless.