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Cryptocurrency News: What You Need to Know This Week

Cryptocurrency News
Cryptocurrencies traded sideways since our last report on cryptos. However, I noticed something interesting when playing around with Yahoo! Finance’s cryptocurrency screener: There are profitable pockets in this market.

Incidentally, Yahoo’s screener is far superior to the one on CoinMarketCap, so if you’re looking to compare digital assets, I highly recommend it.

But let’s get back to my epiphany.

In the last month, at one point or another, most crypto assets on our favorites list saw double-digit increases. It’s true that each upswing was followed by a hard crash, but investors who rode the trend would have made a.

The post Cryptocurrency News: What You Need to Know This Week appeared first on Profit Confidential.

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Cryptocurrency News: What You Need to Know This Week

Ecosystem – Wikipedia

A community of living organisms together with the nonliving components of their environment

An ecosystem is a community made up of living organisms and nonliving components such as air, water, and mineral soil.[3] Ecosystems can be studied in two different ways. They can be thought of as interdependent collections of plants and animals, or as structured systems and communities governed by general rules.[4] The living (biotic) and non-living (abiotic) components interact through nutrient cycles and energy flows.[5] Ecosystems include interactions among organisms, and between organisms and their environment.[6] Ecosystems can be of any size but each ecosystem has a specific, limited space.[7] Some scientists view the entire planet as one ecosystem.[8]

Energy, water, nitrogen and soil minerals are essential abiotic components of an ecosystem. The energy used by ecosystems comes primarily from the sun, via photosynthesis. Photosynthesis uses energy from the sun and also captures carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Animals also play an important role in the movement of matter and energy through ecosystems. They influence the amount of plant and microbial biomass that lives in the system. As organic matter dies, carbon is released back into the atmosphere. This process also facilitates nutrient cycling by converting nutrients stored in dead biomass back to a form that can be used again by plants and other microbes.[9]

Ecosystems are controlled by both external and internal factors. External factors such as climate, the parent material that forms the soil, topography and time each affect ecosystems. However, these external factors are not themselves influenced by the ecosystem.[10] Ecosystems are dynamic: they are subject to periodic disturbances and are often in the process of recovering from past disturbances and seeking balance.[11] Internal factors are different: They not only control ecosystem processes but are also controlled by them. Another way of saying this is that internal factors are subject to feedback loops.[10]

Humans operate within ecosystems and can influence both internal and external factors.[10] Global warming is an alleged example of a cumulative effect of human activities. Ecosystems provide benefits, called “ecosystem services”, which people depend on for their livelihood. Ecosystem management is more efficient than trying to manage individual species.

There is no single definition of what constitutes an ecosystem.[4] German ecologist Ernst-Detlef Schulze and coauthors defined an ecosystem as an area which is “uniform regarding the biological turnover, and contains all the fluxes above and below the ground area under consideration.” They explicitly reject Gene Likens’ use of entire river catchments as “too wide a demarcation” to be a single ecosystem, given the level of heterogeneity within such an area.[12] Other authors have suggested that an ecosystem can encompass a much larger area, even the whole planet.[8] Schulze and coauthors also rejected the idea that a single rotting log could be studied as an ecosystem because the size of the flows between the log and its surroundings are too large, relative to the proportion cycles within the log.[12] Philosopher of science Mark Sagoff considers the failure to define “the kind of object it studies” to be an obstacle to the development of theory in ecosystem ecology.[4]

Ecosystems can be studied in a variety of ways. Those include theoretical studies or more practical studies that monitor specific ecosystems over long periods of time or look at differences between ecosystems to better understand how they work. Some studies involve experimenting with direct manipulation of the ecosystem.[13] Studies can be carried out at a variety of scales, ranging from whole-ecosystem studies to studying microcosms or mesocosms (simplified representations of ecosystems).[14] American ecologist Stephen R. Carpenter has argued that microcosm experiments can be “irrelevant and diversionary” if they are not carried out in conjunction with field studies done at the ecosystem scale. Microcosm experiments often fail to accurately predict ecosystem-level dynamics.[15]

The Hubbard Brook Ecosystem Study started in 1963 to study the White Mountains in New Hampshire. It was the first successful attempt to study an entire watershed as an ecosystem. The study used stream chemistry as a means of monitoring ecosystem properties, and developed a detailed biogeochemical model of the ecosystem.[16] Long-term research at the site led to the discovery of acid rain in North America in 1972. Researchers documented the depletion of soil cations (especially calcium) over the next several decades.[17]

Terrestrial ecosystems (found on land) and aquatic ecosystems (found in water) are concepts related to ecosystems. Aquatic ecosystems are split into marine ecosystems and freshwater ecosystems.

Ecosystems are controlled both by external and internal factors. External factors, also called state factors, control the overall structure of an ecosystem and the way things work within it, but are not themselves influenced by the ecosystem. The most important of these is climate.[10] Climate determines the biome in which the ecosystem is embedded. Rainfall patterns and seasonal temperatures influence photosynthesis and thereby determine the amount of water and energy available to the ecosystem.[10]

Parent material determines the nature of the soil in an ecosystem, and influences the supply of mineral nutrients. Topography also controls ecosystem processes by affecting things like microclimate, soil development and the movement of water through a system. For example, ecosystems can be quite different if situated in a small depression on the landscape, versus one present on an adjacent steep hillside.[10]

Other external factors that play an important role in ecosystem functioning include time and potential biota. Similarly, the set of organisms that can potentially be present in an area can also significantly affect ecosystems. Ecosystems in similar environments that are located in different parts of the world can end up doing things very differently simply because they have different pools of species present.[10] The introduction of non-native species can cause substantial shifts in ecosystem function.

Unlike external factors, internal factors in ecosystems not only control ecosystem processes but are also controlled by them. Consequently, they are often subject to feedback loops.[10] While the resource inputs are generally controlled by external processes like climate and parent material, the availability of these resources within the ecosystem is controlled by internal factors like decomposition, root competition or shading.[10] Other factors like disturbance, succession or the types of species present are also internal factors.

Primary production is the production of organic matter from inorganic carbon sources. This mainly occurs through photosynthesis. The energy incorporated through this process supports life on earth, while the carbon makes up much of the organic matter in living and dead biomass, soil carbon and fossil fuels. It also drives the carbon cycle, which influences global climate via the greenhouse effect.

Through the process of photosynthesis, plants capture energy from light and use it to combine carbon dioxide and water to produce carbohydrates and oxygen. The photosynthesis carried out by all the plants in an ecosystem is called the gross primary production (GPP).[18] About 4860% of the GPP is consumed in plant respiration.

The remainder, that portion of GPP that is not used up by respiration, is known as the net primary production (NPP).[19]

Energy and carbon enter ecosystems through photosynthesis, are incorporated into living tissue, transferred to other organisms that feed on the living and dead plant matter, and eventually released through respiration.[19]

The carbon and energy incorporated into plant tissues (net primary production) is either consumed by animals while the plant is alive, or it remains uneaten when the plant tissue dies and becomes detritus. In terrestrial ecosystems, roughly 90% of the net primary production ends up being broken down by decomposers. The remainder is either consumed by animals while still alive and enters the plant-based trophic system, or it is consumed after it has died, and enters the detritus-based trophic system.

In aquatic systems, the proportion of plant biomass that gets consumed by herbivores is much higher.[20]In trophic systems photosynthetic organisms are the primary producers. The organisms that consume their tissues are called primary consumers or secondary producersherbivores. Organisms which feed on microbes (bacteria and fungi) are termed microbivores. Animals that feed on primary consumerscarnivoresare secondary consumers. Each of these constitutes a trophic level.[20]

The sequence of consumptionfrom plant to herbivore, to carnivoreforms a food chain. Real systems are much more complex than thisorganisms will generally feed on more than one form of food, and may feed at more than one trophic level. Carnivores may capture some prey which are part of a plant-based trophic system and others that are part of a detritus-based trophic system (a bird that feeds both on herbivorous grasshoppers and earthworms, which consume detritus). Real systems, with all these complexities, form food webs rather than food chains.[20]

Ecosystem ecology studies “the flow of energy and materials through organisms and the physical environment”. It seeks to understand the processes which govern the stocks of material and energy in ecosystems, and the flow of matter and energy through them. The study of ecosystems can cover 10 orders of magnitude, from the surface layers of rocks to the surface of the planet.[21]

The carbon and nutrients in dead organic matter are broken down by a group of processes known as decomposition. This releases nutrients that can then be re-used for plant and microbial production and returns carbon dioxide to the atmosphere (or water) where it can be used for photosynthesis. In the absence of decomposition, the dead organic matter would accumulate in an ecosystem, and nutrients and atmospheric carbon dioxide would be depleted.[22] Approximately 90% of terrestrial net primary production goes directly from plant to decomposer.[20]

Decomposition processes can be separated into three categoriesleaching, fragmentation and chemical alteration of dead material.

As water moves through dead organic matter, it dissolves and carries with it the water-soluble components. These are then taken up by organisms in the soil, react with mineral soil, or are transported beyond the confines of the ecosystem (and are considered lost to it).[22] Newly shed leaves and newly dead animals have high concentrations of water-soluble components and include sugars, amino acids and mineral nutrients. Leaching is more important in wet environments and much less important in dry ones.[22]

Fragmentation processes break organic material into smaller pieces, exposing new surfaces for colonization by microbes. Freshly shed leaf litter may be inaccessible due to an outer layer of cuticle or bark, and cell contents are protected by a cell wall. Newly dead animals may be covered by an exoskeleton. Fragmentation processes, which break through these protective layers, accelerate the rate of microbial decomposition.[22] Animals fragment detritus as they hunt for food, as does passage through the gut. Freeze-thaw cycles and cycles of wetting and drying also fragment dead material.[22]

The chemical alteration of the dead organic matter is primarily achieved through bacterial and fungal action. Fungal hyphae produce enzymes which can break through the tough outer structures surrounding dead plant material. They also produce enzymes which break down lignin, which allows them access to both cell contents and to the nitrogen in the lignin. Fungi can transfer carbon and nitrogen through their hyphal networks and thus, unlike bacteria, are not dependent solely on locally available resources.[22]

Decomposition rates vary among ecosystems.[23] The rate of decomposition is governed by three sets of factorsthe physical environment (temperature, moisture, and soil properties), the quantity and quality of the dead material available to decomposers, and the nature of the microbial community itself.[24] Temperature controls the rate of microbial respiration; the higher the temperature, the faster microbial decomposition occurs. It also affects soil moisture, which slows microbial growth and reduces leaching. Freeze-thaw cycles also affect decompositionfreezing temperatures kill soil microorganisms, which allows leaching to play a more important role in moving nutrients around. This can be especially important as the soil thaws in the spring, creating a pulse of nutrients which become available.[24]

Decomposition rates are low under very wet or very dry conditions. Decomposition rates are highest in wet, moist conditions with adequate levels of oxygen. Wet soils tend to become deficient in oxygen (this is especially true in wetlands), which slows microbial growth. In dry soils, decomposition slows as well, but bacteria continue to grow (albeit at a slower rate) even after soils become too dry to support plant growth.

Ecosystems continually exchange energy and carbon with the wider environment. Mineral nutrients, on the other hand, are mostly cycled back and forth between plants, animals, microbes and the soil. Most nitrogen enters ecosystems through biological nitrogen fixation, is deposited through precipitation, dust, gases or is applied as fertilizer.[25]

Since most terrestrial ecosystems are nitrogen-limited, nitrogen cycling is an important control on ecosystem production.[25]

Until modern times, nitrogen fixation was the major source of nitrogen for ecosystems. Nitrogen-fixing bacteria either live symbiotically with plants or live freely in the soil. The energetic cost is high for plants which support nitrogen-fixing symbiontsas much as 25% of gross primary production when measured in controlled conditions. Many members of the legume plant family support nitrogen-fixing symbionts. Some cyanobacteria are also capable of nitrogen fixation. These are phototrophs, which carry out photosynthesis. Like other nitrogen-fixing bacteria, they can either be free-living or have symbiotic relationships with plants.[25] Other sources of nitrogen include acid deposition produced through the combustion of fossil fuels, ammonia gas which evaporates from agricultural fields which have had fertilizers applied to them, and dust.[25] Anthropogenic nitrogen inputs account for about 80% of all nitrogen fluxes in ecosystems.[25]

When plant tissues are shed or are eaten, the nitrogen in those tissues becomes available to animals and microbes. Microbial decomposition releases nitrogen compounds from dead organic matter in the soil, where plants, fungi, and bacteria compete for it. Some soil bacteria use organic nitrogen-containing compounds as a source of carbon, and release ammonium ions into the soil. This process is known as nitrogen mineralization. Others convert ammonium to nitrite and nitrate ions, a process known as nitrification. Nitric oxide and nitrous oxide are also produced during nitrification.[25] Under nitrogen-rich and oxygen-poor conditions, nitrates and nitrites are converted to nitrogen gas, a process known as denitrification.[25]

Other important nutrients include phosphorus, sulfur, calcium, potassium, magnesium and manganese.[26][23] Phosphorus enters ecosystems through weathering. As ecosystems age this supply diminishes, making phosphorus-limitation more common in older landscapes (especially in the tropics).[26] Calcium and sulfur are also produced by weathering, but acid deposition is an important source of sulfur in many ecosystems. Although magnesium and manganese are produced by weathering, exchanges between soil organic matter and living cells account for a significant portion of ecosystem fluxes. Potassium is primarily cycled between living cells and soil organic matter.[26]

Biodiversity plays an important role in ecosystem functioning.[28] The reason for this is that ecosystem processes are driven by the number of species in an ecosystem, the exact nature of each individual species, and the relative abundance organisms within these species.[29] Ecosystem processes are broad generalizations that actually take place through the actions of individual organisms. The nature of the organismsthe species, functional groups and trophic levels to which they belongdictates the sorts of actions these individuals are capable of carrying out and the relative efficiency with which they do so.

Ecological theory suggests that in order to coexist, species must have some level of limiting similaritythey must be different from one another in some fundamental way, otherwise one species would competitively exclude the other.[30] Despite this, the cumulative effect of additional species in an ecosystem is not linearadditional species may enhance nitrogen retention, for example, but beyond some level of species richness, additional species may have little additive effect.[29]

The addition (or loss) of species which are ecologically similar to those already present in an ecosystem tends to only have a small effect on ecosystem function. Ecologically distinct species, on the other hand, have a much larger effect. Similarly, dominant species have a large effect on ecosystem function, while rare species tend to have a small effect. Keystone species tend to have an effect on ecosystem function that is disproportionate to their abundance in an ecosystem.[29] Similarly, an ecosystem engineer is any organism that creates, significantly modifies, maintains or destroys a habitat.

Ecosystems are dynamic entities. They are subject to periodic disturbances and are in the process of recovering from some past disturbance.[11] When a perturbation occurs, an ecoystem responds by moving away from its initial state. The tendency of an ecosystem to remain close to its equilibrium state, despite that disturbance, is termed its resistance. On the other hand, the speed with which it returns to its initial state after disturbance is called its resilience.[11] Time plays a role in the development of soil from bare rock and the recovery of a community from disturbance.[10]

From one year to another, ecosystems experience variation in their biotic and abiotic environments. A drought, an especially cold winter and a pest outbreak all constitute short-term variability in environmental conditions. Animal populations vary from year to year, building up during resource-rich periods and crashing as they overshoot their food supply. These changes play out in changes in net primary production decomposition rates, and other ecosystem processes.[11] Longer-term changes also shape ecosystem processesthe forests of eastern North America still show legacies of cultivation which ceased 200 years ago, while methane production in eastern Siberian lakes is controlled by organic matter which accumulated during the Pleistocene.[11]

Disturbance also plays an important role in ecological processes. F. Stuart Chapin and coauthors define disturbance as “a relatively discrete event in time and space that alters the structure of populations, communities, and ecosystems and causes changes in resources availability or the physical environment”.[31] This can range from tree falls and insect outbreaks to hurricanes and wildfires to volcanic eruptions. Such disturbances can cause large changes in plant, animal and microbe populations, as well soil organic matter content.[11] Disturbance is followed by succession, a “directional change in ecosystem structure and functioning resulting from biotically driven changes in resources supply.”[31]

The frequency and severity of disturbance determine the way it affects ecosystem function. A major disturbance like a volcanic eruption or glacial advance and retreat leave behind soils that lack plants, animals or organic matter. Ecosystems that experience such disturbances undergo primary succession. A less severe disturbance like forest fires, hurricanes or cultivation result in secondary succession and a faster recovery.[11] More severe disturbance and more frequent disturbance result in longer recovery times.

Classifying ecosystems into ecologically homogeneous units is an important step towards effective ecosystem management.[32] There is no single, agreed-upon way to do this. A variety of systems exist, based on vegetation cover, remote sensing, and bioclimatic classification systems.[32]

Ecological land classification is a cartographical delineation or regionalisation of distinct ecological areas, identified by their geology, topography, soils, vegetation, climate conditions, living species, habitats, water resources, and sometimes also anthropic factors.[33]

Human activities are important in almost all ecosystems. Although humans exist and operate within ecosystems, their cumulative effects are large enough to influence external factors like climate.[10]

Ecosystems provide a variety of goods and services upon which people depend.[34] Ecosystem goods include the “tangible, material products” of ecosystem processes such as food, construction material, medicinal plants.[35] They also include less tangible items like tourism and recreation, and genes from wild plants and animals that can be used to improve domestic species.[34]

Ecosystem services, on the other hand, are generally “improvements in the condition or location of things of value”.[35] These include things like the maintenance of hydrological cycles, cleaning air and water, the maintenance of oxygen in the atmosphere, crop pollination and even things like beauty, inspiration and opportunities for research.[34] While ecosystem goods have traditionally been recognized as being the basis for things of economic value, ecosystem services tend to be taken for granted.[35]

When natural resource management is applied to whole ecosystems, rather than single species, it is termed ecosystem management.[36] Although definitions of ecosystem management abound, there is a common set of principles which underlie these definitions.[37] A fundamental principle is the long-term sustainability of the production of goods and services by the ecosystem;[37] “intergenerational sustainability [is] a precondition for management, not an afterthought”.[34]

While ecosystem management can be used as part of a plan for wilderness conservation, it can also be used in intensively managed ecosystems[34] (see, for example, agroecosystem and close to nature forestry).

As human population and per capita consumption grow, so do the resource demands imposed on ecosystems and the effects of the human ecological footprint. Natural resources are vulnerable and limited. The environmental impacts of anthropogenic actions are becoming more apparent. Problems for all ecosystems include: environmental pollution, climate change and biodiversity loss. For terrestrial ecosystems further threats include air pollution, soil degradation, and deforestation. For aquatic ecosystems threats include also unsustainable exploitation of marine resources (for example overfishing of certain species), marine pollution, microplastics pollution, water pollution, and building on coastal areas.[38]

Society is increasingly becoming aware that ecosystem services are not only limited but also that they are threatened by human activities. The need to better consider long-term ecosystem health and its role in enabling human habitation and economic activity is urgent. To help inform decision-makers, many ecosystem services are being assigned economic values, often based on the cost of replacement with anthropogenic alternatives. The ongoing challenge of prescribing economic value to nature, for example through biodiversity banking, is prompting transdisciplinary shifts in how we recognize and manage the environment, social responsibility, business opportunities, and our future as a species.[citation needed]

The term “ecosystem” was first used in 1935 in a publication by British ecologist Arthur Tansley.[fn 1][39] Tansley devised the concept to draw attention to the importance of transfers of materials between organisms and their environment.[40] He later refined the term, describing it as “The whole system, … including not only the organism-complex, but also the whole complex of physical factors forming what we call the environment”.[41] Tansley regarded ecosystems not simply as natural units, but as “mental isolates”.[41] Tansley later defined the spatial extent of ecosystems using the term ecotope.[42]

G. Evelyn Hutchinson, a limnologist who was a contemporary of Tansley’s, combined Charles Elton’s ideas about trophic ecology with those of Russian geochemist Vladimir Vernadsky. As a result, he suggested that mineral nutrient availability in a lake limited algal production. This would, in turn, limit the abundance of animals that feed on algae. Raymond Lindeman took these ideas further to suggest that the flow of energy through a lake was the primary driver of the ecosystem. Hutchinson’s students, brothers Howard T. Odum and Eugene P. Odum, further developed a “systems approach” to the study of ecosystems. This allowed them to study the flow of energy and material through ecological systems.[40]

Read more from the original source:

Ecosystem – Wikipedia

Ecosystem services – Wikipedia

Ecosystem services are the many and varied benefits that humans freely gain from the natural environment and from properly-functioning ecosystems. Such ecosystems include, for example, agroecosystems, forest ecosystems, grassland ecosystems and aquatic ecosystems. Collectively, these benefits are becoming known as ‘ecosystem services’, and are often integral to the provisioning of clean drinking water, the decomposition of wastes, and the natural pollination of crops and other plants.

While scientists and environmentalists have discussed ecosystem services implicitly for decades, the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) in the early 2000s popularized the concept.[1] There, ecosystem services are grouped into four broad categories: provisioning, such as the production of food and water; regulating, such as the control of climate and disease; supporting, such as nutrient cycles and oxygen production; and cultural, such as spiritual and recreational benefits. To help inform decision-makers, many ecosystem services are being assigned economic values.

While the notion of human dependence on Earth’s ecosystems reaches to the start of Homo sapiens’ existence, the term ‘natural capital’ was first coined by E.F. Schumacher in 1973 in his book Small is Beautiful [2]. Recognition of how ecosystems could provide complex services to humankind date back to at least Plato (c. 400 BC) who understood that deforestation could lead to soil erosion and the drying of springs.[3][pageneeded] Modern ideas of ecosystem services probably began when Marsh challenged in 1864 the idea that Earth’s natural resources are unbounded by pointing out changes in soil fertility in the Mediterranean.[4][pageneeded] It was not until the late 1940s that three key authorsHenry Fairfield Osborn, Jr,[5] William Vogt,[6] and Aldo Leopold [7]promoted recognition of human dependence on the environment.

In 1956, Paul Sears drew attention to the critical role of the ecosystem in processing wastes and recycling nutrients.[8] In 1970, Paul Ehrlich and Rosa Weigert called attention to “ecological systems” in their environmental science textbook[9] and “the most subtle and dangerous threat to man’s existence… the potential destruction, by man’s own activities, of those ecological systems upon which the very existence of the human species depends”.

The term “environmental services” was introduced in a 1970 report of the Study of Critical Environmental Problems,[10] which listed services including insect pollination, fisheries, climate regulation and flood control. In following years, variations of the term were used, but eventually ‘ecosystem services’ became the standard in scientific literature.[11]

The ecosystem services concept has continued to expand and includes socio-economic and conservation objectives, which are discussed below. A history of the concepts and terminology of ecosystem services as of 1997, can be found in Daily’s book “Nature’s Services: Societal Dependence on Natural Ecosystems”.[3]

While Gretchen Daily’s original definition distinguished between ecosystem goods and ecosystem services, Robert Costanza and colleagues’ later work and that of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment lumped all of these together as ecosystem services.[12][13]

Per the 2006 Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA), ecosystem services are “the benefits people obtain from ecosystems”. The MA also delineated the four categories of ecosystem servicessupporting, provisioning, regulating and culturaldiscussed below.

By 2010, there had evolved various working definitions and descriptions of ecosystem services in the literature.[14] To prevent double counting in ecosystem services audits, for instance, The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) replaced “Supporting Services” in the MA with “Habitat Services” and “ecosystem functions”, defined as “a subset of the interactions between ecosystem structure and processes that underpin the capacity of an ecosystem to provide goods and services”.[15]

The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) report 2005 defines Ecosystem services as benefits people obtain from ecosystems and distinguishes four categories of ecosystem services, where the so-called supporting services are regarded as the basis for the services of the other three categories.[1]

These include services such as nutrient recycling, primary production and soil formation.[16] These services make it possible for the ecosystems to provide services such as food supply, flood regulation, and water purification.

There is discussion as to how the concept of cultural ecosystem services can be operationalized. A good review of approaches in landscape aesthetics, cultural heritage, outdoor recreation, and spiritual significance to define and assess cultural values of our environment so that they fit into the ecosystem services approach is given by Daniel et al.[17] who vote for models that explicitly link ecological structures and functions with cultural values and benefits.There also is a fundamental critique of the concept of cultural ecosystem services that builds on three arguments:[18]

The following examples illustrate the relationships between humans and natural ecosystems through the services derived from them:

Understanding of ecosystem services requires a strong foundation in ecology, which describes the underlying principles and interactions of organisms and the environment. Since the scales at which these entities interact can vary from microbes to landscapes, milliseconds to millions of years, one of the greatest remaining challenges is the descriptive characterization of energy and material flow between them. For example, the area of a forest floor, the detritus upon it, the microorganisms in the soil and characteristics of the soil itself will all contribute to the abilities of that forest for providing ecosystem services like carbon sequestration, water purification, and erosion prevention to other areas within the watershed. Note that it is often possible for multiple services to be bundled together and when benefits of targeted objectives are secured, there may also be ancillary benefitsthe same forest may provide habitat for other organisms as well as human recreation, which are also ecosystem services.

The complexity of Earth’s ecosystems poses a challenge for scientists as they try to understand how relationships are interwoven among organisms, processes and their surroundings. As it relates to human ecology, a suggested research agenda [22] for the study of ecosystem services includes the following steps:

Recently, a technique has been developed to improve and standardize the evaluation of ESP functionality by quantifying the relative importance of different species in terms of their efficiency and abundance.[28] Such parameters provide indications of how species respond to changes in the environment (i.e. predators, resource availability, climate) and are useful for identifying species that are disproportionately important at providing ecosystem services. However, a critical drawback is that the technique does not account for the effects of interactions, which are often both complex and fundamental in maintaining an ecosystem and can involve species that are not readily detected as a priority. Even so, estimating the functional structure of an ecosystem and combining it with information about individual species traits can help us understand the resilience of an ecosystem amidst environmental change.

Many ecologists also believe that the provision of ecosystem services can be stabilized with biodiversity. Increasing biodiversity also benefits the variety of ecosystem services available to society. Understanding the relationship between biodiversity and an ecosystem’s stability is essential to the management of natural resources and their services.

The concept of ecological redundancy is sometimes referred to as functional compensation and assumes that more than one species performs a given role within an ecosystem.[29] More specifically, it is characterized by a particular species increasing its efficiency at providing a service when conditions are stressed in order to maintain aggregate stability in the ecosystem.[30] However, such increased dependence on a compensating species places additional stress on the ecosystem and often enhances its susceptibility to subsequent disturbance[citation needed]. The redundancy hypothesis can be summarized as “species redundancy enhances ecosystem resilience”.[31]

Another idea uses the analogy of rivets in an airplane wing to compare the exponential effect the loss of each species will have on the function of an ecosystem; this is sometimes referred to as rivet popping.[32] If only one species disappears, the loss of the ecosystem’s efficiency as a whole is relatively small; however, if several species are lost, the system essentially collapsessimilar to an airplane that lost too many rivets. The hypothesis assumes that species are relatively specialized in their roles and that their ability to compensate for one another is less than in the redundancy hypothesis. As a result, the loss of any species is critical to the performance of the ecosystem. The key difference is the rate at which the loss of species affects total ecosystem functioning.

A third explanation, known as the portfolio effect, compares biodiversity to stock holdings, where diversification minimizes the volatility of the investment, or in this case, the risk of instability of ecosystem services.[33] This is related to the idea of response diversity where a suite of species will exhibit differential responses to a given environmental perturbation. When considered together, they create a stabilizing function that preserves the integrity of a service.[34]

Several experiments have tested these hypotheses in both the field and the lab. In ECOTRON, a laboratory in the UK where many of the biotic and abiotic factors of nature can be simulated, studies have focused on the effects of earthworms and symbiotic bacteria on plant roots.[32] These laboratory experiments seem to favor the rivet hypothesis. However, a study on grasslands at Cedar Creek Reserve in Minnesota supports the redundancy hypothesis, as have many other field studies.[35]

There are questions regarding the environmental and economic values of ecosystem services.[36] Some people may be unaware of the environment in general and humanity’s interrelatedness with the natural environment, which may cause misconceptions. Although environmental awareness is rapidly improving in our contemporary world, ecosystem capital and its flow are still poorly understood, threats continue to impose, and we suffer from the so-called ‘tragedy of the commons’.[37] Many efforts to inform decision-makers of current versus future costs and benefits now involve organizing and translating scientific knowledge to economics, which articulate the consequences of our choices in comparable units of impact on human well-being.[38] An especially challenging aspect of this process is that interpreting ecological information collected from one spatial-temporal scale does not necessarily mean it can be applied at another; understanding the dynamics of ecological processes relative to ecosystem services is essential in aiding economic decisions.[39] Weighting factors such as a service’s irreplaceability or bundled services can also allocate economic value such that goal attainment becomes more efficient.

The economic valuation of ecosystem services also involves social communication and information, areas that remain particularly challenging and are the focus of many researchers.[40] In general, the idea is that although individuals make decisions for any variety of reasons, trends reveal the aggregative preferences of a society, from which the economic value of services can be inferred and assigned. The six major methods for valuing ecosystem services in monetary terms are:[41]

A peer-reviewed study published in 1997 estimated the value of the world’s ecosystem services and natural capital to be between US$1654 trillion per year, with an average of US$33 trillion per year.[42] However, Salles (2011) indicates ‘The total value of biodiversity is infinite, so having debate about what is the total value of nature is actually pointless because we can’t live without it’.

Although monetary pricing continues with respect to the valuation of ecosystem services, the challenges in policy implementation and management are significant and multitudinous. The administration of common pool resources is a subject of extensive academic pursuit.[43][44][45][46][47] From defining the problems to finding solutions that can be applied in practical and sustainable ways, there is much to overcome. Considering options must balance present and future human needs, and decision-makers must frequently work from valid but incomplete information. Existing legal policies are often considered insufficient since they typically pertain to human health-based standards that are mismatched with necessary means to protect ecosystem health and services. To improve the information available, one suggestion has involved the implementation of an Ecosystem Services Framework (ESF[48]), which integrates the biophysical and socio-economic dimensions of protecting the environment and is designed to guide institutions through multidisciplinary information and jargon, helping to direct strategic choices.

Novel and expedient methods are needed to deal with managing Earth’s ecosystem services. Local to regional collective management efforts might be considered appropriate for services like crop pollination or resources like water.[22][43] Another approach that has become increasingly popular over the last decade is the marketing of ecosystem services protection. Payment and trading of services is an emerging worldwide small-scale solution where one can acquire credits for activities such as sponsoring the protection of carbon sequestration sources or the restoration of ecosystem service providers. In some cases, banks for handling such credits have been established and conservation companies have even gone public on stock exchanges, defining an evermore parallel link with economic endeavors and opportunities for tying into social perceptions.[38] However, crucial for implementation are clearly defined land rights, which is often lacking in many developing countries.[49] In particular, many forest-rich developing countries suffering deforestation experience conflict between different forest stakeholders.[49] In addition, concerns for such global transactions include inconsistent compensation for services or resources sacrificed elsewhere and misconceived warrants for irresponsible use. Another approach has been focused on protecting ecosystem service ‘hotspots’. Recognition that the conservation of many ecosystem services aligns with more traditional conservation goals (i.e. biodiversity) has led to the suggested merging of objectives for maximizing their mutual success. This may be particularly strategic when employing networks that permit the flow of services across landscapes, and might also facilitate securing the financial means to protect services through a diversification of investors.[50][51]

For example, in recent years there has been interest in the valuation of ecosystem services provided by shellfish production and restoration.[52] A keystone species, low in the food chain, bivalve shellfish such as oysters support a complex community of species by performing a number of functions essential to the diverse array of species that surround them. There is also increasing recognition that some shellfish species may impact or control many ecological processes; so much so that they are included on the list of “ecosystem engineers”organisms that physically, biologically or chemically modify the environment around them in ways that influence the health of other organisms.[53] Many of the ecological functions and processes performed or affected by shellfish contribute to human well-being by providing a stream of valuable ecosystem services over time by filtering out particulate materials and potentially mitigating water quality issues by controlling excess nutrients in the water.

Ecosystem-based adaptation or EbA is an emerging strategy for community development and environmental management that seeks to use an ecosystem services framework to help communities adapt to the effects of climate change. The Convention on Biological Diversity currently defines Ecosystem-Based Adaptation as “the use of biodiversity and ecosystem services to help people adapt to the adverse effects of climate change”, which includes the use of “sustainable management, conservation and restoration of ecosystems, as part of an overall adaptation strategy that takes into account the multiple social, economic and cultural co-benefits for local communities”.[54]

In 2001, the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment announced that humanity’s impact on the natural world was increasing to levels never before seen, and that the degradation of the planet’s ecosystems would become a major barrier to achieving the Millennium Development Goals. In recognition of this fact, Ecosystem-Based Adaptation seeks to use the restoration of ecosystems as a stepping-stone to improving the quality of life in communities experiencing the impacts of climate change. Specifically, this involves the restoration of ecosystems that provide the community with essential services, such as the provisioning of food and water and protection from storm surges and flooding. EbA interventions typically combine elements of both climate change mitigation and adaptation to global warming to help address the community’s current and future needs.[55]

Collaborative planning between scientists, policy makers, and community members is an essential element of Ecosystem-Based Adaptation. By drawing on the expertise of outside experts and local residents alike, EbA seeks to develop unique solutions to unique problems, rather than simply replicating past projects.[54]

Ecosystem services are defined as the gains acquired by humankind from surroundings ecosystems. Four different types of ecosystem services have been distinguished by the scientific body: regulating services, provisioning services, cultural services and supporting services. An ecosystem does not necessarily offer all four types of services simultaneously; but given the intricate nature of any ecosystem, it is usually assumed that humans benefit from a combination of these services. The services offered by diverse types of ecosystems (forests, seas, coral reefs, mangroves, etc.) differ in nature and in consequence. In fact, some services directly affect the livelihood of neighboring human populations (such as fresh water, food or aesthetic value, etc.) while other services affect general environmental conditions by which humans are indirectly impacted (such as climate change, erosion regulation or natural hazard regulation, etc.).[56]

Estuarine and coastal ecosystems are both marine ecosystems. An estuary is defined as the area in which a river meets the sea or the ocean. The waters surrounding this area are predominantly salty waters or brackish waters; and the incoming river water is dynamically motioned by the tide. An estuary strip may be covered by populations of reed (or similar plants) and/or sandbanks (or similar form or land).[citation needed]

A coastal ecosystem occurs in areas where the sea or ocean waters meet the land.[citation needed]

Regulating services are the “benefits obtained from the regulation of ecosystem processes”.[57] In the case of coastal and estuarine ecosystems, these services include climate regulation, waste treatment and disease control and natural hazard regulation.

Both the biotic and abiotic ensembles of marine ecosystems play a role in climate regulation. They act as sponges when it comes to gases in the atmosphere, retaining large levels of CO2 and other greenhouse gases (methane and nitrous oxide). Marine plants also use CO2 for photosynthesis purposes and help in reducing the atmospheric CO2. The oceans and seas absorb the heat from the atmosphere and redistribute it through the means of water currents, and atmospheric processes, such as evaporation and the reflection of light allow for the cooling and warming of the overlying atmosphere. The ocean temperatures are thus imperative to the regulation of the atmospheric temperatures in any part of the world: “without the ocean, the Earth would be unbearably hot during the daylight hours and frigidly cold, if not frozen, at night”.[58]

Another service offered by marine ecosystem is the treatment of wastes, thus helping in the regulation of diseases. Wastes can be diluted and detoxified through transport across marine ecosystems; pollutants are removed from the environment and stored, buried or recycled in marine ecosystems: “Marine ecosystems break down organic waste through microbial communities that filter water, reduce/limit the effects of eutrophication, and break down toxic hydrocarbons into their basic components such as carbon dioxide, nitrogen, phosphorus, and water”.[58] The fact that waste is diluted with large volumes of water and moves with water currents leads to the regulation of diseases and the reduction of toxics in seafood.

Coastal and estuarine ecosystems act as buffer zones against natural hazards and environmental disturbances, such as floods, cyclones, tidal surges and storms. The role they play is to “[absorb] a portion of the impact and thus [lessen] its effect on the land”.[58] Wetlands, for example, and the vegetation it supports trees, root mats, etc. retain large amounts of water (surface water, snowmelt, rain, groundwater) and then slowly releases them back, decreasing the likeliness of floods.[59] Mangrove forests protect coastal shorelines from tidal erosion or erosion by currents; a process that was studied after the 1999 cyclone that hit India. Villages that were surrounded with mangrove forests encountered less damages than other villages that weren’t protected by mangroves.[60]

Provisioning services consist of all “the products obtained from ecosystems”. Marine ecosystems provide people with: wild & cultured seafood, fresh water, fiber & fuel and biochemical & genetic resources.[citation needed]

Humans consume a large number of products originating from the seas, whether as a nutritious product or for use in other sectors: “More than one billion people worldwide, or one-sixth of the global population, rely on fish as their main source of animal protein. In 2000, marine and coastal fisheries accounted for 12 per cent of world food production”.[61] Fish and other edible marine products primarily fish, shellfish, roe and seaweeds constitute for populations living along the coast the main elements of the local cultural diets, norms and traditions. A very pertinent example would be sushi, the national food of Japan, which consists mostly of different types of fish and seaweed.

Water bodies that are not highly concentrated in salts are referred to as ‘fresh water’ bodies. Fresh water may run through lakes, rivers and streams, to name a few; but it is most prominently found in the frozen state or as soil moisture or buried deep underground. Fresh water is not only important for the survival of humans, but also for the survival of all the existing species of animals, plants.[citation needed]

Marine creatures provide us with the raw materials needed for the manufacturing of clothing, building materials (lime extracted from coral reefs), ornamental items and personal-use items (luffas, art and jewelry): “The skin of marine mammals for clothing, gas deposits for energy production, lime (extracted from coral reefs) for building construction, and the timber of mangroves and coastal forests for shelter are some of the more familiar uses of marine organisms. Raw marine materials are utilized for non-essential goods as well, such as shells and corals in ornamental items”.[61] Humans have also referred to processes within marine environments for the production of renewable energy: using the power of waves or tidal power as a source of energy for the powering of a turbine, for example.[citation needed] Oceans and seas are used as sites for offshore oil and gas installations, offshore wind farms.[citation needed]

Biochemical resources are compounds extracted from marine organisms for use in medicines, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and other biochemical products. Genetic resources are the genetic information found in marine organisms that would later on be used for animal and plant breeding and for technological advances in the biological field. These resources are either directly taken out from an organism such as fish oil as a source of omega3 , or used as a model for innovative man-made products: “such as the construction of fiber optics technology based on the properties of sponges. … Compared to terrestrial products, marine-sourced products tend to be more highly bioactive, likely due to the fact that marine organisms have to retain their potency despite being diluted in the surrounding sea-water”.[61]

Cultural services relate to the non-material world, as they benefit the benefit recreational, aesthetic, cognitive and spiritual activities, which are not easily quantifiable in monetary terms.[citation needed]

Marine environments have been used by many as an inspiration for their works of art, music, architecture, traditions… Water environments are spiritually important as a lot of people view them as a means for rejuvenation and change of perspective. Many also consider the water as being a part of their personality, especially if they have lived near it since they were kids: they associate it to fond memories and past experiences. Living near water bodies for a long time results in a certain set of water activities that become a ritual in the lives of people and of the culture in the region.[citation needed]

Sea sports are very popular among coastal populations: surfing, snorkeling, whale watching, kayaking, recreational fishing…a lot of tourists also travel to resorts close to the sea or rivers or lakes to be able to experience these activities, and relax near the water.[citation needed]

A lot can be learned from marine processes, environments and organisms that could be implemented into our daily actions and into the scientific domain. Although much is still yet to still be known about the ocean world: “by the extraordinary intricacy and complexity of the marine environment and how it is influenced by large spatial scales, time lags, and cumulative effects”.[58]

Supporting services are the services that allow for the other ecosystem services to be present. They have indirect impacts on humans that last over a long period of time. Several services can be considered as being both supporting services and regulating/cultural/provisioning services.[citation needed]

Nutrient cycling is the movement of nutrients through an ecosystem by biotic and abiotic processes.[62] The ocean is a vast storage pool for these nutrients, such as carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus. The nutrients are absorbed by the basic organisms of the marine food web and are thus transferred from one organism to the other and from one ecosystem to the other. Nutrients are recycled through the life cycle of organisms as they die and decompose, releasing the nutrients into the neighboring environment. “The service of nutrient cycling eventually impacts all other ecosystem services as all living things require a constant supply of nutrients to survive”.[58]

Biologically mediated habitats are defined as being the habitats that living marine structures offer to other organisms.[63] These need not to be designed for the sole purpose of serving as a habitat, but happen to become living quarters whilst growing naturally. For example, coral reefs and mangrove forests are home to numerous species of fish, seaweed and shellfish… The importance of these habitats is that they allow for interactions between different species, aiding the provisioning of marine goods and services. They are also very important for the growth at the early life stages of marine species (breeding and bursary spaces), as they serve as a food source and as a shelter from predators.[citation needed]

Primary production refers to the production of organic matter, i.e., chemically bound energy, through processes such as photosynthesis and chemosynthesis. The organic matter produced by primary producers forms the basis of all food webs. Further, it generates oxygen (O2), a molecule necessary to sustain animals and humans.[64][65][66][67]

Ecosystem services degradation can pose a number of risks to corporate performance as well as provide business opportunities through ecosystem restoration and enhancement. Risks and opportunities include:

Many companies are not fully aware of the extent of their dependence and impact on ecosystems and the possible ramifications. Likewise, environmental management systems and environmental due diligence tools are more suited to handle “traditional” issues of pollution and natural resource consumption. Most focus on environmental impacts, not dependence. Several newly developed tools and methodologies can help the private sector value and assess ecosystem services. These include Our Ecosystem,[68] the Corporate Ecosystem Services Review (ESR),[69] Artificial Intelligence for Ecosystem Services (ARIES),[70] the Natural Value Initiative (NVI)[71] and InVEST (Integrated Valuation of Ecosystem Services & Tradeoffs) [72]

Ecosystem services decisions require making complex choices at the intersection of ecology, technology, society and the economy. The process of making ecosystem services decisions must consider the interaction of many types of information, honor all stakeholder viewpoints, including regulatory agencies, proposal proponents, decision makers, residents, NGOs, and measure the impacts on all four parts of the intersection. These decisions are usually spatial, always multi-objective, and based on uncertain data, models, and estimates. Often it is the combination of the best science combined with the stakeholder values, estimates and opinions that drive the process.[73]

One analytical study modeled the stakeholders as agents to support water resource management decisions in the Middle Rio Grande basin of New Mexico. This study focused on modeling the stakeholder inputs across a spatial decision, but ignored uncertainty.[74] Another study used Monte Carlo methods to exercise econometric models of landowner decisions in a study of the effects of land-use change. Here the stakeholder inputs were modeled as random effects to reflect the uncertainty.[75] A third study used a Bayesian decision support system to both model the uncertainty in the scientific information Bayes Nets and to assist collecting and fusing the input from stakeholders. This study was about siting wave energy devices off the Oregon Coast, but presents a general method for managing uncertain spatial science and stakeholder information in a decision making environment.[76] Remote sensing data and analyses can be used to assess the health and extent of land cover classes that provide ecosystem services, which aids in planning, management, monitoring of stakeholders’ actions, and communication between stakeholders.[77]

In Baltic countries scientists, nature conservationists and local authorities are implementing integrated planning approach for grassland ecosystems. They are developing Integrated Planning Tool that will be based on GIS (geographic information system) technology and put online that will help for planners to choose the best grassland management solution for concrete grassland. It will look holistically at the processes in the countryside and help to find best grassland management solutions by taking into account both natural and socioeconomic factors of the particular site.

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Ecosystem services – Wikipedia

Dublin Aerospace

Dublin Aerospace is based at Dublin International Airport, Ireland. Our facility is 20,000m2 in size and covers Hangar 1, 4 and 5. We operate a 4 bay base maintenance facility that can presently handle approx 70 aircraft per annum, an APU overhaul centre that can handle 400 APUs a year and a Landing Gear services centre that has capacity for 250 legs annually.

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Home – Aerospace Industries Association

Now more than ever, membership in AIA is the right decision.

As we all know, this is a turbulent time for the nation and the aerospace and defense industrywe face numerous economic and political challenges, both domestically and internationally.

In times like these, AIAs strong representation and advocacy is essential to protecting the business interests of the nations aerospace and defense industry and helping to establish new opportunities.

We help youand all levels of your organizationget closer to your customers and competitors by providing numerous networking opportunities through meetings, international air shows, and an extensive network of councils, committees, and working groups.

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North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD)

U.S. Air Force Gen. Terrence J. OShaughnessy receives the North American Aerospace Defense Commands flag from the Canadian Armed Forces Chief of the Defence Staff, Gen. J.H. Vance, signifying his acceptance of command, May 24, 2018 on Peterson U.S. Air Force Base, Colorado OShaughnessy is the 25th NORAD commander. (DoD Photo by N&NC Public Affairs)

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North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD)

AsMA | Aerospace Medical Association

AsMA | Aerospace Medical Association

This website uses cookies to ensure the best possible web experience. By continuing and using the site, you consent to the use of cookies. If you wish to disable them or to learn more about how we use cookies, please view our Cookies Policy. Got it!

Learn about the history and mission of Aerospace Medicine by watching the professionals making it happen!

Military aviation operations present numerous unique Aerospace Medicine and Human Performance issues. Sustained acceleration, fatigue, orientation problems, and attention management issues are just a few.

Commercial aviation presents Aerospace Medicine problems for the aircrew, ground support crews, and the passengers they serve.

General aviation aircraft present unique Aerospace Medicine and Human Performance problems. Human Performance factors continue to be leading causes of General Aviation mishaps.

The ability for humans to perform under extreme environmental conditions poses challenging problems for Aerospace Medicine professionals. Altitude, thermal issues, fatigue, acceleration, and numerous other environmental stressors must be appropriately managed to ensure optimized human performance. Managing the mission environment through technology requires a process of human-centered design and acquisition known as Human Systems Integration.

Human participation in space operations presents some of the most interesting and challenging Aerospace Medicine and Human Performance problems. Microgravity, bone density and muscle atrophy issues, radiation exposure, and thermal stressors are just some of the space medicine problems.

AsMA is a scientific forum providing a setting for many different disciplines to come together and share their expertise for the benefit of all persons involved in air and space travel. The Association has provided its expertise to a multitude of Federal and international agencies on a broad range of issues, including aviation and space medical standards, the aging pilot, and physiological stresses of flight. AsMA’s membership includes aerospace medicine specialists, flight nurses, physiologists, psychologists, human factors specialists, physician assistants, and researchers in this field. Most are with industry, civil aviation regulatory agencies, departments of defense and military services, the airlines, space programs, and universities.

Approximately 30% of the membershiporiginate from outside the United States.

Through the efforts of the AsMA members, safety in flight and man’s overall adaptation to adverse environments have been more nearly achieved.

Lifestyle Diseases conference, Lifestyle Diseases workshop, Global Lifestyle Diseases Conference, Lifestyle Diseases symposium, Lifestyle Diseases congress, Lifestyle Diseases meeting, Lifestyle Di…Read More

The peer-reviewed monthly journal provides contact with physicians, life scientists, bioengineers, and medical specialists working in both basic medical research and in its clinical applications…

The AsMA Global Connection Story with IACRoland Vermeiren, M.D., FAsMA

So youre looking online for a particular article from Aerospace Medicine and Human Performance (AMHP). How do you find it?

AsMAs staff were deeply saddened to hear of the death of L. Edward Antosek, M.D.

The Aerospace Human Factors Association (AsHFA) President, Dr. Annette Sobel, has published a visioning statement related to the application of Aerospace Human Factors to Space Missions. Read more

The Translational Research Institute for Space Health (TRISH) is offering several funding opportunities:

Call for 2019 TRISH Postdoctoral Fellowships Now open!Read more

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The Aerospace Medical Association offers free information publications for passengers preparing for commercial airline travel. We also offer more detailed medical guidelines for physicians that can be used to advise patients with preexisting illness planning to travel by air.

Which of the following is NOT included in an examination of the sensorium?

a.Orientation to time, place, and personb.Retention of three unrelated memory items for five minutesc.General knowledged.Depressed or elated moode.Proverb interpretation: concrete or abstract.

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Eugenics – Wikipedia

Eugenics (; from Greek eugenes ‘well-born’ from eu, ‘good, well’ and genos, ‘race, stock, kin’)[2][3] is a set of beliefs and practices that aims at improving the genetic quality of a human population.[4][5] The exact definition of eugenics has been a matter of debate since the term was coined by Francis Galton in 1883. The concept predates this coinage, with Plato suggesting applying the principles of selective breeding to humans around 400BCE.

Frederick Osborn’s 1937 journal article “Development of a Eugenic Philosophy”[6] framed it as a social philosophythat is, a philosophy with implications for social order. That definition is not universally accepted. Osborn advocated for higher rates of sexual reproduction among people with desired traits (positive eugenics), or reduced rates of sexual reproduction and sterilization of people with less-desired or undesired traits (negative eugenics).

Alternatively, gene selection rather than “people selection” has recently been made possible through advances in genome editing,[7] leading to what is sometimes called new eugenics, also known as neo-eugenics, consumer eugenics, or liberal eugenics.

While eugenic principles have been practiced as far back in world history as ancient Greece, the modern history of eugenics began in the early 20th century when a popular eugenics movement emerged in the United Kingdom[8] and spread to many countries including the United States, Canada[9] and most European countries. In this period, eugenic ideas were espoused across the political spectrum. Consequently, many countries adopted eugenic policies with the intent to improve the quality of their populations’ genetic stock. Such programs included both “positive” measures, such as encouraging individuals deemed particularly “fit” to reproduce, and “negative” measures such as marriage prohibitions and forced sterilization of people deemed unfit for reproduction. People deemed unfit to reproduce often included people with mental or physical disabilities, people who scored in the low ranges of different IQ tests, criminals and deviants, and members of disfavored minority groups. The eugenics movement became negatively associated with Nazi Germany and the Holocaust when many of the defendants at the Nuremberg trials attempted to justify their human rights abuses by claiming there was little difference between the Nazi eugenics programs and the U.S. eugenics programs.[10] In the decades following World War II, with the institution of human rights, many countries gradually began to abandon eugenics policies, although some Western countries, among them the United States and Sweden, continued to carry out forced sterilizations.

Since the 1980s and 1990s, when new assisted reproductive technology procedures became available such as gestational surrogacy (available since 1985), preimplantation genetic diagnosis (available since 1989), and cytoplasmic transfer (first performed in 1996), fear has emerged about a possible revival of eugenics.

A major criticism of eugenics policies is that, regardless of whether “negative” or “positive” policies are used, they are susceptible to abuse because the criteria of selection are determined by whichever group is in political power at the time. Furthermore, negative eugenics in particular is considered by many to be a violation of basic human rights, which include the right to reproduction. Another criticism is that eugenic policies eventually lead to a loss of genetic diversity, resulting in inbreeding depression due to lower genetic variation.

Seneca the Younger

The concept of positive eugenics to produce better human beings has existed at least since Plato suggested selective mating to produce a guardian class.[12] In Sparta, every Spartan child was inspected by the council of elders, the Gerousia, which determined if the child was fit to live or not. In the early years of ancient Rome, a Roman father was obliged by law to immediately kill his child if they were physically disabled.[13] Among the ancient Germanic tribes, people who were cowardly, unwarlike or “stained with abominable vices” were put to death, usually by being drowned in swamps.[14][15]

The first formal negative eugenics, that is a legal provision against birth of inferior human beings, was promulgated in Western European culture by the Christian Council of Agde in 506, which forbade marriage between cousins.[16]

This idea was also promoted by William Goodell (18291894) who advocated the castration and spaying of the insane.[17][18]

The idea of a modern project of improving the human population through a statistical understanding of heredity used to encourage good breeding was originally developed by Francis Galton and, initially, was closely linked to Darwinism and his theory of natural selection.[19] Galton had read his half-cousin Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, which sought to explain the development of plant and animal species, and desired to apply it to humans. Based on his biographical studies, Galton believed that desirable human qualities were hereditary traits, though Darwin strongly disagreed with this elaboration of his theory.[20] In 1883, one year after Darwin’s death, Galton gave his research a name: eugenics.[21] With the introduction of genetics, eugenics became associated with genetic determinism, the belief that human character is entirely or in the majority caused by genes, unaffected by education or living conditions. Many of the early geneticists were not Darwinians, and evolution theory was not needed for eugenics policies based on genetic determinism.[19] Throughout its recent history, eugenics has remained controversial.

Eugenics became an academic discipline at many colleges and universities and received funding from many sources.[24] Organizations were formed to win public support and sway opinion towards responsible eugenic values in parenthood, including the British Eugenics Education Society of 1907 and the American Eugenics Society of 1921. Both sought support from leading clergymen and modified their message to meet religious ideals.[25] In 1909 the Anglican clergymen William Inge and James Peile both wrote for the British Eugenics Education Society. Inge was an invited speaker at the 1921 International Eugenics Conference, which was also endorsed by the Roman Catholic Archbishop of New York Patrick Joseph Hayes.[25]

Three International Eugenics Conferences presented a global venue for eugenists with meetings in 1912 in London, and in 1921 and 1932 in New York City. Eugenic policies were first implemented in the early 1900s in the United States.[26] It also took root in France, Germany, and Great Britain.[27] Later, in the 1920s and 1930s, the eugenic policy of sterilizing certain mental patients was implemented in other countries including Belgium,[28] Brazil,[29] Canada,[30] Japan and Sweden.

In addition to being practiced in a number of countries, eugenics was internationally organized through the International Federation of Eugenics Organizations. Its scientific aspects were carried on through research bodies such as the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Anthropology, Human Heredity, and Eugenics, the Cold Spring Harbour Carnegie Institution for Experimental Evolution, and the Eugenics Record Office. Politically, the movement advocated measures such as sterilization laws. In its moral dimension, eugenics rejected the doctrine that all human beings are born equal and redefined moral worth purely in terms of genetic fitness. Its racist elements included pursuit of a pure “Nordic race” or “Aryan” genetic pool and the eventual elimination of “unfit” races.

Early critics of the philosophy of eugenics included the American sociologist Lester Frank Ward,[39] the English writer G. K. Chesterton, the German-American anthropologist Franz Boas, who argued that advocates of eugenics greatly over-estimate the influence of biology,[40] and Scottish tuberculosis pioneer and author Halliday Sutherland. Ward’s 1913 article “Eugenics, Euthenics, and Eudemics”, Chesterton’s 1917 book Eugenics and Other Evils, and Boas’ 1916 article “Eugenics” (published in The Scientific Monthly) were all harshly critical of the rapidly growing movement. Sutherland identified eugenists as a major obstacle to the eradication and cure of tuberculosis in his 1917 address “Consumption: Its Cause and Cure”,[41] and criticism of eugenists and Neo-Malthusians in his 1921 book Birth Control led to a writ for libel from the eugenist Marie Stopes. Several biologists were also antagonistic to the eugenics movement, including Lancelot Hogben.[42] Other biologists such as J. B. S. Haldane and R. A. Fisher expressed skepticism in the belief that sterilization of “defectives” would lead to the disappearance of undesirable genetic traits.[43]

Among institutions, the Catholic Church was an opponent of state-enforced sterilizations.[44] Attempts by the Eugenics Education Society to persuade the British government to legalize voluntary sterilization were opposed by Catholics and by the Labour Party.[45] The American Eugenics Society initially gained some Catholic supporters, but Catholic support declined following the 1930 papal encyclical Casti connubii.[25] In this, Pope Pius XI explicitly condemned sterilization laws: “Public magistrates have no direct power over the bodies of their subjects; therefore, where no crime has taken place and there is no cause present for grave punishment, they can never directly harm, or tamper with the integrity of the body, either for the reasons of eugenics or for any other reason.”[46]

As a social movement, eugenics reached its greatest popularity in the early decades of the 20th century, when it was practiced around the world and promoted by governments, institutions, and influential individuals. Many countries enacted[47] various eugenics policies, including: genetic screenings, birth control, promoting differential birth rates, marriage restrictions, segregation (both racial segregation and sequestering the mentally ill), compulsory sterilization, forced abortions or forced pregnancies, ultimately culminating in genocide.

The scientific reputation of eugenics started to decline in the 1930s, a time when Ernst Rdin used eugenics as a justification for the racial policies of Nazi Germany. Adolf Hitler had praised and incorporated eugenic ideas in Mein Kampf in 1925 and emulated eugenic legislation for the sterilization of “defectives” that had been pioneered in the United States once he took power. Some common early 20th century eugenics methods involved identifying and classifying individuals and their families, including the poor, mentally ill, blind, deaf, developmentally disabled, promiscuous women, homosexuals, and racial groups (such as the Roma and Jews in Nazi Germany) as “degenerate” or “unfit”, and therefore led to segregation, institutionalization, sterilization, euthanasia, and even mass murder. The Nazi practice of euthanasia was carried out on hospital patients in the Aktion T4 centers such as Hartheim Castle.

By the end of World War II, many discriminatory eugenics laws were abandoned, having become associated with Nazi Germany.[50] H. G. Wells, who had called for “the sterilization of failures” in 1904,[51] stated in his 1940 book The Rights of Man: Or What are we fighting for? that among the human rights, which he believed should be available to all people, was “a prohibition on mutilation, sterilization, torture, and any bodily punishment”.[52] After World War II, the practice of “imposing measures intended to prevent births within [a national, ethnical, racial or religious] group” fell within the definition of the new international crime of genocide, set out in the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.[53] The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union also proclaims “the prohibition of eugenic practices, in particular those aiming at selection of persons”.[54] In spite of the decline in discriminatory eugenics laws, some government mandated sterilizations continued into the 21st century. During the ten years President Alberto Fujimori led Peru from 1990 to 2000, 2,000 persons were allegedly involuntarily sterilized.[55] China maintained its one-child policy until 2015 as well as a suite of other eugenics based legislation to reduce population size and manage fertility rates of different populations.[56][57][58] In 2007 the United Nations reported coercive sterilizations and hysterectomies in Uzbekistan.[59] During the years 2005 to 2013, nearly one-third of the 144 California prison inmates who were sterilized did not give lawful consent to the operation.[60]

Developments in genetic, genomic, and reproductive technologies at the end of the 20th century have raised numerous questions regarding the ethical status of eugenics, effectively creating a resurgence of interest in the subject.Some, such as UC Berkeley sociologist Troy Duster, claim that modern genetics is a back door to eugenics.[61] This view is shared by White House Assistant Director for Forensic Sciences, Tania Simoncelli, who stated in a 2003 publication by the Population and Development Program at Hampshire College that advances in pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) are moving society to a “new era of eugenics”, and that, unlike the Nazi eugenics, modern eugenics is consumer driven and market based, “where children are increasingly regarded as made-to-order consumer products”.[62] In a 2006 newspaper article, Richard Dawkins said that discussion regarding eugenics was inhibited by the shadow of Nazi misuse, to the extent that some scientists would not admit that breeding humans for certain abilities is at all possible. He believes that it is not physically different from breeding domestic animals for traits such as speed or herding skill. Dawkins felt that enough time had elapsed to at least ask just what the ethical differences were between breeding for ability versus training athletes or forcing children to take music lessons, though he could think of persuasive reasons to draw the distinction.[63]

Lee Kuan Yew, the Founding Father of Singapore, started promoting eugenics as early as 1983.[64][65]

In October 2015, the United Nations’ International Bioethics Committee wrote that the ethical problems of human genetic engineering should not be confused with the ethical problems of the 20th century eugenics movements. However, it is still problematic because it challenges the idea of human equality and opens up new forms of discrimination and stigmatization for those who do not want, or cannot afford, the technology.[66]

Transhumanism is often associated with eugenics, although most transhumanists holding similar views nonetheless distance themselves from the term “eugenics” (preferring “germinal choice” or “reprogenetics”)[67] to avoid having their position confused with the discredited theories and practices of early-20th-century eugenic movements.

Prenatal screening can be considered a form of contemporary eugenics because it may lead to abortions of children with undesirable traits.[68]

The term eugenics and its modern field of study were first formulated by Francis Galton in 1883,[69] drawing on the recent work of his half-cousin Charles Darwin.[70][71] Galton published his observations and conclusions in his book Inquiries into Human Faculty and Its Development.

The origins of the concept began with certain interpretations of Mendelian inheritance and the theories of August Weismann. The word eugenics is derived from the Greek word eu (“good” or “well”) and the suffix -gens (“born”), and was coined by Galton in 1883 to replace the word “stirpiculture”, which he had used previously but which had come to be mocked due to its perceived sexual overtones.[73] Galton defined eugenics as “the study of all agencies under human control which can improve or impair the racial quality of future generations”.[74]

Historically, the term eugenics has referred to everything from prenatal care for mothers to forced sterilization and euthanasia.[75] To population geneticists, the term has included the avoidance of inbreeding without altering allele frequencies; for example, J. B. S. Haldane wrote that “the motor bus, by breaking up inbred village communities, was a powerful eugenic agent.”[76] Debate as to what exactly counts as eugenics continues today.[77]

Edwin Black, journalist and author of War Against the Weak, claims eugenics is often deemed a pseudoscience because what is defined as a genetic improvement of a desired trait is often deemed a cultural choice rather than a matter that can be determined through objective scientific inquiry.[78] The most disputed aspect of eugenics has been the definition of “improvement” of the human gene pool, such as what is a beneficial characteristic and what is a defect. Historically, this aspect of eugenics was tainted with scientific racism and pseudoscience.[79][80][81]

Early eugenists were mostly concerned with factors of perceived intelligence that often correlated strongly with social class. Some of these early eugenists include Karl Pearson and Walter Weldon, who worked on this at the University College London.[20]

Eugenics also had a place in medicine. In his lecture “Darwinism, Medical Progress and Eugenics”, Karl Pearson said that everything concerning eugenics fell into the field of medicine. He basically placed the two words as equivalents. He was supported in part by the fact that Francis Galton, the father of eugenics, also had medical training.[82]

Eugenic policies have been conceptually divided into two categories.[75] Positive eugenics is aimed at encouraging reproduction among the genetically advantaged; for example, the reproduction of the intelligent, the healthy, and the successful. Possible approaches include financial and political stimuli, targeted demographic analyses, in vitro fertilization, egg transplants, and cloning.[83] The movie Gattaca provides a fictional example of a dystopian society that uses eugenics to decided what you are capable of and your place in the world. Negative eugenics aimed to eliminate, through sterilization or segregation, those deemed physically, mentally, or morally “undesirable”. This includes abortions, sterilization, and other methods of family planning.[83] Both positive and negative eugenics can be coercive; abortion for fit women, for example, was illegal in Nazi Germany.[84]

Jon Entine claims that eugenics simply means “good genes” and using it as synonym for genocide is an “all-too-common distortion of the social history of genetics policy in the United States.” According to Entine, eugenics developed out of the Progressive Era and not “Hitler’s twisted Final Solution”.[85]

According to Richard Lynn, eugenics may be divided into two main categories based on the ways in which the methods of eugenics can be applied.[86]

The first major challenge to conventional eugenics based upon genetic inheritance was made in 1915 by Thomas Hunt Morgan. He demonstrated the event of genetic mutation occurring outside of inheritance involving the discovery of the hatching of a fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) with white eyes from a family with red eyes. Morgan claimed that this demonstrated that major genetic changes occurred outside of inheritance and that the concept of eugenics based upon genetic inheritance was not completely scientifically accurate. Additionally, Morgan criticized the view that subjective traits, such as intelligence and criminality, were caused by heredity because he believed that the definitions of these traits varied and that accurate work in genetics could only be done when the traits being studied were accurately defined.[123] Despite Morgan’s public rejection of eugenics, much of his genetic research was absorbed by eugenics.[124][125]

The heterozygote test is used for the early detection of recessive hereditary diseases, allowing for couples to determine if they are at risk of passing genetic defects to a future child.[126] The goal of the test is to estimate the likelihood of passing the hereditary disease to future descendants.[126]

Recessive traits can be severely reduced, but never eliminated unless the complete genetic makeup of all members of the pool was known, as aforementioned. As only very few undesirable traits, such as Huntington’s disease, are dominant, it could be argued[by whom?] from certain perspectives that the practicality of “eliminating” traits is quite low.[citation needed]

There are examples of eugenic acts that managed to lower the prevalence of recessive diseases, although not influencing the prevalence of heterozygote carriers of those diseases. The elevated prevalence of certain genetically transmitted diseases among the Ashkenazi Jewish population (TaySachs, cystic fibrosis, Canavan’s disease, and Gaucher’s disease), has been decreased in current populations by the application of genetic screening.[127]

Pleiotropy occurs when one gene influences multiple, seemingly unrelated phenotypic traits, an example being phenylketonuria, which is a human disease that affects multiple systems but is caused by one gene defect.[128] Andrzej Pkalski, from the University of Wrocaw, argues that eugenics can cause harmful loss of genetic diversity if a eugenics program selects a pleiotropic gene that could possibly be associated with a positive trait. Pekalski uses the example of a coercive government eugenics program that prohibits people with myopia from breeding but has the unintended consequence of also selecting against high intelligence since the two go together.[129]

Eugenic policies could also lead to loss of genetic diversity, in which case a culturally accepted “improvement” of the gene pool could very likelyas evidenced in numerous instances in isolated island populations result in extinction due to increased vulnerability to disease, reduced ability to adapt to environmental change, and other factors both known and unknown. A long-term, species-wide eugenics plan might lead to a scenario similar to this because the elimination of traits deemed undesirable would reduce genetic diversity by definition.[130]

Edward M. Miller claims that, in any one generation, any realistic program should make only minor changes in a fraction of the gene pool, giving plenty of time to reverse direction if unintended consequences emerge, reducing the likelihood of the elimination of desirable genes.[131] Miller also argues that any appreciable reduction in diversity is so far in the future that little concern is needed for now.[131]

While the science of genetics has increasingly provided means by which certain characteristics and conditions can be identified and understood, given the complexity of human genetics, culture, and psychology, at this point no agreed objective means of determining which traits might be ultimately desirable or undesirable. Some diseases such as sickle-cell disease and cystic fibrosis respectively confer immunity to malaria and resistance to cholera when a single copy of the recessive allele is contained within the genotype of the individual. Reducing the instance of sickle-cell disease genes in Africa where malaria is a common and deadly disease could indeed have extremely negative net consequences.

However, some genetic diseases cause people to consider some elements of eugenics.

Societal and political consequences of eugenics call for a place in the discussion on the ethics behind the eugenics movement.[132] Many of the ethical concerns regarding eugenics arise from its controversial past, prompting a discussion on what place, if any, it should have in the future. Advances in science have changed eugenics. In the past, eugenics had more to do with sterilization and enforced reproduction laws.[133] Now, in the age of a progressively mapped genome, embryos can be tested for susceptibility to disease, gender, and genetic defects, and alternative methods of reproduction such as in vitro fertilization are becoming more common.[134] Therefore, eugenics is no longer ex post facto regulation of the living but instead preemptive action on the unborn.[135]

With this change, however, there are ethical concerns which lack adequate attention, and which must be addressed before eugenic policies can be properly implemented in the future. Sterilized individuals, for example, could volunteer for the procedure, albeit under incentive or duress, or at least voice their opinion. The unborn fetus on which these new eugenic procedures are performed cannot speak out, as the fetus lacks the voice to consent or to express his or her opinion.[136] Philosophers disagree about the proper framework for reasoning about such actions, which change the very identity and existence of future persons.[137]

A common criticism of eugenics is that “it inevitably leads to measures that are unethical”.[138] Some fear future “eugenics wars” as the worst-case scenario: the return of coercive state-sponsored genetic discrimination and human rights violations such as compulsory sterilization of persons with genetic defects, the killing of the institutionalized and, specifically, segregation and genocide of races perceived as inferior.[139] Health law professor George Annas and technology law professor Lori Andrews are prominent advocates of the position that the use of these technologies could lead to such human-posthuman caste warfare.[140][141]

In his 2003 book Enough: Staying Human in an Engineered Age, environmental ethicist Bill McKibben argued at length against germinal choice technology and other advanced biotechnological strategies for human enhancement. He writes that it would be morally wrong for humans to tamper with fundamental aspects of themselves (or their children) in an attempt to overcome universal human limitations, such as vulnerability to aging, maximum life span and biological constraints on physical and cognitive ability. Attempts to “improve” themselves through such manipulation would remove limitations that provide a necessary context for the experience of meaningful human choice. He claims that human lives would no longer seem meaningful in a world where such limitations could be overcome with technology. Even the goal of using germinal choice technology for clearly therapeutic purposes should be relinquished, since it would inevitably produce temptations to tamper with such things as cognitive capacities. He argues that it is possible for societies to benefit from renouncing particular technologies, using as examples Ming China, Tokugawa Japan and the contemporary Amish.[142]

Some, for example Nathaniel C. Comfort from Johns Hopkins University, claim that the change from state-led reproductive-genetic decision-making to individual choice has moderated the worst abuses of eugenics by transferring the decision-making from the state to the patient and their family.[143] Comfort suggests that “the eugenic impulse drives us to eliminate disease, live longer and healthier, with greater intelligence, and a better adjustment to the conditions of society; and the health benefits, the intellectual thrill and the profits of genetic bio-medicine are too great for us to do otherwise.”[144] Others, such as bioethicist Stephen Wilkinson of Keele University and Honorary Research Fellow Eve Garrard at the University of Manchester, claim that some aspects of modern genetics can be classified as eugenics, but that this classification does not inherently make modern genetics immoral. In a co-authored publication by Keele University, they stated that “[e]ugenics doesn’t seem always to be immoral, and so the fact that PGD, and other forms of selective reproduction, might sometimes technically be eugenic, isn’t sufficient to show that they’re wrong.”[145]

In their book published in 2000, From Chance to Choice: Genetics and Justice, bioethicists Allen Buchanan, Dan Brock, Norman Daniels and Daniel Wikler argued that liberal societies have an obligation to encourage as wide an adoption of eugenic enhancement technologies as possible (so long as such policies do not infringe on individuals’ reproductive rights or exert undue pressures on prospective parents to use these technologies) in order to maximize public health and minimize the inequalities that may result from both natural genetic endowments and unequal access to genetic enhancements.[146]

Original position, a hypothetical situation developed by American philosopher John Rawls, has been used as an argument for negative eugenics.[147][148]

Notes

Bibliography

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Eugenics – Wikipedia

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– Beginning of the film, the director cites the Bible passage into, and the words are indeed spiritual in some way throughout the whole movie. Vinson was born in an era of gene Viva, during years in that wonderful (?), Each individual before birth, can be checked through sophisticated, will identify all gene defects, genetic everyone will In this close inspection database is put into being, but also because of your genes is excellent, to determine your social status. In this world, the gene is your resume, all companies admitted to the line number of people to see not ability, but whether the gene is excellent…. [tags: Genetics, Genetic disorder, DNA, Gene]

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Eugenics in the United States – Wikipedia

Eugenics, the set of beliefs and practices which aims at improving the genetic quality of the human population,[2][3] played a significant role in the history and culture of the United States prior to its involvement in World War II.[4]

Eugenics was practiced in the United States many years before eugenics programs in Nazi Germany,[5] which were largely inspired by the previous American work.[6][7][8] Stefan Khl has documented the consensus between Nazi race policies and those of eugenicists in other countries, including the United States, and points out that eugenicists understood Nazi policies and measures as the realization of their goals and demands.[9]

During the Progressive Era of the late 19th and early 20th century, eugenics was considered a method of preserving and improving the dominant groups in the population; it is now generally associated with racist and nativist elements, as the movement was to some extent a reaction to a change in emigration from Europe, rather than scientific genetics.[10]

The American eugenics movement was rooted in the biological determinist ideas of Sir Francis Galton, which originated in the 1880s. Galton studied the upper classes of Britain, and arrived at the conclusion that their social positions were due to a superior genetic makeup.[11] Early proponents of eugenics believed that, through selective breeding, the human species should direct its own evolution. They tended to believe in the genetic superiority of Nordic, Germanic and Anglo-Saxon peoples; supported strict immigration and anti-miscegenation laws; and supported the forcible sterilization of the poor, disabled and “immoral”.[12] Eugenics was also supported by African American intellectuals such as W. E. B. Du Bois, Thomas Wyatt Turner, and many academics at Tuskegee University, Howard University, and Hampton University; however, they believed the best blacks were as good as the best whites and “The Talented Tenth” of all races should mix.[13] W. E. B. Du Bois believed “only fit blacks should procreate to eradicate the race’s heritage of moral iniquity.”[13][14]

The American eugenics movement received extensive funding from various corporate foundations including the Carnegie Institution, Rockefeller Foundation, and the Harriman railroad fortune.[7] In 1906 J.H. Kellogg provided funding to help found the Race Betterment Foundation in Battle Creek, Michigan.[11] The Eugenics Record Office (ERO) was founded in Cold Spring Harbor, New York in 1911 by the renowned biologist Charles B. Davenport, using money from both the Harriman railroad fortune and the Carnegie Institution. As late as the 1920s, the ERO was one of the leading organizations in the American eugenics movement.[11][15] In years to come, the ERO collected a mass of family pedigrees and concluded that those who were unfit came from economically and socially poor backgrounds. Eugenicists such as Davenport, the psychologist Henry H. Goddard, Harry H. Laughlin, and the conservationist Madison Grant (all well respected in their time) began to lobby for various solutions to the problem of the “unfit”. Davenport favored immigration restriction and sterilization as primary methods; Goddard favored segregation in his The Kallikak Family; Grant favored all of the above and more, even entertaining the idea of extermination.[16] The Eugenics Record Office later became the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.

Eugenics was widely accepted in the U.S. academic community.[7] By 1928, there were 376 separate university courses in some of the United States’ leading schools, enrolling more than 20,000 students, which included eugenics in the curriculum.[17] It did, however, have scientific detractors (notably, Thomas Hunt Morgan, one of the few Mendelians to explicitly criticize eugenics), though most of these focused more on what they considered the crude methodology of eugenicists, and the characterization of almost every human characteristic as being hereditary, rather than the idea of eugenics itself.[18]

By 1910, there was a large and dynamic network of scientists, reformers, and professionals engaged in national eugenics projects and actively promoting eugenic legislation. The American Breeder’s Association was the first eugenic body in the U.S., established in 1906 under the direction of biologist Charles B. Davenport. The ABA was formed specifically to “investigate and report on heredity in the human race, and emphasize the value of superior blood and the menace to society of inferior blood.” Membership included Alexander Graham Bell, Stanford president David Starr Jordan and Luther Burbank.[19][20] The American Association for the Study and Prevention of Infant Mortality was one of the first organizations to begin investigating infant mortality rates in terms of eugenics.[21] They promoted government intervention in attempts to promote the health of future citizens.[22][verification needed]

Several feminist reformers advocated an agenda of eugenic legal reform. The National Federation of Women’s Clubs, the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, and the National League of Women Voters were among the variety of state and local feminist organization that at some point lobbied for eugenic reforms.[23]

One of the most prominent feminists to champion the eugenic agenda was Margaret Sanger, the leader of the American birth control movement. Margaret Sanger saw birth control as a means to prevent unwanted children from being born into a disadvantaged life, and incorporated the language of eugenics to advance the movement.[24][25] Sanger also sought to discourage the reproduction of persons who, it was believed, would pass on mental disease or serious physical defects. She advocated sterilization in cases where the subject was unable to use birth control.[24] She rejected euthanasia.[26] For Sanger, it was individual women and not the state who should determine whether or not to have a child.[27][28]

In the Deep South, women’s associations played an important role in rallying support for eugenic legal reform. Eugenicists recognized the political and social influence of southern clubwomen in their communities, and used them to help implement eugenics across the region.[29] Between 1915 and 1920, federated women’s clubs in every state of the Deep South had a critical role in establishing public eugenic institutions that were segregated by sex.[30] For example, the Legislative Committee of the Florida State Federation of Women’s Clubs successfully lobbied to institute a eugenic institution for the mentally retarded that was segregated by sex.[31] Their aim was to separate mentally retarded men and women to prevent them from breeding more “feebleminded” individuals.

Public acceptance in the U.S. was the reason eugenic legislation was passed.Almost 19 million people attended the PanamaPacific International Exposition in San Francisco, open for 10 months from 20 February to 4 December 1915.[32][33] The PPIE was a fair devoted to extolling the virtues of a rapidly progressing nation, featuring new developments in science, agriculture, manufacturing and technology. A subject that received a large amount of time and space was that of the developments concerning health and disease, particularly the areas of tropical medicine and race betterment (tropical medicine being the combined study of bacteriology, parasitology and entomology while racial betterment being the promotion of eugenic studies). Having these areas so closely intertwined, it seemed that they were both categorized in the main theme of the fair, the advancement of civilization. Thus in the public eye, the seemingly contradictory[clarification needed] areas of study were both represented under progressive banners of improvement and were made to seem like plausible courses of action to better American society.[34][35]

Beginning with Connecticut in 1896, many states enacted marriage laws with eugenic criteria, prohibiting anyone who was “epileptic, imbecile or feeble-minded”[36] from marrying.[37]

The first state to introduce a compulsory sterilization bill was Michigan, in 1897 but the proposed law failed to garner enough votes by legislators to be adopted. Eight years later Pennsylvania’s state legislators passed a sterilization bill that was vetoed by the governor. Indiana became the first state to enact sterilization legislation in 1907,[38] followed closely by Washington and California in 1909. Sterilization rates across the country were relatively low (California being the sole exception) until the 1927 Supreme Court case Buck v. Bell which legitimized the forced sterilization of patients at a Virginia home for the mentally retarded. The number of sterilizations performed per year increased until another Supreme Court case, Skinner v. Oklahoma, 1942, complicated the legal situation by ruling against sterilization of criminals if the equal protection clause of the constitution was violated. That is, if sterilization was to be performed, then it could not exempt white-collar criminals.[39] The state of California was at the vanguard of the American eugenics movement, performing about 20,000 sterilizations or one third of the 60,000 nationwide from 1909 up until the 1960s.[40]

While California had the highest number of sterilizations, North Carolina’s eugenics program which operated from 1933 to 1977, was the most aggressive of the 32 states that had eugenics programs.[41] An IQ of 70 or lower meant sterilization was appropriate in North Carolina.[42] The North Carolina Eugenics Board almost always approved proposals brought before them by local welfare boards.[42] Of all states, only North Carolina gave social workers the power to designate people for sterilization.[41] “Here, at last, was a method of preventing unwanted pregnancies by an acceptable, practical, and inexpensive method,” wrote Wallace Kuralt in the March 1967 journal of the N.C. Board of Public Welfare. “The poor readily adopted the new techniques for birth control.”[42]

The Immigration Restriction League was the first American entity associated officially with eugenics. Founded in 1894 by three recent Harvard University graduates, the League sought to bar what it considered inferior races from entering America and diluting what it saw as the superior American racial stock (upper class Northerners of Anglo-Saxon heritage). They felt that social and sexual involvement with these less-evolved and less-civilized races would pose a biological threat to the American population. The League lobbied for a literacy test for immigrants, based on the belief that literacy rates were low among “inferior races”. Literacy test bills were vetoed by Presidents in 1897, 1913 and 1915; eventually, President Wilson’s second veto was overruled by Congress in 1917. Membership in the League included: A. Lawrence Lowell, president of Harvard, William DeWitt Hyde, president of Bowdoin College, James T. Young, director of Wharton School and David Starr Jordan, president of Stanford University.[43]

The League allied themselves with the American Breeder’s Association to gain influence and further its goals and in 1909 established a Committee on Eugenics chaired by David Starr Jordan with members Charles Davenport, Alexander Graham Bell, Vernon Kellogg, Luther Burbank, William Ernest Castle, Adolf Meyer, H. J. Webber and Friedrich Woods. The ABA’s immigration legislation committee, formed in 1911 and headed by League’s founder Prescott F. Hall, formalized the committee’s already strong relationship with the Immigration Restriction League. They also founded the Eugenics Record Office, which was headed by Harry H. Laughlin.[44] In their mission statement, they wrote:

Society must protect itself; as it claims the right to deprive the murderer of his life so it may also annihilate the hideous serpent of hopelessly vicious protoplasm. Here is where appropriate legislation will aid in eugenics and creating a healthier, saner society in the future.[44]

Money from the Harriman railroad fortune was also given to local charities, in order to find immigrants from specific ethnic groups and deport, confine, or forcibly sterilize them.[7]

With the passage of the Immigration Act of 1924, eugenicists for the first time played an important role in the Congressional debate as expert advisers on the threat of “inferior stock” from eastern and southern Europe.[45][46] The new act, inspired by the eugenic belief in the racial superiority of “old stock” white Americans as members of the “Nordic race” (a form of white supremacy), strengthened the position of existing laws prohibiting race-mixing.[47] Eugenic considerations also lay behind the adoption of incest laws in much of the U.S. and were used to justify many anti-miscegenation laws.[48]

Stephen Jay Gould asserted that restrictions on immigration passed in the United States during the 1920s (and overhauled in 1965 with the Immigration and Nationality Act) were motivated by the goals of eugenics. During the early 20th century, the United States and Canada began to receive far higher numbers of Southern and Eastern European immigrants. Influential eugenicists like Lothrop Stoddard and Harry Laughlin (who was appointed as an expert witness for the House Committee on Immigration and Naturalization in 1920) presented arguments they would pollute the national gene pool if their numbers went unrestricted.[49][50] It has been argued that this stirred both Canada and the United States into passing laws creating a hierarchy of nationalities, rating them from the most desirable Anglo-Saxon and Nordic peoples to the Chinese and Japanese immigrants, who were almost completely banned from entering the country.[47][51]

Both class and race factored into eugenic definitions of “fit” and “unfit.” By using intelligence testing, American eugenicists asserted that social mobility was indicative of one’s genetic fitness.[52] This reaffirmed the existing class and racial hierarchies and explained why the upper-to-middle class was predominantly white. Middle-to-upper class status was a marker of “superior strains.”[31] In contrast, eugenicists believed poverty to be a characteristic of genetic inferiority, which meant that those deemed “unfit” were predominantly of the lower classes.[31]

Because class status designated some more fit than others, eugenicists treated upper and lower class women differently. Positive eugenicists, who promoted procreation among the fittest in society, encouraged middle class women to bear more children. Between 1900 and 1960, Eugenicists appealed to middle class white women to become more “family minded,” and to help better the race.[53] To this end, eugenicists often denied middle and upper class women sterilization and birth control.[54]

Since poverty was associated with prostitution and “mental idiocy,” women of the lower classes were the first to be deemed “unfit” and “promiscuous.”[31]

In 1907, Indiana passed the first eugenics-based compulsory sterilization law in the world. Thirty U.S. states would soon follow their lead.[55][56] Although the law was overturned by the Indiana Supreme Court in 1921,[57] the U.S. Supreme Court, in Buck v. Bell, upheld the constitutionality of the Virginia Sterilization Act of 1924, allowing for the compulsory sterilization of patients of state mental institutions in 1927.[58]

Some states sterilized “imbeciles” for much of the 20th century. Although compulsory sterilization is now considered an abuse of human rights, Buck v. Bell was never overturned, and Virginia did not repeal its sterilization law until 1974.[59] The most significant era of eugenic sterilization was between 1907 and 1963, when over 64,000 individuals were forcibly sterilized under eugenic legislation in the United States.[60] Beginning around 1930, there was a steady increase in the percentage of women sterilized, and in a few states only young women were sterilized. From 1930 to the 1960s, sterilizations were performed on many more institutionalized women than men.[31] By 1961, 61 percent of the 62,162 total eugenic sterilizations in the United States were performed on women.[31] A favorable report on the results of sterilization in California, the state with the most sterilizations by far, was published in book form by the biologist Paul Popenoe and was widely cited by the Nazi government as evidence that wide-reaching sterilization programs were feasible and humane.[61][62]

Men and women were compulsorily sterilized for different reasons. Men were sterilized to treat their aggression and to eliminate their criminal behavior, while women were sterilized to control the results of their sexuality.[31] Since women bore children, eugenicists held women more accountable than men for the reproduction of the less “desirable” members of society.[31] Eugenicists therefore predominantly targeted women in their efforts to regulate the birth rate, to “protect” white racial health, and weed out the “defectives” of society.[31]

A 1937 Fortune magazine poll found that 2/3 of respondents supported eugenic sterilization of “mental defectives”, 63% supported sterilization of criminals, and only 15% opposed both.[63][64]

In the 1970s, several activists and women’s rights groups discovered several physicians to be performing coerced sterilizations of specific ethnic groups of society. All were abuses of poor, nonwhite, or mentally retarded women, while no abuses against white or middle-class women were recorded.[65] Several court cases such as Madrigal v. Quilligan, a class action suit regarding forced or coerced postpartum sterilization of Latina women following cesarean sections, and Relf v. Weinberger,[66] the sterilization of two young black girls by tricking their illiterate mother into signing a waiver, helped bring to light some of the widespread abuses of sterilization supported by federal funds.[67][68]

After World War II, Dr. Clarence Gamble revived the eugenics movement in the United States through sterilization. Dr. Gamble supported the eugenics movement throughout his life. He worked as a researcher at Harvard Medical school and was well off financially, as the Procter and Gamble fortune was inherited by him. Gamble, a proponent of birth control, contributed to the founding of public birth control clinics. These were the first public clinics in the United States. Until the 1960’s and 1970’s, Gamble’s ideal form of eugenics, sterilization, was seen in various cases. Doctors told mothers that their daughters needed shots, but they were actually sterilizing them. Hispanic women were often sterilized due to the fact that they could not read the consent forms that doctors had given them. Poorer white people, African Americans, and Native American people were also targeted for forced sterilization.[69]

The number of eugenic sterilizations is agreed upon by most scholars and journalists. They claim that there were 64,000 cases of eugenic sterilization in the United States, but this number does not take into account the sterilizations that took place after 1963. Around this time was when women from different minority groups were singled out for sterilization. If the sterilizations after 1963 are taken into account, the number of eugenic sterilizations in the United States increases to 80,000. Half of these sterilizations took place after World War II. Sterilization still occurs today, in some states, drug addicts can get paid to be sterilized. Eugenic sterilization programs before World War II were mostly conducted on prisoners, or people in mental hospitals. After the war, eugenic sterilization was aimed more towards poor people and minorities. There were even judges who would force people on parole to be sterilized. People supported this revival of eugenic sterilizations because they thought it would help bring an end to some issues, like poverty and mental illness. Supporters also thought that these programs would save taxpayer money and boost the economy.[70]

In 1972, United States Senate committee testimony brought to light that at least 2,000 involuntary sterilizations had been performed on poor black women without their consent or knowledge.[71] An investigation revealed that the surgeries were all performed in the South, and were all performed on black welfare mothers with multiple children.[71] Testimony revealed that many of these women were threatened with an end to their welfare benefits until they consented to sterilization.[71] These surgeries were instances of sterilization abuse, a term applied to any sterilization performed without the consent or knowledge of the recipient, or in which the recipient is pressured into accepting the surgery. Because the funds used to carry out the surgeries came from the U.S. Office of Economic Opportunity, the sterilization abuse raised older suspicions, especially amongst the black community, that “federal programs were underwriting eugenicists who wanted to impose their views about population quality on minorities and poor women.”[31]

Native American women were also victims of sterilization abuse up into the 1970s.[72] The organization WARN (Women of All Red Nations) publicized that Native American women were threatened that, if they had more children, they would be denied welfare benefits. The Indian Health Service also repeatedly refused to deliver Native American babies until their mothers, in labor, consented to sterilization. Many Native American women unknowingly gave consent, since directions were not given in their native language. According to the General Accounting Office, an estimate of 3,406 Indian women were sterilized.[72] The General Accounting Office stated that the Indian Health Service had not followed the necessary regulations, and that the “informed consent forms did not adhere to the standards set by the United States Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW).”[73]

In 2013, it was reported that 148 female prisoners in two California prisons were sterilized between 2006 and 2010 in a supposedly voluntary program, but it was determined that the prisoners did not give consent to the procedures.[74] In September 2014, California enacted Bill SB1135 that bans sterilization in correctional facilities, unless the procedure is required to save an inmate’s life.[75]

Edwin Black wrote that one of the methods that was suggested to get rid of “defective germ-plasm in the human population” was euthanasia.[7] A 1911 Carnegie Institute report explored eighteen methods for removing defective genetic attributes, and method number eight was euthanasia.[7] The most commonly suggested method of euthanasia was to set up local gas chambers.[7] However, many in the eugenics movement did not believe that Americans were ready to implement a large-scale euthanasia program, so many doctors had to find clever ways of subtly implementing eugenic euthanasia in various medical institutions.[7] For example, a mental institution in Lincoln, Illinois fed its incoming patients milk infected with tuberculosis (reasoning that genetically fit individuals would be resistant), resulting in 3040% annual death rates.[7] Other doctors practiced euthanasia through various forms of lethal neglect.[7]

In the 1930s, there was a wave of portrayals of eugenic “mercy killings” in American film, newspapers, and magazines. In 1931, the Illinois Homeopathic Medicine Association began lobbying for the right to euthanize “imbeciles” and other defectives.[76] The Euthanasia Society of America was founded in 1938.[77]

Overall, however, euthanasia was marginalized in the U.S., motivating people to turn to forced segregation and sterilization programs as a means for keeping the “unfit” from reproducing.[7]

Mary deGormo, a former teacher, was the first person to combine ideas about health and intelligence standards with competitions at state fairs, in the form of baby contests. She developed the first such contest, the “Scientific Baby Contest” for the Louisiana State Fair in Shreveport, in 1908. She saw these contests as a contribution to the “social efficiency” movement, which was advocating for the standardization of all aspects of American life as a means of increasing efficiency.[21] DeGarmo was assisted by Doctor Jacob Bodenheimer, a pediatrician who helped her develop grading sheets for contestants, which combined physical measurements with standardized measurements of intelligence.[78]

The contest spread to other U.S. states in the early twentieth century. In Indiana, for example, Ada Estelle Schweitzer, a eugenics advocate and director of the Indiana State Board of Health’s Division of Child and Infant Hygiene, organized and supervised the state’s Better Baby contests at the Indiana State Fair from 1920 to 1932. It was among the fair’s most popular events. During the contest’s first year at the fair, a total of 78 babies were examined; in 1925 the total reached 885. Contestants peaked at 1,301 infants in 1930, and the following year the number of entrants was capped at 1,200. Although the specific impact of the contests was difficult to assess, statistics helped to support Schweitzer’s claims that the contests helped reduce infant mortality.[79]

The intent of the contest was to educate the public about raising healthier children; however, its exclusionary practices reinforced social class and racial discrimination. In Indiana, for example, the contestants were limited to white infants; African American and immigrant children were barred from the competition for ribbons and cash prizes. In addition, the scoring was biased toward white, middle-class babies.[80][81] The contest procedure included recording each child’s health history, as well as evaluations of each contestant’s physical and mental health and overall development using medical professionals. Using a process similar to the one introduced at the Louisiana State Fair, and contest guidelines that the AMA and U.S. Children’s Bureau recommended, scoring for each contestant began with 1,000 points. Deductions were made for defects, including a child’s measurements below a designated average. The contestant with the most points (and the fewest defections) was declared the winner.[82][83][84]

Standardization through scientific judgment was a topic that was very serious in the eyes of the scientific community, but has often been downplayed as just a popular fad or trend. Nevertheless, a lot of time, effort, and money was put into these contests and their scientific backing, which would influence cultural ideas as well as local and state government practices.[85][86]

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People promoted eugenics by hosting “Better Baby” contests and the proceeds would go to its anti-lynching campaign.[13]

First appearing in 1920 at the Kansas Free Fair, Fitter Family competitions, continued all the way up to World War II. Mary T. Watts and Dr. Florence Brown Sherbon,[87][88] both initiators of the Better Baby Contests in Iowa, took the idea of positive eugenics for babies and combined it with a determinist concept of biology to come up with fitter family competitions.[89]

There were several different categories that families were judged in: Size of the family, overall attractiveness, and health of the family, all of which helped to determine the likelihood of having healthy children. These competitions were simply a continuation of the Better Baby contests that promoted certain physical and mental qualities.[90] At the time, it was believed that certain behavioral qualities were inherited from one’s parents. This led to the addition of several judging categories including: generosity, self-sacrificing, and quality of familial bonds. Additionally, there were negative features that were judged: selfishness, jealousy, suspiciousness, high-temperedness, and cruelty. Feeblemindedness, alcoholism, and paralysis were few among other traits that were included as physical traits to be judged when looking at family lineage.[91]

Doctors and specialists from the community would offer their time to judge these competitions, which were originally sponsored by the Red Cross.[91] The winners of these competitions were given a Bronze Medal as well as champion cups called “Capper Medals.” The cups were named after then Governor and Senator, Arthur Capper and he would present them to “Grade A individuals”.[92]

The perks of entering into the contests were that the competitions provided a way for families to get a free health check up by a doctor as well as some of the pride and prestige that came from winning the competitions.[91]

By 1925 the Eugenics Records Office was distributing standardized forms for judging eugenically fit families, which were used in contests in several U.S. states.[93]

Concerns about eugenics arose in the African American community after the implementation of the Negro Project of 1939, which was proposed by Margaret Sanger who was the founder of Planned Parenthood.[94] In this plan, Sanger offered birth control to Black families in the United States to give them the chance to have a better life than what the group had been experiencing in the United States.[95] She also noted that the project was proposed to empower women. The Project often sought after prominent African American leaders to spread knowledge regarding birth control and the perceived positive effects it would have on the African American community, such as poverty and the lack of education.[96] Because of this, Sanger believed that African American ministers in the South would be useful to gain the trust of people within disadvantaged, African American communities as the Church was a pillar within the community.[96] Also, political leaders such as W.E.B. Dubois were quoted in the Project proposal criticizing Black people in the United States for having many children and for being less intelligent than their white counterparts:

… the mass of ignorant Negroes still breed carelessly and disastrously, so that the increase among Negroes, even more than the increase among Whites, is from that part of the population least intelligent and fit, and least able to rear their children properly.[95]

Even though The Negro Project received a lot of praise from white leaders and eugenicists of the time, it is important to note that Margaret Sanger wanted to clear concerns that this was not a project to terminate African Americans.[96] To add to the clarification, she received support from prominent African American leaders such as Mary McLeod Bethune and Adam Clayton Powell Jr.[95] These leaders and many more would later serve on the Negro National Advisory Council of Planned Parenthood Federation of America in 1942.

Still, many modern activists criticize Margaret Sanger for practicing eugenics on the African American community. Angela Davis, a leader who is associated with the Black Panther Party, made claims of Margaret Sanger targeting the African American community to reduce the population:

Calling for the recruitment of Black ministers to lead local birth control committees, the Federation’s proposal suggested that Black people should be rendered as vulnerable as possible to their birth control propaganda.[97]

Eugenics has been supported by members of the African American community for a long time.[when?] For example, Dr. Thomas Wyatt Turner, a professor at Howard University and a well respected scientist incorporated eugenics into his classes. The NAACP founder asked his students how eugenics can affect society in a good way in 1915. Eugenics seemed to be[weaselwords] accepted by all kinds of people. W.E.B DuBois, a historian and civil rights leader had some beliefs that lined up with eugenics. He believed in developing the best versions of African Americans in order for his race to succeed. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. even received an award from Planned Parenthood in 1966 and in his acceptance speech, given by his wife, King discussed how large families are no longer functional in an urban setting. King claimed that in the cities, African Americans who continued to have children were over populating the ghettos. She continued by saying that having this many unwanted children is a bad problem that needs to be controlled, a belief that aligns with the eugenics movement.[98]

After the eugenics movement was well established in the United States, it spread to Germany. California eugenicists began producing literature promoting eugenics and sterilization and sending it overseas to German scientists and medical professionals.[7] By 1933, California had subjected more people to forceful sterilization than all other U.S. states combined. The forced sterilization program engineered by the Nazis was partly inspired by California’s.[8]

The Rockefeller Foundation helped develop and fund various German eugenics programs,[99] including the one that Josef Mengele worked in before he went to Auschwitz.[7]

Upon returning from Germany in 1934, where more than 5,000 people per month were being forcibly sterilized, the California eugenics leader C. M. Goethe bragged to a colleague:

You will be interested to know that your work has played a powerful part in shaping the opinions of the group of intellectuals who are behind Hitler in this epoch-making program. Everywhere I sensed that their opinions have been tremendously stimulated by American thought … I want you, my dear friend, to carry this thought with you for the rest of your life, that you have really jolted into action a great government of 60 million people.[7]

Eugenics researcher Harry H. Laughlin often bragged that his Model Eugenic Sterilization laws had been implemented in the 1935 Nuremberg racial hygiene laws.[100] In 1936, Laughlin was invited to an award ceremony at Heidelberg University in Germany (scheduled on the anniversary of Hitler’s 1934 purge of Jews from the Heidelberg faculty), to receive an honorary doctorate for his work on the “science of racial cleansing”. Due to financial limitations, Laughlin was unable to attend the ceremony and had to pick it up from the Rockefeller Institute. Afterwards, he proudly shared the award with his colleagues, remarking that he felt that it symbolized the “common understanding of German and American scientists of the nature of eugenics.”[101]

Henry Friedlander wrote that although the German and American eugenics movements were similar, the US did not follow the same slippery slope as Nazi eugenics because American “federalism and political heterogeneity encouraged diversity even with a single movement.” In contrast, the German eugenics movement was more centralized and had fewer diverse ideas.[102] Unlike the American movement, one publication and one society, the German Society for Racial Hygiene, represented all German eugenicists in the early 20th century.[102][103]

After 1945, however, historians began to try to portray the US eugenics movement as distinct and distant from Nazi eugenics.[104] Jon Entine wrote that eugenics simply means “good genes” and using it as synonym for genocide is an “all-too-common distortion of the social history of genetics policy in the United States.” According to Entine, eugenics developed out of the Progressive Era and not “Hitler’s twisted Final Solution.”[105]

After Hitler’s advanced idea of eugenics, the movement lost its place in society for a bit of time. Although eugenics was not thought about much, aspects like sterilization were still going on, just not at such a public level. Although as technology developed so did the movement, the new technologies made way for genetic engineering. Instead of sterilizing people to ultimately get rid of “undesirable” people, genetic engineering “changes or removes genes to prevent disease or improve the body in some significant way.”[106]

One positive of genetic engineering is its ability to cure and prevent life-threatening diseases. Genetic engineering began in the 1970s, this is when scientists began to clone and engineer genes. From this scientists were able to create human insulin, the first-ever genetically-engineered drug. Because of this development, over the years scientists were able to create new drugs to treat devastating diseases. For example, in the early 1990s, a group of scientists were able to use a gene-drug to treat severe combined immunodeficiency in a little girl. This disease forces victims to live inside a sanitized bubble. Due to the gene therapy, the girl was cured and able to live outside of her plastic bubble.[107] Developments like this are being made constantly because of genetic engineering, however genetic engineering also has many negatives.

One negative of genetic engineering is the practice of eliminating “undesirable traits” within humans and its ethics. This ultimately causes a link between genetic engineering and eugenics. This practice creates many social issues in society. Many people believe using genetic engineering to essentially “perfect” the human race is a damaging practice. For example, with current genetic tests, parents are able to test a fetus for any life-threatening diseases that may impact the child’s life and then choose to abort the baby.[106] The public fears this will cause issues due to the fact that practices like these may be used to eliminate entire groups of people, like the way Hitler used the idea. The basis of Hitler’s movement was to create a superior Aryan race, he wanted to eliminate every other race. While he did not have the genetic engineering technology then, this technology could be used with similar tactics as Hitler with permanent modifications to human germ lines and the ability to terminate a pregnancy that won’t produce the best baby.[108] Genetic engineering can also lead to trait selection and enhancement in embryos. One dilemma with this application is that most genes have an effect on more than one area of the body. For example, there is a gene that deals with memory, when scientists altered this gene to improve memory and learning in mice, it also increased their sensitivity to pain. There is also the issue of whether it is ethical to do such a thing to embryos because they cannot consent to the procedure. This also leads to issues within a socio-economic standpoint. Many people see this as an opportunity for the rich to continue to improve their children when the poor are left to “suffer” with their “undesirable” genes.[109]

The 1978 Federal Sterilization Regulations, created by the United States Department of Health, Education and Welfare or HEW, (now the United States Department of Health and Human Services) outline a variety of prohibited sterilization practices that were often used previously to coerce or force women into sterilization.[110] These were intended to prevent such eugenics and neo-eugenics as resulted in the involuntary sterilization of large groups of poor and minority women. Such practices include: not conveying to patients that sterilization is permanent and irreversible, in their own language (including the option to end the process or procedure at any time without conceding any future medical attention or federal benefits, the ability to ask any and all questions about the procedure and its ramifications, the requirement that the consent seeker describes the procedure fully including any and all possible discomforts and/or side-effects and any and all benefits of sterilization); failing to provide alternative information about methods of contraception, family planning, or pregnancy termination that are nonpermanent and/or irreversible (this includes abortion); conditioning receiving welfare and/or Medicaid benefits by the individual or his/her children on the individuals “consenting” to permanent sterilization; tying elected abortion to compulsory sterilization (cannot receive a sought out abortion without “consenting” to sterilization); using hysterectomy as sterilization; and subjecting minors and the mentally incompetent to sterilization.[110][67][111] The regulations also include an extension of the informed consent waiting period from 72 hours to 30 days (with a maximum of 180 days between informed consent and the sterilization procedure).[67][110][111]

However, several studies have indicated that the forms are often dense and complex and beyond the literacy aptitude of the average American, and those seeking publicly funded sterilization are more likely to possess below-average literacy skills.[112] High levels of misinformation concerning sterilization still exist among individuals who have already undergone sterilization procedures, with permanence being one of the most common gray factors.[112][113] Additionally, federal enforcement of the requirements of the 1978 Federal Sterilization Regulation is inconsistent and some of the prohibited abuses continue to be pervasive, particularly in underfunded hospitals and lower income patient hospitals and care centers.[67][111]

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Eugenics in the United States – Wikipedia

Doctors Can Now Prescribe FDA-Approved Drug Derived From Cannabis

Marijuana Medication

Just a few decades ago, the idea of a medical use for cannabis was little more than a pipe dream. Now, there’s a cannabis-derived drug on the market that doctors can prescribe as readily as any other medication.

As of Thursday, doctors in the nation are free to prescribe patients Epidiolex, making it the first drug on the market specifically designed to treat a rare form of childhood epilepsy. It’s also the first prescribable cannabis-derived drug.

First Step

In June, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the sale of Epidiolex to treat treat two rare forms of epilepsy that manifest during childhood: Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome.

While a few treatments for the former were already available, none existed for the latter. Epidiolex showed remarkable promise during trials, though, reducing seizures by up to 40 percent.

Final Step

Even though the FDA approved Epidiolex in June, prescribing it was still illegal because the Drug Enforcement Agency classifies all forms of cannabis as a Schedule I drug — the same category that heroin and LSD fall under.

That changed on September 27 when the DEA classified Epidiolex as a Schedule V drug. That classification means that doctors in all 50 states are now as free to prescribe Epidiolex as they are cough suppressants containing small amount of codeine.

The cannabis-derived drug has already improve the lives of many of the young patients who participated in its trials, and now that it’s widely available, it has the opportunity to improve many more.

READ MORE: The First FDA-Approved Cannabis-Based Drug Is Now Available [Fast Company]

More on Epidiolex: The Digest: A Marijuana-Derived Medication Is Now Approved for Sale in the US

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Doctors Can Now Prescribe FDA-Approved Drug Derived From Cannabis

A Giant Space Laser on Earth Could Blast Messages at Alien Planets

Phone Home

Scientists have a new idea to contact alien civilizations: build a huge laser and start blasting exoplanets with messages.

We could build such a laser, according to research by MIT scientists published Monday in The Astrophysical Journal, with technology that either exists today or requires just minor developments.

Death Star

The laser is more of a homing beacon than a death ray. A one or two-megawatt laser, beamed out through a 30 to 45-meter telescope, would be powerful enough to reach planets as far as 20,000 light years away. For reference, the star nearest our sun is Proxima Centauri, which is just over four light years from us.

If any planet hit with our laser that happens, by some infinitesimally small chance, to host extraterrestrial life that had developed advanced technology, its occupants would be able to look back at Earth and see signs of life.

Waiting Game

The scientists behind this research are counting on SETI, the government agency responsible for scanning the night sky for alien life, to complete more full-sky scans and invest in the infrared technology that could help identify which distant planets likely have habitable atmospheres.

With those advances and if there are aliens out where with a laser of their own — that’s a big “if” — the researchers argue that we could have a back-and-forth conversation over decades or centuries, with each message taking many years to reach its target.

READ MORE: E.T., we’re home [MIT News]

More on the search for alien life: Scientists want Your Help Crafting a Message to Aliens

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A Giant Space Laser on Earth Could Blast Messages at Alien Planets

Take a Virtual Ride Through the Boring Company’s First Tunnel

Can’t Hardly Wait

You don’t have to wait until next month to get a sneak peak inside the Boring Company’s first tunnel.

On October 21, Elon Musk tweeted that construction on his company’s two-mile-long test tunnel in Hawthorne, CA, was nearing completion. He claimed the Boring Company would host an opening party for the tunnel on December 10, at which time the public would get a chance to take free rides through it.

This weekend, Musk confirmed via Twitter that the December 10 date was still a go — and shared a remarkable time-lapse video of a tunnel walkthrough.

Sneak Peak

Be forewarned that the below clip is pretty hypnotic. We’re not doctors, but if you’re prone to seizures, you might want to skip watching this one.

Tunnel Trance

In his tweet Musk called the tunnel “disturbingly long,” but the two miles it covers might eventually seem like a short jaunt. After all, the ultimate plan is a network comprising hundreds of layers of tunnels dug out below the greater Los Angeles area.

This test tunnel is just the start of that vision, and if watching the walkthrough makes you want to experience the tunnel firsthand, just make sure you’re in the Hawthorne area on December 10.

READ MOREElon Musk Shares First-Look Into the Boring Company’s ‘Disturbingly Long’ Tunnel [Business Insider]

More on the Boring Company: Elon Musk: First Boring Company Tunnel Will Open December 10

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Take a Virtual Ride Through the Boring Company’s First Tunnel

General Motors Will Give You $10,000 to Name Its New eBike

What’s In a Name?

Want to flex your creative muscles for a chance to win $10,000?

On Friday, General Motors (GM) unveiled two new electric bike designs it plans to begin selling in 2019, one compact and the other foldable. Each boasts a pair of wheels, a battery-powered motor, and a slew of safety features. What they don’t have, though, is a name — and that’s where you come in.

Ten (eBike) Racks

In the press release announcing the new eBikes, GM also launched a contest to name its eBike brand. The person who submits the winning name will receive a prize of $10,000, while nine runners-up will each receive $1,000.

If you’d like to get in on this naming contest, you have until November 26 at 10 a.m. EST to submit your suggestion via the contest website, which includes further details.

Electric Love

GM is far from the first major auto manufacturer to design an eBike. However, it is rare to see the vehicles actually make it to market — after all, each eBike sold could translate to one fewer car sale.

Still, GM has claimed repeatedly that it is committed to electric vehicles, and the eBike could be one more example of that commitment in action.

Other than the 2019 release date, the press release is pretty short on details. How far can these eBikes travel on a single charge? Will they be part of a bike-sharing network? Who knows?

But with $10,000 up for grabs, the question most people are probably pondering is, “What the heck should we call these things?”

READ MORE: General Motors Is Building an eBike and Wants You to Name It [General Motors]

More on electric bikes: Tow an SUV With This Incredible Electric Bike

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General Motors Will Give You $10,000 to Name Its New eBike

Having a Bad Day? An Adorable Video Shows AI Learning to Get Dressed

Rise and Shine

Most animators would agree: making a cataclysmic explosion destroy a planet is easy, but human figures and delicate interactions are hard.

That’s why engineers from The Georgia Institute of Technology and Google Brain teamed up to build a cute little AI agent — an AI algorithm embodied in a simulated world — that learned to dress itself using realistic fabric textures and physics.

Blessed

The AI agent takes the form of a wobbling, cartoonish little friend with an expressionless demeanor.

During its morning routine, our little buddy punches new armholes through its shirts, gets bopped around by perturbations, dislocates its shoulder, and has an automatic gown-enrober smoosh up against its face. What a day!

Great Job!

Beyond a fun video, this simulation shows that AI systems can learn to interact with the physical world, or at least a realistic simulation of it, all on their own.

This is thanks to reinforcement learning, a type of AI algorithm where the agent learns to accomplish tasks by seeking out programmed rewards.

In this case, our little friend was programmed to seek out the warm satisfaction of a job well done, and we’re very proud.

READ MORE: Using machine learning to teach robots to get dressed [BoingBoing]

More on cutesy tech: You Can’t Make This Stuff Up: Amazon Warehouse Robots Slipped On Popcorn Butter

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Having a Bad Day? An Adorable Video Shows AI Learning to Get Dressed

More Robots Means Fewer Seasonal Workers for Amazon This Holiday

Alexa, Buy Me a Gift

The holiday season is upon us, and Amazon is getting ready for the seasonal onslaught with 100,000 additional warehouse hires.

That’s about 20,000 fewer than last year. According to analysts, the drop is because the company’s automation efforts are succeeding.

Automating Santa

In 2012, Amazon bought Kiva Systems — the maker of little orange robots that are quickly becoming the gold standard in warehouse distribution center automation.

They are proving particularly useful in Amazon’s fulfillment centers, where they move orders around massive warehouses quietly and efficiently — and without complaining about horrendous working conditions. The result: fewer human workers.

Prime Real Estate

Automation has also brought much higher productivity to Amazon’s many smaller distribution centers.

And it’s packing as many robots into each of them as it can. The company is planning on using cubic instead of square feet to measure the size of its warehouses thanks to multi-story warehouse systems, CNBC reports.

And if you’re one of the unlucky few warehouse workers working grueling overtime during the holiday season: happy holidays.

READ MORE: Reduced holiday temp hiring is a sign Amazon is turning to more automation and robots: Citi [CNBC]

More on Amazon robots: Amazon Is Ramping up Its (Still Rather) Secretive Home Robot Project

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More Robots Means Fewer Seasonal Workers for Amazon This Holiday

Go Phub Yourself: How Phones Pull You Away From Your Loved Ones

Phub off

When it comes to smartphone etiquette, we tend to be pretty rude. Most of us — 62 percent according to a new Australian poll— have checked our phone in the middle of an in-person conversation.

The people we snub the most are romantic partners and close friends, according to The Conversation, perhaps because those relationships can survive the occasional rudeness in the form of phubbing — phone snubbing.

All Night Long

Aside from commuting and lunch breaks — honestly, we get it — the most common place people phubbed was in bed, scrolling Reddit or Twitter for hours before falling asleep next to their partner, according to the research, which will be published next month in the Proceedings of the International Conference on Information Systems.

And aside from frying your eyes by staring at a bright blue screen in a dark room, phubbing could be a serious detriment to your relationships. Research published in the journalPsychology of Popular Media Culture in 2016 suggests that cell phone use — texting your bud during dinner or tweeting during movie night — can harm personal relationships and personal well-being.

Screen Time

Of course, these findings alone aren’t enough to extrapolate the future of relationships. But all signs are pointing to the increasing presence of personal technology in our lives, especially our bedrooms, are getting in the way of human intimacy.

Next time, instead of scrolling Reddit for relationship horror stories, see if you can try and prevent your own.

READ MORE: Phubbing (phone snubbing) happens more in the bedroom than when socialising with friends [The Conversation]

More on smartphones: Musk: You’ll be Able to Remote Control Your Tesla Within 6 Weeks

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Go Phub Yourself: How Phones Pull You Away From Your Loved Ones

Exercise Your Civic Duty by Shaming Your Friends Into Voting

Everyone Else Is Doing It

Barring a few special circumstances, every U.S. citizen has the right to vote — or not vote — in government elections. But don’t expect to stay home on election day guilt-free.

In the U.S., your voting record is public information — depending on the state, your record could include anything from the political party you’re affiliated with to whether or not you voted in past elections.

Now, at least two tech startups have created apps that use this information to give people an easy way to peer pressure their friends into voting.

Text the Vote

On Sunday, The New York Times published a compelling story on two political apps, VoteWithMe and Outvote. The apps pull the voting data of everyone in your contact list and group those contacts based on how engaged they are in the voting process.

You can then use the apps to encourage your contacts to vote in the coming election in several ways. For example, you could send reminders of the election date to the less-than-committed voters in your contact list or ask your more committed friends to be sure to encourage their friends to vote.

Shifting Focus

Unfortunately, these political apps might work better in theory than in practice.

First, there’s the fact that they don’t really provide a full picture of your voting history — they only show the data for the state you’re currently registered in. Then there’s the possibility that the apps might affect how people vote — not just how often.

Right now, you might not think twice about registering as a Democrat even though you work for a decidedly Republican-leaning company, but you might if you knew your boss was likely to download an app that reveals that information.

It’s a tricky situation. Democracies work best when everyone participates, but is app-delivered peer pressure really the best way to encourage a higher voter turnout in the future? Just a thought, but maybe we should all focus on securing our elections and restoring Americans’ faith in the democratic process instead.

READ MORE: Did You Vote? Now Your Friends May Know (and Nag You) [The New York Times]

More on democracy: Pre-Teen Hackers Prove It: The U.S. Election System Simply Isn’t Secure Enough

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Exercise Your Civic Duty by Shaming Your Friends Into Voting

An Ancient Star Reveals Our Galaxy Is Older Than We Thought

Old Kid on the Block

In the outer layers of the Milky Way is an old star, newly discovered by Johns Hopkins University astronomers, that might be one of the oldest in the universe.

New research which will soon be published in The Astrophysical Journal describes a star with the mouthful of a name, 2MASS J18082002-5104378 B. It’s about one-sixth the size of our sun and dates back 13.5 billion years — just 300 million years younger than the entire universe.

Old-School Metal

We know this star is so old because of its metal composition. As stars die and their leftover materials form new stars, the nuclear fusion reactions that power their cores give off heavy metals like gold and platinum. The more heavy metals, the more generations a given star must have been through.

But this star, still dimly twinkling, has such a small heavy metal content that astronomers think it comes from just the second generation of all the stuff in the universe — its celestial predecessor would have been formed in the Big Bang itself. For reference, our sun first emerged many generations after that, a 4.6 billion-year-old youngster compared to 2MASS.

I Wish I Might

This star is far older than anything else found in our galaxy so far, and its discovery opens the doors to finding even older stars.

That means we may soon learn more about how the Big Bang gave rise to the universe — and a better understanding of our own origins.

READ MORE: Johns Hopkins Scientist Finds Elusive Star with Origins Close to Big Bang [Johns Hopkins University]

More on old stars: Scientists Now Know When the First Stars Formed in the Universe

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An Ancient Star Reveals Our Galaxy Is Older Than We Thought

Huge Wind Farms Could Weaken Hurricanes Before They Make Landfall

Breezing Up

The devastation of hurricanes such as Florence and Harvey is a reminder of the terrible power of storms and our apparent helplessness when they strike.

But new research suggests that there might be a way to fight hurricanes before they come ashore and it might even help generate renewable electricity.

Tilting Windmills

According to a paper published this summer in the journal Environmental Research Letters, computer simulations suggest that offshore wind turbines suck the energy out of hurricanes and force them higher into the sky, resulting in decreased rainfall and potentially less destruction when they make landfall.

“Offshore wind farms definitely could be a potential tool to weaken hurricanes and reduce their damage,” author Cristina Archer, a professor at the University of Delaware, told Popular Science. “And they pay for themselves, ultimately, which is why I am excited about this.”

Damage Plan

Today’s wind farms often switch turbines off during high winds, so current wind farms aren’t a good defense mechanism against hurricanes.

But turbines scheduled to hit the market by 2020, Archer said, will be strong enough to withstand hurricane winds — so she’s hopeful they’ll be able to protect coastal communities, and maybe even generate some electricity in the process.

READ MORE: Scientists Want to Put ‘Speed Bumps’ in Hurricane Alley to Slow Down Storms [Popular Science]

More on nanobots: Death Count from Hurricane Maria Was Way Off. That Might Slow Puerto Rico’s Recovery.

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Huge Wind Farms Could Weaken Hurricanes Before They Make Landfall


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