PICKS are stories from many sources, selected by our editors or recommended by our readers because they are important, surprising, troubling, enlightening, inspiring, or amusing. They appear on our site and in our daily newsletter. Please send suggested articles, videos, podcasts, etc. to picks@whowhatwhy.org.

Earth Has More Tree Species Than We Thought (Maria)

The author writes, “There are 14 percent more tree species than previously thought, according to what researchers are calling the first ‘scientifically credible’ estimate. Of the 73,300 estimated species, the researchers predict there are 9,200 that are yet to be discovered. But most rare species are in tropical forests, fast disappearing because of climate change and deforestation. The study is based on a database of tens of millions of trees in more than 100,000 forest plots around the world.”

Book Ban Efforts Spread Across the US (Aline)

The author writes, “Parents, activists, school board officials and lawmakers around the country are challenging books at a pace not seen in decades. The American Library Association said in a preliminary report that it received an ‘unprecedented’ 330 reports of book challenges, each of which can include multiple books, last fall.”

Trump Shouts Out Jason Ravnsborg, the State AG Who Ran Over and Killed a Man (DonkeyHotey)

From the Daily Beast: “South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg, who ran over and killed a man in 2020 and could be impeached soon, still has one high-profile fan. Former President Donald Trump on Saturday evening gave Ravnsborg a shout-out during a political rally in Conroe, Texas.”

Creating Non-Hallucinogenic Analogs of LSD and Psilocybin to Treat Mental Illnesses (Sean)

From Medical Press: “In recent years, scientists have found that some hallucinogens, such as LSD and psilocybin, can provide relief for patients suffering from chronic depression and other mental illnesses like PTSD. And while many patients may enjoy the hallucinogenic experience, many do not. Scientists have therefore been taking a closer look at hallucinogens to find the mechanisms that provide relief to those suffering from depression — and if possible, to determine if the hallucinogenic effects of such drugs are necessary for treatment.”

Polar Bears Move Into Abandoned Arctic Weather Station (Mili)

The author writes, “There are only a few places on the planet where polar bears can be found in large numbers. One of them is Russia’s Wrangel Island, a nature reserve under Unesco protection that is often called a polar bear maternity ward. The place is very inaccessible, which may be bad for tourists but is great for the animals. Preparations for the expedition to Wrangel took nearly two years, and last August we finally set off for the north of Chukotka on a small ice-class sailing yacht.”

Brrr! It Got So Cold in Florida, Iguanas Fell From the Trees (Reader Steve)

From The Mercury News: “The National Weather Service said Sunday it’s all going to warm up nicely after the weekend. The low temperatures near freezing are quite rare in Florida, but at first glance the citrus, strawberry, and tomato winter crops suffered no major damage. Farmers spray water onto the crops to help protect them from the cold. As for iguanas, well, that’s another matter. They are an invasive species, well accustomed to the trees of South Florida. When it gets cold, below 40 degrees Fahrenheit — about 4 degrees Celsius — they go into a sort of suspended animation mode. And they fall to the ground. But they usually wake up with the sun’s warmth.”