climate change, Peru, water shortages, ancient techniques
The author writes, “The Andes Mountains are one of six places in the world where complex civilizations emerged, spurred by precipitation so seasonal it was a catalyst for hydrological innovations again and again. People cultivated deep knowledge of water and the underground, deploying strategies that still astonish — and some still use. Today, modern Peruvians are redeploying that ancient knowledge and protecting natural ecosystems, such as high-altitude wetlands, to help the country adapt to climate change.” Photo credit: Steven dosRemedios / Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

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.

A Teen Who Was Bullied on Snapchat Died. His Mom Is Suing to Hold Social Media Liable (Reader Steve)

From the Los Angeles Times: “One of the last things that Carson Bride did before taking his own life was look to his phone for help. The 16-year-old had been receiving anonymous messages for months, according to a federal lawsuit filed … in California, through a popular Snapchat app called Yolo. The messages included sexual comments and taunts over specific incidents, such as the time he’d fainted in biology class at his Portland, Ore., school. The messages had to be coming from people he knew, but the app’s design made it impossible for him to know who was behind it. If he replied to the taunts, Yolo would automatically make the original message public, revealing his humiliation to the world.”

‘We Need Help’: Sewage Crisis Hits Majority-Black Town in New York (Russ)

From the Guardian, “The sewer lines in Linda McNeil’s neighborhood got so clogged during the pandemic that she had to use a 16-gallon wet vac to suck up her own toilet waste and tub water. As Covid cases surged in the fall and winter, McNeil, 68, wheeled the wet vac outside every day and emptied the contents down an opening in the manhole cover at the top of her driveway. The smell in her home burned her eyes and made her cough. She couldn’t sleep through the night. ‘I’d have nightmares that they were gonna condemn my house,’ she said.”

Biden Cancels Trump’s Planned ‘Garden of American Heroes’ (Dan)

The author writes, “President Joe Biden on Friday put the kibosh on his predecessor’s planned ‘National Garden of American Heroes’ and revoked former President Donald Trump’s executive orders aimed at social media companies’ moderation policies and branding American foreign aid. In an executive order of his own, Biden abolished the Trump-formed task force to create the new monument, which the former president proposed last year. It was to have featured sculptures of dozens of American historical figures, including presidents, athletes and pop culture icons, envisioned by Trump as ‘a vast outdoor park that will feature the statues of the greatest Americans to ever live.’”

Oklahoma Governor Booted From Tulsa Race Massacre Commission (DonkeyHotey)

The authors write, “The commission formed to observe the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre announced [last week] that it had booted Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt from his seat on the panel a week after he signed a bill outlawing the teaching of some race and racism concepts in public schools. A statement from the commission did not indicate the reason for the parting, and a spokeswoman said the commission had no further comment. However, commission project manager Phil Armstrong this week had sharply criticized the Republican governor for signing a bill into law that prohibits the teaching of so-called critical race theory in Oklahoma schools.”

The World’s First ‘Infinite’ Plastic (Dana)

The author writes, “Efficiently recycling plastic by conventional means is notoriously difficult, and only 9% of all plastic ever made has been recycled into new plastics. But what if there was a way to turn plastic back into the stuff it was made from? The ‘next grand challenge’ for polymer chemistry — the field responsible for the creation of plastics — is learning to undo the process by turning plastics back into oil.”

Scientists Believe These Photos Show Mushrooms on Mars. Not So Fast. (Mili)

The author writes, “Could there be mushrooms on Mars? In a new paper, an international team of scientists from countries including the U.S., France, and China have gathered and compared photographic evidence they say shows fungus-like objects growing on the Red Planet. But other experts in the scientific community are skeptical of the claims. In their paper … the scientists analyze images taken by NASA’s Opportunity and Curiosity rovers, plus the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter’s HiRISE camera. The scientists say the objects in question show ‘chalky-white colored spherical shaped specimens,’ which the Mars Opportunity team initially said was a mineral called hematite. Later studies refuted the hematite claim. Soon, a scientist named Rhawn Gabriel Joseph — the lead author of the new paper — coined the term ‘Martian mushrooms’ to describe the mysterious objects, because of how they resemble lichens and mushrooms.”

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