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.

War Against Climate Change: Managed Retreat and Floating Cities of the Future (Maria)

The author writes, “It’s time to put all the options on the table when it comes to discussing climate change adaptation, said University of Delaware disaster researcher A.R. Siders. Managed retreat — the purposeful movement of people, buildings, and other assets from areas vulnerable to hazards — has often been considered a last resort. But Siders said it can be a powerful tool for expanding the range of solutions to cope with rising sea levels, flooding, and other climate change effects when used proactively or in combination with other measures.”

Convention Circuit of Delusion Gives Forum for Election Lies (Reader Steve)

The author writes, “For a few hours last weekend, thousands of Donald Trump’s supporters came together in a field under the blazing Wisconsin sun to live in an alternate reality where the former president was still in office — or would soon return. Clad in red MAGA hats and holding ‘Trump 2021’ signs, they cheered in approval as Mike Lindell, the MyPillow creator-turned-conspiracy peddler, introduced ‘our real president.’ Then Trump appeared via Jumbotron to repeat the lie that has become his central talking point since losing to Joe Biden by more than 7 million votes: ‘The election was rigged.’ Lindell later promised the audience that Trump would soon be reinstated into the presidency, a prospect for which there is no legal or constitutional method. In the nearly five months since Trump’s presidency ended, similar scenes have unfolded in hotel ballrooms and other venues across the country.” 

The Lab Leak Theory Doesn’t Hold Up (Dana)

From Foreign Policy: “Blaming humans for disease is as old as time itself. It’s inherently hard to trace outbreaks that take tangled paths from their origin point to where they’re first detected. Without firm answers, humankind loves to invent stories, from the Black Death of the 14th century to the 2009 H1N1 outbreak. In the absence of certainty, both sets of theories —natural or man-made — seem plausible: like Schrödinger’s cat, for virology. When infectious diseases can be explained, however, nature is almost always the culprit.”

South Carolina Court Halts Executions Until Firing Squad Is Available (Mili)

The author writes, “A high court in the US state of South Carolina has blocked two executions until the inmates are given the choice of death by electrocution or firing squad. A new law requires inmates on death row to decide between the two methods if lethal drugs are not available. But as prison authorities have not yet formed a firing squad, the executions have been halted by the supreme court.”

Why American Women Everywhere Are Delaying Motherhood (Nick)

The authors write, “For decades, delaying parenthood was the domain of upper-middle-class Americans, especially in big, coastal cities. Highly educated women put off having a baby until their careers were on track, often until their early 30s. But over the past decade, as more women of all social classes have prioritized education and career, delaying childbearing has become a broad pattern among American women almost everywhere. The result has been the slowest growth of the American population since the 1930s, and a profound change in American motherhood. Women under 30 have become much less likely to have children. Since 2007, the birthrate for women in their 20s has fallen by 28 percent, and the biggest recent declines have been among unmarried women. The only age groups in which birthrates rose over that period were women in their 30s and 40s — but even those began to decline over the past three years.”

One Woman’s Decades-Long Fight to Make Juneteenth a US Holiday (Dan)

From NPR: “Opal Lee is 94, and she’s doing a holy dance. It’s a dance she said she and her ancestors have been waiting 155 years, 11 months and 28 days to do. Ever since Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, to spread the news of the Emancipation Proclamation outlawing slavery in Confederate states. President Abraham Lincoln had signed it more than two years earlier. … In a warm and raspy voice, Lee recalls her decades of work in the Juneteenth movement after joining the Tarrant County Black Historical and Genealogical Society, which oversaw local Juneteenth celebrations. But she said that after more than 40 years as a community activist, she ‘really doubled down in 2016’ by ‘going bigger.’”

Some Scientists Believe the Universe Is Conscious (Sean)

From Popular Mechanics: “In upcoming research, scientists will attempt to show the universe has consciousness. Yes, really. No matter the outcome, we’ll soon learn more about what it means to be conscious — and which objects around us might have a mind of their own. What will that mean for how we treat objects and the world around us? Buckle in, because things are about to get weird.”

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