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.

Wildlife Conservation Can Help Stabilize the Climate: Study (Maria)

The author writes, “Biodiversity loss and climate change are the two most urgent environmental challenges that humanity faces nowadays. Although these two issues have been largely addressed separately, a new study published in the journal Global Change Biology argues that many conservation actions which slow, halt, or reverse biodiversity loss could also benefit climate change. According to the first draft of the ‘Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework,’ released by the Secretariat of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, there are 21 targets that should be implemented by 2030 in order to reduce potential threats to biodiversity. … Experts found that 14 of these targets could also slow climate change.”

Putin Threatens CIA Over Seemingly Kremlin-Imagined Assassination Plot (Sean)

From the Washington Examiner: “Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday accused Western intelligence services, specifically the CIA, of advising Ukraine on how to assassinate a senior Russian propagandist, Vladimir Solovyov. While Putin said his Federal Security Service disrupted the plot against Solovyov, the evidence for the plot’s existence is far from convincing. After all, an FSB officer appears to have signed a supposedly incriminatory note by one of the would-be assassins with ‘signature unclear’ rather than an actually ineligible signature. More ludicrously, as Tim McMillan observed, the FSB also appears to have misunderstood an instruction to buy three cellphone SIM cards. Instead, someone bought three copies of the computer game, ‘The Sims.’”

With Attack on Twitter, the Right Shows It Has Institutionalized Trump’s Corrupt Use of Government Power

From Media Matters for America: “‘Nice company you’ve got there; be a shame if something happened to it. Maybe you should save yourself some trouble and sell it to our buddy.’ That’s the message 18 House Republicans, led by Judiciary Committee ranking member Jim Jordan (R-OH), sent on Friday with a letter demanding Twitter’s board of directors preserve all records related to the bid by Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk to purchase the company. The right’s propagandists had celebrated Musk’s bid as a way to garner political gain by ending the company’s purported political censorship. Then its elected GOP champions, responding to hesitation from Twitter’s board, raised the prospect of a costly congressional investigation if his offer wasn’t accepted. The GOP’s ham-fisted threat reflects the party’s institutionalization of former President Donald Trump’s authoritarian use of government power to impose political retribution on individual companies that defied him — particularly those that owned news outlets. Now, Republicans are adopting similar strategies in the name of fighting so-called ‘woke capital,’ and right-wing media are cheering them on.”

Why Being Anti-Science Is Now Part of Many Rural Americans’ Identity (Reader Steve)

The author writes, “People in rural areas hold old, well-known anxieties about scientists, particularly when the scientists come from the government. Kristin Lunz Trujillo, a postdoctoral researcher with the COVID States Project, said this anxiety stemmed from an attitude that pits rural, hands-on knowledge against the kind of knowledge obtained from institutions like universities or government bureaucracies — a kind of anti-establishment view that extends to scientists.”

Biden Launches $6B Effort to Save Distressed Nuclear Plants (Laura)

The authors write, “The Biden administration is launching a $6 billion effort to rescue nuclear power plants at risk of closing, citing the need to continue nuclear energy as a carbon-free source of power that helps to combat climate change. A certification and bidding process opened [last week] for a civil nuclear credit program that is intended to bail out financially distressed owners or operators of nuclear power reactors, the U.S. Department of Energy told The Associated Press exclusively, shortly before the official announcement. It’s the largest federal investment in saving financially distressed nuclear reactors.”

High Levels of Fat in Our Blood May Be Even More Harmful Than We Realized (Mili)

From ScienceAlert: “We already know that increased fat in the blood, often caused by obesity, isn’t good news for our bodies. However, a new study identifies previously unknown dangers to our health that could be caused by higher levels of these blood fats. The fats cause extra stress on muscle cells, causing damage to their structure and their function. What the latest research has discovered is that these stressed-out cells are also giving out a signal that can be passed on to other cells and cause more damage. These signals take the form of molecules called ceramides. While their normal job is actually to reduce cell stress, in long-term metabolic diseases like type 2 diabetes, they can instead kill off cells and make the symptoms of the disease more severe.”

“Oreology” Investigates Mystery of Why Oreo Creme Filling Usually Sticks to One Side (Dana)

The author writes, “If you have to test the mechanics of an Oreo, what better fixture is there than an oreometer? Everyone has their preferred method for snacking on tasty Oreo cookies: twisting the two halves apart to eat the creme filling first, perhaps, before dunking the chocolate wafers in a glass of milk. But you may have noticed that the creme typically sticks to only one chocolate wafer. MIT scientists tried to get to the bottom of why this is so often the case in a paper published in the journal Physics of Fluids. The authors playfully invoked a new scientific subfield they dubbed ‘oreology’ (‘Oreo’ after the classic Nabisco cookie, ‘logy’ from the Greek for ‘flow study,’ rheo logia).”