Robert F. Kennedy Jr: Pope's Call to Tackle Climate Change 'Is a Moral Imperative'
NY1's Michael Herzenberg sat down Monday with environmental activist and president of Waterkeeper Alliance Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to discuss Pope Francis' place in Catholic history and the pontiff's staunch stance on climate change amid the Pope's visit to the U.S.
"Obviously I'm pleased with it, but how can you ignore that as a moral issue?," Kennedy said in response to Herzenberg's question on his reaction to the Pope's encyclical's focus on climate change. "How can you ignore what we are doing to the planet, what we are doing to creation, what we are doing to our children?"
Kennedy went on to say, "Any economic system has to be judged using moral criteria. It has to be judged by whether it's serving the public interest. Whether it's serving the people or whether it's just simply an adultery of money and whether it's serving just an narrow corner of humanity and making a few people rich by impoverishing the rest of us."
Herzenberg asked Kennedy what he thought of the political stance the Pope has been taking. Kennedy responded, "We have the ice caps melting, we have millions of environmental refugees, we have water supplies drying out, we have fires and floods and cities being inundated and it's a crisis right now and what he is saying is that we need to treat this as the crisis that it is.
"Placing this controversy clearly in a moral context is going to be a really important development for Paris. This is not just economics or the quality of our lives, there is a moral imperative we doing something about global warming."
And, as a final question, Herzenberg asked Kennedy, "If you had one tangible wish to come true as a result of Pope Francis' visit to the U.S., what would it be?"
Kennedy replied, "The public and press and corporate America begin recognizing that this is a moral imperative, that we can no longer lie to each other and lie to the public about global warming, that that's a sin. A sin is an injury to a relationship, an injury to another person, and we are injuring whole generations of humanity as well as the rest of God's creation. We need to start looking at it that way rather than looking at it as a political battle, or Republicans vs. Democrats, we have to understand that this is a moral issue."
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By Aaron W Hunter
A chance discovery of a beautifully preserved fossil in the desert landscape of Morocco has solved one of the great mysteries of biology and paleontology: how starfish evolved their arms.
The Pompeii of palaeontology. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<h2></h2><p>Although starfish might appear very robust animals, they are typically made up of lots of hard parts attached by ligaments and soft tissue which, upon death, quickly degrade. This means we rely on places like the Fezouata formations to provide snapshots of their evolution.</p><p>The starfish fossil record is patchy, especially at the critical time when many of these animal groups first appeared. Sorting out how each of the various types of ancient starfish relate to each other is like putting a puzzle together when many of the parts are missing.</p><h2>The Oldest Starfish</h2><p><em><a href="https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/216101v1.full.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Cantabrigiaster</a></em> is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. It was discovered in 2003, but it has taken over 17 years to work out its true significance.</p><p>What makes <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> unique is that it lacks almost all the characteristics we find in brittle stars and starfish.</p><p>Starfish and brittle stars belong to the family Asterozoa. Their ancestors, the Somasteroids were especially fragile - before <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> we only had a handful of specimens. The celebrated Moroccan paleontologist Mohamed <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2016.06.041" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Ben Moula</a> and his local team was instrumental in discovering <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031018216302334?via%3Dihub" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">these amazing fossils</a> near the town of Zagora, in Morocco.</p><h2>The Breakthrough</h2><p>Our breakthrough moment came when I compared the arms of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> with those of modern sea lilles, filter feeders with long feathery arms that tend to be attached to the sea floor by a stem or stalk.</p><p>The striking similarity between these modern filter feeders and the ancient starfish led our team from the University of Cambridge and Harvard University to create a new analysis. We applied a biological model to the features of all the current early Asterozoa fossils in existence, along with a sample of their closest relatives.</p>
Cantabrigiaster is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<p>Our results demonstrate <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> is the most primitive of all the Asterozoa, and most likely evolved from ancient animals called crinoids that lived 250 million years before dinosaurs. The five arms of starfish are a relic left over from these ancestors. In the case of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em>, and its starfish descendants, it evolved by flipping upside-down so its arms are face down on the sediment to feed.</p><p>Although we sampled a relatively small numbers of those ancestors, one of the unexpected outcomes was it provided an idea of how they could be related to each other. Paleontologists studying echinoderms are often lost in detail as all the different groups are so radically different from each other, so it is hard to tell which evolved first.</p>
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