Vaping Weed is at least as bad as Smoking Cigarettes

Vaping Weed is at least as bad as Smoking Cigarettes

States across the United States are rapidly approving the recreational use of marijuana, but scientific evidence suggests this is a dangerous development. Very little research has been done on marijuana vaping, but available evidence shows that vaping weed is at least as bad as smoking cigarettes.

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have identified a new disease called EVALI. That is short for E-Vaping Associated Lung Injury. An apparent culprit in this problem is vitamin E acetate, a sticky oil substance often added to vaping products. This is especially common in vaping products that contain THC, the primary psychoactive compound in marijuana.

The Center for Disease Control says that 84% of the EVALI cases involve cannabis-containing products. As of February of 2020, cases of EVALI had caused 68 deaths in 29 states and the District of Columbia. Those numbers now are far more significant, and virtually all of them are in young adults. Teenagers are twice as likely to have “wheezing or whistling” in their lungs after vaping marijuana as compared to smoking cigarettes.

As followers of Jesus, 1 Corinthians 3:16 tells us that our bodies are the Temple of the Holy Spirit. Vaping weed is at least as bad as smoking cigarettes, and both are destructive acts that damage the body and can lead to death. As our society turns away from God and rejects the notion that our bodies are designed creations of God, young people are less concerned about taking care of them.

The consequences of rejecting God are enormous, and one consequence is the threat to our health. The COVID-19 pandemic should have made us all aware of the importance of caring for our lungs. These studies on the destructive nature of vaping have centered on young people, so the results are not due to old age.

First Corinthians 3:16 tells us of the sacred nature of our bodies. Verse 17 says, “If any man defiles the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.” This is not some violence done to humans by God, but the natural consequence of abusing God’s creation. We cannot blame God when we fail to care for what He has given us.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

You can find more information on this study HERE and HERE.

Seaweed Farming in Underwater Forests

Seaweed Farming in Underwater Forests
Salted Dulse

We live in a time of change. We need radically new ideas to handle global warming, food shortages, animal extinction, carbon footprints, and land utilization problems. God has provided more than just land-based resources to meet our food and air quality challenges. Oceans cover more than 70% of Earth’s surface, which seems to be the logical place to address some of these challenges through seaweed farming in underwater forests.

Here are a few advantages offered by seaweed:

1) Seaweed absorbs carbon dioxide. Left alone, it sequesters the carbon at the bottom of the ocean, where it can remain for centuries.

2) Humans can eat some seaweed, such as dulse (Palmaria palmata). It is a nutrient-rich red macroalga that can be used in cooking. Icelanders use it as a snack food.

3) Seaweed can be used as a feed alternative for livestock freeing massive amounts of arable land.

4) Seaweed eliminates the need for watering and applying fertilizer or pesticides while reducing land deforestation.

5) Raising seaweed advances shellfish populations, a significant food source for many people throughout the world.

6) Seaweed reduces ocean acidification protecting ocean life.

7) Seaweed can be grown in areas where land farming is almost impossible. At present, the largest seaweed farm is in the Faroe Islands 62 degrees north latitude, only four degrees south of the Arctic Circle.

Seaweed farming in underwater forests is already practiced by 50 countries around the world today. Our point is that those who blame God for food shortages and environmental issues should realize that God has given us solutions, but He expects us to use them. Instead of using the oceans to dispose of wastes, we desperately need to stop the pollution and start building ocean farms to grow food.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Reference: World Wildlife Magazine for Spring 2021 pages 14 – 19.

Why Do We Need Wetlands?

Why Do We Need Wetlands?
The Pantanal

A giant wetland called the Pantanal is located mostly in Brazil and partly in Bolivia and Paraguay. It’s the world’s largest tropical wetland covering as much as 75,000 square miles (195,000 sq km). You might think that such a vast area is a lot of wasted space that should be drained and used for other purposes. Why do we need wetlands anyway?

The Pantanal is located in a depression in the Earth’s crust surrounded by highlands. Several rivers flow into the Pantanal, bringing sediment and making it an inland river delta. In the rainy season, up to eighty-percent of the floodplain is covered with water. In the dry season, the floodplain becomes dry. Forests of trees grow in the higher areas of the Pantanal. In the lower seasonally inundated areas, grasslands are growing.

The area’s topography creates various biome regions supporting plants that are native to rainforests, savannahs, and semi-arid lands. There are 3,500 plant species in the Pantanal, 1000 bird species, 480 reptile species, 400 fish species, and 300 mammal species. In other words, the Pantanal supports an incredible variety of aquatic plants and a very diverse menagerie of animals.

Some of the animals living in the Pantanal are rare or endangered. We need wetlands like the Pantanal to support these various plants and animals, plus thousands of invertebrate species. More than that, wetlands are natural water treatment systems that remove pollutants and chemicals, purifying and replenishing the groundwater. Wetlands also provide a buffer against flooding in other areas.

Why do we need wetlands? They are an essential part of the hydraulic system God created for planet Earth described thousands of years ago in Job 36:27, 28, “He draws up the drops of water, which distill as rain to the streams; the clouds pour down their moisture, and abundant showers fall on mankind.” That ancient book describes the water cycle with scientific accuracy.

We need wetlands for what they do for our water supply and the support they provide for plants and animals essential to the balance of nature. Human activity threatens the Pantanal, as well as many other wetlands. We must become better stewards of the blessings God has placed in our care.

— Roland Earnst 2021

Value of Insects in the Ecosystem

Value of Insects in the Ecosystem

We get many interesting responses to our daily articles on this website. Recently, several people responded to our emphasis on the value of insects. Bugs can indeed bother us. Some bite or sting, while others eat our vegetation encroaching on our food supply. Despite those things, we have pointed out that entomologists tell us that insects are beneficial.

Akito Kawahara, a curator at the Florida Museum of Natural History, said that most people are unaware of the value of insects. Kawahara points out that insects annually contribute 70 billion dollars to the U.S. economy by their roles in pollination and waste disposal processing. Everyone knows that insects are involved in pollinating flowering plants, but they may not realize that insects are the linchpins, holding together almost all land-based ecosystems. Also, insects provide food sources for birds, bats, freshwater fish, and numerous land animals.

Not realizing the value of insects, humans have done much to eradicate them. We have reduced their habitat, used massive amounts of pesticides, and made them victims of pollution. Sometimes, we have brought in invasive species of animals and plants that harm the ecosystems. We have also done things that accelerate climate change. The National Academy of Sciences suggests initiating a campaign to encourage people to avoid using bug zappers, practice insect conservation, do less mowing, and use insect-friendly soaps and sealants.

God set up a working system that has produced a high standard of living for thousands of years. We are threatening to unbalance the system by our capacity for high tech devices and materials. Sometimes insect populations get out of control and damage human resources, such as the locust invasions of recent years. It is often human interference with the natural controlling agents that have caused the insect infestations. People need to be aware of the value of insects to life on this planet.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Data from National Science Foundation

Cricket Megaphones

Cricket Megaphones

Have you ever thought about how a tiny cricket can make so much noise? Researchers have found that male tree crickets use leaves to make baffles that double the volume of their calls. You could call them cricket megaphones.

Cricket wings are resonance structures reverberating with the vibration caused by rubbing the wings together. This reverberation is like the body of a violin, but the sound is weak because the insect is so small. To make a baffle, the male cricket cuts a hole in a leaf and then crawls halfway through the hole, so its wings cause the leaf to vibrate like a loudspeaker. The advantage is that female crickets are attracted to the males with the loudest call.

The discussion among biologists is about whether this qualifies as tool use. Rittik Deb, an ecologist at the National Centre for Biological Sciences in Bangalore, India, says crickets show that sophisticated behaviors aren’t just for big complex brains. Deb says his work “really turns that idea on its head.”

Not everything about this behavior is beneficial to the cricket because increasing the volume of their calls makes them sitting ducks for predators like geckos and spiders. It would seem that this controls the cricket population, but it provides a food source for other living things. For that reason, it appears that evolutionary processes would eventually put a stop to cricket megaphones.

A more likely scenario is that the behavior is programmed into the crickets’ DNA to keep a balance in nature. In places where geckos and/or spiders are in abundance, the cricket population remains small. In Australia, we saw large numbers of geckos and large spiders in the homes of people with whom we stayed. We did not see insect problems in those same homes. In America, we have much to learn about the natural controls that God has built into our world. As more evidence unfolds, we see that human attempts to control insects with chemicals are unnecessary.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Data from Science News, January 16, 2021.

Biological Barriers to Evolution

Biological Barriers to Evolution

For all living things to evolve from a single common ancestor, an incredible number of beneficial changes must occur. The problem is that biological barriers to evolution get in the way.

Although Darwinism looks for genetic mutations to fashion new and beneficial genetic changes, the vast majority of mutations are harmful. Since fruit flies have a short reproductive cycle, scientists have worked with enormous numbers of fruit fly generations, trying to demonstrate evolution. They have produced mutated fruit flies with four wings rather than two. However, the extra wings are a useless encumbrance to the fruit flies because there are no muscles to move them. Additionally, they are still fruit flies, not even houseflies or horseflies.

Darwin saw that the beaks of finches changed over time. However, those beak variations were not anything new; they had always been there. Changes in the habitat caused the birds with beneficial beak sizes and shapes to reproduce in larger numbers. When the climate or other conditions changed again, the predominant beaks changed again. The beak adaptations were not permanent changes, and the birds were still finches.

Mutations do not add new data to the DNA, and for a mutation to be passed on to the next generation, it must occur in the reproductive cells. A genetic change in body cells can’t be passed on to future generations any more than a woman who has had an appendectomy will give birth to a child with no appendix. Mutations in bacteria are well known and can cause them to become immune to the effects of antibiotics. But again, those are just hereditary fluctuations around a median point. They do not become new creatures.

Hundreds or even thousands of years of plant and animal breeding by humans has shown that intelligent breeding can produce remarkable changes and improvements. But new dog breeds are still dogs, and new rose varieties are still roses. If biological barriers to evolution limit intelligent humans to making improved changes within certain limited boundaries, could purely random chance mutations create the wide variety of life-forms in the world today? Billions of years are not enough time to do the impossible.

— Roland Earnst © 2021

Your DNA Code

Your DNA Code

It’s a program code written in four biological compounds that we identify with the initials A, G, T, and C. It’s three billion letters long. If you printed it on standard sheets of paper in 12-point font size and stacked those sheets, the stack would be as high as the Washington Monument (555 feet or 169 meters). What is the program? It’s your DNA code that gives the blueprint for your body.

If you spent ten hours per day seven days a week reading one letter per second, it would take you just under 75 years to read the entire program. In other words, it would require your lifetime to read the code that describes your physical blueprint. However, instead of being printed on paper, those four letters are paired in two-letter sets like the rungs of a 3-D spiral ladder. Then they are folded neatly into the nucleus of every cell of your body. Small changes in the coding of those letters could change the color of your hair or your eyes. It could change your body shape or size. It could determine if you have a physical or mental illness.

Your DNA code is comparable to that of every other person on Earth, but it is unique to you alone in many details. That’s why detectives use DNA forensic tests to determine the identity of a person who has committed a crime. Similarities in DNA can indicate who we are related to or where our ancestors originated.

Since the Human Genome Project completed the sequencing of human DNA in 2003, we have learned that our DNA is in many ways similar to that of other animals and insects, and even plants. Despite the similarities, there are significant differences that are not physical. Only humans have creativity, an appreciation for beauty, and a desire to worship. We believe that’s because God gave humans a special gift when He created us in His spiritual image, with a soul, not just a body.

We also believe that the enormous complexity of your DNA code could not have happened by chance. We suggest that the code that lays out the design of all living things was written by the same God who created humans in His image.

— Roland Earnst © 2021

Six Elements and Three Interactions

Six Elements and Three Interactions

You can find six elements in the cells of all living things: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, and sulfur. Without all of those elements, life, as we know it, could not exist. Living things require many other elements to perform various functions to survive, but those six elements are the building blocks of living cells. Life depends on those six elements and three interactions.

What do those elements have in common? For one thing, they are all non-metals. More important is that those six elements have stable atoms that are not radioactive. Radioactive decay of the atoms of some elements releases alpha or beta particles, which are destructive to living tissue. When those particles enter living tissue, they cause the release of high-energy particles in the cells. That destroys DNA, causing disease and mutations.

We are exposed to some radiation every day, but the amount is usually small, and our cells have a remarkable ability to repair themselves. If any of the six elements released radiation particles, life could not exist. Why are these six elements so stable? We have to consider the six elements and three interactions.

Three carefully balanced forces or interactions work within every atom to give stability. They are the strong force, the weak force, and the electromagnetic force. The strong force binds protons together in the atomic nucleus. The weak force is responsible for radioactive decay. Electromagnetic interaction between the protons in the nucleus and the electrons holds those electrons in the atomic shell while allowing chemical interactions between elements.

The key to stability is the precise balance between the three forces. A change in the value of any of the three would upset the balance, making our atoms unstable and life impossible. Was it mere luck that caused the delicate balance of those forces? Is it possible that the balance and our existence are just chance accidents? We think a better explanation is that the Creator of the universe carefully designed the six elements and three interactions.

— Roland Earnst © 2021

Vanilla Mystery Solved by a Bee

Vanilla Mystery Solved by a Bee

The vanilla flavor used in many foods comes from an orchid (Vanilla planifolia) that originally grew in Mexico. Herman Cortes, a Spanish conquistador, discovered the pleasant-tasting substance used by the Aztecs, and he introduced it to Europe in the 1520s. But it took 300 years to solve the vanilla mystery.

When the Europeans tried to produce vanilla in their own countries, they could grow the vines, which produced flowers that bloomed one morning each year. However, within 12 hours, the flowers withered and produced no fruit. For three centuries, the vanilla mystery remained unsolved, and the Europeans depended on Mexico for vanilla flavor.

Then in 1836, a French botanist named Charles Francois Morren traveled to Mexico to study vanilla production. He noticed bees landing on the vanilla flower, working their way under a flap in the flower, and becoming dusted with pollen. Then they transferred the pollen to other flowers. Within hours of pollination, the flowers closed, and soon seed pods began to form.

The vanilla mystery solution was known only to those stingless bees of the genus Melipona which lived only in Mexico. They knew how to pollinate the flowers so that they could produce seed pods. The people who attempted to grow vanilla elsewhere tried without success to bring the bees into their areas. Then in 1841, a twelve-year-old slave boy discovered a way to hand pollinate the flowers using a sliver of bamboo. The vanilla mystery was solved!

Because of hand pollination, Indonesia and Madagascar now exceed Mexico in vanilla production. However, hand pollination is labor-intensive and requires constant monitoring of the plants since the flowers stay open for only a few hours. It took humans 300 years to discover how to pollinate the vanilla flower. Before that, only the Melipona bees knew the secret. No other insects knew how to enter those flowers and pollinate them.

Without the bees, there would have been no vanilla plant for humans to discover and use. More important, without the bees, the vanilla vines could not reproduce. Since the orchid could not survive without the bee, the question is, “Who put that bee there and told it how to pollinate that flower?” The vine and the bee could not have evolved separately. That leaves us with another vanilla mystery. Perhaps the bee and the vanilla vine were created to work together. We see this as another evidence of God’s creative work. Think about that the next time you enjoy some vanilla ice cream.

— Roland Earnst and Dave Hart © 2021

Native Plants Are Best for Birds

Native Plants Are Best for Birds

One of the ecological issues of recent years has been the role of invasive species and how they affect local birds and mammals. Recent studies show that berries produced by native plants are best for birds. Besides that, the birds prefer local varieties over the fruits of introduced species.

Studies of native bayberries have shown that they contain more fats, carbohydrates, and nutrients that birds need to survive. Amanda Gallinat of Utah State University said that invasive fruits are usually nutrient-poor. For people who enjoy watching birds, that is something to keep in mind when choosing plants for their yards.

Viburnums such as arrow-wood viburnum produce berries that are high in fats and carbohydrates, which help birds prepare for making long migration flights. For birds that stay around in the cold weather, another factor that favors native plants is how long they hang on to their berries. Winterberry is a native holly that can hold its berries well into the cold months.

When you talk about the design built into the migrations and lives of birds, it is not just the birds’ design but also the design of the nutritional system that supports them. Native plants are best for birds because they often give the birds better nutritional support than species brought in from other areas of the world.

God’s design for life is best, but humans often introduce non-native plants and animals that sometimes become invasive species. People may introduce non-native species with good intentions, or perhaps invasive species arrive by accident with foreign cargo. Either way, we must learn to be better stewards of the planet over which God gave us dominion. (See Genesis 1:28.)

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Data from National Wildlife, February-March 2021, page 12.