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Taking the Bite out of Rabies

The Evolution of Rabies Management in Canada
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Eat Like a Fish

My Adventures as a Fisherman Turned Restorative Ocean Farmer
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I am a restorative ocean farmer. It’s a trade both old and new, a job rooted in thousands of years of history, dating back to Roman times. I used to be a commercial fisherman, chasing your dinner on the high seas for a living, but now I farm twenty acres of saltwater, growing a mix of sea greens and shellfish.
 
I’ve paid my debt to the sea. I dropped out of high school to fish and spent too many nights in jail. My body is beat to hell: I crawl out of bed like a lobster most mornings. I’ve lost vision in half my right eye from a chemical splash in Alaska. I’m an epileptic who can’t swim, and I’m allergic to shellfish.
 
But every shiver of pain has been worth it. It’s a meaningful life. I’m proud to spend my days helping feed my community, and if all goes well, I will die on my boat one day. Maybe get a small obit in the town paper, letting friends know that I was taken by the ocean, that I died a proud farmer growing food underwater. That I wasn’t a tree hugger but spent my days listening to and learning from waves and weather. That I believed in building a world where we can all make a living on a living planet.
 
Fishermen must tell our own stories. Normally, you hear from us through the thrill-seeking writer, a Melville or Hemingway, trolling my culture for tall tales, or a Greenpeace exposé written from the high perch of environmentalism, or the foodie’s fetishization of artisanal hook and line. When fishermen don’t tell our own stories, the salt and stink of the ocean are lost: how the high seas destroy our bodies but lift our hearts, how anger and violence spawn solidarity and love. There’s more edge to fishermen—more swearing, more fights, more drugs—and we are both victims and stewards of the sea.
 
So this is my story. It’s been a long, blustery journey to get here, but as I look back over my shoulder, a tale of ecological redemption emerges from the fog. It begins with a high school dropout pillaging the high seas for McDonald’s and ends with a quiet ocean farmer growing sea greens and shellfish in the “urban sea” of Long Island Sound. It’s a story of a Newfoundland kid forged by violence, adrenaline, and the thrill of the hunt. It’s about the humility of being in forty-foot seas, the pride of being in the belly of a boat with thirteen others work­ing thirty-hour shifts. About a farm destroyed by two hurricanes and reborn through blue-collar innovation. It is a story of fear and love for our changing seas.
 
But, most important, it’s a search for a meaningful and self-directed life, one that honors the tradition of seafaring culture but brings a new approach to feeding the country among the wandering rocks of the climate crisis and inequality. As fishermen and farmers before me, all I’ve asked for is a job that fills my chest with pride, a working life that my people can write and sing songs about.
 
I still miss being a commercial fisherman. But that’s over now. Overfishing, climate change, acidification have forced me to change course. Now I have more in common with a kale farmer than I do with fishermen. My life is quiet, constant—working the same patch of ocean day after day for over a decade. I can’t hang out in the same bars: What fish tales would I tell? Would I swagger into the Crow’s Nest, turn up the lilt of my Newfoundland accent, order a stout, and tell a yarn about sea­weed? “There I was in fucking flat calm. Reached down with my gaff, hooked a buoy, and up came my kelp, glistening brown wide blades. Fifteen feet. Longest I’d seen it in years. Yes, b’y, it was something to see.”
 
I’d be laughed out of the bar.
 
About this book
Writing this book was hard. My early years are fogged with drug-fueled violence and adrenaline, and I suspect drenched in over-the-shoulder romanticism. A life seen in reverse is an untidy affair. I struggled with structure. After much wrangling, I decided to weave together five concurrent strands.
 
First is my evolution from fisherman to ocean farmer. It was a difficult, emotional birth. I had to rewire my nervous system to new tempos of work, grow a blue thumb, hang out with odd breeds of people, even learn a new vernacular of food. It was a bumpy trip: my first brush with aquaculture left me disillu­sioned, and I’ve made many mistakes along the way to becom­ing a restorative famer, but in the end I landed on my feet.
 
The second strand is my rocky romance with sea greens. Like most Americans, I was skeptical about moving seaweed to the center of the dinner plate. Honestly, except for sushi, it sounded kind of gross. But I fell in love with a food lover, and she took me by the hand on a long journey of discovery. We met chefs spe­cializing in making unappetizing food beautiful and delicious, learned about the lost culinary history of Western seaweed cui­sine, and tested out kelp dishes on roofers and plumbers. In the book I’ve included a handful of recipes developed by Brooks Headley and David Santos, two of the most creative working chefs in the United States, whose work points the way toward a delicious future.
 
The third strand is instructional: how to start your own underwater garden. It provides the basics for building a farm, seeding kelp and shellfish, and provides tips on farm mainte­nance and harvesting. It’s not comprehensive, of course, but it might wet your whistle.
 
Fourth is my journey of learning. I had a long history of struggling in school, but yearned for a way to understand my life on the ocean within a larger context. So I trace my learn­ing curve through the rise of industrial aquaculture and the origins of restorative ocean farming to the secret strategy to convince Americans to eat kale and the emergence of the regen­erative economy. There were many surprises along the way. Who knew that the Japanese consider an Englishwoman the birthing mother of nori farming and hold a festival in her honor every year? Or that a shipwrecked Irishman accidentally invented mussel cultivation while trying to net some birds to eat? Or that McDonald’s pioneered a seaweed-based burger in the 1990s?
 
Finally, there is my tale of passing the baton. This didn’t always go well. I swam with the sharks of Wall Street, drowned in viral media, and failed at building a new processing com­pany. But it was worth the trip, because out of the ashes came GreenWave, a training program for new farmers, partnerships with visionary companies like Patagonia in the era of climate change, and a new generation of ocean farmers to take over the helm and release me back to my beloved farm.
 
You’ll also hear a lot about kelp in the book. On my farm, we’ve experimented with a few different kinds of seaweed, but sugar kelp has emerged as the most productive, delicious, and viable native species in my area. Most of the book will refer to kelp, but know that, every day, farmers, scientists, and chefs around the world are figuring out new ways to grow and use the thousands of vegetables in the ocean.
 
Though I include a lot about kelp, I’ve written very little about Asian cuisine. The history of seaweed use in East Asia is well documented, and I could never do it justice. What’s sur­prising is the largely unknown parallel history—reaching back thousands of years—of shellfish and seaweed cultivation and cooking in the West. At times these two histories intersect, which I explore in the book, but I figured my job as a U.S.-based ocean farmer was to explore my own regional roots, and ways to cook and work with sea greens within the region I know.
 
Although I’m an ocean famer, I am not a fish farmer. The vast majority of aquaculture has entailed humans’ trying to grow animals that swim. Recently, there have been major advances in the industry, but my take—which routinely drops me into hot water with the fish-farming crowd—is that the United States chose the wrong path for ocean agriculture and continues to do so. Over the previous decades, there were countless opportuni­ties to reflect on the unique qualities of the ocean from a farm­ing perspective. If the nation had chosen to focus energies on growing restorative species such as seaweeds rather than jailing and feeding fish, we’d have a much more sensible dinner plate today. We’d be feeding the planet while breathing life back into our seas, and protecting wild fish stocks while creating middle-class jobs.
 
There will be gaps in my story. For example, I am estranged from most of my family, a history that I will address with silence. They are good people; I could have been a better man. And I’ve worked many different jobs in my life. I’ve driven lumber trucks and sold my wood carvings on the streets of New York City. I’ve worked on community-organizing campaigns with coal miners, immigrants, and fishermen, and even did a stint for a politician. But these have all been mere tributaries. Though I have been pushed off the water many times in my life, I have always fought to return. This is a tale of a fisherman’s forty-five-year search for meaningful work at sea. Maybe one day I’ll spin another yarn of my dizzy days on land, but for now I’ll stick mostly to the saltier side of my life.
 
A note about foul language. In his book Distant Water: The Fate of the North Atlantic Fisherman, Pulitzer Prize–winning author William W. Warner tries to prepare his readers for the cultural shock to come:
 
The fishermen in some chapters swear more than others. No national slights are therefore intended. All fishermen have their choice epithets. . . . Their oaths and swear words are mere interstices—points of emphasis, like raising one’s voice—devoid of literal meaning. The reader should so understand them, and take no offence.
 
So, before we dive in, let me apologize in advance. I write about the slimy, violent end of things, especially in describing my early years. And I swear a fair amount, always have, which has remained a sore point even at home.
 
Convention says I should repent and prefer the sober, inof­fensive, and violence-free life—but I don’t. The knife’s edge has been good to me. Making the world a better and more beautiful place isn’t about “softening” for the dinner crowd. It’s about the granular hard work of fighting waves and rolling up tat­tooed sleeves to work with nature. It’s not about “domestica­tion,” it’s about blue-collar innovation. So leave civility on the docks; hop aboard and revel with me in the profane. It tastes so good.
 
A few words about word choice. While some prefer the term “fishers,” I use “fishermen” to refer to both men and women who fish commercially for a living. Many have come to this con­sensus. As Clare Leschin-Hoar, who has extensively covered the fishing industry, explains: “I’ve met many female fishermen . . . and 100 percent of the time, they have told me they like the term ‘fishermen’; they don’t want to be called fishers.” She says women in the fishing industry see the term as a badge of honor. “They worked very hard to become commercial fishermen, and they want that respect.” I follow their lead.
 
To refer to my farming model, I use “restorative ocean farm­ing,” “regenerative ocean farming,” or “3D ocean farming.” This signals my search for a new lexicon for sea-based agriculture. I hate the term “aquaculture,” but honestly, I haven’t yet settled on what to call my type of farming. Same goes for seaweed, which I refer to as “sea greens,” “sea vegetables,” and “ocean greens.” In some of the more scientific sections, you might even see “macroalgae”—that just means seaweed, too. If you have bet­ter names, let me know; I’m keeping a list. Also, for all you land­lubbers: at sea, rope is called “line.”
 
What is restorative ocean farming?
Picture my farm as a vertical underwater garden: hurricane-proof anchors on the edges connected by horizontal ropes floating six feet below the surface. From these lines, kelp and other kinds of seaweed grow vertically downward, next to scallops in hanging nets that look like Japanese lanterns and mussels held in suspension in mesh socks. On the seafloor below sit oysters in cages, and then clams buried in the mud bottom.
 
My crops are restorative. Shellfish and seaweeds are powerful agents of renewal. A seaweed like kelp is called the “sequoia of the sea” because it absorbs five times more carbon than land-based plants and is heralded as the culinary equivalent of the electric car. Oysters and mussels filter up to fifty gallons of water a day, removing nitrogen, a nutrient that is the root cause of the ever-expanding dead zones in the ocean. And my farm functions as a storm-surge protector and an artificial reef, both helping to protect shoreline communities and attracting more than 150 species of aquatic life, which come to hide, eat, and thrive.
 
Shellfish and seaweed require zero inputs—no freshwater, no fertilizers, no feed. They simply grow by soaking up ocean nutrients, making it, hands down, the most sustainable form of food production on the planet.
 
My farm design is open-source and replicable: just an under­water rope scaffolding that’s cheap and easy to build. All you need is $20,000, twenty acres, and a boat. And it churns out a lot of food: up to 150,000 shellfish and ten tons of seaweed per acre. Because it is low-cost to build, it can be replicated quickly. Best of all, you can make a living: one farm can net up to $90,000 to $120,000 per year.
 
Finally, the model is scalable. There are more than ten thou­sand plants in the ocean, and hundreds of varieties of shellfish. We eat only a few kinds, and we’ve barely begun to scratch the surface of what we can grow. Imagine being a chef and discover­ing that there are thousands of vegetable species you’ve never cooked with or tasted before. It’s like discovering corn, arugula, tomatoes, and lettuce for the first time. Moreover, demand for our crops is not dependent solely on food; our seaweeds can be used as fertilizers, animal feeds, even zero-input biofuels.
 
As ocean farmers, we can simultaneously create jobs, feed the planet, and fight climate change. According to the World Bank, a network of ocean farms equivalent to 5 percent of U.S. territorial waters can have a deep impact with a small footprint, creating fifty million direct jobs, producing protein equivalent to 2.3 trillion hamburgers, and sequestering carbon equal to the output of twenty million cars. Another study found that a network of farms totaling the size of Washington State could supply enough protein for every person living today. And farming 9 percent of the world’s oceans could generate enough biofuel to replace all current fossil-fuel energy.

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Einstein's Unfinished Revolution

Einstein's Unfinished Revolution

The Search for What Lies Beyond the Quantum
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From the Prologue

What is at stake in the argument over quantum mechanics? Why does it matter if our fundamental theory of the natural world is mysterious and paradoxical?

Behind the century-long argument over quantum mechanics is a fundamental disagreement about the nature of reality—a dis­agreement which, unresolved, escalates into an argument about the nature of science.

Two questions underlie the schism.

First off, does the natural world exist independently of our minds? More precisely, does matter have a stable set of properties in and of itself, without regard to our perceptions and knowledge?

Second, can those properties be comprehended and described by us? Can we understand enough about the laws of nature to ex­plain the history of our universe and predict its future?

The answers we give to these two questions have implications for larger questions about the nature and aim of science, and the role of science in the larger human project. These are, indeed, questions about the boundary between reality and fantasy.

People who answer yes to these two questions are called real­ists. Einstein was a realist. I am also a realist. We realists believe that there is a real world out there, whose properties in no way depend on our knowledge or perception of it. This is nature—as it would be, and mostly is, in our absence. We also believe that the world may be understood and described precisely enough to ex­plain how any system in the natural world behaves. 

If you are a realist, you believe that science is the systematic search for that explanation. This is based on a naive notion of truth. Assertions about objects or systems in nature are true to the extent that they correspond to genuine properties of nature.

If you answer no to one or both of these questions, you are an anti-realist.

Most scientists are realists about everyday objects on the human scale. Things we can see, pick up, and throw around have simple and easily comprehended properties. They exist at each moment somewhere in space. When they move, they follow a trajectory, and that trajectory has, relative to someone describing them, a definite speed. They have mass and weight.

When we tell our partner that the red notebook they are look­ing for is on the table, we expect that this is simply true or false, absolutely independent of our knowledge or perception.

The description of matter at this level, from the smallest scales we can see with our eyes up to stars and planets, is called classical physics. It was invented by Galileo, Kepler, and Newton. Einstein’s theories of relativity are its crowning achievements.
But it is not easy, or obvious, for us to be realists about matter on the scale of individual atoms. This is because of quantum mechanics.

Quantum mechanics is presently our best theory of nature at the atomic scale. That theory has, as I have alluded to, certain very puz­zling features. It is widely believed that those features preclude real­ism. That is, quantum mechanics requires that we say no to one or both of the two questions I asked above. To the extent that quantum mechanics is the correct description of nature, we are forced to give up realism.

Most physicists are not realists about atoms, radiation, and ele­mentary particles. Their belief, for the most part, does not stem from a desire to reject realism on the basis of radical philosophical positions. Instead, it is because they are convinced quantum me­chanics is correct and they believe, as they have been taught, that quantum mechanics precludes realism.

If it is true that quantum mechanics requires that we give up realism, then, if you are a realist, you must believe that quantum mechanics is false. It may be temporarily successful, but it cannot be the fully correct description of nature at an atomic scale. This led Einstein to reject quantum mechanics as anything more than a temporary expedient.

Einstein and other realists believe that quantum mechanics gives us an incomplete description of nature, which is missing fea­tures necessary for a full understanding of the world. Einstein sometimes imagined that there were “hidden variables” which would complete the description of the world given by quantum theory. He believed that the full description, including those miss­ing features, would be consistent with realism.

Thus, if you are a realist and a physicist, there is one overriding imperative, which is to go beyond quantum mechanics to discover those missing features and use that knowledge to construct a true theory of the atoms. This was Einstein’s unfinished mission, and it is mine.

[...]

This all matters because science is under attack in the early twenty- first century. Science is under attack, and with it the belief in a real world in which facts are either true or false. Quite literally, parts of our society appear to be losing their grip on the boundary between reality and fantasy.

Science is under attack from those who find its conclusions in­convenient for their political and business objectives. Climate change should not be a political issue; it is not a matter of ideology, but an issue of national security, and should be treated as such. It is a real problem, which will require evidence- based solutions. Sci­ence is also under attack from religious fundamentalists who insist ancient texts are the teachings of unchanging truths by God.

In my view, there is little reason for conflict between most reli­gions and science. Many religions accept— and even celebrate— science as the way to knowledge about the natural world. Beyond that, there is mystery enough in the existence and meaning of the world, which both science and religion can inspire us to discuss, but neither can resolve.

All that is required is that religions not attack or seek to under­mine those scientific discoveries which are considered to be estab­lished knowledge because they are supported by overwhelming evidence, as judged by those educated sufficiently to evaluate their validity. This is indeed the view of many religious leaders from all faiths. In return, scientists should view these enlightened leaders as allies in the work for a better world.

In addition, science is under attack from a fashion among some humanist academics— who should know better—who hold that science is no more than a social construction that yields only one of an array of equally valid perspectives.

For science to respond clearly and strongly to these challenges, it must itself be uncorrupted by its own practitioners’ mystical yearnings and metaphysical agendas. Individual scientists may be—and, let’s face it, sometimes are—motivated by mystical feelings and metaphysical preconceptions. This doesn’t hurt science as long as the narrow criteria that distinguish hypothesis and hunch from established truth are universally understood and adhered to.

But when fundamental physics itself gets hijacked by an anti- realist philosophy, we are in danger. We risk giving up on the centuries- old project of realism, which is nothing less than the con­tinual adjustment, bit by bit as knowledge progresses, of the bound­ary between our knowledge of reality and the realm of fantasy.

One danger of anti- realism is to the practice of physics itself. Anti- realism lowers our ambition for a totally clear understanding of nature, and hence weakens our standards as to what constitutes an understanding of a physical system.

In the wake of the triumph of anti-realism about the atomic world, we have had to contend with anti- realist speculations about nature on the largest possible scale. A vocal minority of cosmolo­gists proclaims that the universe we see around us is only a bubble in a vast ocean called the multiverse that contains an infinity of other bubbles. And, whereas it is safe to hypothesize that the gal­axies we can see are typical of the rest of our universe, one must regard the other invisible bubbles as governed by diverse and randomly assigned laws, so our universe is far from typical of the whole. This, together with the fact that all, or almost all, of the other bubbles are forever out of range of our observations, means the multiverse hypothesis can never be tested or falsified. This puts this fantasy outside the bounds of science. Nonetheless, this idea is championed by not a few highly regarded physicists and mathematicians.

It would be a mistake to confuse this multiverse fantasy for the Many Worlds Interpretation of quantum mechanics. They are dis­tinct ideas. Nonetheless, they share a magical- realist subversion of the aim of science to explain the world we see around us in terms of only itself. I would suggest that the harm done to clarity about the aim and purpose of science by the enthusiastic proponents of the multiverse would not have been possible had not the majority of physicists uncritically adopted anti- realist versions of quantum physics.

Certainly, quantum mechanics explains many aspects of na­ture, and it does so with supreme elegance. Physicists have devel­oped a very powerful tool kit for explaining diverse phenomena in terms of quantum mechanics, so when you master quantum me­chanics you control a lot about nature. At the same time, physicists are always dancing around the gaping holes that quantum mechan­ics leaves in our understanding of nature. The theory fails to pro­vide a picture of what is going on in individual processes, and it often fails to explain why an experiment turns out one way rather than another.

These gaps and failures matter because they underlie the fact that we have gotten only partway toward solving the central prob­lems in science before seeming to run out of steam. I believe that we have not yet succeeded in unifying quantum theory with grav­ity and spacetime (which is what we mean by quantizing gravity), or in unifying the interactions, because we have been working with an incomplete and incorrect quantum theory.

But I suspect that the implications of building science on incor­rect foundations go further and deeper. The trust in science as a method to resolve disagreements and locate truth is undermined when a radical strand of anti-realism flourishes at the foundations of science. When those who set the standard for what constitutes explanation are seduced by a virulent mysticism, the resulting con­fusion is felt throughout the culture. 

I was privileged to meet a few of the second generation of the founders of twentieth- century physics. One of the most contradic­tory was John Archibald Wheeler. A nuclear theorist and a mystic, he transmitted the legacies of Albert Einstein and Niels Bohr to my generation through the stories he told us of his friendships with them. Wheeler was a committed cold warrior who worked on the hydrogen bomb even as he pioneered the study of quantum uni­verses and black holes. He was also a great mentor who counted among his students Richard Feynman, Hugh Everett, and several of the pioneers of quantum gravity. And he might have been my men­tor, had I had better judgment.

A true student of Bohr, Wheeler spoke in riddles and paradoxes. His blackboard was unlike any I’d ever encountered. It had no equations, and only a few elegantly written aphorisms, each set out in a box, distilling a lifetime of seeking the reason why our world is a quantum universe. A typical example was “It from bit.” (Yes, read it again— slowly! Wheeler was an early adopter of the current fashion to regard the world as constituted of information, so that information is more fundamental than what it describes. This is a form of anti- realism we will discuss later.) Here is another: “No phenomenon is a real phenomenon until it is an observed phenom­enon.” Here is the kind of conversation one had with Wheeler: He asked me, “Suppose when you die and go up before Saint Peter for your final, final exam, he asks you just one question: ‘Why the quantum?’ ” (I.e., why do we live in a world described by quantum mechanics?) “What will you say to him?”
 
Much of my life has been spent searching for a satisfying answer to that question. As I write these pages, I find myself vividly recalling my first encounters with quantum physics. When I was a seventeen- year- old high school dropout, I used to browse the shelves at the University of Cincinnati Physics Library. There I came upon a book with a chapter by Louis de Broglie (we will meet him in chapter 7), who was the first to propose that electrons are waves as well as particles. That chapter introduced his pilot wave theory, which was the first realist formulation of quantum me­chanics. It was in French, a language I read fitfully after two years of high school study, but I recall well my excitement as I under­stood the basics. I still can close my eyes and see a page of the book, displaying the equation that relates wavelength to momentum.

My first actual course in quantum mechanics was the next spring at Hampshire College. That course, taught by Herbert Bernstein, ended with a presentation of the fundamental theorem of John Bell, which, in brief, demonstrates that the quantum world fits uneasily into space. I vividly recall that when I understood the proof of the theorem, I went outside in the warm afternoon and sat on the steps of the college library, stunned. I pulled out a notebook and immediately wrote a poem to a girl I had a crush on, in which I told her that each time we touched there were electrons in our hands which from then on would be entangled with each other. I no longer recall who she was or what she made of my poem, or if I even showed it to her. But my obsession with penetrating the mys­tery of nonlocal entanglement, which began that day, has never left me; nor has my urgency to make better sense of the quantum di­minished over the decades since. In my career, the puzzles of quan­tum physics have been the central mystery to which I’ve returned again and again. I hope in these pages to inspire in you a similar fascination.

[...]
 
Welcome to the quantum world. Feel at home, for it is our world, and it is our good fortune that its mysteries remain for us to solve.

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The Wonder of Water

The Wonder of Water

Lived Experience, Policy, and Practice
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The Hidden Life of Trees

The Hidden Life of Trees

What They Feel, How They Communicate—Discoveries from a Secret World
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