If, after pondering global warming and “peak oil,” you are still in need of something to worry about, here comes “peak fish.” A team of researchers from the University of British Columbia, addressing the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s annual meeting, tells us we have been “fishing down the food web.” Their meaning is that the oceans’ bigger, predatory fish — cod, tuna, and groupers — are disappearing, while the smaller “forage fish” they prey on — sardines, anchovies, and the like — are proliferating. The researchers estimate that more than 54 percent of the decrease in large predator fish has taken place over the past 40 years. Lead researcher Villy Christensen says it is as though the African savannah were to be depleted of big cats. “When all the lions are gone, there will be antelopes everywhere.” Isn’t that pretty much how the human race ended up as cattle farmers? Aren’t we wonderfully adaptable in that way? Isn’t aquaculture, the planned farming of fish, already taking up the slack? Yes it is. On a list of things to fret about, “peak fish” is down there well below asteroid strikes.
Dr. Bernard Nathanson had blood on his hands. He claimed responsibility for 75,000 abortions — 70,000 performed under his supervision, 5,000 performed by himself. He also had lies on his conscience: As an advocate for abortion — he helped found the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws (NARAL) — he claimed that back-alley abortions killed five to ten thousand mothers each year, an invented number much higher than the truth. Ultrasound technology changed his life. Seeing fetuses under the knife made it emotionally and intellectually clear to him that pre-born human beings were being killed. He devoted the last 30-plus years to spreading the word. His 1985 film, The Silent Scream, is one of the most powerful pro-life polemics. In 1996 Nathanson, formerly a Jewish atheist, was baptized into the Catholic Church. The seeds which fell “on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.” Dead at 84, R.I.P.
The last of the doughboys faded away on February 27 at the age of 110. Frank Woodruff Buckles enlisted in the U.S. Army in August 1917 and sailed to France on the RMS Carpathia, the very ship that five years previously had rescued survivors of the Titanic disaster. He went on to serve his country honorably as an ambulance driver, had a conversation with Gen. John J. Pershing, and witnessed a ceremony for British veterans of the Crimean War of 1853–56, perhaps meeting participants in the charge of the Light Brigade. He was on business in the Philippines when the islands fell in World War II, and endured three years of internment in Japanese camps. After retiring from salaried work in the 1950s, Mr. Buckles ran a cattle ranch in Charles Town, W. Va., where he was still riding a tractor at age 106. He is survived by his daughter Susannah. May he rest in peace with his comrades from that “war to end all wars.”
James A. McClure was a model western Republican, and a model Reagan Republican: He represented Idaho in the Senate before, during, and after the Reagan revolution — from 1973 to 1991. He had common sense, principle, and humility. He was also willing to work. Former senator Alan Simpson has remembered, “I was in awe of him. He was a superb legislator. He didn’t care about anything but the amendments, the hearings, the work, the slaving. Legislation, if you do it right, is deadly, deadly boring. And he did it with great skill.” McClure was in ill health in recent years, and was not able to stand when accepting an award from his alma mater, the University of Idaho (where there is a McClure center for public policy). He said, “I feel a little awkward accepting an award sitting down.” A stand-up conservative, he has died at 86. R.I.P.