Stories You Might Have Missed This Week

Gun deaths in the U.S. hit a 20-year high, the Supreme Court declines to wade into an abortion debate, and a study offers some hope for coral reefs.
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Divers explore the coral reef in the waters of Raja Ampat's Kri Island located in eastern Indonesia's Papua region.

According to a study published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change, while the most heat-sensitive corals are being killed off, the more heat-tolerant ones are actually doing OK.

This week at Pacific Standard, we brought you stories on what Medicaid has to do with early childhood developmenthow Tumblr brought social justice to a generation of teenagers, and why communities across America are pushing to close waste incinerators. We also brought you dispatches from COP24 and the American Geophysical Union's annual conference.

But it's been a busy news week, and there was plenty our small staff wasn't able to cover. Here are a few other stories we've been watching this week.

There Are More Gun Deaths in the U.S. Now Than There Have Been in Over Two Decades

A new analysis of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that more people were killed in shootings in 2017 than in any year since 1996. The 2017 number is close to 40,000, or 12 deaths per 100,000 people.

Though tragic mass shootings are the gun deaths that we hear about the most, nearly 60 percent of the 2017 gun deaths were suicides. "People often think with suicides involving firearms that there's nothing we can do to prevent this," Dakota Jablon, policy analyst for the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence, told the Guardian. But Education Fund research shows that gun violence and suicide rates are highest in places with the most gun ownership: "Looking at these numbers," Jablon said, "it's clear that simply having a lot of guns around increases the danger."

The Supreme Court Turned Down Appeals to Defund Planned Parenthood

When Justice Brett Kavanaugh joined the nation's highest court, conservative activists were hopeful—and pro-choice advocates fearful—that his appointment would open the door to stripping away abortion rights. But on Monday, Kavanaugh voted with the majority in the court's refusal to hear a case regarding a dispute over the use of Medicaid funds for women's health care at Planned Parenthood clinics. (This is already illegal in many states, but some states wanted to stop all Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood, the Los Angeles Times reports.) Of course, this does not mean the court won't address this issue eventually.

Coral Bleaching Is an 'Enormous Selection Event'

Coral reefs have suffered extreme damage due to the warming of the oceans caused by climate change. But there's a bit of good news here: According to a study published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change, while the most heat-sensitive corals are being killed off, the more heat-tolerant ones are actually doing OK. The study points out that "ecological memory," or the way the past can influence how ecosystems develop, can help us understand the way species respond to climate change.

Terry Hughes, the study's lead author, explained in the New York Times that surging ocean temperatures in 2016 led to this natural selection among corals. "That's some cause for a cautious optimism that these mixtures of species will continue to shift," Hughes told the Times.

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