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What older adults contribute in a crisis

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raaawk!
We miss too much when we treat all seniors as helpless. (Unsplash/@unitednations/Lélie Lesage)

How we rely on older adults, especially during the coronavirus pandemic

by Sally Chivers, Trent University

“Unprecedented” might be the word of the COVID-19 pandemic. But for many, especially older adults, life has taken many abrupt turns. Maybe it’s their first pandemic, but it’s not the first time they’ve pivoted without calling it that and created a new normal.

Yet, we persist in treating people over 70 as an undifferentiated blob of neediness and vulnerability. When we do, we once again miss what older adults contribute.

As an aging studies scholar, my focus is on the portrayal and treatment of older adults in literature, film and popular culture. During COVID-19, dire fictional portraits of nursing homes as places to avoid and escape appear to be coming alive. We hear a lot about them, but less attention lands on older adults living and making do at home. Public health issues reminders to check on what they call “elderly neighbors.” Those reminders ignore what older people in and out of nursing homes offer to the rest of us.

1998 ice storm

We’ve heard this before. During the 1998 ice storm that cut power throughout much of Eastern Canada and the northeastern United States, radio commentators urged listeners to check on older adults who were more at risk from adverse effects of unheated homes indoors and falling on the ice outside. Like now, they treated older adults as helpless, vulnerable and past contributing.

Back then, I was trapped in my third floor walk-up Montréal apartment, with a two-metre-long icicle, as wide as a dinner plate, teetering precipitously above my shared second floor entrance. My neighbors, two retired men, checked on me. They brought me coffee. They fed me tourtière. They taught me about times before they’d had electricity in their homes. They reminded me about postwar austerity and other hard times.

Reporters then repeated that older adults were more vulnerable to the effects of the ice storm than others. Check on your “elderly neighbors,” we were told again and again. These older adults were never directly addressed though they likely made up a large portion of the broadcast audience. There was no airtime for the knowledge, skill and expertise they had from surviving through past wars and depression eras. No one else seemed to be getting their espresso from their retired neighbors.

COVID-19 pandemic

More than 20 years after that ice storm, I find myself yet again essentially trapped in my home. The conditions are significantly different, not only because they are so widespread. But the disproportionate effects of the COVID-19 pandemic resemble the difficulties revealed during the ice storm, when the need for adequate long-term care spaces similarly revealed the problems that arise when we treat people like products, and care like a business.

Media venues have shifted dramatically, but the portrayal of older adults hasn’t kept up. Calls to check on our “elderly neighbors still refuse to acknowledge that the people receiving those instructions might themselves be old. This harnesses ageist language to make it seem as though people between 70 and 100 are all from the same generation, with the same needs and desires.

Hidden contributions

This approach ignores how older adults collectively and individually possess considerable expertise. It misses their potential to offer at least mutual support for younger people who are no longer able to do whatever we want. Studies are already showing that older adults are better equipped to manage the stress brought on by continued isolation.

An older woman wearing a green scarf with a fabric face mask in her hands and sewing supplies on the table beside her.An older woman sews a face mask. (Shutterstock)

I’m not the only one whose hand-sewn mask was made by someone over 70, who got my bread recipe from a senior, who sung in a choir led by a guy in his 60s who learned how to Zoom in a heartbeat and who follows streamed exercise classes led by a woman in her 70s.

Besides ignoring their many contributions, this belittling of older Canadians clashes with how some are coming out of retirement to help combat COVID-19. What a contradiction to be viewed as only in need of help, instead of part of a reciprocal system, and to be perceived as needing to sacrifice themselves.

Strangest of all, the residents of long-term care are somehow, oddly, not considered our “elderly neighbors.” We’re barely even allowed to check on them.

So, go ahead and pick up groceries for your neighbor. Drop them off safely. But also check in by phone or from a distance to see what you might learn!The Conversation

 

Sally Chivers, Professor of English and Gender & Women’s Studies, Trent University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

 

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Editorials: A virus in control; and Orderly justice

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ugly numbers

How did we go from one of the best
to the worst in this short time?

The most basic reason is that President Cortizo will not say no to his wealthy donor base, nor to the thugs in his own party, who insist on privileges even when that upon which they insist is, in their own self-centered terms, short-sighted and self-destructive.

So heiress Ursula Kiener Ford, who was on the legislature’s payroll, shows her Norieguista bona fides – just like the former strong man abandoned his command when the shooting war came, she heads out for Europe, with insults for a whole nation, as the epidemic spikes here. Perhaps she will be quarantined on the other side of the pond. Perhaps EU authorities will want her explanation of the death of Jacob Ehrler. But maybe over there they will see a young woman’s face and lots of money and embrace her as an “influencer” to bring banana republic values to their shores. Here, PRD legislator Raúl Pineda owes his party and his constituents an explanation of why he put her on the public payroll.

So Panama City mayor Tank of Gas Fabrega got caught violating quarantine, and to add to the insult in someone else’s municipality. He may yet be held to account in some fashion, but what about the tens of thousands of other with dubious, purchased, fraudulent or unnecessary passes who bring COVID-19 from the metro area to the Interior every weekend? Are we going to punish individuals, how many thousand times? Or shall we demand an accounting from a very few people who let it get this way?

Labor doesn’t get to talk to the legislature about labor legislation. Nito’s thug deputy from Colon, Bolota, saw to that. So of course labor is going to resist Nito wherever, whenever and however it can. Bolota is what he is, but it’s Nito’s fault for losing control of his party, which has turned into a grasping clutch of gangsters, very much like it did in Noriega times.

The Catholic archbishop calls for talks among many sectors of society. It’s a good idea but Nito and Bolota have made it abundantly clear that some holy men, Tank of Gas, Bolota, Pineda, Ursual Kiener’s social circle and a few business and civic organizations will be welcome but the vast majority of Panamanians will not be.

Your move, President Cortizo.

 

Photo by the Presidencia, way back when.

Do review the abuses to which judges are subjected

Send in a squad of lawyers to run a scorched earth strategy on the court? The person who sent them should be penalized, but what should be definitively burned is those lawyers’ licenses to practice law.

Ricky Martinelli gets excused from defending criminal charges against himself until a time more convenient for himself on account of mental illness? Then when bringing a case to harass someone else he should be held mentally incompetent to bring his insane penchant for revenge into another court.

A rich fugitive sends a legal team before a judge to get a writ of habeas corpus? The judge ought to have every right and duty to refuse to hear a motion on behalf of a fugitive.

There is plenty of ugliness to go around in Panama’s legal system, but to mount a media defense of dishonest vilification or threats against the judge ought to get the person doing it held in contempt.

Maybe the Supreme Court magistrates will get that radical in response to Judge Rowe’s petition for protection of her judicial independence, maybe they won’t. But let’s bear in mind that rules like these are the norm in most of the world. It would not be an inferiority complex for Panama to adopt them, but rather an assertion of self-respect.

 

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Sketch by Daniel Alvarado Silvera / Wikimedia.

Free speech carries with it some freedom to listen.

Bob Marley

 

Bear in mind…

 

Language is the laughter of the soul.

Pablo Neruda

 

Mitch McConnell is privately telling GOP candidates to distance themselves from Trump if they need to. Welp, they can stand 6,000 feet away & wear 10 masks. It’s too late. They’re all infected with #Moronavirus.

Bette Midler

 

When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.

Malala Yousafzai

 

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Que dicen sobre el alcalde “Tanque de Gas”

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#RenunciaFabrega
Dijo que “estando frente a mi casa”.  Estaba en la playa pública y la policía y el juez de paz no lo trajeron allí. Foto anónima del universo de Twitter.

#FabregaRenuncia y varias
otras cosas que se dicen

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Viernes 31 de julio alrededor de las 10 p.m. en Capira: un tranque de personas que se dirigieron desde la ciudad hacia el Interior durante el fin de semana, a pesar de las prohibiciones de toque de queda. Foto anónima de Twitter.

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[Nota del redactor] Finalmente, ¿no pueden el presidente Cortizo y el Partido Revolucionario Democrático ver que su política de mano dura y hambre en los barrios pobres del área metropolitana, con flagrantes privilegios alardeados por los ricos y políticamente conectados, extendió la epidemia a lo largo del país? ¿No pueden ver cómo avivan las llamas del desorden social en el que las personas en la cima ahora pueden ser consumidas?

 

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Mundane business, but the trial judge breathes fire and makes a radical motion

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Judge Rowe
Judge Ana Zita Rowe is not just a civil circuit trial judge. For many years she has also been a professor for other judges at the Supreme Court’s Judicial School. Archive photo by the Supreme Court.

Judge Rowe’s caustic retort, summary slapdown and petition to the high court

by Eric Jackson

Judge Ana Zita Rowe López is not known as a radical, nor as a publicity seeker. Her reputation is as a by-the-book judge on a low run of the judiciary, who, however, may well have written the book.

Hers was the lot to have been assigned a civil lawsuit brought by former president Ricardo Martinelli Berrocal. He’s suing former attorney general Kenia Porcell for damages over various alleged abuses with respect to criminal cases that are still mostly pending against the ex-president on appeal.

It seems that the very wealthy Ricky is suing everybody. In this case, in addition to Porcell, two former high court magistrates, two forensic examiners for the Public Ministry, an anti-corruption prosecutor, and a former foreign minister / vice president of Panama. In other cases he’s suing various news media and other current or former public officials.

As Panamanian law allows in civil proceedings, a plaintiff rich enough to post a bond can pending trial sequester the assets of a defendant, throwing it out of business or him or her onto the streets with no resources. if it or she or he is that much poorer. And so Martinelli, via one member of this many phalanxes of lawyers, Alfredo Vallarino, moved to investigate and freeze Porcell’s assets.

Pretrial sequestration is an act of bullying that tends to quickly resolve many cases without regard to the facts of the case. Get a court order to take over a business and start trashing, unless or until the owner of that business submits is the name of the game. But here, it’s the law.

There are a few more restrictions on sequestering a natural person. The plaintiff cannot, for example, bind and gag the defendant and stuff her in the trunk of a car until she settles the case on the plaintiff’s terms. But liens can be put on houses, bank accounts frozen, valuable movable assets taken from the home or office.

Porcell saw the move coming, and began to transfer assets. It happens often enough, but transfers in anticipation of litigation are generally looked upon as fraudulent by judges who are honest about it.

So Martinelli’s lawyers made their application, Judge Rowe saw that in form it appeared to be proper and she signed the order. Were everything properly presented to her, it would be judicial misconduct for her not to sign the sequestration order. 

On July 9 court officers and police, with Martinelli attorney Alfredo Vallarino Alfredo Vallarino, showed up at Porcell’s house in Brisas de Golf for interrogation and investigation of assets. A lien was put on the house, bank accounts were frozen. Porcell went ballistic to reporters, alleging bad faith and misconduct by the judge. Later, a bond was posted, but the judge rejected that as based on largely illusory collateral. Eventually Porcell did post a bond to loosen Martinelli’s grip on her property.

Then, on July 31, Judge Rowe made an unusual set of moves, in a 44-page decision and a twopage summary for public consumption. At first glance, Porcell got the worst of it. Rowe called the former attorney general dishonest in her dealings with assets Martinelli was trying to freeze and with her bond. The judge took particular umbrage at Porcell’s allegations of bias and impropriety, and expressed great annoyance at her court officers’ serving of a warrant being cast in terms of something akin to a home invasion robbery.

Glance down to the bottom line, though. Martinelli lost.

Rowe found that as the case arose from actions taken by public officials under color of their duties, the case belongs before the administrative bench of the Supreme Court, not her civil section of Panama’s first judicial circuit. Case dismissed for lack of jurisdiction, sequestration order lifted, file transferred to the high court, the bond transferred to a special judicial office that deals with such things.

A fairly conservative and minimalist way to deal with Ricky Martinelli’s notorious abuses. But wasn’t all of it.

If Rowe had a lot of choice words in response to Porcell’s many words about Rowe, the judge’s observation as to Martinelli was brief and blunt. Looking at his entire course of conduct, she accused Martinelli of using the legal system “to threaten or obtain ends other than justice.” 

Porcell making public accusations that Rowe had committed crimes against her was also cited as a undue threat to the court.

So Rowe petitioned the full plenum of the Supreme Court for an “amparo a la independencia judicial.” Literally it’s a motion for protection of judicial independence. That is, that she should not have to work under threats and vilification. Rowe suggests what in the Common Law system would be characterized as trial judges’ summary powers of contempt. In her opinion Rowe cited not only statutory and constitutional law in her petition to the high court, but principles of international law with regard to judicial independence.

The petition is open-ended at a glance. Is it inclusive enough to have the court look at the entire Martinelli operation in many cases? Will the Supreme Court, on its own motion, fashion a set of general remedies for when powerful criminals attempt to use their wealth to overpower justice in the courts? Will it fashion specific remedies for some of the abuses that we have been seeing for years? Judge Rowe’s petition for judicial independence looks to be that broad, and is directed at the plenum of the high court rather than the legislative and executive branches of government. Some major reforms of the legal system may be on the docket if the magistrates decide to go in that direction.

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Un paso hacia la reapertura de los viajes aéreos internacionales

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PTY
El 31 de Julio 292 pasajeros ingresaron al Aeropuerto Internacional de Tocumen para vuelo humanitario con destino a Madrid. Foto por Aeropuerto Tocumen.
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What Democrats are saying

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Dem voices

 






 

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What Republicans are saying

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GOP voices

 






 

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Postal workers warn of Trump sabotage of the USPS

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USPS
“I’m actually terrified to see election season under the new procedure,” said one New York mail carrier.

Postal sabotage could delay mail-in ballots and distort the election

by Jake Johnson — Common Dreams

Letter carriers and voting rights advocates are warning that sabotage of the US Postal Service by the Trump administration and new Postmaster General Louis DeJoy — a major Republican donor to the president — could imperil the agency’s ability to deliver mail-in ballots on time, potentially impacting the results of the November elections.

“I’m actually terrified to see election season under the new procedure,” Lori Cash, president of the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) Local 183 in Western New York, told the Washington Post.

The Post reported Thursday that key battleground states like Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania are already experiencing significant mail delays due to DeJoy’s changes, which include overtime cuts and a new pilot program that bars postal workers from sorting mail in the morning.

“The cardinal rule is, ‘don’t delay the mail,’ and we’re in a 180-degree switch where we’re delaying mail every day,” said Cash. If DeJoy’s system isn’t fixed before election season, Cash warned, “it’s going to be a catastrophe at the Post Office.”

The Post noted that any delay in “delivering ballots to voters and then returning them to election officials could cause people to be disenfranchised — especially in states that require ballots to be returned by Election Day.”

“Already, tens of thousands of ballots across the country have been disqualified in this year’s primaries, many because they did not arrive in time,” the Post reported. “In Wisconsin, 2,659 ballots that were returned after the April 13 deadline for the spring primary were not counted due to their late arrival.”

Wendy Fields, executive director of the Democracy Initiative, a coalition of voting rights organizations, said in a statement earlier this month that “slower mail service is unfair — and dangerous — for the millions of Americans who rely on the mail for food, medicine, medical supplies, unemployment checks and other critical mail and packages.”

“Slowing down our Postal Service also could interfere with this year’s election,” Fields said. “Voting by mail has become more popular than ever — and 34 states require ballots to be received — not just postmarked — by Election Day.”

Trump is attacking the very machinery of government that makes legitimate elections possible in a pandemic. https://t.co/e32GkVGRIc

— Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) July 31, 2020

An anonymous postal worker from California told the Post that if major mail backlogs persist, “there’s no telling how many days-worth of delays there could be” come election time.

“I mean, we’ll be delivering political mail days after the election,” the worker said.

Anticipating that mail delays are likely to continue, the USPS recommended in a statement this week that localities “immediately communicate and advise voters to request ballots at the earliest point allowable but no later than 15 days prior to election date.”

Warnings from postal workers come as President Donald Trump continues to peddle unfounded claims about the prevalence of vote-by-mail fraud. On Thursday, as Common Dreams reported, Trump floated the possibility of the delaying the November election, claiming without evidence that the surge in mail-in ballots will cause “the most inaccurate and fraudulent election in history.”

While the president does not have the authority to delay elections, critics said Trump’s comments represent yet another insidious attempt to undermine trust in the electoral process.

The New Yorker’s Steve Coll wrote Wednesday that Trump’s attacks on the legitimacy of the November election combined with his administration’s undermining of the US Postal Service “raise obvious questions about whether the management of voting by mail will be manipulated in service of Trump’s reelection.”

In a tweet Friday, Mother Jones reporter Ari Berman wrote that “Trump’s unprecedented politicization and gutting of USPS is a much greater threat to American democracy than his bogus call to delay the election.”

Trump’s gutting of USPS could lead to 1000s of ballots thrown out. “If they keep this up until the election, there’s no telling how many days-worth of delays there could be. I mean, we’ll be delivering political mail days after the election” a postal worker from California said.

pic.twitter.com/8F8oN0APU1

— Ari Berman (@AriBerman) July 31, 2020

In April, Trump called the USPS “a joke” and demanded that the agency dramatically raise package prices during the Covid-19 pandemic.

With the USPS at risk of running out of cash by the end of September, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin announced Thursday that he reached a deal with DeJoy to give the Postal Service access to $10 billion in funding approved by Congress in March.

Democratic lawmakers warned in a joint statement late Thursday that the terms of the agreement would “would inappropriately insert the Treasury into the internal operations of the Postal Service.”

“Secretary Mnuchin and the leadership of the US Postal Service appear to be exploiting this public health pandemic to hold the Postal Service to unreasonable loan terms without even consulting Congress,” said Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), and Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.). “We will not stop fighting to protect this critical service that communities depend on and to ensure that every American can safely participate in the November elections.”

 

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¿Wappin? Cosas que podrías escuchar en un bús viajando en el Interior

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Cerro Campana
Foto por / Photo by Eric Jackson.

When you take the bus in Panama things are different
Cuando tomas el bus en Panamá cosas son diferentes

Yandel, con Rubén Blades y Snoop Dogg – Fama
https://youtu.be/J75swU_SKcU

Ela Minus – megapunk
https://youtu.be/M35HLWF6PeA

Ngiyazfela & Mlindo The Vocalist – Donald
https://youtu.be/Bus8sMSjdiA

Churupaca – Miren
https://youtu.be/a_5Uj990-Uo

Edgar Mondragón – Estaba Brava la Luna
https://youtu.be/16FT0tPRFKA

Residente – René
https://youtu.be/O4f58BU_Hbs

Estación Sub_Trópico – Synthetaicer
https://youtu.be/EJFzHRWh5k8

Lila Tirando a Violeta & Lighght – Dry Season
https://youtu.be/pt3zErELC2g

Kafu Banton – WOYABENG
https://youtu.be/nFyqTX9ZdF8

Afro Soul Beat – Day 6 Lockdown Beats
https://youtu.be/NuWcsHKRtD0

Aalok Bala – Moon Juice
https://youtu.be/HSV7NXkvOIQ

Dj Xtreme – Mix Plena Panamá 2019
https://youtu.be/0MZmRjvQH94

 

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Rayos tropicales

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BCI
Imagen de impacto de rayo desde un ángulo mucho más cercano y más bajo. Es mucho más fácil ver los árboles vecinos afectados. Las tormentas tropicales a menudo inician con una impresionante exhibición de pirotecnia, pero en gran medida, los investigadores han pasado por alto el papel de los rayos en los ecosistemas tropicales. Foto por Evan Gora.

En los trópicos, los rayos caen más de 100 millones de veces al año

por STRI

Investigadores del Instituto Smithsonian de Investigaciones Tropicales (STRI) en Panamá han publicado en Global Change Biology impresionantes mapas que muestran la ubicación de impactos de rayos en los trópicos. Basado en datos de tierra y satélite, estiman que más de 100 millones de estos impactos en tierra al año alterarán radicalmente los bosques y otros ecosistemas en la región entre el Trópico de Cáncer y el Trópico de Capricornio.

“Los rayos influyen en la capacidad de los bosques para almacenar biomasa y, por lo tanto, carbono, porque tienden a impactar los árboles más grandes”, comentó Evan Gora, becario postdoctoral en STRI que recientemente terminó su doctorado en la Universidad de Louisville. “Y los rayos también pueden ser muy importantes en los ecosistemas de sabana”.

Debido a que los rayos son tan difíciles de estudiar, se han pasado por alto como agentes de cambio en los bosques tropicales, donde los investigadores enfocan su energía en perturbaciones más obvias como sequías, incendios y fuertes vientos.

En un estudio anterior, el primero en examinar los efectos de los rayos en un paisaje de bosque tropical, el mismo equipo descubrió que en un bosque panameño, los rayos probablemente matan a la mitad de los árboles más grandes. El ecologista tropical Steve Yanoviak, coautor del estudio y profesor de la Universidad de Louisville que estudiaba hormigas en el dosel del bosque tropical, y a menudo pensaba en el papel de los rayos mientras trepaba árboles, invitó a los investigadores de rayos Jeffrey Burchfield y Phillip Bitzer de la Universidad de Alabama en Huntsville a instalar detectores de rayos en la Estación de Investigación de STRI en Isla Barro Colorado.

“Descubrimos que, en promedio, un rayo impacta un total de 23.6 árboles y mata a 5.5 de estos árboles en un año”, comentó Yanoviak.

Ahora el equipo se pregunta cómo los rayos afectan los ecosistemas tropicales en todas partes. Gora dirigió el esfuerzo de mapear los recuentos de rayos basados ​​en imágenes de la Red Global de Rayos de Earth Networks (ENGLN) en un mapa de ecosistemas tropicales creado usando categorías de cobertura terrestre del Programa Internacional de Geosfera-Biosfera y el Espectro-radiómetro de Resolución Moderada (MODIS) de modelado climático.

Basado en datos satelitales sobre las ubicaciones de los impactos y los efectos sobre el terreno alrededor de 92 rayos, incluidos muchos del estudio anterior, Gora y sus colegas estimaron que los rayos dañan aproximadamente 832 millones de árboles tropicales cada año. Aproximadamente una cuarta parte de los árboles probablemente mueren a causa de sus afectaciones.

Gora y sus colegas luego se preguntaron si había una conexión entre la cantidad de rayos y el tipo de ecosistema, su biomasa y las variables climáticas como la lluvia y la temperatura. Descubrieron que los rayos eran más frecuentes en bosques, sabanas y áreas urbanas que en pastizales, matorrales y tierras de cultivo.

Los bosques que experimentan más rayos cada año tienen menos árboles grandes por hectárea, tal vez porque los árboles grandes individuales en estos bosques se destacan más, tienen tasas más altas de rotación de biomasa leñosa (más biomasa arbórea muere cada año) y menos biomasa aérea total.

Pero quedan más interrogantes candentes. Nadie sabe por qué algunos árboles sobreviven a los rayos mientras otros mueren, aunque es probable que los árboles hayan desarrollado formas de hacer frente a una amenaza tan común.

Y, a medida que el cambio climático se acelera, el aire contaminado y caliente sobre las ciudades también puede aumentar el número de rayos allí. ¿Cuáles serán los efectos sobre la vegetación en las zonas urbanas?

“Esta es la mejor evidencia hasta la fecha de que los rayos son una perturbación importante que influye en la dinámica y estructura de los bosques tropicales”, comentó la científica de STRI y coautora del estudio, Helene Muller-Landau, “Sospechamos que nuestro estudio subestima enormemente el efecto total de los rayos. Los rayos pueden desempeñar un papel importante en el ciclo de la biomasa forestal/carbono, no solo en los bosques tropicales sino también en otros ecosistemas tropicales”.

Referencia: Gora, E.M., Burchfield, J.C., Muller-Landau, H.C., et al. 2020. Pantropical geography of lightning-caused disturbance and its implications for tropical forests. Global Change Biology, DOI: 10.1111/gcb.15227

Relámpago en la Estación de Investigación de Isla Barro Colorado.
Foto por Jeff Burchfield — University of Alabama – Huntsville.
 

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