Ancient baby boom
4:04 p.m. A Washington State University study could be a spooky reincarnation of Thomas Malthus’ theory, or a warning to regions with rising populations (hint, Washington). Back in 500 to 1300 A.D., southwestern Native Americans boasted birth rates that likely exceeded the highest in the world today. The northern southwest region of North America held as many as 40,000 people in the mid-1200s, but within 30 years, the land was empty due to causes archaeologists haven’t entirely pinpointed. Whatever the explanation, this ancient mystery has lessons for moderns, according to WSU Professor Tim Kohler — overpopulation has consequences. — E.W.
Adult adoptees gain access to birth certificates
3:45 p.m. When a new law goes into effect Tuesday, many adult adoptees in Washington state may gain access to their original birth certificates. The information, which have generally been closed to those adopted before Oct. 1, 1993, will help adoptees understand their family medical history or find their birth parents, if they desire to do so. However, birth parents can still red-light the release of birth certificates by completing form on the state Health Department website. The birth parents can also file paperwork to indicate their desire for contact from a child or even ask for contact through an intermediary, The News Tribune notes. — E.W.
Washington’s population is poppin’
Washington’s population grew by almost 100,000 last year, bringing the total number of residents to nearly 7 million. This rise marks the largest one-year increase since 2008, according to the Office of Financial Management. Seventy-five percent of the increase occurred in the state’s major metropolitan counties: Clark, King, Pierce, Snohomish and Spokane. Rural counties have had little or no population growth recently, but this year experienced an increase of more than 1,000 people. Most of the overall growth was due to people moving into the state from elsewhere, rather than from births. So-called net migration accounts for 57 percent of the total population growth, exceeding the three-decade historical average of 48,800 per year for the first time since the economic recession. — E. W.
Breast cancer researcher: A surprising key moment
University of Washington Professor Mary-Claire King has been a trailblazer in science, particularly in breast cancer. She found the BRCA1 gene, the first one shown to be involved with inherited risk for breast cancer, as well as doing pioneering research in other genetic ties to diseases. Recently, at the annual World Science Festival in New York City, the research superstar also proved herself to be a good storyteller, recounting how fate seemed to be lining up against her effort to win the research grant that ultimately launched her on the way to her discoveries. Not to give away too much, but if the name of the baseball superstar who provides an assist at a key moment isn't familiar to younger readers, it's DiMaggio and you can look him up here. (We spotted the video on New York-based journalist Greg Mitchell's blog.) — J.C.
Stars falling across the coast
Sea stars are dying at unprecedented rates across the West Coast, due to an unknown cause. First reported three years ago on the shores of Olympic National Park, “sea star wasting syndrome” has impacted 20 different sea star species, including the world’s fastest and largest — the meter-wide sunflower star. The sick stars wither like deflated balloons; their arms fall off and walk away on their own. The epidemic could reshuffle the entire tidal food web, where sea stars have historically ruled as king predators. Scientists haven’t cracked the case, but they have some promising leads. Read today’s Crosscut report by Eric Scigliano for details. — E.W.
Replanting for Potato Commission money
The bulk of the Washington Potato Commission's investments are not in banks nor institutions approved by the state, according to a state auditor's report released Monday. Based in Moses Lake, the potato commission tackles overall marketing of the state's potato crop and is funded by assessments on Washington's potato farmers.
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