Send us a signal • This week, in honor of a special Utahn, all drivers in the Beehive State should do something special. Obey a red light. Just this once. It is the 100th anniversary of what the Utah Department of Transportation credits as the world's first red light/green light traffic signal, invented by Salt Lake City Police Officer Lester Wire and rolled out at the even-then very busy intersection of Main Street and 200 South. Unfortunately, Wire was called to serve in World War I, and his application for a patent was never granted. Thus official credit for the invention has gone to some bird from Cleveland, Ohio, who unveiled his creation two years later.
Hunters need habitat, too • Americans who hunt often claim to be the original conservationists. (So do farmers.) And a new poll supports the idea that people who actually go tromping around in the wilderness and underbrush of America have a special appreciation for keeping open space and public lands preserved in their original state, free of development and disruption. According to a recent National Wildlife Federation poll, a majority of hunters say that conservation is as important as, or even more important than, gun rights. Also, clear majorities of those polled recognize the fact of climate change and think that humans have a responsibility to do something about it. The stereotype of people who hunt is that they are conservatives and vote Republican. And maybe they are. But they also have the best, and most intimate, understanding of how humanity interacts with the natural world, and how easy it can be to mess it all up.
Prevent abortions • Sometimes it seems like scientists go to a lot of bother to prove the obvious. But it still is good to hear that a university study from St. Louis gives scientific support to what should be a no-brainer: Giving women free birth control leads to a dramatic decrease in unintended pregnancies, in teen motherhood and in abortions. That matters, because other studies show that nearly half of the nation's 6 million annual conceptions are unintended. And some 43 percent of those end in abortions. And it further establishes that the provision of the Affordable Care Act that requires contraceptive coverage is a winner, in terms of the lives of women, the avoidance of abortion and the savings that come from not paying for so many births.