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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

One not-fun consequence of booming cities is the scourge of rats, well fed by trash, warmed by climate change, and bringing new health threats and general grossness with them.

The big picture: “Everywhere I go, rat populations are up,” scientist Robert Corrigan tells the NYT.

  • He estimates that rat numbers may be up 15–25% in some municipalities, including Philadelphia, Los Angeles, New York City and Washington, D.C.

By the (horrifying) numbers, courtesy of National Geographic:

  • "[A] litter of nine pups 10 weeks into the year would grow to 270 pups by the 30th week and wrap up with a whopping 11,907 rats by year’s end."
  • "Rats usually reach sexual maturity by 12 weeks, and litters can vary from two to 14 pups."
  • "Reproductive rates are highly dependent on environment. The more shelter, food, and trash, the higher the rat count."

What's next: Cities are trying lots of things to fix their rat problems, and they're mostly failing.

  • Poisoning and suffocation (via dry ice) has mostly failed. Survivors can rapidly repopulate an area.
  • D.C. has even tried sterilizing the little devils.
  • On the other coast: "Rat-infested piles of rotting garbage left uncollected by the city of Los Angeles, even after promises to clean it up, are fueling concerns about a new epidemic after last year's record number of flea-borne typhus cases." (NBC 4 LA)

The bottom line: "Until cities radically change how they deal with their trash, Corrigan says, 'the rats are winning this war.'"

Go deeper

4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Sources say Beto plans Texas comeback in governor’s race

Former U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke speaks during the Georgetown to Austin March for Democracy rally on July 31, 2021, in Austin, Texas. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke is preparing to run for governor of Texas in 2022, with an announcement expected later this year, Texas political operatives tell Axios.

Why it matters: O'Rourke's entry would give Democrats a high-profile candidate with a national fundraising network to challenge Republican Gov. Greg Abbott — and give O’Rourke, a former three-term congressman from El Paso and 2020 presidential candidate and voting rights activist, a path to a political comeback.

Texas doctor says he performed an abortion in violation of state law

Pro-choice protesters march down Congress Avenue and back to the Texas state capitol in Austin, Texas, in July 2021. Photo: Erich Schlegel/Getty Images

A Texas doctor disclosed in an op-ed in the Washington Post on Saturday that he has performed an abortion in violation of the state's restrictive new abortion law, which effectively bans the procedure after six weeks.

Why it matters: Alan Braid's op-ed is a direct disclosure that will very likely result in legal action, thereby setting it up as a potential test case for how the abortion ban will be litigated, notes the New York Times.

Mike Allen, author of AM
6 hours ago - Technology

Axios interview: Facebook to try for more transparency

Nick Clegg last year. Photo: Matthew Sobocinski/USA Today via Reuters

Nick Clegg, Facebook's vice president of global affairs, tells me the company will try to provide more data to outside researchers to scrutinize the health of activity on Facebook and Instagram, following The Wall Street Journal's brutal look at internal documents.

Driving the news: Clegg didn't say that in his public response to the series. So I called him to push for what Facebook will actually do differently given the new dangers raised by The Journal.