Saturday, 31 August 2013
Sunday, 25 August 2013
Coming to the end of a holiday in the Vendee region of France. Animal highlights include enormous jellyfish, a home-loving centipede (Haplophilus subterraneus), Hummingbird hawk moths (Macroglossum stellatarum) and a Red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) at La Tranche sur Mer. I also saw a High brown fritillary (Argynnis adippe) and a male Oak eggar moth (Lasiocampa quercus) at Port St Pere, as well as an introduced North American Muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus) by the lake at Pont L'Eveque.
Wednesday, 14 August 2013
I suppose that my home location makes me susceptible to a charge of nimbyism but I must admit to being none too keen on the proposal to pump oxygen into the coal strata under Loughor estuary to generate coal gas (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-23699166). Even with carbon scrubbing technologies (and I haven't seen these mentioned), the process (supposedly to be used to generate electricity) would certainly do nothing beneficial for global warming. It also seems appropriate to at least worry about potential subsidence or even the possibility that the currently stable river deposits that are heavily impregnated with metals from the industrial revolution phase of history could be accidentally liberated. It also seems a shame to even risk a biologically important estuary.
Tuesday, 13 August 2013
I must admit to being broadly in agreement with the view that pandas are over-invested in as conservation entities (http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/aug/09/unthinkable-stuff-the-pandas?INTCMP=SRCH). These bamboo-eating, breakers of wind are treated with great reverence (see the summer obsessions with the possible pregnancy of the Edinburgh Zoo Great panda) but 'cuteness' (real or imagined) should not be a major criterion for directing limited aid to them. I suppose that part of the problem is that they are the flagship species of the WWF and nobody likes to see a flagship go down with all hands.
Friday, 9 August 2013
Tuesday, 6 August 2013
A more convincing article (compared to the stem cell burger story) for solving the increased human demand for 'protein, considers placing a greater reliance on insects as food sources (http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2013/aug/05/can-eating-insects-feed-world?INTCMP=SRCH). This points out that, although we in the 'west' tend to turn our noses up at locusts and mealworms, these are quite popular food items in some parts of the world (insects are also not too different from highly appreciated prawns, shrimp and lobster). In contrast to the stem cell burger, insects quickly and cheaply generate high protein foods from a wide range of pretty basic plant material, using 'low tech' cultivation systems. The article also suggests that, if you don't like the idea of seeing insects in toto in your food (shades of old style school dinners), the material can be ground into 'protein flour' that can be added to cereal bars and other foods (one company is apparently even planning to add this material to tomato puree). So come on- grub's up!
Monday, 5 August 2013
http://www.theguardian.com/science/poll/2013/aug/05/stem-cells-meat-industry?INTCMP=SRCH). There are some downsides to this (even if the process can be scaled up and made much cheaper) in that the eating activities of cattle are useful in modifying grasslands for biodiversity, there actually would be many fewer animals to see and farming could be largely changed to a wholly industrial process (to a much greater extent than factory farming). One point that hasn't been mentioned is that human stem cells would actually produce a protein closer to that containing our optimal balance of amino acids. So why not use these in the process? Or would this be cannibalism?
Saturday, 3 August 2013
Thursday, 1 August 2013
Yet another example of the tension between people and conservation is seen in the recent responses of people in rural Romania to a hunti...
A combination of night rain and day-time sun has resulted in more Bynea blooms. The Southern marsh orchid ( Dactylorhiza praetermissa...
A study ( https://www.theguardian.com/science/2017/feb/01/special-spit-is-the-secret-of-uniquely-sticky-frog-tongues-study-reveals ) has...
It is always sad to hear of problems occurring at places you have used for teaching and the outbreak of h5n8 avian influenza at Abbot...