Monday, 31 December 2018
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/dec/31/conservation-push-yields-results-for-uk-sea-life-but-challenges-remain-plastic-pollution#img-1) but I am not wholly convinced that sporadic recording of such beasts (perhaps benefiting from conservation programmes) actually reveals a healthy marine environment. In some respects, seeing thriving populations of common species might well be a better indicator of 'health' than increases in the numbers of occasional animals often at the margins of their ranges.
- December 31, 2018
Sunday, 30 December 2018
Monday, 24 December 2018
Sunday, 23 December 2018
https://www.theguardian.com/science/2018/dec/18/richard-bransons-virgin-galactic-space-flights-criticised-as-dangerous-dead-end-tech) pointing out that they are essentially high altitude flights that fall rapidly back to Earth. I am, surprised, however, that no one seems to point out that they would be a prominent addition to greenhouse gas emissions.
- December 23, 2018
Saturday, 22 December 2018
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/dec/20/great-pacific-garbage-patch-20m-cleanup-fails-to-collect-plastic). The device is intended to help remove floating plastic in the Pacific between California and Hawaii. Although it scoops up plastic, the material is escaping again. Hopefully, tweaks to the device will make it an effective nemesis for this ubiquitous human waste.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/dec/20/risks-of-domino-effect-of-tipping-points-greater-than-thought-study-says). This suggests that the current situation is actually much worse than has previously been argued. In deed, the changes currently being advocated may well prove wildly inadequate.
Thursday, 20 December 2018
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/dec/19/houseplant-rabbit-dna-reduce-air-pollution-study-devils-ivy). The gene enables the plant filter out harmful pollutants such as chloroform and benzene. As I keep telling my students, the gene is not necessarily the exclusive property of the rabbit (many genes are shared by organisms e.g. humans share circa 20% of the genes a yeast has). So the rabbit was, presumably, a convenient source.
Wednesday, 19 December 2018
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/dec/18/blind-amphibian-named-after-trumps-climate-change-stance). This Canary shouldered thorn moth would be, I feel, a pretty good candidate.
- December 19, 2018
Tuesday, 18 December 2018
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/dec/16/cheese-uk-waste-mountain-christmas-borough-market). This is an incredible scale of waste- just because people have become bored with the cheese board.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/dec/17/chickens-freezing-to-death-and-boiled-alive-failings-in-us-slaughterhouses-exposed) records that some birds freeze to death or are boiled alive in American slaughterhouses. Cheapness should not, in my view, over-ride humane systems.
Sunday, 16 December 2018
https://www.theguardian.com/science/2018/dec/13/neurosurgery-could-spread-protein-linked-to-alzheimers-study-finds). Their advice is that surgeons should take more care when sterilising their instruments. I seem to remember, however, that earlier studies with prions (highly resistant proteins implicated in CJD), suggested that there was no such thing as a completely safely re-utilisable (after sterilisation) surgical instrument?
https://www.theguardian.com/science/2018/dec/14/first-dutch-bananas-could-help-tackle-fungal-threat). This might be another method of protecting these highly inbred plants.
Saturday, 15 December 2018
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/dec/15/un-climate-change-talks-postpone-contentious-issues-with-draft-agreement). The change in the attitude of the new Brazilian government is particularly problematic (they have even withdrawn their offer to host the next meeting which will now be in Chile). The prognosis continues to be poor.
Friday, 14 December 2018
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/dec/13/global-heating-more-accurate-to-describe-risks-to-planet-says-key-scientist). This certainly makes sense in terms of the physics but, I suspect, that 'warming' was used, as the actual magnitude of the change is slight. 'Slight', however, does not mean without substantial consequences for the planet and its surface dwellers.
- December 14, 2018
Tuesday, 11 December 2018
https://www.theguardian.com/science/2018/dec/10/tread-softly-because-you-tread-on-23bn-tonnes-of-micro-organisms). They estimate that more than 20 billion tons of microorganisms live below the surface. This is a greater biomass than the planet's current human population, in spite of the region being characterised by intense heat; sparse nutrition and mind-boggling pressures. Some organisms appear to have survived (largely in a state of stasis) buried in situ for millions of years. The scientists speculate as to whether colonisation of life zones of the planet have gone from surface to interior or vice versa. That actually may not matter too much as, I suspect, that life, being opportunistic, will take advantage of vacancies that occur in either location. So, if humans manage, by their actions, to eliminate much of the life on the surface, some 'deep life' will come to the surface, certainly speeding up the re-population process.
- December 11, 2018
Sunday, 9 December 2018
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/dec/07/worlds-oldest-bird-lays-egg-wisdom-albatross). This makes it the oldest known bird to be actively reproducing with her 'long term lover' (actually, albatross pair-bond for life, if at all possible). The pair had to have only 2 chicks survive to breed to essentially replace themselves but, in spite of this, albatross numbers are in rapid decline on a world-wide basis. Wisdom needs to keep going.
Saturday, 8 December 2018
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/dec/08/airlines-ignoring-efficient-planes-carbon-targets-tui-airways-atmosfair-index-virgin-atlantic). As one might predict (given their enthusiasm for commercial space flight), Virgin Atlantic is reportedly one of the worst offenders.
- December 08, 2018
Friday, 7 December 2018
https://www.theguardian.com/science/2018/dec/04/royal-jelly-research-could-propel-cure-for-alzheimers-claim-scientists). They note that there is a similar protein in humans, Regina, with a comparable action. Customers of alternative health shops have postulated for years that Royal jelly is a valuable addition to the human diet and, in deed, there is reasonable evidence that the substance increases longevity in animals from nematode worms to mice. The Stanford group reportedly believe that developing Regina (or variants of the molecule) might have medical applications in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases (including Alzheimer's) as well as wound healing.
- December 07, 2018
Thursday, 6 December 2018
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/dec/05/brutal-news-global-carbon-emissions-jump-to-all-time-high-in-2018). I can't see any early changes on the horizon.
- December 06, 2018
Wednesday, 5 December 2018
https://www.theguardian.com/science/2018/dec/04/scientists-develop-10-minute-universal-cancer-test). Small amounts of cancer cells with their modified DNA appear in the blood. The cancer cell DNA has a different pattern of methyl groups from that found in normal cells, causing them to respond differently to gold nanoparticles added to the samples. This produces a distinctive difference in the colour of the suspensions with (remaining pink) and without (changing to blue) cancer cells. The test has, thus far, been carried out only on breast, prostate and colorectal sufferers but there is an intention to see what it does in other cancer groups. Although this screen does not tell the tester where the cancer is located or how problematic it is likely to be (these would require more detailed and traditional investigations), as a rapid test, it does seem to be a very promising development.
- December 05, 2018
Tuesday, 4 December 2018
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/dec/04/french-government-to-suspend-fuel-tax-increase-say-reports). It chimes with a comment by one of the Katowice (Poland and scene of the UN Climate Change conference) coal miners to the effect that those ecologists ought to remember who is doing more for the planet (ecologists or coal miners)! Such attitudes and the political responses to them might well be the planet's epitaph.
- December 04, 2018
Monday, 3 December 2018
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/dec/03/we-are-last-generation-that-can-stop-climate-change-un-summit) and St David (Attenborough) is suggesting that civilisation itself is at risk, speaking at a coal mine supported meeting in Poland (https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/dec/03/david-attenborough-collapse-civilisation-on-horizon-un-climate-summit). In Australia (currently an Environmental bad-boy), enlightened schoolchildren are protesting about climate damaging government policies but, in France, people are rioting partly about increases in fuel prices (a measure designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions). The UK government appears hell-bent on encouraging fracking and the US wants more coal mining and oil extraction even in national parks. As they say "the prognosis doesn't look too good". It seems that people generally know what needs to be done but they would rather that someone else did it at their expense.
- December 03, 2018
Sunday, 2 December 2018
https://www.theguardian.com/science/2018/nov/29/work-on-gene-edited-babies-blatant-violation-of-the-law-says-china). This is a very difficult situation as you can't really put the genie back in the bottle. It looks as if gene editing of humans is here to stay.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/nov/09/dan-barber-20-years-from-now-youll-be-eating-fast-food-crickets). Certainly, they can be cultured much more quickly than beef, chicken, lamb and pork and are associated with nothing like the same environmental problems. There is not actually much anatomical difference between a locust and a prawn (the former possibly has the cleaner diet) but I still think that people (not withstanding the popularity of "I'm a Celebrity: Get Me Out of Here") will have to be inventive to get the population heavily into insect grub.
https://www.theguardian.com/music/2018/dec/02/killing-of-swan-family-in-kent-brings-calls-for-airgun-regulation). Apparently, that county has a very high incidence of airguns being used on wild animals (apparently, even grass-eating birds).There seems to be a good case for regulating the ownership of these weapons.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/nov/28/climate-change-already-a-health-emergency-say-experts). They point out that, not only are we losing food crops in many parts of a warming, sometimes more arid world, but heatwaves are also increasing death-rates in both younger and older citizens (they are more vulnerable). Transmitted human diseases, such as dengue fever, are also spreading to new regions of the planet. They think that we should take the situation seriously.
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