Friday, 31 May 2019
https://www.theguardian.com/science/2019/may/31/sexist-research-means-drugs-more-tailored-to-men-says-scientist). It is suggested that preliminary research (especially on proposed psychoactive drugs) should include both female and male animals.
Thursday, 30 May 2019
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/may/29/cyprus-begins-lionfish-cull-to-tackle-threat-to-mediterranean-ecosystem). This fish not only eats everything but is protected from predators by its poisonous spines (making it a problem, also, for tourism). There are various debates about how the fish's spread has been facilitated. They include a warming of the seas in their newly-invaded habitats but also include guesses that over-sized aquarium fish might have been released or that changes to the Suez canal to enable passage by bigger ships (without biosecurity measures) could be a key factor. One must note, however, that the larvae of many invasive marine species are transported in the ballast tanks of shipping.
Monday, 27 May 2019
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/may/26/scientists-call-for-volunteers-to-help-pre-empt-deadly-plant-disease). The 'spit' is not an infective agent but is could culture the dangerous bacterium Xylella fastidiosa (and it clearly indicates that the plant's outer defences have been breached by the sap-sucking bug). The bacterium does not yet appear to have made its way to the UK but it has been shown to decimate more than 500 species of host plant. It would not be helpful for people to assume that every plant with 'cuckoo spit' is infected!
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/may/27/worlds-rivers-awash-with-dangerous-levels-of-antibiotics). These bacteria are the ones that survive exposure to the antibiotics and are already raising the possibility of our returning to a pre-antibiotic era where we have no effective treatments for even minor infections. The trouble is compounded by the tendency of bacteria (rapidly evolving organisms, because of their frequency of division) to pass on resistance to other species of bacteria by trading plasmids. Although over-prescription of these medical treatments is one contribution to the development of antibiotic -resistant bacteria (like MRSA), another well-established factor is the use of these agents to increase growth (and profits) in intensively farmed animals. It seems likely, to me, that most of the antibiotics recorded in the rivers results from untreated water leaving farms.
Sunday, 26 May 2019
Friday, 24 May 2019
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/may/24/latest-global-school-climate-strikes-expected-to-beat-turnout-record), their 'elders and betters' in the UK and elsewhere are, reportedly voting in large numbers for 'strong leaders' who are often associated with climate change denial.
Thursday, 23 May 2019
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/may/22/white-storks-could-become-first-to-breed-in-wild-in-uk-for-centuries). There might actually be a re-introduction of this flagship species.
Wednesday, 22 May 2019
Tuesday, 21 May 2019
https://www.theguardian.com/science/2019/may/20/pushy-bonobo-mothers-help-sons-find-sexual-partners-scientists-find). The mothers reportedly usher their boys into locations where fertile females are found and even attack other males who attempt to join in the activity. She, of course, shares 50% of her genes with her son and every fertilisation passes on 25% of these genes.
Environmentalists have suggested that 'rewilding' 25% of the UK's land would be an effective way of countering some of the worst consequences of the climate crisis that we find ourselves in (https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/may/21/rewild-quarter-uk-fight-climate-crisis-campaigners-urge). This is not quite as easy as it sounds as:-
1) We would have to seriously curtail the presence of domestic and wild grazing animals (notably, sheep, goats and deer) from areas where forests could develop again, possibly also introducing natural predators to keep these herbivores in check;
2) Many of the selected areas are likely to be currently used for farming which would have consequences for the food supply of our over-populated islands;
3) The wild places would have to be inter-connected to be maximally effective, which might well involve removing some housing and roads and this would involve much compensation (along with that due to farmers);
4) There would probably be a need to regulate access to any rewilded areas (disturbance by humans and potential endangerment of folk would be issues) and this might well involve 'policing' of the boundaries;
5) One might have to consider a range of types of rewilded locations (perhaps with some that facilitate access by people for leisure and/or sport) which is likely to result in many issues
and 6) We would really also have to do something meaningful about rewilding the seas around our shores!
This one could run and run (as they say)!
Sunday, 19 May 2019
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/may/19/130000-trees-planted-england-english-cities-global-heating). This is apparently an attempt to mitigate against global warming but the species used, their locations and the longer term issues surrounding the develop all seem a bit vague. Some trees are clearly better than others for such developments.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/ng-interactive/2019/may/17/air-pollution-may-be-damaging-every-organ-and-cell-in-the-body-finds-global-review). It is consequently even more worrying that reports on 'hot-spots' in London were apparently suppressed (especially when many of them were close to schools) and that it is only now that people are talking about fixing a time for the replacement of polluting modes of transport. One might almost think that politicians have been in hock to the car lobby.
Saturday, 18 May 2019
- May 18, 2019
Friday, 17 May 2019
Wednesday, 15 May 2019
Monday, 13 May 2019
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/may/13/grubs-up-roasted-crickets-to-go-on-sale-at-london-food-chain). Insects have been advocated as a more environmentally-acceptable way of getting animal protein than meat from mammals and birds. I really can't see much difference between such items as shrimps, prawns and lobster.
Sunday, 12 May 2019
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/may/12/octopus-farming-unethical-and-threat-to-food-chain). The octopus is a mollusc and, lacking a backbone, receives minimal welfare protection (only one species, Octopus vulgaris, is protected along with rats and mice in animal experimentation). The octopus has, however, a relatively large brain and tests have revealed their relative intelligence. It seems likely that these animals would 'suffer' under fish farming conditions (being crowded into a relatively featureless environment and supplied with food but minimal stimulation).
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/may/11/anger-carbon-bootprint-english-football-finals-champions-league-europa-league). Although the main complaints by fans are about ticket allocations and the prices charged (for tickets, travel and accommodation), it has been estimated that the air travel alone undertaken by UK fans, who can currently get to the finals, will add around 35,000 tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. At a time when people are concerned about climate change, this is totally unnecessary (I appreciate that the organisers like to spread their largesse around the continent but they need to show some intelligence). It appears, from that report, that UEFA also has a cunning plan to increase the 'boot-print' of air travel by fans who follow the national European teams!
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