Friday, 30 August 2019
https://www.theguardian.com/science/2019/aug/29/scientists-quash-idea-of-single-gay-gene). Here was me thinking that it had all been sorted decades ago with a recognition that, in addition to complex genetic factors, influences like the in utero hormonal exposure, how one is responded to by parents and peers, one's own body image et cetera all play roles (to different degrees) in different individuals. Although genes are interesting, I do think there is a tendency to try to link them to every human quirk. Scientists don't seem capable to resisting the tendency to medicalise.
- August 30, 2019
Tuesday, 27 August 2019
- August 27, 2019
Monday, 26 August 2019
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/aug/26/latest-fracking-tremor-believed-to-be-uk-biggest-yet-cuadrilla-blackpool). The UK, unlike the US, is a small; relatively densely populated country. Fracking clearly to likely to make the rocky substrate of shale underpinned areas less stable as well as potentially contaminating water sources. And we really don't need to add more greenhouse gases by burning the product.
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/aug/26/donald-trump-suggests-nuking-hurricanes-to-stop-them-hitting-america-report). It actually seems a suggestion that is repeatedly made by folk from time to time. I am willing to bet that the residents of Africa (and elsewhere) wouldn't look too kindly on nuclear weapons being used in their back-yard where hurricanes tend to be generated. Exporting environmental problems seems to be a poplar strategy in certain circles
Sunday, 25 August 2019
https://www.theguardian.com/science/2019/aug/24/mutant-sheep-may-help-cure-batten-disease-roslin-institute-genetic-research ). Batten disease is an inherited neurological condition found in children that is currently always ultimately fatal. Although the scientists admit that they may receive some criticism for engineering an animal with a fatal disorder, they claim that the sheep may enable them to develop treatments that can help the human victims. They argue that the sheep's brain is similar in size and complexity to that of a child (whereas the organ of a rat or a mouse is not a good match). Having said that, sheep and humans are rather fundamentally different.
- August 25, 2019
Saturday, 24 August 2019
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/aug/23/amazon-fires-what-is-happening-anything-we-can-do). This, of course, reduces the ability of the rainforest to store carbon and to generate oxygen as well as loading the atmosphere with more 'greenhouse gases'. I suspect that some of the peoples of Europe (and elsewhere) are starting to appreciate how the inhabitants of low-lying Pacific islands feel (namely that greedy folk elsewhere have no understanding of their situation and, even if they did, couldn't care less). It does seem ominous that self-centred, climate change deniers (who often appear to hate 'foreigners') have presently assumed control in many parts of the globe. The prognosis for the planet doesn't look good.
- August 24, 2019
Tuesday, 20 August 2019
Thursday, 15 August 2019
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/aug/15/new-zealanders-warned-about-the-consumption-of-sexy-pavement-lichen). Firstly, there are doubts about its sexual benefits and, secondly, the fungus is likely to be contaminated with urine, dog faeces and pollutants from road traffic. Licking it could make consumers seriously ill rather than converting them to 'sex machines'.
Wednesday, 14 August 2019
https://www.theguardian.com/science/2019/aug/13/sperm-separation-method-may-allow-gender-selection-in-ivf). This might well lead to the technique being used to specify sex in in vitro fertilisation programmes. Although favouring one sex is generally a bad idea (particularly seen in some cultures), there are some genetic conditions where specifying the sex could reduce the risk of passing on harmful conditions.
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/aug/14/glaciers-iceland-country-loss-plaque-climate-crisis). Apparently, the melting of Iceland's glaciers will 'only' add about 1cm to sea levels but this would be pretty devastating for any low lying countries.
Tuesday, 13 August 2019
Sunday, 11 August 2019
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/aug/08/scientists-discover-why-two-shark-species-emit-green-glow). These fish live in the West Atlantic and the East Pacific at depths where only blue light can reach and on its exposure causes them to glow bright green. The bioluminescence is different from that seen in certain jellyfish (where it is used in medical diagnosis) and may be involved in mate-finding, as males and females have different light patterns. The skin-based chemicals may also play a role in defence against microbial infections.
- August 11, 2019
Saturday, 10 August 2019
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/aug/08/climate-crisis-reducing-lands-ability-to-sustain-humanity-says-ipcc). The authors particularly point to the problems associated with meat and dairy production (and its growing popularity in some developing world regions) but refuse to advocate legislation to encourage dietary changes (as they are scientists rather than policy makers), somewhat to the chagrin of others (https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/aug/08/ipcc-land-climate-report-carbon-cost-meat-dairy). I must admit to finding the current news cycle intensely un-joined up. Items appear on the dangers of climate change and then are immediately followed,without comment linking it to climate change, by suggestions that political changes might result in many dairy cows in Northern Ireland having to be killed. Yet other stories suggest that the newly burgeoning birth-rate in China could offer lots of export possibilities for food products. Perhaps one of the reasons the IPCC report strikes some people as mealy-mouthed is the fact that news items are treated as compartmentalised boxes rather than recognising that most news-worthy events involving humans have environmental, economic, political, welfare, safety and fairness aspects/consequences.
- August 10, 2019
Thursday, 8 August 2019
Wednesday, 7 August 2019
https://www.theguardian.com/science/2019/aug/07/fossils-largest-parrot-ever-recorded-found-new-zealand-heracles-inexpectatus). This parrot weighed about 7kg, was probably flightless and may have supplemented its largely vegetarian diet with the odd mammal or bird.
Tuesday, 6 August 2019
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/aug/05/warm-weather-makes-it-a-boom-year-for-butterflies-say-experts) and have suggested that warm weather accounts for the beneficial effect. Although people enthuse about butterflies, one could argue that their atypical frequency is actually a confirmation of there being problems with the climate.
- August 06, 2019
Sunday, 4 August 2019
Friday, 2 August 2019
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jul/31/englands-new-nature-reserves-will-help-us-tackle-global-heating). It may make a minor improvement (perhaps reduced somewhat by more folk driving their 4x4s to visit the locations) but I really think that the scale of required action is considerably greater than that.
- August 02, 2019
Thursday, 1 August 2019
- August 01, 2019