Wednesday, 30 October 2019
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/oct/26/gm-golden-rice-delay-cost-millions-of-lives-child-blindness), resulting in many deaths and cases of blindness (especially night blindness) in children. This is somewhat surprising as people seem very accepting of GMOs to produce human insulin and growth hormone for medical applications.
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/oct/29/tick-borne-encephalitis-found-uk-first-time). Although the risk is currently classified as 'low', the incidence of transmission might well change with climate change.
Sunday, 27 October 2019
Friday, 25 October 2019
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/oct/25/scientists-glacial-rivers-absorb-carbon-faster-rainforests). This suggests that there is yet another downside for the disappearing glaciers.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/oct/23/retailers-move-to-reassure-consumers-over-chicken-safety-after-drug-seizure-northern-ireland). That is hardly the point. The antibiotic, although approved for regulated veterinary use, seemed to be possibly destined for use as a growth (and, hence, profit) promoter. Such use by farmers, in other parts of the world (it's banned under EU regulations), is one reason for the rapid development of antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria, threatening human health by returning us to a pre-antibiotic era. It is not just the use of chlorine wash on American chicken that should put us off facilitating its importation to our shores. Nor do we need to adopt their rearing systems for chickens here.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/oct/23/snail-fail-australia-turns-back-mercedes-benz-cars-after-escargot-cargo-found ) that the Australian authorities have sent 900 luxury Mercedes cars back to their country of origin as some were found to be carrying Heath snails (Xerolenta obvia). Given Australia's past problems with biosecurity, the Department of Agriculture was keen not to risk this previously never before detected alien entering the country. The snail eats cereal crops and fruit trees and carries a range of parasites and fungal spores.
Thursday, 24 October 2019
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/oct/22/rat-eating-macaques-stun-scientists-malaysia). It was surprising that these monkeys captured and consumed so much animal flesh but it was also recognised that they were reducing the losses of palm oil (a somewhat problematic crop) to the rats. Primates are generally great opportunists!
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/oct/23/depressing-mystery-of-elastic-bands-found-on-remote-mullion-island-solved). It now appears that nesting gulls were picking up these items (often dropped by postal workers on the mainland) and bringing back these 'worms' to feed to their chicks. The practice suggests that food items are very much in short supply for these birds. The bands might well cause many problems for animals in this location.
Monday, 21 October 2019
https://www.theguardian.com/science/2019/oct/19/doubting-death-how-our-brains-shield-us-from-mortal-truth). Although death (and supposedly taxes) are the only things that one can absolutely rely on, it appears likely that recognising our inevitable ending doesn't help us to successfully operate as biological entities. It seems likely that this 'double think' is a very human characteristic but I wonder if other cognizant beings operate in a similar fashion?
- October 21, 2019
Wednesday, 16 October 2019
https://www.theguardian.com/science/2019/oct/14/common-drug-could-prevent-thousands-of-head-injury-deaths). The drug does not help patients with severe brain injuries and has to be given as quickly as possible after the traumatic event. It works by slowing the breakdown of blood clots. Perhaps there is a role for this treatment in some contact sports (by the ring or the pitch side) where brain injuries are likely?
- October 16, 2019
Tuesday, 15 October 2019
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/oct/13/domestic-rabbits-plagued-by-diseases-and-poor-diets-study-finds). I have commented previously on the need for caging to be sufficiently long to accommodate the animal's saltatory (jumping) mode of locomotion but was a bit concerned by the bald statement that rabbits should not be housed in isolation. Oryctolagus cuniculus is clearly a social animal and females can safely be housed in groups. There are, however, problems with other combinations. Housing intact males with females provides opportunities for rabbits to express their fabled reproductive capacity. Whereas housing male (buck) rabbits together can result in very damaging fighting unless the partners are castrated.
- October 15, 2019
Monday, 14 October 2019
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/oct/11/if-the-shoo-fits-cows-painted-with-zebra-stripes-keep-flies-in-line). This work, of course, reflects attempts to determine WHY zebras have stripes. Rather than being a device to blend into the background, it appears that the pattern interrupts the motion detection systems of flying ectoparasites, making landing more difficult. Perhaps the breeders will be able to come up with striped cows, negating the need to paint?
- October 14, 2019
Saturday, 12 October 2019
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/oct/09/our-inner-salamander-could-help-treat-arthritis-study-finds ). It does seem possible to stimulate repair (a process that could be very useful in treating arthritis) and this is easier in the toes and fingers than in the knees and elbows. The authors speculate that this may a hangover of a process in animals like salamanders who can regrow appendages lost to predators. Re-growing a finger is easier for them than items closer to the body (which would make sense if the bulk of the amphibian escaped the attack). There could, however, be alternative suggestions. Cartilage may grow better at lower temperatures (as in the extremities) than in areas that are more internal?
- October 12, 2019
Friday, 11 October 2019
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/oct/10/oil-firms-barrels-markets). This is in contrast to the claim that some of these state- or privately-owned companies are actively exploring 'green' alternative energy sources.
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/oct/10/power-silicon-valley-climate-crisis-big-tech-profitable). The explanation is that the recipients of these monies can be relied on to support an obscure US law enabling the tech companies to avoid lawsuits for content published on line by claiming that (unlike, e.g. a newspaper) they only provide a platform and cannot be held responsible for accuracy. If the law was to be repealed, it would hit the profits of these digital companies. The defence of the companies is "that we don't always agree with all the policies of the think tanks". So, it looks as if the profit motive might well eventually fry the planet!
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/oct/08/humpback-whale-seen-in-thames-has-died-says-rescue-service). Whales only appear in these inappropriate locations because they have become disorientated or have been injured (often by collision with a ship).
Friday, 4 October 2019
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/oct/03/shocked-scientists-find-400km-of-dead-and-damaged-mangroves-in-gulf-of-carpentaria). This is probably due to a combination of record high temperatures, declining sea levels and a sequence of two cyclones in that area. No matter how generated, the loss will be felt in terms of land erosion and the loss of habitat by many developing marine organisms.
- October 04, 2019
A UN spokeswoman on biodiversity has claimed that humans, by continuing to cause mass extinctions (just like a giant meteor hit), 'ri...
A combination of night rain and day-time sun has resulted in more Bynea blooms. The Southern marsh orchid ( Dactylorhiza praetermissa...
The fuss about allegedly suspect data emanating from the East Anglia University Climatic Research Unit and the 'theft' of emails fr...
Workers in Montreal have shown that adding boiling water to a single plastic tea-bag releases almost 15 billion micro and nano particles ...