Tag Archives | Ecology

Monsanto’s Roundup Can Cause Amphibians to Change Shape

RoundupThese people have to be stopped. Via ScienceDaily:

The world’s most popular weed killer, Roundup®, can cause amphibians to change shape, according to research recently published in Ecological Applications.Rick Relyea, University of Pittsburgh professor of biological sciences in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences and director of Pitt’s Pymatuning Laboratory of Ecology, demonstrated that sublethal and environmentally relevant concentrations of Roundup® caused two species of amphibians to alter their morphology. According to Relyea, this is the first study to show that a herbicide can induce morphological changes in a vertebrate animal.

Relyea set up large outdoor water tanks that contained many of the components of natural wetlands. Some tanks contained caged predators, which emit chemicals that naturally induce changes in tadpole morphology (such as larger tails to better escape predators). After adding tadpoles to each tank, he exposed them to a range of Roundup® concentrations. After 3 weeks, the tadpoles were removed from the tanks.

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Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Entered Food Chain in the Gulf of Mexico

Deepwater HorizonVia ScienceDaily:

Since the explosion on the BP Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010, scientists have been working to understand the impact that this disaster has had on the environment. For months, crude oil gushed into the water at a rate of approximately 53,000 barrels per day before the well was capped on July 15, 2010.

A new study confirms that oil from the Macondo well made it into the ocean’s food chain through the tiniest of organisms, zooplankton.Tiny drifting animals in the ocean, zooplankton are useful to track oil-derived pollution. They serve as food for baby fish and shrimp and act as conduits for the movement of oil contamination and pollutants into the food chain. The study confirms that not only did oil affect the ecosystem in the Gulf during the blowout, but it was still entering the food web after the well was capped.

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‘Overpopulation Is A Myth’ Says Mom of 19, Michelle Duggar (Video)

DuggarsVia the Huffington Post:
Michelle Duggar, star of TLC's reality show, "19 Kids and Counting", says there needs to be more children because our world needs more joy. And as for overpopulation? That's just a lie, Duggar recently told the Christian Broadcasting Network in a web interview. "The idea of overpopulation is not accurate," Duggar says, because the entire population of the world could fit inside of Jacksonville, Florida. "I agree with Mother Teresa when she said, 'to say that there are too many children is like saying there are too many flowers,'" Duggar said. She explains how her large family is resourceful and therefore not posing as big of an environmental problem as perceived. They buy used cars, she says, and frequently shop at thrift stores, purchasing things others would discard.
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Welcome to the Acid Sea

Waves on Ocean CoastIs the coming tide an uninhabitable ocean? Reports the AFP via Alternet:

High levels of pollution may be turning the planet’s oceans acidic at a faster rate than at any time in the past 300 million years, with unknown consequences for future sea life, researchers said Thursday.

The acidification may be worse than during four major mass extinctions in history when natural pulses of carbon from asteroid impacts and volcanic eruptions caused global temperatures to soar, said the study in the journal Science.

An international team of researchers from the United States, Britain, Spain, Germany and the Netherlands examined hundreds of paleoceanographic studies, including fossils wedged in seafloor sediment from millions of years ago. They found only one time in history that came close to what scientists are seeing today in terms of ocean life die-off — a mysterious period known as the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum about 56 million years ago.

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Sifting the Rubble

Wang Shu

Wang Shu. Photo: Elekhh (CC)

A building, that uses historical rubble a main building component, is causing rumblings in the architecture community. What implications does this have on building a sustainable future? Via Inhabitat:

The 2012 Pritzker Prize was just announced this morning, and the winner is Wang Shu — the first Chinese architect to receive the honor. Wang Shu runs Amateur Architecture Studio with his wife Lu Wenyu out of Hangzhou and is also the head of the Architecture Department of the China Academy of Art.

Responsible for a number of large cultural and social projects in his native country, Wang Shu has become known for work that is “deeply rooted in its context and yet universal.” Some of Wang Shu’s most well known projects include the Library of Wenzheng College at Suzhou University, the Ningbo Contemporary Art Museum, the Ningbo History Museum, phase 1 and 2 of the Xingshan Campus of the China Academy of Art, and the Vertical Courtyard Apartments.

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Indigenous People on Climate Change

Building A Snow HouseA fresh and very interesting Q & A discussion of climate change in relationship to indigenous worldviews. Via Science Magazine:

The Arctic has become the frontline for observing the effects of anthropogenic climate change, from rising ocean temperatures to shrinking sea ice cover. These changes have greatly impacted the traditional practices of indigenous Arctic communities, which rely on sea ice for hunting and travel. In recent years, climate scientists have sought the multigenerational and intimate knowledge that indigenous people have of their environment. How can scientists use this knowledge to improve climate projections and models while respecting indigenous culture?

Igor Krupnik, an anthropologist with the Smithsonian Institution, has studied the indigenous communities of Alaska and northern Russia for 40 years. Yesterday, he gave a talk at the meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (which publishes ScienceNOW) on environmental observations that indigenous experts recorded from 2000 to 2010.

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Is There Herbicide in Your Urine?

GlyphosateVia GMWatch:

According to an article in German in the Ithaka Journal, a German university study has found significant concentrations of glyphosate in the urine samples of city dwellers. The analysis of the urine samples apparently found that all had concentrations of glyphosate at 5 to 20-fold the limit for drinking water. As well as being used increasingly widely in food production, glyphosate-based weedkillers often also get sprayed onto railway lines, urban pavements and roadsides (www.ithaka-journal.net).

Disturbingly, the Ithaka Journal reports (in our translation), “The address of the university labs, which did the research, the data and the evaluation of the research method is known to the editors. Because of significant pressure by agrochemical representatives and the fear that the work of the lab could be influenced, the complete analytical data will only be published in the course of this year.” (www.ithaka-journal.net)

News of this study comes not long after the publication of a study confirming glyphosate was contaminating groundwater.

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When the Earth Gets Sick: Most Mass Extinctions Happened Slowly

Pangaea

Earth in the Permian period. Illustration: Kieff (CC)

Via ScienceDaily:

In geology as in cancer research, the silver bullet theory always gets the headlines and nearly always turns out to be wrong. For geologists who study mass extinctions, the silver bullet is a giant asteroid plunging to earth.But an asteroid is the prime suspect only in the most recent of five mass extinctions, said USC earth scientist David Bottjer. The cataclysm 65 million years ago wiped out the dinosaurs.

“The other four have not been resolvable to a rock falling out of the sky,” Bottjer said. For example, Bottjer and many others have published studies suggesting that the end-Permian extinction 250 million years ago happened in essence because “the earth got sick.”

The latest research from Bottjer’s group suggests a similar slow dying during the extinction 200 million years ago at the boundary of the Triassic and Jurassic eras. The latest research from Bottjer’s group suggests a similar slow dying during the extinction 200 million years ago at the boundary of the Triassic and Jurassic eras.

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Mysterious White-Nose Syndrome Is Killing Bats Across The U.S.

White Nose BatmanHoly Fungus, Batman! Reports David Wrights and Jonann Brady of ABC NEWS:
A mysterious fungus is killing off thousands of bats around the country. Scientists are calling it white-nose syndrome, because of the distinctive white smudges on the noses and wings of infected bats. White-nose itself doesn't kill bats, but it disturbs their sleep so that they end their hibernation early. During the winter there are no insects to eat, so the bats literally starve to death. Bats may be one of Mother Nature's least cuddly creatures, but they are ecologically important, keeping mosquitos and insects that attack crops in check. Researchers say the syndrome has killed upward of half a million bats from New England to Virginia.
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The Industry of Hunger

Photo: Tawheed Manzoor (CC)

Photo: Tawheed Manzoor (CC)

Vandana Shiva on Al Jazeera English explains how, as mega-chains venture into industrial farming, they have created an epidemic of hunger- and generated billions in profit.

New Delhi, India – In November 2011, when the UPA government announced that it had cleared the entry of big retail chains such as Walmart and Tesco into India through 51 per cent Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail, it justified the decision saying that FDI in retail would boost food security and benefit farmers’ livelihoods.

But the assurance that FDI in retail would ease inflation did not resolve the political crisis the government was facing; it deepened it. Parliament was stalled for several days of the Winter Session, after which the government was forced to withdraw its decision.

The story of FDI in retail goes back to 2005, when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh signed an agriculture agreement with the US, along with the nuclear agreement.

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