Tag Archives | Environment

Can Pollution Help Trees Fight Infection?

Pollution may help trees fight infection. Credit: Frederic E. Pitre

Pollution may help trees fight infection.
Credit: Frederic E. Pitre

Via ScienceDaily:

Trees that can tolerate soil pollution are also better at defending themselves against pests and pathogens. “It looks like the very act of tolerating chemical pollution may give trees an advantage from biological invasion,” says Dr Frederic E. Pitre of the University of Montreal and one of the researchers behind the discovery.

Unexpectedly, whilst studying the presence of genetic information (RNA) from fungi and bacteria in the trees, the researchers found evidence of a very large amount of RNA from a very common plant pest called the two-spotted spidermite.

In fact, 99% of spidermite RNA was in higher abundance in trees without contamination, suggesting that the polluted plant’s defence mechanisms, used to protect itself against chemical contamination, improves its resistance to a biological invader.

“This higher spidermite gene expression (RNA) in non-contaminated trees suggests that tolerating contamination might ‘prime’ the trees’ defence machinery, allowing them to defend themselves better against pests, such as spidermites,” says Pitre.

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Shoe Made From Recycled Ocean Trash

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I’m currently posting this from the beach, and it makes my blood boil when people litter. So, it seemed fitting.

Laura Feinstein via GOOD:

As a rule I’m skeptical of big brands “going green,” but it seems adidas might just be on to something. Recently the sporty retail giant teamed up with Parley for the Oceans—an idealistic group of “creators, thinkers and leaders” attempting to re-purpose the ocean’s overwhelming amount of trash into reusable material—for a mystery project. Monday at the United Nations the brand unveiled their collaboration: the world’s first ever shoe upper made solely from harvested ocean plastic and illegal deep-sea gillnets. The nets were retrieved after a 110-day expedition by Parley partner organization Sea Shepherd, where they tracked an illegal poaching vessel off the coast of West Africa.

The prototype is just the first in a yet-to-be-released line of consumer-ready ocean-plastic products the brand will launch later this year.

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The Force Which Shapes The World

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Linda and Morris Tannehill via Not Being Governed:

But a discussion of how government could be dismantled and how free men could then build a laissez-faire society out of the pieces still doesn’t answer the question, “How do we get there?” Politicians are politicians because they enjoy wielding power over others and being honored for their “high positions.” Power and plaudits are the politician’s life, and a true politician will fight to the death (your death) if he thinks it will help him hold on to them. Even the gray, faceless bureaucrats cling to their little bits of power with the desperate tenacity of a multitude of leaches, each squirming and fighting to hold and increase his area of domination. How can we successfully oppose this vast, cancerous power structure? Where can we find a force strong enough to attack, undermine, and finally destroy its power?

Some people, gazing up at the fearsome might of the American Leviathan, have decided that our only hope lies in an eventual armed revolution.

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First robot wedding: The bride wore white and the groom wore out his batteries

Scott Pakulski (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Scott Pakulski (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Lydia Willgress via Daily Mail Online:

Two robots have tied the knot in Japan in what is thought to be the first wedding of its kind in the world.

Frois, the groom, and bride Yukirin walked the aisle, wore traditional outfits and even carried out a ‘wedding kiss’ at the event in Tokyo on Saturday.

Special invitations were made, featuring a picture of the two robots inset in a heart, and the 100-strong congregation included a range of smaller robotic models.

After the ceremony the couple even managed to ‘cut a cake’ before an automated orchestra performed a song for the equivalent of their first dance.

The event was organised by Maywa Denki, which produces electronic accessories and designed the groom Frois.

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The real Alien vs. Predator is occurring right now in Antarctic waters

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Dr. M via Deep Sea News:

In the freezing and dark waters of the Antarctic, two marine species are pitted against each other in a battle of survival. Each of the players in the evolutionary game is trying to avoid a permanent residency in the other’s stomach. One of the competitors, you may not be surprised by. The behemoth colossal squid can reach sizes of sizes of 495 kg (1091 lbs) and 4.2 meters (13.8 feet). The colossal squid’s competitor? The Antarctic toothfish reaching a puny 200 cm (6.5 feet) and 80 kg (176 pounds) in length at is biggest. Not exactly the size to take on the hooked tentacular mass of a colossal squid. Yet attacks and feedings of this two biological killing machines on each other occurs frequently in the natural world’s answer to Alien vs. Predator.

Remeslo and colleagues*** report 71 toothfish with deep wounds from squid beaks or scratches from suckers.

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WHO Says Widely-Used Dow Herbicide ‘Possibly Carcinogenic’ to Humans

"We have known for decades that 2,4-D is harmful to the environment and human health, especially for the farmers and farm workers applying these chemicals to crops," said Mary Ellen Kustin, Environmental Working Group. (Photo: Chafer Machinery/flickr/cc)

“We have known for decades that 2,4-D is harmful to the environment and human health, especially for the farmers and farm workers applying these chemicals to crops,” said Mary Ellen Kustin, Environmental Working Group. (Photo: Chafer Machinery/flickr/cc)

This post originally appeared on Common Dreams. Read more of Sarah Lazare’s posts here.

The World Health Organization revealed on Tuesday that 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic, a key ingredient of a widely-used herbicide produced by Dow, is “possibly carcinogenic” to humans—a classification that public health and environmental advocates say is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the overall dangers the chemical poses.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer—a Lyon, France-based wing of the WHO—published the findings Tuesday in The Lancet Oncology and also disclosed them in apublic statement (pdf).

The agency said there is “strong evidence that 2,4-D induces oxidative stress that can operate in humans and moderate evidence that 2,4-D causes immunosuppression, based on in-vivo and in-vitro studies.”

The classification of “possibly carcinogenic” puts 2,4-D two levels above “probably not carcinogenic” but one below “probably carcinogenic.”

This development did not come as a shock to public health and environmental advocates.

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Renewable Energy from Evaporating Water

Eva, the first evaporation-powered car, has a turbine engine that rotates as water evaporates from the wet paper lining the walls of the engine. Credit: Xi Chen, Columbia University

Eva, the first evaporation-powered car, has a turbine engine that rotates as water evaporates from the wet paper lining the walls of the engine.
Credit: Xi Chen, Columbia University

Columbia University Via ScienceDaily:

An immensely powerful yet invisible force pulls water from Earth to the top of the tallest redwood and delivers snow to the tops of the Himalayas. Yet despite the power of evaporating water, its potential to propel self-sufficient devices or produce electricity has remained largely untapped — until now.

In the June 16 online issue of Nature Communications, Columbia University scientists report the development of two novel devices that derive power directly from evaporation — a floating, piston-driven engine that generates electricity causing a light to flash, and a rotary engine that drives a miniature car.

When evaporation energy is scaled up, the researchers predict, it could one day produce electricity from giant floating power generators that sit on bays or reservoirs, or from huge rotating machines akin to wind turbines that sit above water, said Ozgur Sahin, Ph.D., an associate professor of biological sciences and physics at Columbia University and the paper’s lead author.

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A Brief History of False Flag Terror

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James Corbett via Waking Times:

In naval warfare, a “false flag” refers to an attack where a vessel flies a flag other than their true battle flag before engaging their enemy. It is a trick, designed to deceive the enemy about the true nature and origin of an attack.

In the democratic era, where governments require at least a plausible pretext before sending their nation to war, it has been adapted as a psychological warfare tactic to deceive a government’s own population into believing that an enemy nation has attacked them.

In the 1780s, Swedish King Gustav III was looking for a way to unite an increasingly divided nation and raise his own falling political fortunes. Deciding that a war with Russia would be a sufficient distraction but lacking the political authority to send the nation to war unilaterally, he arranged for the head tailor of the Swedish Opera House to sew some Russian military uniforms.

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Neil Young is Starving the Poor!

Neil Young, 1983.

Neil Young, 1983.

Colin Todhunter writes at CounterPunch:

Not since the original Luddites smashed cotton mill machinery in early 19th century England, have we seen such an organised, fanatical antagonism to progress and science. These enemies of the Green Revolution call themselves ‘progressive’, but their agenda could hardly be more backward-looking and regressive… their policies would condemn billions to hunger, poverty and underdevelopment.”

Owen Paterson stated the above earlier this year during a speech he gave in South Africa. Paterson is the former Environment Minister for the UK.

Now, a few months on, writing in the New York Post (‘How Neil Young, Greenpeace work to starve the world’s poor‘) he is mouthing similar claims and accusations, this time focusing on Neil Young’s recent anti-GMO/ Monsanto album.

Paterson writes:

“In reality, GMOs can save millions of lives. It’s the environmentalists who are doing real harm.”

He continues:

“The best example of this is Golden Rice, a miracle grain enhanced with Vitamin A-producing beta-carotene.

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Putting a Price on Nature

If we “do the math,” we can preserve that amorphous thing popularly referred to as “nature,” according to Anna Lieb at PBS Nova:

I’ve done the math, and for $1.20, you can preserve a 19-inch by 19-inch square of rainforest habitat—home, on average, to 0.000006 long-tailed macaques and 0.0000001 pangolins. All you have to do is pay a bit more for palm oil, found in roughly half of all grocery store items: chocolate bars, cereal, and lipstick, to name a few.

Palm oil plantation. Photo: Achmad Rabin Taim (CC)

Palm oil plantation. Photo: Achmad Rabin Taim (CC)

 

“Most people probably consume some palm oil every day,” says David Wilcove, a professor of ecology at Princeton University. The ubiquitous stuff is squeezed from the fruit of trees whose rapidly expanding cultivation has infamously contributed to widespread deforestation in southeast Asia, and increasingly, parts of South America and Africa.

derived the numbers above from a study appearing this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), part of a collection authored by over 80 researchers from 50 institutions spanning ten different countries.

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