Tag Archives | Environment

Monsanto Crops Pushing Monarch Butterfly to ‘Verge of Extinction’

A monarch butterfly on butterflyweed, a type of milkweed, at the Lenoir Preserve Nature Center in Yonkers, New York. (Photo: Don Sutherland/flickr/cc)

A monarch butterfly on butterflyweed, a type of milkweed, at the Lenoir Preserve Nature Center in Yonkers, New York. (Photo: Don Sutherland/flickr/cc)

Deirdre Fulton writes at Common Dreams:

Herbicide-resistant genetically modified crops have brought the iconic monarch butterfly to the brink of extinction, according to a new report presented by the Center for Food Safety to Congress on Thursday.

The report, Monarchs in Peril (pdf), is the most comprehensive look yet at how Monsanto’s ‘Roundup Ready’ crops have helped decimate the monarch population, which has declined by 90 percent in the past 20 years.

“This report is a wake-up call. This iconic species is on the verge of extinction because of Monsanto’s Roundup Ready crop system,” said Andrew Kimbrell, executive director at Center for Food Safety. “To let the monarch butterfly die out in order to allow Monsanto to sell its signature herbicide for a few more years is simply shameful.”

As Common Dreams has reported before, and the new study makes abundantly clear, a critical factor in the orange-and-white butterflies’ decline is the loss of host plants for larvae in their main breeding habitat, the Midwestern Corn Belt.

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A ‘Lively’ Day at Monsanto Headquarters

Via Alexis Baden-Mayer at Organic Consumers Association

On January 30, the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) joined Moms Across America (MAA), SumofUs, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Harrington Investments and GMO Free Midwest in a protest and confrontation at Monsanto’s annual shareholder meeting.

The meeting was held at Monsanto corporate headquarters outside St. Louis, Mo., in a town called Creve Coeur—which in French means Broken Heart.

It’s a fitting name for the location of a company that has caused so much heartache with its toxic chemicals.

OCA’s mission on January 30 was to let Monsanto know, in no uncertain terms, that its so-called science—bought and paid for with dirty corporate money—is no match for the research being conducted by honest, independent scientists. And that research is clear: Monsanto is making us sick.

OCA launched our “Monsanto Makes Us Sick” with speeches by medical doctors Jeff Ritterman and Norm Shealy who summed up the scientific case against Monsanto’s flagship product, Roundup herbicide.

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The loneliness of the long-distance drone pilot

Aaron Sankin via The Kernel:

Bruce Black had been preparing for this moment for most of his life.

Growing up, he always wanted to be a pilot. After graduating from New Mexico State University in 1984 with a degree in geology, Black was commissioned as an officer in the Air Force. He spent years as an instructor pilot before quitting to join the FBI, where he specialized in chasing down white-collar criminals, but the pull of military was too strong. He eventually found himself in the air above Afghanistan.

Black flew constantly. Once, in the spring of 2007, Black’s job was to serve as another set of eyes high above a firefight happening on the ground. An Army convoy had been patrolling near a site of a previous strike and gotten ambushed by Taliban fighters while returning to base. Black was acting as a crucial communications relay, sending life-and-death updates back and forth from the men and women on the ground to the Pentagon and a network of support staff located around the world through the military’s version of the Internet.

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Animal Sex: How Octopuses Do It

Screen shot 2015-02-03 at 1.13.13 PM

Joseph Castro Via Live Science:

Often considered the smartest invertebrates (animals without backbones) on the planet, octopuses can use tools, unscrew jar lids and tightly control their body color to match their surroundings. They use this sharp intelligence especially in situations of survival — including when they are trying to avoid getting eaten by their hungry mates.

Octopuses come in all shapes and sizes and inhabit diverse regions of the ocean. There are about 100 different species of octopuses in the genus Octopus, and at least another 150 species in other genera, said Jennifer Mather, a cephalopod expert at the University of Lethbridge in Canada. Scientists have witnessed the mating behavior of only about a dozen species, she added.

The marine animals have very short lives, generally lasting only a few years long and sometimes as short as 6 months. They spend their youth alone, eating and growing before reaching sexual maturity.

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U.S. to Develop DNA Study of One Million People

thierry ehrmann (CC BY 2.0)

thierry ehrmann (CC BY 2.0)

Antonio Regalado via Technology Review:

President Barack Obama is proposing to spend $215 million on a “precision medicine” initiative the centerpiece of which will be a national study involving the health records and DNA of one million volunteers, administration officials said yesterday.Precision medicine refers to treatments tailored to a person’s genetic profile, an idea already transforming how doctors fight cancer and some rare diseases.

The Obama plan, including support for studies of cancer and rare disease, is part of a shift away from “one-size-fits-all” medicine, Jo Handelsman, associate director for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, said in a briefing yesterday. She called precision medicine “a game changer that holds the potential to revolutionize how we approach health in this country and around the world.”

The White House said the largest part of the money, $130 million, would go to the National Institutes of Health in order to create a population-scale study of how peoples’ genes, environment, and lifestyle affect their health.

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Super Bowl XLIX: Greenest Circus in History?

Parker Anderson (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Parker Anderson (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Silvio Marcacci via CleanTechnica:

Media days, star-studded halftime shows, and million-dollar television ads traditionally dominate the news leading up to every Super Bowl, but it’s probably time to add a new tradition to the list: Annual “Greenest Super Bowl Ever” claims.

This trend has picked as Americans become more involved with environmental and climate issues, and this year Super Bowl XLIX is primed to score as perhaps the greenest sporting event yet.

From solar and wind energy, to LED lights, landfill diversion, and even both teams playing in the actual game, the 2015 Super Bowl is set to score big for sports sustainability.

A 100% Wind Powered Super Bowl

As with most CleanTechnica post, this one starts with renewable energy. While Arizona’s University of Phoenix Stadium doesn’t have any on-site solar or wind power resources, local utility Salt River Project (SRP) has agreed to provide all of the big game’s electricity needs with 100% wind power.

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Police Find 21 Porcelain Dolls Tied to Stakes in a Swamp

 

Jill Reilly at The Daily Mail:

Twenty-one dolls on bamboo stakes have been mysteriously found in an Alabama swamp.

Autauga County sheriff’s deputies traveled by canoe into Bear Creek Swamp on Tuesday to recover the dolls, whose faces and hair were painted white.

Most of the dolls are porcelain and have the appearance of being antique, reports The Montgomery Advertiser.

Autauga County Chief Deputy Joe Sedinger said authorities tried to contact the timber company that owns the land, but no one got back to them.

‘I noticed the dolls several weeks ago while driving through the swamp working on a stolen vehicle report,’ he sad.

To see more pictures and continue reading, go here.

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Pot Is Making Colorado So Much Money They Literally Have To Give Some Back To Residents

Jeffrey Beall (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Jeffrey Beall (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Via High Times/Kristen Wyatt  AP:

DENVER (AP) — Colorado’s marijuana experiment was designed to raise revenue for the state and its schools, but a state law may put some of the tax money directly into residents’ pockets, causing quite a headache for lawmakers.

The state constitution limits how much tax money the state can take in before it has to give some back. That means Coloradans may each get their own cut of the $50 million in recreational pot taxes collected in the first year of legal weed. It’s a situation so bizarre that it’s gotten Republicans and Democrats, for once, to agree on a tax issue.

Even some pot shoppers are surprised Colorado may not keep the taxes that were promised to go toward school construction when voters legalized marijuana in 2012.

“I have no problem paying taxes if they’re going to schools,” said Maddy Beaumier, 25, who was visiting a dispensary near the Capitol.

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The State of the Union Address vs. Helena Norberg-Hodge, the Importance of Localization, and the Death of the Techno-Economic Juggernaut

Aaron Dames writes for Divided Core.

 As for the developed countries from which this corrupting ethos of progress goes out: more and more their “growthmania” distorts their environments and robs the world of its nonrenewable resources for no better end than to increase the output of ballistic missiles, electric hairdryers, and eight-track stereophonic tape recorders.  But in the statistics of the economic index such mad waste measures out as “productivity,” and all looks rosy.

-E.F. Schumacher, Small is Beautiful

 

During the State of Union address last week, President Barack Obama insinuated that Congress should grant him Fast Track authority (trade promotion authority that cannot be blocked by Congress) to make real the embryonic Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TPP) without directly referring to this nascent legislative monstrosity by name.  He promised that, unlike previous trade agreements (such as NAFTA), the TPP would lead to domestic job creation, boost worker protections, and help the United States maintain its economic lead over China.… Read the rest

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Honeycomb Geometry

Karunakar Rayker (CC BY 2.0)

Karunakar Rayker (CC BY 2.0)

Via Alistair Bird at A Periodical:

Bees have encouraged mathematical speculation for two millennia, since classical scholars tried to explain the geometrically appealing shape of honeycombs. How do bees tackle complex problems that humans would express mathematically? In this series we’ll explore three situations where understanding the maths could help explain the uncanny instincts of bees.

Honeycomb geometry

Honeybees collect nectar from flowers and use it to produce honey, which they then store in honeycombs made of beeswax (in turn derived from honey). A question that has puzzled many inquiring minds across the ages is: why are honeycombs made of hexagonal cells?

The Roman scholar Varro, in his 1st century BC book-long poem De Agri Cultura (“On Agriculture”), briefly states

“Does not the chamber in the comb have six angles, the same number as the bee has feet? The geometricians prove that this hexagon inscribed in a circular figure encloses the greatest amount of space1.”

This quote is the earliest known source suggesting a link between the hexagonal shape of the honeycomb and a mathematical property of the hexagon, made more explicit a few centuries later by Pappus of Alexandria (sometimes considered to be the last Ancient Greek mathematician).

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