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News & Events On Our Changing Planet

8/28/2014

Mega rare blue lobster caught off coast of Maine

An almost unique sea creature made landfall earlier this week - a blue lobster.
Jay LaPlante and his 14-year-old daughter Meghan, were out at sea hauling traps off the coast, near Portland, Maine, when they unloaded a pot containing the spectacular two-pound azure lobster.
Meghan quickly christened the crustacean Skyler, presumably as she is the same shade as the sky.

 Oceanographers estimate that around one in two million lobsters are this alluring shade of blue, the unusual colour caused by a genetic defect which causes the shell-fish to over-produce a certain protein.
Due to his almost unique appearance, Skyler has avoided the dinner plate and has been given to the Maine State aquarium in West Boothbay Harbor.
There he will join another three blue lobsters and an orange one.

Mirror

Wildlife face a 'biological holocaust'

Half the planet should be set aside solely for the protection of wildlife to prevent the “mass extinction” of species, according to one of the world’s leading biologists.
The radical conservation strategy proposed by Dr E.O. Wilson, the hugely-influential 85-year old Harvard University scientist, would see humans essentially withdraw from half of the Earth.
Dr Wilson, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, warned that we are facing a “biological holocaust” as devastating as the extinction of the dinosaurs unless humans agree to share land more equally with the planet’s 10 million other species.
Outlining his audacious “Half Earth” theory, he said: “It’s been in my mind for years that people haven’t been thinking big enough – even conservationists.
“I see a chain of uninterrupted corridors forming, with twists and turns, some of them opening up to become wide enough to accommodate national biodiversity parks, a new kind of park that won’t let species vanish,” he told the journal of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington.
Dr Wilson, who is considered the world’s preeminent advocate of biodiversity, wants to create a series of “Long Landscape” wildlife chains to help species to respond to the effects of climate change by moving around.
These “corridors” running vertically down continents will let species move north as temperatures rise, for example, while those going horizontally will enable species to move east as rainfall declines in the west, Dr Wilson said.
He pointed to the Yellowstone-to-Yukon conservation initiative running 2,000 miles from Wyoming in the mid-west of the US to the Yukon territories in the north west of Canada as a good example of the kind of protected area he would like to see become extremely widespread. The area encompasses and protects an entire mountain eco-system, giving species 502,000 square miles of uninterrupted land to roam.
Scale is important because “islandisation” can have a disastrous impact on wildlife, according to Dr Wilson, whose theory of island biogeography is regarded as the authoritative explanation for why confined landscapes inevitably lose species.
Small areas can become islands, and without ‘bridges’  to connect them to similar habitats, species are more likely to become extinct. This is partly because wildlife need to draw from a broad gene pool to avoid the “genetic anomalies” that become more likely when breeding with relatives.
Furthermore, island populations are disproportionately vulnerable to disease, over hunting or catastrophic events like floods or fires and linking habitats together provides a life-line by helping the movement of species and their genes, scientists say.
Dr Wilson’s career has earned him huge credibility. But observers say he will have his work cut out translating his vision into anything approaching reality.
Even the hugely wealthy and sparsely populated US protects only four per cent of its land in the way Dr Wilson would like to see half of the entire world protected.
“Half earth is the goal but it’s how we get there, and whether we can come up with a system of wild landscapes we can hang on to,” says Dr Wilson. “Battles are where the fun is and where the most rapid advances are made,” he said.

The Independent

8/20/2014

Lake Mead At Lowest Water Level In Decades

Lake Mead is a harbinger of drought for the west.
"Like a giant measuring stick in the desert, the dropping water level of Lake Mead, the nation's largest man-made reservoir, provides a vivid representation of the drought that is gripping the Southwest and much of the West," USA Today recently reported.
The lake is in bad shape. "Now at 39 percent of capacity, [it] has been dropping since 2012, according to U.S. Bureau of Reclamation data, as much of the western U.S. has suffered the most serious drought in decades. The shortfall is endangering water supplies to the residents and 43 million annual visitors to the driest metropolitan area in the country," Bloomberg reported.
Why does it matter? The significance of the hardship at Lake Mead is that low water levels at the lake mean the Colorado River "is running out of water," 8 News Now reported. "That's a big problem for the millions of people who live in the Southwest. Lake Mead, which is fed by the river, is now at its lowest level since the Hoover Dam was built almost 80 years ago."
The Colorado River is key to economic wellbeing in the West. It "contributes $2.8 billion for Nevada every year. It supports 17,000 jobs and quenches the thirst of 2.5 million Nevadans and it remains in serious danger," the report said.
Lake Mead was constructed during the Great Depression, according to the report. It gathers up "water that falls as snow on the Rocky Mountains as far north as Wyoming and collects in the Colorado River," the report said. It is a water source for parts of California, Las Vegas, and Arizona.
The situation is likely to get worse before it gets better.
"Officials of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation's offices here, who control the river flow and distribution of water within legal guidelines, expect Lake Mead's level to decline a bit more before recovering some as water held further upstream in Lake Powell is released," the USA Today reported.

Water Online

8/08/2014

Why Monsanto's 'Cure' For World Hunger Is Cursing The Global Food Supply

What if the very GM agricultural system that Monsanto claims will help to solve the problem of world hunger depends on a chemical that kills the very pollinator upon which approximately 70% of world's food supply now depends?
A new study published in the Journal of Experimental Biology titled, "Effects of field-realistic doses of glyphosate on honeybee appetitive behavior," establishes a link between the world's most popular herbicide – aka Roundup – and the dramatic decline in honeybee (Apis mellifera) populations in North American and Europe that lead to the coining of the term 'colony collapse disorder' (CCD) in late 2006 to describe the phenomena.[1]
The researchers found that concentrations of glyphosate (GLY) consistent with the type of exposures associated with standard spraying practices in GM agricultural- and neighboring eco- systems reduced the honeybee's sensitivity to nectar reward and impaired their learning abilities – two behavioral consequences likely to adversely affect their survival abilities. Moreover, while sub-lethal doses were not found to overtly affect their foraging behavior, they hypothesized that because of their resilience, "..forager bees could become a source of constant inflow of nectar with GLY traces that could then be distributed among nest mates, stored in the hive and have long- term negative consequences on colony performance."

A Deeper Look at the New Study: Roundup Interferes with Bee Appetite and Learning

Roundup herbicide is a ubiquitous toxicant, with an accumulating body of research now showing it is a common contaminant in our air, water, rain, soil and food, and in physiologically relevant concentrations (even the part-per-trillion concentration range demonstrates endocrine disruptive and potentially carcinogenic properties) to microbial, insect, animal and human life.
When Roundup herbicide was first evaluated for toxicity to the honeybee, the focus was on acute toxicity of the 'active ingredient' and not sub-lethal and prolonged exposure effects; and certainly not the amplified toxicological synergies present in glyphosate formulations like Roundup, which when the so-called 'inert' adjuvant ingredients (e.g. surfactants) are taken into account, have been found to be at least 125 times more toxic than glyphosate alone. By only taking into account acute toxicity – as measured by the so-called LD50 (lethal dose, 50%) – on the 'active' ingredient, government regulators approved glyphosate as relatively harmless to honeybees prematurely.
The researchers expanded on the topic:
"Glyphosate [GLY] toxicity tests on Apis mellifera for product approval did not consider sub-lethal nor prolonged exposure effects. Studies were only focused on obtaining LD50 (lethal dose, 50%) as a measure of the effect of an acute exposure, but nevertheless, they were carried out on the basis that honeybees might in fact be exposed to GLY in their natural environment, either through the consumption of contaminated resources or through a direct exposure as a result of inadvertent spraying (Giesy et al., 2000). Even though LD50 results seem to indicate that GLY is not harmful for honeybees, the fact that honeybees are potentially exposed to GLY motivated us to pursue further analysis and to address the lack of chronic studies."
The authors of the new study set out to test whether doses of glyphosate bees would realistically encounter in the field (field-realistic doses) could affect their feeding behavior (appetitive behavior) in a deleterious manner.
They exposed honeybees to field-realistic doses of glyphosate chronically and acutely, and observed: "a reduced sensitivity to sucrose and learning performance for the groups chronically exposed to GLY concentrations within the range of recommended doses," as well as significant decrease in elemental learning, non-elemental associative learning, and short-term memory retention, when exposed to acute GLY doses.

Roundup Already Identified As Likely Cause of Colony Collapse Disorder

This latest study is not the first to link glyphosate to the vanishing honeybee.
Extensive research on the topic performed by Dr. Don D. Huber and summarized in an article published last year titled, "Is glyphosate a contributing cause of bee colony collapse disorder (CCD)?," lead him to conclude that the 880 million pounds of glyphosate released into the environment worldwide has been contributing to the collapse of the honeybee. The paper revealed the following six ways that glyphosate could contribute to CCD:

  • Glyphosate chelates minerals, lowers nutrients in plants: In CCD, Malnutrition is universally present.
  • Glyphosate acts like an antibiotic to beneficial bacteria: In CCD, loss of Lactobacillus and other critical beneficial bacteria for digestion is commonly observed.
  • Glyphosate is a neurotoxin: In CCD, honeybees experience neurological changes associated with disorientation.
  • Gyphosate causes endocrine hormone & immune disruption: In CCD, immunity and other hormonal variables are altered or suppressed.
  • Glyphosate stimulates fungal overgrowth: In CCD, the fungal pathogen Nosema increases.
  • Glyphosate persists and accumulates: High environmental exposure, including glyphosate residues present in honey, nectar and other plant products, make honeybees susceptible to continual toxic challenge -- which is believed to be a primary underlying cause of CCD.

Other Factors Contributing to Colony Collapse

While it is now increasingly acknowledged that many agrochemicals pesticides -- especially neonicotinoids -- are toxic to honeybees, there are other factors that likely play a role as well:
It should be pointed out that the last factor listed – infectious organisms – are likely more a symptom than a cause of honeybee morbidity and mortality. In other words, following electromagnetic, agrochemical and dietary assault, the immune system of the honeybee – and the collective immunity of the hive – weakens, leading to greater susceptibility to opportunistic infections.
One USDA study published in 2013 discussed the role of fungicidal contaminants in pollen leading to increased probability of Nosema fungal infection in bees who consumed pollen with a higher fungicide load.[3]
This linkage between chemical exposure > immune suppression, > opportunistic infection, is especially poignant when it comes to Roundup herbicide, which profoundly alters the makeup of the beneficial flora in exposed organisms, leading to the overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria. A 2012 PloS study found that lactic acid bacteria living in the crop (the part of the bee's alimentary canal that stores food prior to digestion) of bees are vitally important for the health of honeybees, with some strains suggesting a history of association with bees stretching over 80,000,000 years ago. Various chemical are capable of damaging this vitally important locus for the honeybee's immunity and digestion, and are likely exerting their adverse effects through sublethal, hard to detect mechanisms.

Why Does Monsanto Own Beelogics, 'The Guardian of Bee Health Worldwide'?

On Sept. 28th, 2011, Monsanto announced that it was acquiring the company Beeologics, whose explicit goal is to become "the guardian of the bee health wordwide," including finding ways to address CCD.
Here is their mission statement:
"Beeologics LLC is an international firm dedicated to restoring bee health and protecting the future of honey bee pollination. Beeologics' mission is to become the guardian of bee health worldwide. Through continuous research, scientific innovation, and a focus on applicable solutions, Beeologics is developing a line of RNAi-based products to specifically address the long-term well being of honey bees, including the control of parasites and how they're involved in Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD)."
A classical problem-solution approach, Monsanto creates a problem – a systemic herbicide intended to 'save the world' from hunger as part of its GMO Roundup-ready proprietary production system that actually destroys the pollinators required to maintain our global food supply – and then capitalizes on a GM solution on the backend, with patented RNA interference 'solutions' intended to, again, 'save the world' from hunger.

Green Med Info 

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