Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Disturbing news from Amazonia were ethnic tribes living by the Xingu river are being displaced by the massive Belo Monte hydroelectric dam (http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/dec/16/belo-monte-brazil-tribes-living-in-shadow-megadam). This is, apparently only one of more than 400 dams planned for the region. Quite apart from their impact on the environment and local societies, many of these schemes often fail to deliver 'green electricity'. Even when they work, one has to factor in the environmental costs of the carbon dioxide generated by the concrete and steel used in construction. Getting the electricity to areas where it is utilised often causes further damage to the locations.
I am somewhat disturbed that police reportedly requested a list of expert participants for an invited to discuss fracking at Canterbury Christ Church University (http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/dec/15/police-university-list-fracking-debate). The meeting apparently was intended to consider the pros and cons of the process and was, in no sense, an attempt to generate a campaign against the activity. If this is the way that new anti-terror requirements for universities are to be carried out, it must be an area of real concern for environmentalists.
Monday, 15 December 2014
Sunday, 14 December 2014
The 6th great extinction event appears to be nothing like as dramatic as the asteroid collision that accounted for the dinosaurs (http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/dec/14/earth-faces-sixth-great-extinction-with-41-of-amphibians-set-to-go-the-way-of-the-dodo). It has been estimated that 41% of the world's amphibia plus substantial numbers of species of birds and mammals will soon be driven to extinction largely by human (anthropogenic) effects. The human desire for more and more 'agricultural land' (for biofuels as well as actual food), the 'need' for hydrochemicals and metals and our tendency to introduce (accidentally or deliberately) alien species into habitats across the world seem to be the cause of this looming mass extinction. That doesn't seem to be an especially good epitaph for our species?
Saturday, 13 December 2014
There are lies, damn lies and statistics. A recent report from an A&E spokesperson has pointed out that people are more likely to have an accident in their home than when driving a car or doing 'unrisky' activities outside (http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/dec/12/home-accident-risk-nhs-doctor). This has almost been converted into a 'stay outside to reduce your need to go to A&E' story. Have they never heard of time as risk? You are also more likely to have an argument with someone or be murdered by someone in your home. This is because you generally spend more time with them than any other folk. Home is risky but it's risky because that's where people spend the majority of their time (I admit that it's also a place you can get too blase about).
Friday, 12 December 2014
Stubby wings for flying under water; an extra thick coat of insulating features and a skin thicker (especially on the soles of the feet) than any politician. These are just some of the ways that penguins have adapted to life in the freezer we call the Antarctic! New studies (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2870304/How-penguins-survive-world-s-coldest-temperatures-Genetic-study-shows-birds-evolved-feathers-skin-wings-stubby.html) have identified the genes that have given these birds the abilities to thrive in this harsh environment.