Tag Archives: Ecology

Global Living Planet Index


By Tom Randall – If animals were stocks, the market would be crashing.

To say the index of animals is underperforming humans is an understatement. More than half of the world’s vertebrates have disappeared between 1970 and 2010.

Humans are currently drawing more from natural resources than the Earth is able to provide. It would take about 1.5 planet Earths to meet the present-day demands that humanity currently makes on nature, according to the WWF (pdf).

If all the people of the world had the same lifestyle as the typical American, 3.9 planet Earths would be needed to keep up with demand. more> http://tinyurl.com/mdb9wjg

As the seas rise, a slow-motion disaster gnaws at America’s shores


By Ryan McNeill, Deborah J. Nelson and Duff Wilson – Since 2001, water has reached flood levels an average of 20 days or more a year in Annapolis, Maryland; Wilmington, North Carolina; Washington, D.C.; Atlantic City, New Jersey; Sandy Hook, New Jersey; and Charleston, South Carolina.

Before 1971, none of these locations averaged more than five days a year.

Annapolis had the highest average number of days a year above flood threshold since 2001, at 34. On the Delmarva Peninsula, the annual average tripled to 18 days at the Lewes, Delaware, tide gauge.

“In the U.S., you have best data set on what’s happening in the world, and yet it’s not used in public policy,” said Robert Nicholls, professor of coastal engineering at the University of Southampton in England. more> http://tinyurl.com/kqqojj4

Postcards from the photosynthetic edge


By Lynn Yarris – Photo-oxidation of water by photosystem II is responsible for most of the oxygen in Earth’s atmosphere.

At the core of photosystem II is a manganese-calcium (Mn4Ca) metalloenzyme complex that when energized by solar photons catalyzes a four photon-step cycle of oxidation states (S0-to-S3) that ultimately yields molecular oxygen. Scientists need to observe intact x-ray crystallography of the Mn4Ca ion in action but the molecule is highly sensitive to radiation.

The LCLS (Linac Coherent Light Source) is the world’s only source of x-rays capable of providing femtosecond pulses at the high intensities that allow intact photosystem II crystals to be imaged before they are destroyed by exposure to the x-ray beams. more> http://tinyurl.com/nlxrcf8

Good News & Bad News About Ocean Plastics


By Ann R. Thryft – The report, “Valuing Plastic (pdf),” was produced by the Plastic Disclosure Project.

It found that marine pollution is the largest downstream cost of damage caused by plastics in the environment. Sources include improperly managed landfills, tourist activities, fisheries, and littering.

Although some debris sinks to the bottom of the ocean, much of it ends up floating long distances to pollute shorelines or accumulate in the notorious mid-ocean gyres.

Plastic waste damages coral reefs, becomes entangled in fishing equipment, is ingested by marine animals and birds, provides a source of chemical contamination, and makes a mess of your favorite beach. more> http://tinyurl.com/nz5blgc

Millions of tons of ocean plastic have gone missing


By Rich McCormick – For a decade or more, scientists have assumed our seas carry millions of tons of plastic, much of which should be floating in open water, forming vast midocean “gyres” — islands of man-made mess such as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. But according to a new study, something more worrying is happening to 99 percent of the ocean’s plastic: it’s disappearing.

The study outlines the findings of scientists who trawled the waters around five large ocean gyres in 2010 and 2011. The data they obtained put them far short of the expected amount of plastic in the ocean — rather than millions of tons, the global load of ocean plastic was calculated at 40,000 tons at most. more> http://tinyurl.com/podpyh9

Underestimate a lady hurricane at your peril


By Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett – In shocking news that should vindicate men’s rights activists everywhere but surprise no one who has ever angered my mother in a supermarket, it has today (June 3) emerged that female hurricanes are deadlier than their male equivalents.
They found that, over and above the qualities of the storm itself, a severe hurricane with a girly name will kill more people than a storm with a masculine one. This is because, according to the Washington Post’s rather sweet phrasing, “people don’t respect them”. more> http://tinyurl.com/nxt3eev

The 10 Smartest Cities In The World


SMARTER CITY

By Ben Schiller – No city is perfect. Even the top cities have major drawbacks.

Half the top-10 score poorly for “social cohesion,” for example.

Tokyo comes in 125th for that.

London is 96th, and

New York is 110th (and 37th for the environment).

Paris, which is fifth overall, has a ranking of 87th for public administration (proving that cities can rise above their governments). more> http://tinyurl.com/noeljgd