April 30, 2016
VIDEO: Crazy new jellyfish species discovered in the deep ocean
by Brett Smith
While looking for new hydrothermal vents, mud volcanoes, subduction zones, and creatures in the deepest part of the ocean, the NOAA ship Okeanos Explorer stumbled upon a surreal-looking jellyfish.
NOAA scientists said the jellyfish appears to belong to the genus Crossota, a group of jelliyfish known for not having an immobile polyp stage.
The video shows the jellyfish drifting motionless with its arms outstretched, and this could signal that it is an ambush predator. The NOAA team said the tentacles are likely lying in wait for an unsuspecting morsel of food to touch them. The red canals within the jelly fish appear to attach to the yellow sacs, which are likely gonads, the scientists said.
The ship is currently exploring the Enigma Seamount near the Marianas Trench, 2.3 miles beneath the Pacific Ocean’s surface.
While the trench is one of the most remote places on Earth, it is far from the most inhospitable. A 2013 study revealed microbes are thriving in the deepest parts of the trench.
The quantity of bacteria and other microbes found by the scientists was over double that found at a location virtually half as deep, the study said. The microbes were sustained by dead plants and fish that dropped into the deepest parts of the trench, supporting the idea those materials drop onto the trench´s steep sides, slip to the bottom and establish a kind of "hot spot" for microbes.
“It's surprising there was so much bacterial activity,” study team member Ronnie Glud, an aquatic biogeochemist at University of Southern Denmark, told ABC News Australia. “Normally life gets scarcer the deeper you go — but when you go very deep, more things start happening again. We find a world dominated by microbes that are adapted to function effectively at conditions highly inhospitable to most higher organisms.”
The study could have ramifications associated with climate change research the researchers said. Ocean-dwelling bacteria play a major role in the carbon cycle, and if organic matter drops into the ocean without being eaten and digested, it turns into fossil fuels. However, if microbes ingest those substances, they release carbon dioxide and keep the organic matter cycling in the ocean where they live.
Click to watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QGFh3UNvuCQ
on: Apr 30, 2016, 05:20 AM
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on: Apr 30, 2016, 05:15 AM
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April 30, 2016
Vitamin reverses aging in organs and muscles
by Chuck Bednar
A specialized version of vitamin B3 that has already been proven effective in boosting a person’s metabolism could also help promote stem cell growth and keep organs from aging, according to a new study published online Thursday in the weekly peer-reviewed journal Science.
In the paper, Johan Auwerx from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL) and his colleagues reported that nicotinamide riboside, a pyridine-nucleoside form of vitamin B3 which functions as a precursor to nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+), restored the ability of organs to regenerate themselves when administered to mice, thus prolonging their lives.
According to Auwerx and Hongbo Zhang, a PhD student at the EPFL's Laboratory of Integrated Systems Physiology (LISP) and lead author of the study, the supplement had what they described as a restorative effect on the creatures, positively influencing their stem cell function by inducing the mitochondrial unfolded protein response (UPRmt) and the synthesis of prohibitin proteins.
Their research helped rejuvenate muscle stem cells (MuSCs) in older mice that had lost the natural ability to repair specific organs (such as the liver and kidneys) and muscles (including the heart). In a statement, they called it a “breakthrough” in the field of regenerative medicine.
Supplements helped mice regenerate muscles better, live longer
To better understand how the aging process caused the regeneration process to deteriorate, Zhang and Auwerx teamed up with an international team of researchers. Together, they identified the molecular system that regulates how the function of mitochondria changes with age and revealed for the first time that their ability to function well was essential for stem cell production.
In most cases, these stem cells respond to signals sent by a creature’s body to produce new cells in order to regenerate damaged organs, but with age, they become fatigued, according to Zhang. This causes their ability to repair organs to suffer, and in some cases, it can even cause tissues to degenerate. The researchers set out to fix this by “revitalizing” stem cells in older rodents.
“We gave nicotinamide riboside to 2-year-old mice, which is an advanced age for them,” Zhang explained in a statement. “This substance, which is close to vitamin B3, is a precursor of NAD+, a molecule that plays a key role in mitochondrial activity. And our results are extremely promising: muscular regeneration is much better in mice that received NR, and they lived longer than the mice that didn't get it.”
“This work could have very important implications in the field of regenerative medicine. We are not talking about introducing foreign substances into the body but rather restoring the body's ability to repair itself with a product that can be taken with food,” noted Auwerx. Furthermore, his team believes that their work also has the potential to lead to new treatments for conditions such as muscular dystrophy.
on: Apr 29, 2016, 06:10 AM
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The Cartoon That Is America .. U.S Elections
Ted Cruz is 'Lucifer in the flesh', says former speaker John Boehner
‘Never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch,’ says Boehner, but presidential hopeful Cruz counters: ‘I don’t even know the man’
Friday 29 April 2016 05.02 BST
John Boehner, the former House speaker, has called presidential candidate Ted Cruz “Lucifer in the flesh” in remarks that expose the depth of discontent within the Republican party.
Speaking at a town hall-style event for students at Stanford University in California on Wednesday, Boehner called front-runner Donald Trump his “texting buddy”, but offered a more graphic response when asked about the Texas senator.
“Lucifer in the flesh,” the former speaker said. “I have Democrat friends and Republican friends. I get along with almost everyone, but I have never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life.”
His comments were first reported by Stanford’s student newspaper.
Cruz, campaigning in Fort Wayne, Indiana on Thursday ahead of the state’s 3 May primary, responded by saying Boehner was letting his “inner Trump come out”.
“John Boehner in his remarks described Donald Trump as his texting and golfing buddy,” Cruz said. “So if you want someone that’s a texting and golfing buddy, if you’re happy with John Boehner as speaker of the House and you want a president like John Boehner, Donald Trump is your man.”
Both Cruz and Carly Fiorina, who was campaigning with him after he named her as his running mate, also referred to Boehner’s comments during the rally.
In 2013, Cruz joined forces with tea party conservatives in the House in triggering a partial, 16-day government shutdown over demands to undo Barack Obama’s healthcare law. There was no chance Obama would agree to such a step, and Republican leaders like Boehner saw the move as a fruitless effort that only hurt the GOP politically.
Two years later, it was the same House conservatives who challenged Boehner’s leadership, and the speaker decided to step down rather than allow a very public fight.
Boehner’s successor, Paul Ryan, said at his weekly news conference on Thursday: “My job is to help unify our party. I have a very good relationship with both of these men, and I’m going to keep it that way.”
Cruz told reporters on Thursday that he had never worked with Boehner who stepped down as speaker in the fall.
“The truth of the matter is I don’t know the man,” Cruz said. “I’ve met John Boehner two or three times in my life. If I have said 50 words in my life to John Boehner, I would be surprised. And every one of them has consisted of pleasantries, ‘Good to see you Mr Speaker’. I’ve never had any substantive conversation with John Boehner in any respect.”
Cruz said he was rebuffed by Boehner when he asked to meet with him during the government shutdown.
Cruz said Boehner’s comments reflect his frustration with Americans who stand with Republicans who want to hold members of Congress accountable for their campaign promises to repeal Obama’s health care law and pursue other conservative goals.
“When John Boehner calls me Lucifer, he’s not directing that at me,” Cruz said. “He’s directing that at you.”
Donald Trump's lack of female support may ruin his campaign – and the GOP
With a poll showing nearly half of Republican female voters don’t plan to support Trump, his nomination looks disastrous for a party trying to reinvent itself
Lauren Gambino in New York
Thursday 28 April 2016 19.00 BST
For the Republican women who have spent the past few years working to broaden the appeal of the Grand Old Party, Donald Trump arrived on the scene like a wrecking ball, tearing down the foundations they had laid over the past few years to try to create a more diverse and open party.
With his penchant for bluster and disdain for political correctness, there are few slices of the American electorate the billionaire businessman has yet to offend. But one group in particular poses a real problem for Trump, should he become the nominee, and for the party, should it win the presidency and keep control of Congress in November – and that group happens to make up 51% of the population.
Analysis How to stop Donald Trump: women may hold the solution
A recent poll found 70% of women had a negative view of the Republican, and the ranks of single women – who tend to vote Democratic – are growing
“General election women voters think he’s abhorrent,” said Katie Packer, the chairwoman of Our Principles Pac, which opposes Trump. “They think he’s a sexist. They think he doesn’t respect women, and doesn’t really view women in any real way beyond their physical appearance.
“If the party leadership embraces Donald Trump as the general election nominee than I think it will damage our party for a generation.”
In interviews with a half dozen female Republican strategists, the women expressed concern that Trump’s boorish behavior will leave a lasting stain on a GOP that is otherwise working hard to reinvent itself. They said a Trump nomination not only threatens the party’s chance of winning the White House in November but could also have serious consequences for congressional, state and local candidates.
“You can’t win a general election and lose the women by these numbers. It’s devastating to Republicans. It’s totally unsustainable,” said Packer, whose group released a searing ad against Trump that features women reading some of his most offensive remarks.
While Trump’s string of victories clearly show that his message has resonated with a swath of conservative women, the gender gap in his support among Republican primary voters presages an even wider divide in a general election against Hillary Clinton, who will likely be the first female presidential nominee in American history.
Polls consistently show Trump with historically low approval ratings among women. An NBC/WSJ poll last month found that nearly half of Republican female primary voters – 47% – said they “can’t see” themselves supporting Trump, compared to about three in 10 women who could not imagine supporting his opponents, Texas senator Ted Cruz and Ohio governor John Kasich.
And while his behavior – past and present – threatens to repel women from the party at historic rates, many Republican women contend that he is doubly damaging to the party because he is not what they consider a true conservative.
Trump has vacillated on a host of social issues, including his support for abortion, and recently suggested that transgender people should be allowed to choose which bathroom they use. He also boasts a populist position on trade and clashes with party orthodoxy on foreign policy and campaign finance.
“This election puts women in an incredibly tough spot, especially women who don’t support many or any of Hillary Clinton’s policies but who also don’t support Donald Trump,” said Mindy Finn, president of Empowered Women and a GOP strategist. “Conservative women don’t really have a presidential candidate. They are a lost electorate.”
The war on women
In this campaign cycle so far, Trump has tussled with Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly after she pressed him on his history of disparaging women; insulted former rival candidate Carly Fiorina’s appearance; threatened to “spill the beans” on Cruz’s wife Heidi; suggested that women who have abortions should face “some form of punishment”, a statement he later reversed; and defended his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, after he grabbed reporter Michelle Fields by the arm as she tried to ask him a question during a March press conference. (prosecutors declined to press charges.)
Democrats have already seized on these moments, weaving them into the “war on women” narrative that Republicans had hoped to undercut this election cycle. During her victory speech in Philadelphia on Tuesday night, Clinton appealed to “thoughtful Republicans” to join her campaign in a fight against an intolerant Trump.
Trump’s coalition relies heavily on male voters. Exit polls from every primary contest except one found that Trump draws a higher percentage of support from men than women. On average, Trump polled between five to ten percentage points better with men than with women.
Yet Trump insists that he would be “the best for women” and often adds that he “respects” and “cherishes” them. In an interview with NBC’s Today Show on Thursday, Trump batted away accusations of sexism: “No one respects women more than I do.”
On Tuesday night, Trump, basking after a five-state sweep, derided Clinton for playing the “woman card” and taunted her by claiming that if she were a man she would not even win “5% of the vote”. The comments inspired an ironic hashtag on Twitter about the perks of having a “gender card”.
Standing behind him, the wife of New Jersey governor Chris Christie, Mary Pat, appeared to cast a disapproving glance when he made the remark.
Clinton, prepared for the assault, fired back: “If fighting for women’s healthcare and paid family leave and equal pay is ‘playing the woman card,’ then deal me in.” By Wednesday, her campaign was promoting her rebuttal as a win for women, and highlighting the exchange in a fundraising email to supporters.
GOP women for Hillary?
If Trump and Clinton win their parties’ nominations, a large swath of conservative women will be left with a choice for president between a billionaire businessman who they loathe and the possible first female president who they vehemently despise. And in that scenario, the strategists say, Clinton may be the more palatable choice.
“There is going to be a phenomenal amount of attrition of women voters to Hillary Clinton; I just don’t think that’s going to be because Hillary Clinton is in anyway a good or acceptable candidate or because she has two x chromosomes,” said Liz Mair, a Republican operative and the founder of the anti-Trump Pac Make America Awesome. “I think it’s going to be because he’s that bad.”
Trump’s behavior has allowed other Republican candidates like Cruz to make inroads with women voters, Mair noted. After Trump went after Cruz’s wife, Mair said many women who disagreed with the Texas senator politically were impressed by his response. In Madison, Cruz hosted an event called The Celebration of Strong Women, featuring his wife, mother and Carly Fiorina, who he selected as his running mate on Wednesday.
But after Trump’s sweep on Tuesday, Bethany Mandel, a senior contributor for The Federalist and a part of the Never Trump movement, a concerted effort among Republicans to stop the frontrunner from clinching the nomination, said she had lost hope that the other candidates could keep him from gaining the 1,237 delegates needed to win the nomination. Now she is faced with the prospect of voting for a woman she despises – or not voting at all.
“I honestly think Donald Trump would be worse for America than Hillary Clinton, and that is really, really saying something,” Mandel said. If the polling predicts a tight race between Clinton and Trump in a general election in her state of New Jersey, Mandel said she would make the unthinkable choice and vote for Clinton. If not, she won’t vote for a presidential candidate.
“When I was a kid, I had a countdown on my wall that counted down the days until I turned 18 when I could vote in a presidential election. To not vote would be unfathomable to me, but that’s where we’re at,” she said.
Yet Trump’s message has appealed to some conservative women. Scottie Nell Hughes, political editor of RightAlerts.com and a vocal Trump supporter, downplayed Trump’s challenges with female voters.
“It’s a problem that any Republican male is going to face,” she said, noting that Trump has a record of hiring and promoting women in his private businesses and in his campaign. “It’s an unfortunate stigma in the GOP.”
Oklahoma court: oral sex is not rape if victim is unconscious from drinking
The ruling sparked outrage among critics who argue the judicial system engaged in victim-blaming and upholding outdated notions about rape and sexual assault
29 April 2016 21.47 BST
An Oklahoma court has stunned local prosecutors with a declaration that state law doesn’t criminalize oral sex with a victim who is completely unconscious.
The ruling, a unanimous decision by the state’s criminal appeals court, is sparking outrage among critics who say the judicial system was engaged in victim-blaming and buying outdated notions about rape.
But legal experts and victims’ advocates said they viewed the ruling as a sign of something larger: the troubling gaps that still exist between the nation’s patchwork of laws and evolving ideas about rape and consent.
The case involved allegations that a 17-year-old boy assaulted a girl, 16, after volunteering to give her a ride home. The two had been drinking in a Tulsa park with a group of friends when it became clear that the girl was badly intoxicated. Witnesses recalled that she had to be carried into the defendant’s car. Another boy, who briefly rode in the car, recalled her coming in and out of consciousness.
The boy later brought the girl to her grandmother’s house. Still unconscious, the girl was taken to a hospital, where a test put her blood alcohol content above .34. She awoke as staff were conducting a sexual assault examination.
Tests would later confirm that the young man’s DNA was found on the back of her leg and around her mouth. The boy claimed to investigators that the girl had consented to performing oral sex. The girl said she didn’t have any memories after leaving the park. Tulsa County prosecutors charged the young man with forcible oral sodomy.
But the trial judge dismissed the case. And the appeals court ruling, on 24 March, affirmed that prosecutors could not apply the law to a victim who was incapacitated by alcohol.
“Forcible sodomy cannot occur where a victim is so intoxicated as to be completely unconscious at the time of the sexual act of oral copulation,” the decision read. Its reasoning, the court said, was that the statute listed several circumstances that constitute force, and yet was silent on incapacitation due to the victim drinking alcohol. “We will not, in order to justify prosecution of a person for an offense, enlarge a statute beyond the fair meaning of its language.”
Benjamin Fu, the Tulsa County district attorney leading the case, said the ruling had him “completely gobsmacked”.
“The plain meaning of forcible oral sodomy, of using force, includes taking advantage of a victim who was too intoxicated to consent,” Fu said. “I don’t believe that anybody, until that day, believed that the state of the law was that this kind of conduct was ambiguous, much less legal. And I don’t think the law was a loophole until the court decided it was.” To focus on why the victim was unable to consent, he continued, puts the victim at fault.
But several legal experts declined to fault the appeals court, saying instead that the ruling should be a wake-up call for legislators to update Oklahoma’s laws.
Michelle Anderson, the dean of the CUNY School of Law who has written extensively about rape law, called the ruling “appropriate” but the law “archaic”.
“This is a call for the legislature to change the statute, which is entirely out of step with what other states have done in this area and what Oklahoma should do,” she said. “It creates a huge loophole for sexual abuse that makes no sense.”
Jennifer Gentile Long, who leads a group, AEquitas, that guides prosecutors in sexual and domestic violence cases, agreed. She said the Oklahoma law was an example of a gulf that still exists in some places between the law and evolving notions around consent and sexual agency.
Oklahoma has a separate rape statute that protects victims who were too intoxicated to consent to vaginal or anal intercourse, Long noted. But “there are still gaps in the ways laws are written that allow some cases to fall through the cracks,” she said. “This case” – because it did not involve vaginal rape but an oral violation – “seems to be one of them”.
In the wake of the ruling, Fu has said he will push for lawmakers to change the code. Many states have engaged in a broad overhaul of their rape laws in recent years, Anderson said, part of a movement to fall in line with the modern understanding of rape.
“There is a recognition that social mores have changed, that the law should now try to protect sexual autonomy as opposed to sexual morality,” she said. Often, the law changes after an outcry over unpopular court rulings.
The Oklahoma appeals court declined to make the ruling a precedent. But Fu said he has learned that other defendants are nevertheless making the same argument in other parts of Oklahoma to avoid charges.
The defendant’s attorney, Shannon McMurray, was not available for comment. She told Oklahoma Watch, which was first to report the ruling, that prosecutors were clearly in the wrong to charge the young man with forcible sodomy, and not a lesser crime of unwanted touching.
“There was absolutely no evidence of force or him doing anything to make this girl give him oral sex,” McMurray said, “other than she was too intoxicated to consent.”
on: Apr 29, 2016, 05:59 AM
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Duckling rescued from drain in Droitwich – video
A duckling stuck in a drain is rescued by firefighters in Droitwich, Worcestershire, on Wednesday. A passerby alerted Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service after spotting it. The fire crew released it into the nearby river where it was reunited with its family
Click to watch: <iframe src="https://embed.theguardian.com/embed/video/world/video/2016/apr/29/duckling-rescued-from-drain-in-droitwich-video" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
on: Apr 29, 2016, 05:52 AM
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UK government faces second court battle over air pollution plans
High court to hear case against government’s ‘woefully inadequate’ plans to tackle air pollution, just a year after losing in the supreme court
Thursday 28 April 2016 15.37 BST
The UK government is to be sued in the high court over its air pollution plans, just a year after losing at the supreme court and being ordered to fulfil its legal duty to cut pollution rapidly.
A request for a new judicial review by environmental lawyers at ClientEarth was granted by a judge on Thursday.
ClientEarth argues the government is in breach of its legal duty to produce new air quality plans to cut pollution to legal levels in the “shortest possible time”, despite being ordered to do so by the supreme court in 2015. The development puts the spotlight on the environment secretary, Liz Truss, who is named as the defendant in the new case.
Air pollution was called a “public health emergency” by MPs on Wednesday, and causes 40,000-50,000 early deaths every year. A report from two Royal Colleges of medicine estimated the cost of the damage at £20bn a year.
A deadline for the UK to meet EU air quality rules was missed in 2010 but the plan put forward by the government after losing at the supreme court would not cut pollution to legal levels until 2025 in some cities.
“The government’s new plans to tackle air pollution are woefully inadequate and won’t achieve legal limits for years to come,” said ClientEarth lawyer Alan Andrews. “The longer they are allowed to dither and delay, the more people will suffer from serious illness or an early death.”
“Today’s decision means we will be returning to court to demand that ministers respect our right to breathe clean air,” Andrews said. “The health evidence is mounting and, as we saw yesterday, MPs from across the political spectrum agree with us that the government is not doing enough.”
Mary Creagh MP, chair of the environmental audit committee, which is currently investigating air pollution, said: “The government has dragged its feet on tackling air pollution and that is simply not good enough. It is about time the government set out a clear, comprehensive plan to go much further, much faster.”
A spokeswoman for the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: “Our plans clearly set out how we will improve the UK’s air quality through a new programme of Clean Air Zones, which alongside national action and continued investment in clean technologies will create cleaner, healthier air for all. We cannot comment on ongoing legal proceedings.”
The MPs’ report said the government needed to do much more, including introducing a scrappage scheme for old, dirty diesel vehicles, giving dozens of cities stronger powers to deter polluting vehicles with charging schemes and acting to cut pollution from farms.
“There is clear consensus that the government’s plans are wholly inadequate to address this public health crisis,” said Kerry McCarthy, Labour’s shadow environment secretary. “It should not take legal action to force the environment secretary to take urgent action and help save lives.”
Penny Woods, chief executive of the British Lung Foundation, said: “This is the second time the government has been taken to court over air pollution. They must now take immediate action to prevent people being needlessly killed by the air they breathe. Air pollution affects everyone [and] it has greatest impact on the most vulnerable – children, the elderly, and those with lung conditions.”
The government has been accused of trying to bury the news of its air pollution plans. The government released a draft of the plan required by the supreme court on the Saturday in September on which Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader of the Labour party. The final plan was published on “take out the trash day” in December, along with dozens of other ministerial statements and many hundreds of government documents.
on: Apr 29, 2016, 05:51 AM
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VW and Shell try to block EU push for electric cars
Industry giants’ call for biofuels over electric and fuel-efficient cars puts Europe’s carbon emissions targets at risk, say experts
Thursday 28 April 2016 17.09 BST
VW and Shell have united to try to block Europe’s push for electric cars and more efficient cars, saying biofuels should be at heart of efforts to green the industry instead.
The EU is planning two new fuel efficiency targets for 2025 and 2030 to help meet promises made at the Paris climate summit last December.
But executives from the two industrial giants launched a study on Wednesday night proposing greater use of biofuels, CO2 car labelling, and the EU’s emissions trading system (ETS) instead.
In reality, such a package would involve the end of meaningful new regulatory action on car emissions for more than a decade, EU sources say.
Ulrich Eichhorn, VW’s new head of research and development, said that plug-in hybrids and more efficient vehicles were “building blocks” for the future, but that “higher shares” for biofuels would be needed in the meantime.
He told a meeting in Brussels: “Modern diesel and natural gas engines will absolutely be required to deliver CO2 targets until 2020 and they will also contribute to further reductions going on from there.”
In meeting the Paris goals, “societal costs need to be minimised to keep our industrial strength and competitiveness,” he said.
The Auto Fuels Coalition study, written by Roland Berger, makes a series of highly pessimistic assumptions about the costs of fuel efficiency improvements, and equally optimistic ones about greenhouse gas emissions from biofuels. A recent EU study found the dirtiest biofuels three times more polluting than diesel.
An EU source said: “these two industries have realised they have a shared interest. When you saw who was paying for the study, you knew what the answer would be.”
Campaigners point out that signs of an electric vehicles take-off this spring have included 400,000 pre-orders for the new Tesla’s Model 3, as well as a bid by the Dutch parliament to ban petrol and diesel engines by 2025. On Thursday Germany promised a €1bn subsidy boost for electric cars.
Yet the industry study assumes a lack of public appetite for electric cars over the next decade continuing until 5m urban recharging centres have been installed and renewable electricity prices fall from current rates.
Dr Christoph Wolff, the managing director of the European Climate Foundation, told the Guardian: “Electrification is taking off rapidly in markets such as China, Norway and the Netherlands. EU policymakers need to agree stringent measures, which will push the auto sector towards developing products that are fit to compete in this fast-evolving marketplace.”
Saudi Arabia’s recent declaration that it would detach itself from oil dependence by 2030 was heralded by campaigners as such a development. The increasing cost-competitiveness of renewables has been another.
But Shell’s vice-president for downstream strategy, Colin Crooks, said: “Liquid fuels will remain essential during the [low-carbon] transition as internal combustion engines are expected to still continue powering most transport for many years to come.”
The Dutch oil giant has invested heavily in Brazilian ethanol and Crooks stressed that biofuels would play a key role into the future, albeit one requiring policy incentives.
“New fuels will require financial support from governments to support technology development and reduce investment risk,” he said.
Road transport currently makes up about a fifth of Europe’s greenhouse gas emissions. The EU has set a target of a 60% reduction in transport emissions by 2050 as measured against 1990 levels. Emission levels are currently 20% above that rate, although they have begun to fall.
By 2021, no new cars will be allowed to emit more than 95 grams of CO2 per kilometre, but electrification and widescale renewable electricity will be needed to approach zero emissions levels.
Carlos Calvo Ambel, an analyst for the Transport and Environment thinktank, said that Europe would miss its greenhouse gas targets altogether if it followed the Auto Fuels Coalition paper’s advice.
“Carmakers, oil companies and biofuels producers are making a desperate bid to dissuade Europe from undertaking fuel efficiency standards for cars, vans and trucks, a push for electric vehicles and many of the other badly needed actions in the transport sector,” he said.
on: Apr 29, 2016, 05:49 AM
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Great Barrier Reef bleaching made 175 times likelier by human-caused climate change, say scientists
Such coral bleaching could be normal in 18 years, according to preliminary findings by leading climate and coral reef scientists
Thursday 28 April 2016 22.47 BST
The hot water temperature that drove the devastating bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef this year was made 175 times more likely by human-caused climate change, and could be normal in just 18 years, according to preliminary findings by leading climate and coral reef scientists.
The scientists said they took the unusual step of releasing the work prior to peer-review, because the methods used to reach the findings are now accepted in the climate science community and the alarming results needed to be released as quickly as possible.
“We are confident in the results because these kind of attribution studies are well established but what we found demands urgent action if we are to preserve the reef,” said Andrew King, a lead author of the study from the University of Melbourne.
They found the record warm temperatures in the Coral Sea that drove the bleaching this year were driven by a combination of 1C of warming since 1900 caused by greenhouse gas emissions, and about a 0.5C jump in temperature driven by natural variability.
Using climate model simulations, the team found such an event was incredibly unusual in models that did not include the effects of greenhouse gasses. But when those effects were put back in, temperatures such as those seen this March were 175 times more likely.
Moreover, despite most of the current temperature record being driven by natural changes in temperature, they found that once greenhouse gasses reach levels expected in 2034, temperatures seen this March will be the new average for the Coral Sea.
“In a world without humans, it’s not quite impossible that you’d get March sea surface temperatures as warm as this year but it’s extremely unlikely,” King told Guardian Australia. “Whereas in the current climate it’s unusual but not exceptional. By the mid 2030s it will be average. And beyond that it will be cooler than normal if it was as warm as this year.”
The increase in regularity of bleaching events is worrying news, since reefs can often recover, so long as they are not being repeatedly affected by bleaching or other harms. Other research has shown coral reefs need around 15 years to recover from serious bleaching events, and only then recover if they are protected from fishing and poor water quality.
Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, another author on the paper and director of the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland, predicted a similar outcome for the reef in a paper from 1999. He said coral dominated reefs will be gone from the Great Barrier Reef by the middle of the century.
“The current bleaching event and this attribution study leads me to believe that my highly controversial predictions in 1999 were actually conservative,” he said. “Being right – in this case – is hardly cause for celebration.”
“Recovery rates are being overwhelmed by more frequent and severe mass coral bleaching.”
Wenju Cai, a world-leading climate scientist at the CSIRO, told Guardian Australia the findings could be very important. “The result is very significant if it turns out to be robust,” he said. “We never thought the Great Barrier Reef is going to die completely by the 2030s. If that’s true it’s a lot faster than we thought.”
Terry Hughes, a coral reef biologist at James Cook University and head of the National Coral Bleaching Taskforce, said the concerning results were not surprising – noting Hoegh-Guldberg had predicted similar results 17 years ago.
Further independent expert views on the research is being sought.
on: Apr 29, 2016, 05:47 AM
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More tigers poached in India so far this year than in 2015
Conservationists say census figures are ‘worrying’ and cast doubts on the country’s anti-poaching efforts
Tiger cubs take a dip in Tadoba Andhari tiger reserve, India
Friday 29 April 2016 10.43 BST
More tigers have been killed in India already this year than in the whole of 2015, a census showed Friday, raising doubts about the country’s anti-poaching efforts.
The Wildlife Protection Society of India, a conservation charity, said 28 of the endangered beasts had been poached by 26 April, three more than last year.
Tiger meat and bones are used in traditional Chinese medicine and fetch high prices.
“The stats are worrying indeed,” said Tito Joseph, programme manager at the group.
“Poaching can only be stopped when we have coordinated, intelligence-led enforcement operations, because citizens of many countries are involved in illegal wildlife trade. It’s a transnational organised crime.”
Poachers use guns, poison and even steel traps and electrocution to kill their prey.
India is home to more than half of the world’s tiger population with 2,226 in its reserves according to the last count in 2014.
The figures come after a report by the WWF and the Global Tiger Forum said the number of wild tigers in the world had increased for the first time in more than a century to an estimated 3,890.
The report cited improved conservation efforts, although its authors cautioned that the rise could be partly attributed to improved data gathering.
on: Apr 29, 2016, 05:44 AM
|Started by Rad - Last post by Rad|
Swaziland unveils plan to legalise rhino horn to pay for anti-poaching efforts
Leaked document shows proceeds from the sale of 330kg stockpile would be used to protect country’s 73 white rhinos from poaching .Swaziland said the sale to the traditional medicine markets of the far east would generate $9.9m, which would be used to protect the tiny landlocked country’s 73 white rhinos from poaching.
Thursday 28 April 2016 16.40 BST
The kingdom of Swaziland has made a surprise proposal to legalise the trade in rhino horn in order to pay for anti-poaching measures.
In a leaked document addressed to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites), Swaziland’s anti-poaching body said it wanted to sell the country’s 330kg stockpile of horn collected from naturally deceased animals and confiscated from poachers.
It said the sale to the traditional medicine markets of the far east would generate $9.9m, which would be used to protect the tiny landlocked country’s 73 white rhinos from poaching.
Swaziland proposed to sell a further 20kg each year, raising $600,000, by harvesting horn from living herds. Rhino horns regrow after being cut.
The Cites Management Authority of Swaziland, which made the proposal, said the 39-year-old ban on trading rhino horn had failed. It cited the poaching crisis in neighbouring South Africa, where 1,175 rhinos were killed in 2015.
“At present 100% of the proceeds from the sale of rhino horn are taken by criminals, while rhino custodians pay 100% of the costs of rhino protection and production yet they desperately need funds to cover these costs,” said the authority.
Contacts directly involved in the drafting told the Guardian that they had formally lodged the proposal with Cites. It will now be formally discussed and voted on at the Cites Conference of Parties in Johannesburg in September. The bid is likely to fail, because the majority of parties have little appetite for a legalised trade, preferring to focus on dampening demand in the Asia.
The wildlife trade watchdog Traffic said it had been completely surprised by the move and said there were major legal hurdles to its implementation. Namely, even if the country legalised the sale of its own horns, it would be illegal for anyone to buy it.
“There is still significant uncertainty as to how existing markets would be affected by any legal trade in terms of supply–demand dynamics. Such a sale might well stimulate further illegal trade and thus compound the ongoing poaching crisis,” said a spokesperson.
While it is unlikely to bring about a legal trade, Swaziland’s proposal ensures the issue will be prominently discussed at the biggest global talks on the illegal wildlife trade.
“Demand reduction and education, cited as new measures to be tried, are not new at all ... these have not been effective,” said the proposal.
The document said the move had been precipitated by the withdrawal of an expected proposal by South Africa and claimed there was near consensus about this issue at a recent meeting of Southern African Development Community (SADC). Of the 12 countries, only Botswana disagreed.
Rhino horn is a highly lucrative, illicitly traded commodity in China and Vietnam where it is considered to have medicinal properties. In fact it has none.
on: Apr 29, 2016, 05:33 AM
|Started by Rad - Last post by Rad|
Two of the world's top three insecticides harm bumblebees – study
Different types of neonicotinoid pesticide have varying effects on colonies with one showing no bee decline, say scientists
Thursday 28 April 2016 14.00 BST
Two of the world’s most widely used insecticides cause significant harm to bumblebee colonies, a new study has found, but a third had no effect.
The work shows the distinct effects of each type of neonicotinoid pesticide, from cuts in live bees and eggs to changed sex ratios and numbers of queens. Previously, the different types of neonicotinoids have often been treated as interchangeable.
Neonicotinoids and other pesticides have been implicated in the worldwide decline in pollinators, which are vital for many food crops, although disease and loss of habitat are also important factors. There is strong evidence that neonicotinoids harm individual bees but little evidence so far that colonies suffer as a result. The EU imposed a moratorium on the use of neonicotinoids on flowering crops in 2013.
The new study examined the effect of three neonicotinoids from the level of brain cells to colonies in the field. The latter involved 75 colonies across five sites in Scotland and included control colonies that were not given access to the pesticides.
The research found that both imidacloprid (made by Bayer) and thiamethoxam (Syngenta) at realistic levels of exposure harmed the bumblebee colonies. For example, imidacloprid cut the number of brood cells, which contain eggs, by 46%, while thiamethoxam reduced the number of live bees by 38%. But clothianidin (Bayer) had no effect other than increasing the number of queens produced.
“There is clear evidence that imidacloprid and thiamethoxam are harmful to bees but our evidence raises a question over clothianidin,” said Dr Christopher Connolly, at the University of Dundee and who led the research published in the peer-reviewed journal Science Reports.
“I think there is sufficient evidence for a ban on imidacloprid and thiamethoxam, but not for clothianidin although the moratorium should continue,” as more evidence is gathered.
A study published in November found that honeybee colonies exposed to thiamethoxam were able to compensate for bee deaths by producing more workers, so no overall impact was seen. However, honeybee colonies have far more individual bees than bumblebees, suggesting the latter have far less ability to compensate.
The only effect seen in the new study from clothianidin exposure was an increase in queens. “The number went through the roof,” said Connolly. “The purpose of a colony is to produce queens so this could be a really good thing, unless, say, all those queens turn out to be infertile.”
Connolly said the research did not show clothianidin was harmless to all pollinators: “It does not show it is safe, but it does show it may be less harmful to bumblebees.” He said the work showed the effects of one neonicotinoid could not be assessed from studies on another: “All three behave completely differently. You can’t predict the insect-insecticide relationship by extrapolation.”
“This is an important and timely study,” said Mike Garratt, an ecologist at the University of Reading and not involved in the new research.
“As the body of evidence for negative effects of neonicotinoids on non-target species mounts, it is important to consider the differential effects of these chemicals. This study only considers impacts on one species of bumblebee. Similar variability in toxicity might be expected for other species of bee and non-target organisms, and it is important to remember there are more than 200 distinct bee species in the UK alone.”
Prof David Goulson, a bee researcher at the University of Sussex and also not involved in the new research, said: “The [new information on variable effects] makes assessing the impacts of these chemicals even more challenging [and], even more confusingly, bees are often exposed to a mixture of several neonics, the effects of which we haven’t begun to understand.”
But spokesmen from the pesticide manufacturers challenged the research. “The apparent colony effects reported in this study for thiamethoxam contradict a previous study, which reported no adverse effects on bumblebee micro-colonies,” said Peter Campbell, from Syngenta. “This study struggles to explain the inconsistent results found across the [brain cell], laboratory and colony experiments, which often contradicted each other as well other previous published data.”
Julian Little, from Bayer, said: “This paper continues a narrative where different research groups find different, and in many cases, no impacts of insecticides on different bee species. It underlines the importance of not making kneejerk reactions in response to individual papers.”
Connolly criticised EU regulations that allow pesticide manufacturers to conduct the safety trials themselves. “It is ludicrous to have industry doing their own testing and then keeping the results as proprietary information.”
Neonicotinoids have been used for two decades, but Connolly said: “It has taken years and millions of pounds for scientists to wave a red flag.”
In a separate development, the UK’s National Farmers Union (NFU) has applied for an “emergency” lifting of the moratorium for some oilseed rape to deal with a pest beetle, but campaigners say rape yields have actually increased since the neonicotinoid ban.
NFU vice-president Guy Smith said this week: “After assessing the evidence and having listened to the experiences of our oilseed rape growing members this autumn, the NFU has applied for emergency use of neonicotinoid seed treatments on a limited proportion of the oilseed rape crop in England.”
The NFU was granted a suspension of the ban for about 5% of rape fields in 2015, a move opposed by a 500,000-strong petition.
Friends of the Earth’s Dave Timms said: “Allowing farmers to use banned bee-harming pesticides would be reckless and unnecessary. Oilseed rape yields have actually risen since the pesticide ban was introduced, while the evidence of the harm these chemicals pose to bees has increased.”