Last year I wrote about the Insect Armageddon story – an important paper that received some exaggerated media hype.
A new paper just published in PNAS adds another twist to the insect declines saga…clearly, this story is far from over.
Lister & Garcia analysed data collected in the Luqillo Experimental Forest in Puerto Rico. This area of tropical rainforest is not a ‘pristine’ untouched wilderness, as some media reports are claiming – no place on Earth is untouched by humans! The site has been a long-term research location for decades, going back to the early 1900s, with a focus on experiments to understand the effects of disturbances of all kinds. Many important experimental research projects involving human disturbances (like this one) have happened in the Luqillo forest.
This study is important for a few reasons. Continue reading
We recently got into the Fortitude series screened on the ABC in Australia. (Spoiler alert, if you continue reading). The show started off really well, successfully holding our attention after the incomparable Broadchurch (no mean feat!). Fortitude also had the promise of being truly brilliant. Halfway through, Nordic Noir descended into the standard gratuitous gore that sends a show from well-crafted, thrilling narrative into sensational schlock. Plus some character dead-ends and ambiguous plot-lines loosened the knots holding up a tight story. But it is still definitely worth hanging out for the next series (i.e. not downloading early off iTunes or whatever you cheat with).
From the first episode, I had a theory that the series was based on a pro-environment message. A tiny community (about 800 people) in Arctic Norway, an unconventional setting for standard TV dramas, is plagued by secrets, lies and grisly murders. The community is a mining town, as well as an arctic research station, and the governor is planning to build an ice hotel to boost tourism. Oh, the juxtaposition of ethical quandaries! Continue reading
Finally, some great news for those trying to keep their backyards free of coal seam gas wells. In world-first research, two scientists from Southern Cross University, Dr Isaac Santos & Dr Damien Maher, have found evidence of extremely high levels of atmospheric methane near coal seam gas (CSG) fields. Using a high-precision methane detector, Santos & Maher took thousands of air samples between Lismore (in northern New South Wales) and Tara (in southern Queensland), creating a pretty clear picture of methane levels across the region.
Tara is the largest CSG field in Australia and has been a hub of gas production for a few years now, whereas the Northern Rivers region (near Lismore) has lots of ‘natural’ or non-CSG methane producers, such as natural wetlands, sewage treatment plants, an airport and plenty of cattle. In northern New South Wales, the scientists found atmospheric methane concentration never rose higher than 2.1 ppm (natural background levels are around 1.8 ppm). However, around Tara, the methane levels went up as high as 6.9 ppm, with no recorded values below 2 ppm in this region. Continue reading
In news just in, climate change is real, and we caused it. Fancy that.
There’s also more food-for-thought on the environmental-selfishness of conventional electricity. Even though we still think there’s plenty of coal, oil and related substances lying around just waiting to be plundered, it seems Nature has other ideas.
A study published recently in Nature Climate Change looked at the water usage of thermoelectric power plants (those that are run on coal, gas or nuclear power) in the United States and Europe. Together, these two continents/countries are responsible for 86% of global thermoelectric water withdrawals!! Continue reading
The only thing that man learns from history is that man doesn’t learn from history.
This quote, in various forms, has been attributed to a number of people over the years, so I’m not going to credit any one person. But the gist of all these versions is the same — and I have to say I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiment, however it’s articulated.
Today I’m thinking about alternative energies. Whatever camp you’re from, you must agree that we need to figure out alternative forms of energy, pronto? Even if you don’t believe in climate change or carbon emissions; even if you don’t care an iota about the environment, green spaces, nature or wilderness areas, there is still the basic economic issue of Excess Demand.
The consumption rate of coal exceeds its natural production rate — hence, its classification as a non-renewable resource. Yes, it’s still being dug out of the ground. Yes, there’s still quite a bit lying around the place, and occasionally someone even announces that they’ve found a new reserve. But eventually, the last lump of coal will smoulder off into the sunset and every coal-powered television, PC and light around the world will sign out.
Do you reckon it would be sensible to have a back-up? If you were going caving in Mammoth Cave, and you knew with absolute certainty that your headlamp batteries were going to run out of juice halfway in, would you pack extras? Continue reading