An eloquent Welshman on The State of Nature
An impassioned address on The State of Nature report by Iolo Williams, Wales' most remowned wildife presenter: this speech is bursting with real memories of a very recent past in the moors and mountains of Wales. It is also incisive in its condemnation of the money and status oriented obsessions of those in positions of power who have caused the devastation of Britain's wildlife. We all need to get this angry and do something before it is too late. Watch:
The case for rewilding upland areas
George Monbiot publishes his new book Feral this week. In his latest article he makes the case for rewilding the most unproductive agricultural areas in Britain, and makes the case against the Single Farm Payment scheme. This subsidy to landwoners relies not on food output, but on keeping agricultural land clear of encroachment by 'undesirable' vegetation - in other words, scrub and trees which provide the very protection and habitate needed to enable wildlife to survive. The recent State of Nature report reveals, implicity, how wildlife-poor these upland areas of Britain have become. Lack of cover, including scrub, gorse and trees, is directly due to grazing practices and delibrate removal of such vegetation by farmers in order to retain their Single Farm Payment. Certain other schemes then pay farmers to put back some of these features, but only in very small pockets of land.
Roundup GM Cancer Trial
Experts discuss the findings of the Roundup GM cancer trial
Roundup, the world's best-selling weedkiller, and a genetically modified maize resistant to it, can cause tumors, multiple organ damage and lead to premature death, a new study has revealed. Its results are published in The Food & Chemical Toxicology Journal in New York. Here, experts discuss the significance of the findings.
Resilience and vulnerability to solar events
How to Watch the Sun (and why we do it)
Well researched and visually fascinating, this documentary takes you through the satellite tracking data which any of us can look at, with explanations about what
the data represent, and how a 'Carrington event', (or very powerful impact of charged material from the sun), could completely alter things on earth. Last time it happened in the late 19th century, telegraph offices burst into flames. A few years ago Sweden had major problems from power disruption caused by a solar event. If it happens again on a large scale everything that depends on electricity could be affected, maybe for a long time. Power supply companies are trying to build as much protection as possible into systems, recognising this vulnerability. Emergency services worldwide are investing in equipment in preparation for just such an event.
Fungal activation of drought tolerance
Fungal spores kick-start plant metabolism to cope with environmental stresses
A New Scientist report tells how researchers sprayed of D. lanuginosum endophytes (fungal spores) onto wheat seeds that normally grow at temperatures up to 38 degrees C. and how the spores somehow enabled the wheat to grow at 70 degrees C, with a fifty per cent reduction in water requirement. Trials suggest that different microbiomes can confer tolerance of a variety of environmental stresses to a number of crops.
Genetic engineering of plants for drought-tolerance works by switching on metabolic pathways one at a time (a lengthy and expensive procedure, which is controversial and has attendant environmental concerns), but fungi can activate them simultaneously as part of a natural process.