Tags: Body & Mind, Culture, Food, health, Nature
Thyme is without a doubt one of the most useful herbs we have at our disposal, being a powerful germicide with carminative and anti-inflammatory properties. It is described by one of the preeminent herbalists of our time Dorothy Hall as being “powerfully protective and therapeutic”, and one of the “big three of herbal medicine”.
During the Middle Ages, thyme was grown in the monastic gardens of Italy, France and Spain and used to treat those suffering from poor digestion, intestinal parasites and a sore throat. Herbalists used thyme as a powerful germicide to treat patients infected with the plague that swept through Europe between the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries.
In 1725 a German apothecary ‘discovered’ thymol, the powerful disinfectant present in the essential oil of thyme, which is effective against bacteria and fungi. Thymol has been found to be very similar to carbolic acid in its action, though more powerful against infection and less irritating to the skin.
In fact cultures as far back as the ancient Sumerians employed thyme as an antiseptic. The ancient Egyptians also used thyme as an antiseptic and preservative in the process of embalming their dead. No doubt the learned physicians of these cultures also knew of and used thyme in all its therapeutic capacity.
Thyme was even used extensively in hospitals during World War I and well into the twentieth century to purify the air and dress the wounds of soldiers.
For medicinal purposes, classical herbalists today use both Wild thyme (Thymus serpyllum) and Common thyme (Thymus vulgaris) sometimes called Garden thyme.
Thyme is very effective when used to treat respiratory conditions. A cup of thyme tea brewed up can bring relief to those suffering from a sore throat, or better still make a cup at the first signs of a throat infection.
The tea is also very useful as a throat gargle for those people, like singers or football coaches, who use their voices a lot. Thyme tea can be quite strong for some people, so dilute with extra water to taste. Brew a cup of thyme tea only when required, as it is not suited for regular use.
A professional herbalist can prescribe thyme in extract or tincture form if this herb is indicated for you therapeutically.
Luke Hughes is a classical Western herbalist.
Title quote by Rudyard Kippling.
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Tags: Body & Mind, China, funny things, Nature, Science
By Li Wenhui
Ms. Xiao Hongyun, a teacher at Changde Normal School in Hunan Province, usually suffers dizziness, tinnitus, and palpitations the day before an earthquake occurs. She has suffered these symptoms in conjunction with earthquakes in China as well as in Taiwan and Chile.
She recently experienced dizziness and insomnia a few days before the 7-magnitude earthquake in Ya’an in Sichuan Province, China on April 20.
Voice of China interviewed Ms. Xiao about her physical prediction of the Ya’an earthquake.
According to Ms. Xiao, she suddenly fainted while giving a lesson. She was sent to the hospital and examined, but no abnormalities were found.
Xiao said, “I began to feel dizzy on the 18th and I could not fall asleep during the night, especially on the 20th, I was still awake at 4 a.m., feeling very tired as if I were in a boat swaying on the water.”
She said to her husband, “I’m afraid a quake is about to happen somewhere.” The Ya’an earthquake did then happen on the morning of April 20th. “I was sitting on the sofa and my legs could not stop shivering when the quake took place,” said Xiao.
Ms. Xiao, age 53, says her physical episodes date from an electric shock she suffered at the age of 13. “At that moment, my whole body went numb and I collapsed on the ground. Luckily I was not hurt badly,” she said. Since then, she has experienced the dizziness and other symptoms from time to time, yet medical examinations have always been normal.
Ms. Xiao recalls that when she was 16 years old, one day she heard a roar in the field while harvesting rice crops, but people next to her didn’t hear anything. Many days later, she learned that the Tangshan earthquake had happened on that same day. (On July 26, 1976 the Tangshan earthquake struck in northeast China, killing hundreds of thousands of people.)
However, Ms. Xiao did not associate her abnormal physical symptoms with earthquakes until September 1999. “When I saw on TV the strong quake in Taiwan on September 21, 1999, I began to think, maybe my strange illness is related to earthquakes.” Xiao said, because she had suffered strong physical reactions the day before.
Since then, Ms. Xiao watches the news every time she feels unusual. “After my physical reaction, most likely there will be an earthquake. Based on the degree of the ringing in my ears, I can judge how far, how strong, and in what direction approximately a quake will be,” she said
Because nobody believed her and thought something was wrong with her, Xiao started recording every premonition that had been verified by an earthquake. She asked her family and colleagues to sign the pages as confirmation. According to her diary, the closest earthquake occurred in Linli County of Chengdu and the farthest occurred in Chile.
Ms. Xiao contacted Sun Shihong, a retired professor of the Chinese Seismograph Station, the day before the Yushu earthquake of April 14, 2010. She told him she had a strong physical reaction and that this usually happened the day before an earthquake.
Sun Shihong believed Ms. Xiao’s condition really is linked to earthquakes.
Subsequently, experts from various seismic stations throughout Hunan Province made a special trip to Ms. Xiao’s home to conduct an investigation and analysis.
The experts concluded that Xiao’s reactions were indeed linked to the earthquakes because her body could sense the infrasonic sound of the earthquake in advance. The higher the magnitude is, the stronger the sensation is.
Translation by Alex Wu. Written in English by Arleen Richards.
Tags: Body & Mind, environmental issues, Food, health, Science, Society, sustainable development
By Jack Phillips
Earlier this week the U.S. Congress quietly passed the Agricultural Appropriations Bill, which has been derided by opponents as the “Monsanto Protection Act,” it was reported.
In the appropriations bill, the provision essentially protects purveyors of genetically modified seeds, including Monsanto, from lawsuits amid potential health risks, according to Salon.com.
President Obama signed the measure into law on Tuesday.
More than 250,000 people have signed a petition that opposes the Monsanto Protection Act, according to Food Democracy Now.
“Once again, Monsanto and the biotech industry have used their lobbying power to undermine your basic rights,” reads a statement on Food Democracy’s website.
There has been anger over how the provision passed through Congress, without being reviewed by the Agricultural or Judiciary Committees. The provision was introduced anonymously as the Agricultural Appropriations Bill progressed, according to Salon.
Now, the Food Democracy Now and the Center for Food Safety have blamed the Senate Appropriations Committee and chairwoman Sen. Barbara Mikulski.
The Center for Food Safety said that “many Democrats were unaware of its presence in the larger bill,” according to its website.
“In this hidden backroom deal, Senator Mikulski turned her back on consumer, environmental, and farmer protection in favor of corporate welfare for biotech companies such as Monsanto,” Andrew Kimbrell, the head of the Center for Food Safety, said in a statement.
He added: “This abuse of power is not the kind of leadership the public has come to expect from Senator Mikulski or the Democrat Majority in the Senate.”
Tags: beauty, Nature
By Jarrod Hall
Each year in April, South Korea’s many cherry trees come to life with bright white and pink flowers. Koreans celebrate the occasion outdoors with festivals, picnics, bike-rides and other outdoor activities. The blossoms are not a symbol of national pride, as they are for the Japanese, but are dearly loved – crowds flock to the countries parks and gardens to enjoy the show.
One of the largest and most popular cherry blossom festivals in South Korea is the Yeouido Spring Flower Festival in Seoul. Yeouido is situated on a large island surrounded by the Han River in the heart of the city. It’s the country’s financial and political center, home to major government, financial and media organizations. The road that circles the island is lined with cherry blossoms and parts of the road are closed to traffic for the festival.
Olympic Park in Seoul’s Southeast doesn’t have a flower festival but has beautiful gardens filled with walking paths, bike trails and traditional wooden rotundas. It was built to house the 1988 Olympic games and is home to many cherry trees and other flowering trees that bloom at the same time such as Magnolias and Forsythia.
See more photos: City in Focus: Cherry Blossoms in Seoul (Photos)
Tags: Body & Mind, environmental issues, health, Nature, Science, sustainable development
Extended public comment period ends April 26
By Tara MacIsaac
Superfish: A genetically engineered salmon is on its way to approval for human consumption in the United States. It would not likely be labeled any differently than conventional Atlantic salmon in grocery stores.
The AquaBounty AquaAdvantage transgenic salmon grows two to six times faster than natural Atlantic salmon stock thanks to genetic engineering. It has been dubbed the “superfish” or “FrankenFish” by concerned advocates for Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) product labeling.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released an assessment of the genetically engineered (GE) salmon on December 26, 2012, reporting that the salmon does not pose significant environmental threats or threats to human health upon consumption.
U.S. Sen. Mark Begich and Sen. Patty Murray sent the FDA a letter expressing grave concern. Upon the senators’ request, the FDA extended the public comment period to April 26. The FDA will review comments before approving the product.
The senators write: “Legislation will be introduced in the 13th Congress to seek a more comprehensive environmental review of this and other genetically engineered fish, and require labeling of any such products sold in the U.S. so consumers are aware of what is on their dinner plates.”
The GE salmon would be labeled the same as conventional Atlantic salmon stock, “because the essential nature of the salmon has not changed as a result of the introduction of the AquaAdvantage construct, an AquaAdvantage Salmon is still an Atlantic salmon,” reads the draft assessment report.
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Tags: funny things, Nature, Society
By Phoebe Ryles
Earthquakes turn water to gold over hundreds of thousands of years according to a new study by Nature Geoscience.
Earthquakes turn water to gold according to a study released by the Journal of Nature Geoscience March 17. The study puts forward a new theory on the formation of gold deposits that may change the way we mine for gold.
When an earthquake hits, the movement travels outward along cracks in the earth, called fault lines. The shifts can cause the instant vaporization of any groundwater that was flowing through the fault lines. Groundwater often carries tiny amounts of gold and other minerals in suspension.
The Nature Geoscience study suggests that when the water vaporizes the minerals crystallize. Over hundreds of thousands of years, and a million little earthquakes later, the mineral deposits build up to substantial, minable deposits.
This study may mean that mining companies will focus their exploration in areas with frequent seismic activity.
“This new knowledge on gold-deposit formation mechanisms may assist future gold exploration efforts,” said Dion Weatherley, a geophysicist at the University of Queensland in Australia and lead author of the study, according to LiveScience.com.
There are other geological events that also cause gold formation, such as volcanic activity.
Tags: Body & Mind, environmental issues, Food, health, Nature, sustainable development
“You should eat more fish” is a remark I often make to patients. But I find that recently more patients reply, “But are fish safe to eat?”
They worry about the amount of mercury and PCBs that may be in fish. So today when it appears that everything has a touch of contamination, how safe are fish to eat?
A report from the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, published in Environmental Science and Technology, analyzed seafood inspection data from the United States, Canada, Europe, and Japan.
It states that today 85 percent of seafood used in North America is imported, and much of it is farm-raised (a practice called aquaculture) in Asia and elsewhere in the developing world.
One negative is that other nations have varying standards for aquaculture. For instance, they may use drugs that are banned in North America. But the big negative is that North American officials do not inspect most overseas farms. This means that only a fraction of imported seafood is tested for drug residues, microbes, and heavy metals.
In fact, on the world stage, U.S. inspection leaves much to be desired. For example, the Hopkins report says the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) in the United States checks only a mere 2 percent for these contaminants. This compares with 20 to 50 percent in Europe, 18 percent in Japan, and 15 percent in Canada. Moreover, Europe tests for the presence of 34 drugs, but the United States tests for only 13.
There was more bad news for me. I love shrimp, but according to Hopkins’ researchers, shrimp and prawns were the seafood that most often exceeded drug- residue limits. Crab, basa (a kind of catfish), eel, and tilapia were other problem fish—many of which are farmed.
Vietnam was the country that had the most drug violations, followed by China, Thailand, Indonesia, India, Taiwan, and Malaysia.
The question is, how much of a problem are drugs that are used to control diseases when fish are so crowded in farm operations? The greatest hazard is for farm workers. For the rest of us, no one knows how much chronic low-level exposure harms us. There’s also concern that bacteria may develop resistance to antibiotics.
So, if like me, you enjoy fish, how can you eat it without becoming depressed? Dr. David Lowe, author of the Hopkins study, suggests trying to locate domestic farmed seafood, which has a greater chance of being inspected. And if you’re lucky to live in Canada, there is no history of export violations.
The Seafood Watch Program in the United States lists the following fish that are high in omega-3 fats, low in mercury, PCBs, and pesticides: oysters (farmed), Pacific sardines (wild caught), rainbow trout (farmed), salmon (wild caught from Alaska), freshwater Coho salmon (farmed in tanks in the United States), albacore tuna from the United States or British Columbia, and arctic char (farmed).
It’s best to select small fish, which are less likely to contain contaminants and have higher amounts of omega-3 fats. But since larger fish eat these smaller fish, they have a higher concentration of contaminants. Wild and canned salmon are always a good choice.
Remember too that all fish are not created equal. A three-ounce serving of farmed salmon contains over 2,000 milligrams (mgs) of omega-3 fats. Shrimp have only 250 mg.
If you’re looking for fish with high amounts of magnesium, which protects against fatal cardiac arrhythmias, order tuna or crawfish. If you’re concerned about blood cholesterol, boiled or steamed lobster has only 72 mgs per 100 grams compared to 75 for skinless chicken and 2 poached eggs.
Looking at the total picture, the health benefits of fish far outweigh the risks. In fact, while I write this column, researchers report that people who eat fish regularly were 12 percent less likely to develop colon and rectal cancer.
Today, there are many risky contaminants in our air and water that are worrying. But I’m not losing any sleep over those in fish.
Dr. Gifford-Jones is a medical journalist with a private medical practice in Toronto. His website is DocGiff.com. He may be contacted at Info@docgiff.com.
Tags: Body & Mind, health, Nature
Angelica Angelica archangelica is an herb native to the cold climes of northern Europe, as far north as Lapland and Iceland and extending south as far as Germany, as well as parts of Asia and North America.
The plant can be counted among the oldest of the known herbs and has been cultivated for commercial and medicinal purposes from ancient times right up to the present day.
The herb has quite a unique makeup. It is found to contain carotene, which is used by the liver to produce vitamin A; valeric acid, which has a calming effect on the nerves; and plant steroids, which are supportive of the processes of the immune system. It also contains pectin, an essential enzyme for the easy digestion of food, and about 5 percent copper salts.
An Ancient Remedy
Although not often used by modern herbalists, angelica has been considered one of the most powerfully protective medicinal herbs for most of recorded history. Its name refers to the supposedly angelic healing properties of its leaves.
In Europe, angelica blooms around May 8, the day of Michael the Archangel, and legend has it that an angel appeared to a monk and revealed angelica as a cure for the plague. Other legends also associate the herb with visions of the Archangel Gabriel and the Archangel Rafael.
Traded throughout the world by the Norwegians since the 14th century and widely used on the continent, it was introduced into England in the 16th century and was extensively used as protection against the plague and also as a cure after infection had taken place.
It was one of the ingredients in an herbal brew known as the “four thieves vinegar,” which supposedly gave immunity to four men who stole from the bodies of those who had died from the plague.
Angelica’s curative properties were held in such high regard that it was also given the name “the root of the Holy Ghost.” However, its use far predates the introduction of Christianity to Europe, and its inclusion in ancient pagan spring festivals is well-recorded.
All the folklores of the northern European cultures considered angelica to be the supreme remedy against poisons, contagious diseases, and those rheumatic conditions, coughs, and colds prevalent in chilly northern climates.
Indeed, all the folklores of the northern European cultures considered angelica to be the supreme remedy against poisons, contagious diseases, and those rheumatic conditions, coughs, and colds prevalent in chilly northern climates.
For the Sami cultures of northern Scandinavia, angelica had always been an important vegetable as well as a medicine. Angelica root could be dried and stored for use throughout winter. As the first edible plant that appeared after a long, harsh winter it was particularly helpful in aiding digestion of the Samis’ largely meat-based diet and curing any associated stomach problems.
In herbal practice, I use angelica much as it was used historically, to help the patient feel better and to recover more quickly from colds and flu. Taken as a cup of tea, it has a sweet and pleasantly mild taste that can also be enjoyed by children. When taken as such, it becomes a valuable general tonic that aids digestion and is mildly antispasmodic.
Angelica has been traditionally used since ancient times as a flavoring for honey, essential oils, as well as confectionery, wines, and liqueurs, with most of today’s production being for the liqueurs Chartreuse and Benedictine as well as Vermouth and varieties of gin.
The essential oil that is extracted from the root tip of angelica is highly prized by the perfume industry in Paris and Cologne due to its unique scent, which is present in all parts of the plant.
Angelica is a worthy addition to any modern garden. If not for its value as a remedy for the common cold and the odd upset stomach, you may include it in your garden for its striking bright-green foliage, beautifully dramatic flowers, and a scent that has been described as “strong and fragrant, aromatic, with a touch of oranges.”
Luke Hughes is a classical Western herbalist and horticulturalist based in Sydney, Australia.
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Tags: funny things, Nature, Science
Imagine gently laying an empty bottle on the ground, only to watch it roll uphill; or parking on a slight incline—on an angle that seems quite unnecessary for a parking break—only to see the car inexplicably drift in a way that defies gravity. There’s no doubt you’re in the presence of a very peculiar phenomenon.
In dozens of locations around the country—such as the Haunted Church of Buck’s County in Pennsylvania, Maryland’s Ghost Hill, and Jacob’s Crossing in Texas—and many more throughout the world, one can find magic hills, enchanted roads, or sites that exhibit anti-gravitational properties. At these places, enigmatically, all objects seem to defy the laws of physics.
How do these anti-gravity hills behave? It’s enough to leave a can, a bottle, or any spherical body at the base of these most mysterious sites. One can sit back and watch it slowly and continuously ascend to the summit.
This apparently inexplicable phenomenon can be discovered even more frequently when someone parks a car in such places and later finds the vehicle mysteriously rolling away. Even the water in the ditches that surround these roads seems to flow the wrong way.
Some have suggested that the origin of certain enchanted roads is to be found in gravitational anomalies in the region, or an incredible magnetic attraction produced by masses of iron material in nearby volcanoes. Yet often times, the attracted objects in question are generally immune to magnetic forces (rubber balls, glass bottles, and so on).
Others, of course, offer a more supernatural explanation. A site in Braga, Portugal, is said to have gained its ability from a spell cast long ago. Laboring villagers, having grown tired of carrying heavy burdens uphill, reversed the incline’s gravitational direction. Their magical intention is said to have made transporting loads up that hill far easier thereafter.
Magic Hill Ghosts
Some magic hill locations offer a spookier tale for this gravity-defying behavior. Locals often take advantage of these strange places, frequently utilized to lure tourists, expecting them to easily fall victim to urban legends.
On repeated occasions, local inhabitants connect the site to some terrible car accident of several years ago, alleging that the strange movement of the vehicles that now traverse these enchanted roads are at the mercy of some restless, angry spirit. One such location in New Jersey is said to be haunted by a farmer’s ghost that aims to keep vehicles off of his land.
In spite of their seemingly bizarre behavior, these magic slopes (or at least the great majority of them) have much more earthy explanations than those of subterranean magnets or mischievous ghosts.
Many times these locations have been found to be merely optical illusions (that is, the visible horizon line and layout of the surrounding area can make the “magic slope” appear to be more of an incline than actually exists). It could lead the passerby to the illusion that the hill ascends, when in reality it drops. These “magic” places often present a slope that deceives the sense of vision but is rationally explained with a leveling tool.
In this illusion, objects that seem to roll “uphill” are simply following the known laws of physics, as the impartial bubble of a leveling tool reveals. Yet as our eyes still continue to deceive us even after this proof has been shown, some still question whether the level’s bubble could itself be at the mercy of an enchanted force.
Tags: Body & Mind, Children, health, Nature, psychology, Society
Ontario’s Healthy Kids Panel recently proposed a strategy to help kids get onto a path to health.
The problem is that the path doesn’t lead them into nature. Though the report quotes parents’ comments and research showing kids spend dramatically less time outside than ever, it doesn’t encourage time in nature.
That said, many of the report’s recommendations should be implemented and supported locally, provincially and nationally to reduce the risks of obesity.
Encouraging parents and children to be more critical about dietary choices and requiring more information and labelling from restaurants and food producers is long overdue.
Ontario isn’t the only province working to reduce obesity rates and support parents raising healthy children, particularly in the early years. Alberta released relevant reports in 2011 and Quebec has had a ban on advertising junk food to children since 1980.
No one can argue against public awareness and education around the benefits of healthy eating and active living. But a provincial, patchwork approach to addressing these issues isn’t enough. We need a national strategy to get our kids eating healthy foods and being active in nature.
‘Make good things more accessible’
Although it seems logical that much of the time spent being active will take place outside, the Ontario report acknowledges that “many communities are not designed to encourage kids to move or be physically active…and have few safe green spaces.”
One parent in a focus group explains that the parks in his community are either gated or locked up once school is closed. So, even when there is green space, it’s not always accessible.
Last year, the David Suzuki Foundation conducted a survey with young Canadians and found that 70 percent spend an hour or less a day outdoors. The 2012 Active Healthy Kids Canada Report Card says they spend almost eight hours a day in front of screens.
So it’s not that kids don’t have time to be outside. It’s just not part of their lifestyle.
Much has been reported about a recommendation by the Ontario panel to ban junk food advertising that targets children under 12. This has worked in Quebec and is being discussed in Alberta.
But the approach has invited criticism from those who argue that people should have the right to choose.
We need a national strategy to get our kids eating healthy foods and being active in nature.
It’s always tempting to focus on making bad things less accessible, but perhaps policymakers should be more creative and focus on ways to make good things more accessible.
Being in nature is good for all of us. People who get outside regularly are less stressed, have more resilient immune systems and are generally happier.
And it’s good for our kids. Studies show spending time in nature or green spaces helps reduce the symptoms of ADHD.
Even in built playgrounds, kids spend twice as much time playing, use their imaginations more, and engage in more aerobic and strengthening activities when the space incorporates natural elements like logs, flowers, and small streams, according to research from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.
Bring Nature Back Into Our Lives
Despite all the obvious health benefits of spending time outside, provincial and federal governments are failing to integrate a daily dose of nature into their policies.
It’s also something we as a society are failing to make a priority in the lives of our children. This inexpensive and effective way to make our lives healthier and happier should be an obvious solution.
We need to make sure our neighbourhoods have green spaces where people can explore their connections with nature.
We need to make sure our neighbourhoods have green spaces where people can explore their connections with nature.
We need to ask teachers and school board representatives to take students outside so that nature becomes a classroom.
And we need to stop making the outdoors seem like a scary place for children by helping parents understand that the benefits of playing outside outweigh the risks.
It will take public education and awareness-building as well as changes to the way we build cities and live in our communities to bring nature back into our lives.
Connecting kids to nature every day needs to be a priority policy objective in any strategy for healthy children and could easily have been integrated into the recommendations from the Ontario Healthy Kids Panel.
Taking our kids by the hand and spending time outside with them will have the added benefit of making us healthier and happier adults.
By David Suzuki with contributions from David Suzuki Foundation Communications Specialist Leanne Clare
Tags: Nature, Science
A new German study has revealed changes in the patterns of atmospheric flow around the Northern hemisphere that are linked with recent extraordinary weather events.
The researchers used equations to describe atmospheric wave movements in temperate areas. Looking at a 32-year period, they found recent weather extremes occurred with wave amplification and trapping, such as “wave seven” with seven troughs and crests around the planet.
“An important part of the global air motion in the mid-latitudes of the Earth normally takes the form of waves wandering around the planet, oscillating between the tropical and the Arctic regions,” said study lead author Vladimir Petoukhov at Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) in a press release.
“So when they swing up, these waves suck warm air from the tropics to Europe, Russia, or the United States, and when they swing down, they do the same thing with cold air from the Arctic.”
When the waves get trapped for more than a few days, the prolonged heat can cause serious problems like fires, and harvest losses.
“What we found is that during several recent extreme weather events, these planetary waves almost freeze in their tracks for weeks,” Petoukhov said. “So instead of bringing in cool air after having brought warm air in before, the heat just stays.”
“In fact, we observe a strong amplification of the usually weak, slowly moving component of these waves.”
Climate change due to fossil fuels does not affect the planet uniformly. The relative temperature increase tends to be higher in the Arctic, and land masses usually change temperature faster than oceans.
“These two factors are crucial for the mechanism we detected,” Petoukhov said. “They result in an unnatural pattern of the mid-latitude air flow, so that for extended periods the slow synoptic waves get trapped.”
The results show that extreme weather is not simply a linear response to global warming.
“This is quite a breakthrough, even though things are not at all simple–the suggested physical process increases the probability of weather extremes, but additional factors certainly play a role as well, including natural variability,” said study co-author and PIK director Hans Joachim Schellnhuber in the release.
The findings were published in the U.S. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
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Tags: animals, Nature, Science
“To find their way back home across thousands of kilometers of ocean, salmon imprint on the magnetic field that exists where they first enter the sea as juveniles,” study co-author Nathan Putman of Oregon State University said in a press release.
“Upon reaching maturity, they seek the coastal location with the same magnetic field.”
Scientists long suspected the salmon were using a magnetic map, but were unable to confirm it until recently. The Fraser River in British Columbia provided a useful way to study how salmon navigate.
“When they attempt to return, they are confronted with a giant obstacle: Vancouver Island is blocking direct access to their river!” Putman explained.
“So the fish must make a choice: do they use the northern inlet or the southern inlet in their detour?”
Since Earth’s magnetic field shifts over time, salmon that left the Fraser River two years ago might find a slightly different magnetic field when they return. Their magnetic map might guide them to choose the other inlet.
Since the 1950s, fisheries have been gathering data about salmon returning to this area. When they compared it with predicted changes in the magnetic field, they found that the magnetic field indeed affected the choices the salmon made.
However, Putman says this magnetic map may not work as well for salmon raised in hatcheries.
“If, for instance, hatchery fish are incubated in conditions with lots of electrical wires and iron pipes around that distort the magnetic field, then it is conceivable that they might be worse at navigating than their wild counterparts,” he said.
The paper was published online in the journal Current Biology on Feb. 7.
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Tags: Nature, sinkholes
Florida sinkhole: Sinkholes, like the one that swallowed a man in his Florida bedroom on Feb. 28, are usually caused by the chemical dissolution of rocks like sandstone. They may form very slowly or quickly, and at times are hastened by human activity like a burst water main.
Workers usemachinery to fill in a sinkhole that buildings collapsed into near a subway construction site in Guangzhou, south China’s Guangdong Province, on Jan. 28, 2013.
Tags: Body & Mind, CCP, China, environmental issues, health, Nature, Society, sustainable development
The Chinese regime for the first time admitted the existence of so-called “cancer villages”—areas near factories and polluted waterways where cancer rates have increased to startlingly high levels.
The Sina Weibo of the state-run Global Times on Wednesday published news and a map of the villages that are especially cancer-stricken. Posting in Chinese, the Times, a mouthpiece of the ruling Chinese Communist Party, cited the Chinese Ministry of Environmental Protection. The blog Tea Leaf Nation brought attention to the post.
“Among its content is a clear demonstration that because of chemical poisoning, ‘cancer villages’ and other serious [threats to] social health have begun to emerge in many areas. Moreover, according to media person Deng Fei, these … ‘cancer villages’ are spreading from the middle of Eastern China to the middle of Western China,” a translation of the Global Times message reads.
The message was published in environment ministry’s “Twelfth Five-Year Plan for Prevention and Control of Environmental Risks from Chemicals,” the post reads. And the Global Times’ microblogging account also included a weeping emoticon.
Over the years, Chinese environmental activists have said there is a strong link between increased cancer rates and industrial pollution—in part due to corrupt officials looking the other way when developers and businesses violate environmental regulations. Investigative journalist Deng Fei in 2009 showed some of the worst-hit areas using Google maps.
Since the 1990s, cancer has been the leading killer of Chinese people, according to Caijing, a financial publication. It reported that the number of cancer villages could be greater than 247 across 27 provinces. However that number could be greater than 400, according to the state mouthpiece Xinhua.
The ministry also acknowledged that China has been slammed with “poisonous and harmful chemical products” that are banned in developed countries, reported the AFP news agency.
Environmental lawyer Wang Canfa said the Global Times’ blog posting was significant, as it was the first time that the Chinese regime officially noted the “cancer village” phenomenon.
“It shows that the environment ministry has acknowledged that pollution has led to people getting cancer,” he was quoted as saying. “It shows that this issue, of environmental pollution leading to health damages, has drawn attention.” The AFP reported that the term “cancer village” appeared as early as 1998 in Chinese media reports.
The Weibo posting comes just after several high-profile cases involving air and water pollution. In January, a thick haze of smog descended upon dozens of Chinese cities, including Beijing, lingering for days.
Around a week ago, Deng Fei asked his Weibo followers to take pictures of a river or a stream in their hometown and post it online. The move, he said, was designed to show the extent of pollution in Chinese rivers.
Tags: CCP, China, environmental issues, Nature, Society, sustainable development
China’s dependence on burning coal to meet its soaring energy demands has grown even more, with a new report saying that the country now accounts for nearly half of global coal consumption, meaning that the dense air pollution lingering over Chinese cities will likely only get worse.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Tuesday that China’s consumption of coal grew 9 percent in 2011, continuing an upward trend for the 12th consecutive year. In 2011, China’s coal use grew by some 325 million tons, representing 87 percent of the total increase that year.
“Of the 2.9 billion tons of global coal demand growth since 2000, China accounted for 2.3 billion tons,” or 82 percent, the EIA said, adding that now, China “accounts for 47 percent of global coal consumption—almost as much as the entire rest of the world combined.”
China overtook the United States as the world’s leading energy user in 2011, but unlike the U.S., its main source of energy is coal.
China’s coal industry has been criticized recently after much of the country, including Beijing, was blanketed by a dense haze of smog that triggered a public backlash and led to many more Chinese donning breathing masks. The smog was so bad in Beijing that the authorities were forced to issue an unprecedented “orange fog warning.”
Some of the backlash focused on the Chinese Academy of Meteorological Science, with some bloggers calling for the sacking of certain officials in the agency.
Even though seven of the top ten cities in the world with the worst air pollution are in China, it doesn’t appear that China will stop its dependence on burning coal anytime soon. Just over a week ago, environmental group Greenpeace released a report saying that China will produce 625 metric tons of coal by 2015 and will generate another 1,400 million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year.
“Coal burned to produce electricity already pumps more [carbon dioxide] into the atmosphere than any other source of conventional power,” Greenpeace said.
In November, research suggests that out of the 1,200 new coal power plants, 363 would be located in China, according to the World Resources Institute.
The EIA said in September that “economic growth” is what continues to spur China’s demand for energy. Aside from coal, China is the world’s second-largest consumer of oil (after the U.S.) and the fourth-largest consumer of natural gas in 2011. Nuclear power only accounted for 2 percent of total electricity generation.