Environmental Science 2013-14
http://www.ibtimes.com/new-species-sea-anemone-found-antarctica-mysterious-edwardsiella-andrillae-lives-upside-down-underA new species of sea anemone has been discovered dangling from an ice shelf in Antarctica. Researchers in a drilling program found it by mistake and it is the first known sea anemone to live in ice. It was actually discovered in 2010, but announced last month.This made me think about our discussion of how many species there are. We talked about how it is easy for us to count things that are big, or cute, or annoying, just anything that we see that is obvious. Species like this new sea anemone could easily go undiscovered, so it is interesting to think about how many species could really be out there that we are unable or uninterested in looking for. These species could be important to us though, we learn new things in many newly discovered species. I was concerned by how long it took for the people who found it to "announce it" and I'm not sure why that happened, but it brings up the question: Do species care to be classified? Or does this just make humans feel better? We can't always know, maybe humans will be interested in this species and try to use it for something, leading to it's extinction. Maybe humans will leave it alone. It's just strange how much power we now have over this little species buried under the ice that could have gone unnoticed forever.
This is a very interesting article becuase it really does show how little we know about how many species are on earth. Who would have ever thought that a species of sea anemone would have been discovered living in ice? To know that this species was found by mistake also brings up the question of how many new species would be discovered if everyone tried to discover new species?
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Severe Drought Grows Worse in California – The New York Timeshttp://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/18/us/as-californias-drought-deepens-a-sense-of-dread-grows.html?ref=earth&_r=0This article talks about the impacts of the current weather we have been having in California. Although the weather may seem nice, there are huge costs on California’s environment, economy and future. This lack of precipitation is causing farmers to need to either sell cattle because there is not enough grass growing to feed them or purchase feed for their cattle. Farmers are also finding themselves having to cut back on the amount of crops they grow. This has a huge impact on the livelihood of the farmers and the amount of food being produced which could have long term impacts. In addition to farmers in the valley having to cut back on crops, people in the mountains are witnessing first-hand the lack of water. Most of California’s water comes from the snow melt and rivers from the Sierras. Ski resorts and mountain residents are finding little to no snow, which is highly unusual for January. No snow in the mountains means less water for all of California. Lakes are at very low levels. One lake, Folsom Lake reservoir, has reached a level so low that the remnants of an old mining town are visible. One month into the new year and 2014 is already one of the years with the most amount of California land under severe drought. 2014 is second behind 2013 in this time frame covering a ten year span. Two years in a row with very extreme drought warning could have even more severe impacts in the coming months or year, depending on upcoming weather.
This is pretty scary... while we've been enjoying 70-something degree weather in January (which has been pretty nice) there are tremendous costs to the climate change has been happening in California, and all over the world. It's pretty frightening to think about the effects on our every day life if we continue to be in this drought.
Very scary. I was also interested in the part about finding the remnants of an old mining town. I know it's not really on topic, but things like this could really get more people interested in protecting biodiversity. Its interesting to me to see all the discoveries that come from focusing on biodiversity and things like this might get a bigger audience interested.
I'm not sure about everyone else, but the scariest part of this is that there are people in California who probably don't even know about this drought. It's also a problem that we started to conserve water only after realizing that we were running low/out.
Its interesting how the article doesn't mention that this drought could be because of climate change, instead it focuses more on the effects it will have on the economy and daily life. It also suggests that this drought is just a freak occurrence of stubborn high pressure.
http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865594530/USU-spider-women-stumble-upon-new-species.htmlThis article is talks about a new species of spider that was discovered in Logan, Utah. At first the scientists were skeptical about finding a new species in such an urban plan like Utah, but after much discussion and help from an arachnid classification expert, it was confirmed that they had discovered a new species of spider. The name of the spider is Theridion logan after its discovery in Logan Canyon. This spider is so far only known to exist in two other canyons.This article is interesting because finding a new species in Utah, or any type of urban place, is rare due to the fact that most new species are discovered in tropical regions where the biological diversity is much higher. Generally when new species are found, we think of them being found in remote areas that are not greatly inhabited and that are now well-studied. Because of this, the discovery of a new species of spider goes to show that new species of organisms can be found anywhere. The discovery of the spider suggests that other species could remain undiscovered in Utah, and if a new species can be discovered in an urban area what species could be found in the remote areas. This also leads to the question of how many species are actually on earth.
This article really re-established what we were talking about in class--new species are really discovered all the time. It makes it all more real to see a new species of spider found not too far from home and makes me wonder if there are still species to be found in the Bay Area.
What I thought was interesting is how you say if there are some to find in urban places, there could be lots more in remote areas. I would agree, but I wonder if it that is right. I think we make this assumption because we think we would see everything around us, but I wonder if it's possible that for some reason humans being in an area creates more species diversity. Maybe everything we build makes problems from animals and they begin to evolve in different ways, so urban spaces could be more diverse. Just an idea!
It is really interesting to hear about species that have adapted to urban areas. It seems so weird to me, because I normally think of wildlife and evolution happening somewhere else, when it is really happening all around us. It is especially interesting that animals are starting to do well in urban areas, so even though we are destroying a lot of organisms, we are helping other ones
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/17/nyregion/all-that-remained-of-100-elephants-a-ton-of-ivory-turned-into-trinkets.html?ref=earthNew York City has the biggest ivory market in the United States. In Manhattan alone, a 2008 study found that 124 different stores sold more than 11,300 ivory products. Because of state-law, New York has become a “hub for international poachers,” even though the international trade of ivory has been outlawed since 1989. Despite this ban, New York law states that ivory that was “harvested” before this ban can still be sold legally. However, there is no easy way to find out how old a piece of ivory is leading to entire populations of elephants still being slaughtered for their tusks to be turned into jewelry, trinkets and toys. Elizabeth Bennett, a species conservation scientist for the Wildlife Conservation Society believes that the African forest elephant could be extinct within a decade due to poaching for ivory. In addition to this not very strict law, the illegal sale of ivory is a Class E felony—the lowest felony there is which is almost never accompanied by any prison time. In order to protect elephant populations, stricter laws must be enforced.
Wow, that's so sad. Environmental issues need to be taken WAY more seriously. I think it's one of the most important issues on the planet- it affects us all. And remember how we learned in the beginning of the trimester that probably the most significant way to slow climate change is through political action and laws? How is that possible when people don't realize how much harm a simple action like leaving the water running, or whatever it may be, can do?It's so depressing how immoral people are when it comes to the planet.
It is so crazy that people can care so little about issues like this. Also its not just the law that helps keeps this type of illegal trade going, but there is also a high demand for ivory. People who buy jewelry and trinkets might now know where they came from or that it is illegal. It really makes you wonder if there will every be a way to really crack down on this sort of thing.
This is such a tragedy of the commons issue. "Well, everyone is buying ivory anyway, so it won't matter what I do." In addition to the government placing more weight on these crimes, people need to boycott ivory. It's selfish and not helpful for the environment.
Presently, an effort is being made to catalog the DNA of as many different species as possible. In this article, 31 spiders from the Netherlands were evaluated based on their size and species for one criteria in particular: how long would the individuals remain usable for the DNA sequence.The trick with gathering all of the DNA is that as the number of species evaluated rises, so does the value of the entire collection. Somewhat like some of the other methods of specieation we have learned about in class, the DNA sequence catalog attempts to make sense of the differences between the species and searches for who is who among the overall collection of life on earth. However, the issue that the researchers have found is that the two methods of taking the DNA (destructive muscle tissue removal and nondestructive soaking) both limit the amount of time that can pass between the death of the creature and its use as a candidate for the catalog. This runs us into a fair deal of issues, seeing as many of the creatures that led common animals and plants today to creation no longer exist, and died out millions of years ago. Though this remains a hurtle for researchers today, I am sure the future will hold many secrets regarding the use of ancient long dead organisms for the catalog, and perhaps the dream of creating a full map of life on earth isn't so impossible.
Wow, that's very complex. It sort of reminds me of that issue with the woolly mammoth. I heard that scientists have mammoth DNA and the capability to clone a mammoth (using an elephant as the surrogate). They only issue is, they don't know whether it's moral or not. But it just seems so weird to get to see a creature from thousands of years ago exist again. How would it act? Would it be friends with elephants? What if it was bright purple or something? Science is so crazy.
http://www.allvoices.com/contributed-news/16382744-natures-silver-lining-revival-of-biodiversity-after-destructive-wildfiresNature's Silver Lining: Revival of Biodiversity After Destructive Wildfires California's dry conditions currently are creating a higher risk for wildfires. Of course the initial harm done by the fire seems terrible, but there may be a plus side. After a fire, rebirth is abundant in every form of life. Plants, all types of animals, even microbes flourish in the changed environment. In many areas where the infamous Rim Fire has destroyed trees, salvage logging is being practiced. This means after a wildfire, chopping down the burned trunks and using them for economic gain. However, these trees have much more important ecological value. The rare black-backed woodpecker is included in the group of the organisms that flourishes after a wildfire. The Rim Fire, despite the amount of harm it creates, is beneficial to making habitats for these birds. With plans for 30,000 acres of "salvage logging" in the Sierra Nevada's, the woodpeckers are in great danger. People are ignorant (perhaps selectively so) to "the ecological importance of wildfires in the Sierra Nevada ecosystem for maintaining biological diversity". Many individuals, environmental organizations, and governmental agencies are all battling for rights to or protection over the burned ecosystems, all believing they know what is best for the habitat, or themselves.
It's nice to be reminded of how nature works in funny little ways. I like how wildfires don't just end up as a pile of burnt up trees and ashes. I also like the fact that burnt tree trunks are being used and not just left there to rot or compost. It's really interesting how we get involved with conserving and protecting certain species and drive others extinct. It's become a political issue, but if humans weren't here, extinctions would happen anyways, but just in a more natural way.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140121143856.htmhttp://www.science20.com/news_articles/mass_acceptance_electric_cars_would_have_little_impact_us_emissions-128117http://news.ncsu.edu/releases/wms-decarolis-edv2014/Study: Electric Drive Vehicles Have Little Impact on U.S. Pollutant EmissionsBy 2050, driving electric vehicles wouldn't really make a difference in the amount of pollution the US creates. Even if around half of the population had electric vehicles, there would be little to no reduction to the emission of air pollutants. Why? Well, some of the pollution saved is then created by the power plants. Also, cars only make up 20% of all the carbon dioxide emissions, so there's still another 80% that we need to learn how to decrease. We should probably set some emission reduction goals rather than promote one specific car with some fancy technology. Even if we switch to nuclear power, there still wouldn't be much a difference. One of the main differences electric cars have from oil run cars are the cost of batteries and oil. If the price of batteries is less than the oil costs, people will be more attracted to buying the electric vehicles thinking that it's better for the environment.
I learned a lot about electric cars in environmental chemistry last year. It is really interesting to hear about how they aren't considered better by some scientists. The main problems I have heard about are the batteries. They take a ton of energy to make and to charge, and are extremely difficult to destroy. They have a ton of chemical leaking and completely destroy the habitats around them.
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/02/garden/back-to-paradise.html?_r=0This article is about a man named Paul Zweng. He got a Ph.D from stanford and was involved in the companies Antares and QGX. They soon were sold and he ended with 200 mil in his pocket. He decided to move with family to Oahu. When he was there he soon discovered about 2 acres of land that had native species dating back to before Captain Cook. He decided to buy that land and get a group of specialists to take out the invasive plants to restore the land back. After it is restored he is hoping to build a house there for his family. Also in the future he is hoping to test 5 acres of land for cacao tree which a rare material of chocolate. He is skeptical but hopefully he'll be able to restore that land and more.
I think it's really great that someone is restoring natural habitat. More often than not people who have the resources to do good, don't. I love this article!
http://www.marinij.com/marinnews/ci_24880987/marin-sonoma-water-agencies-call-conservation-drought-continuesMarin County has officially declared a drought. They have been using the slogan "The Drought is On; Turn the Water Off" as propaganda to encourage people to conserve during this very dry season. Because we have had a try 2013, 2014 has now launched us into a drought. This type of drought is usually only present during the summer months. Marin Municipal Water gets the county’s water from Lake Sonoma, and the lake only has enough water to last another year if the dry spell continues. This has been the driest year on record, and while there is hope for a wetter season in the far future, there doesn’t look like there will be rain any time soon. Marin County is urging its inhabitants to save water as much as possible. If Marin dwellers don’t take action to save water, there is the possibility that Novato and much of Northern Marin will not get the water they need, which will affect all aspects of life in Marin.
It is concerning that Marin could possibly run out of water. This is a classic tragedy of the commons problem. It will take everyone to conserve water in order to have any left.
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/12/131220-hellbender-salamander-conservation-endangered-animals-science/The Hellbender is a type of salamander found in Eastern North America which is endangered. Scientists believe that the Hellbender's population is declining from habitat destruction and a mysterious disease. Hellbenders differ from other salamanders because they breathe almost exclusively through their skin, making them much more susceptible to pollutants to the water. Their populations near New York are especially suffering, since there are a lot more pollutants going into the water there and also only two watershed in which they can live. Also changes in agriculture have created a lot of sediment in the water, making it difficult to breathe. They are also suffering from a mysterious disease. At first, scientists believed it was a chytrid fungus, a fungus that was killing frogs around the worlds. It was eating away at the feet of the salamanders which was leaving bone exposed. Scientists have been created a head start program in which they are raising baby salamanders and releasing them.population is declining from habitat destruction and a mysterious disease
http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2014/01/20/parched-by-drought-california-turns-to-science-pilots-to-create-much-needed-rainfall/California’s current drought - one of the driest in history - has driven scientists to attempt to make their own much-needed rain fall from the sky. They plan to do this by releasing silver iodide when encircling a cloud, a process called "seeding." The water in the cloud attaches itself to the silver iodide, creating more snow, which should eventually fall to the ground below. This could increase snowfall by 5 - 15%. Seeding, however, could increase climate change because it involves spraying arisols into the air. However, California is so desperate for water that the government will do anything to get the rain we need.
http://news.mongabay.com/2014/0122-mann-new-frog-species-indochina.htmlAustralian and Vietnamese researchers discovered a new frog species in Mount Fansipan, named the Botsford’s leaf-litter frog (Leptolalax botsfordi). This frog was named as a tribute to Christopher Botsford, due to his role in amphibian biodiversity research in Asia. This new species is similar to other Asian Lead litter frog species, but the noises they make are unique. This is interesting because the gunus Leptolalax, a group of small-bodied frog biodiversity has begun to gain more appreciation in the last five years due to the increase in acoustic and molecular research. Though this species is classified as a frog, they are also at times classified as toads because of their bumpy skin. This shows that species classification is not exact and fixed, but rather, has controversy and is subjective in a sense. It also shows that even though this frog could have been classified as a frog, these researchers took the time to see if this frog had similar traits to other species and groups. This goes back to our discussion of what a species really is and how many exist. This is also a very interesting article, because now researchers are aware that Mount Fansipian is a very important area of biodiversity and amphibian conservation. It is sad that people have not been very aware of the importance of this region, and I hope that after this discovery, and hopefully more to come, this place will be marked as an area of prioritized conservation.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ric-o/waza-can-save-angel-and-e_b_4632897.htmlA lot of people became aware of the dolphin slaughtering in Taiji Cove, Japan after the documentary, The Cove, was released. Fisherman in Taiji Cove, known as "a dolphins worst nightmare", captured over 250 dolphin last friday. Typically the young females will be sent to theme parks around the globe to live a life of captivity, while the excess will be brutally slaughtered and sold for meat in japanese markets. Among the "lucky" dolphins that will go on to live a life in places like sea world, was a rare albino dolphin named Angel. The Japanese government defends this slaughtering of dolphins by saying it is "traditional" "appropriate" and that they are doing it in accordance with japanese law, yet all of these claims are false. The annual killing that takes place in the Taijji has a relatively short history, with the first dolphin drive having taken place in 1933 and it was not until 1969 that the killings were carried out on a large scale. So the excuse of that this is tradition is bs, as it has been going on for about 45 years not centuries. Also, the main motive for these slaughterings is money, not to uphold some old japanese tradition. The US ambassador to japan, Caroline Kennedy tweeted last sunday that she was, "“Deeply concerned by inhumaneness of drive hunt dolphin killing." While this reopened and further prompted discussion over the issue no real progress will be made until Japanese government officials admit their wrongdoing and make a change. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/01/140121-taiji-dolphin-hunt-pictures-video-cove-japan/?rptregcta=reg_free_np&rptregcampaign=20131016_rw_membership_r1p_us_se_w#