Conservation Reports

CONSERVATION REPORT: June, 2018

Nature Trivia – Anne Hammond

TOP EMERGING TECHNOLOGIES:

SOLAR-POWERED WATER, harvested from the air, works sustainably and uses zero electricity.  The systems have been in place the past year in SW USA, Mexico, Middle East & other countries.

TECHNOLOGY THAT MIMICS PHOTO SYNTHESIS converts CO2 emitted by combustion to fuels instead of contributing to greenhouse gases.  The scientists have found that equipping the system with metabolically altered bacterium cam produce nitrogen based fertilizer right in the soil, which would increase crop yields where conventional fertilizers aren’t readily available.

INSTEAD OF GREENING INDIVIDUAL HOMES, entire blocks of impoverished or moderate income neighbors will share resources & infrastructure to decrease waste such as energy & water.  The Oakland EcoBlock constructions are planned on 30-40 contiguous old homes near Golden Gate Bridge.  Solar panels, storage of excess energy, shared electric cars are charged on over 24 charging centers, all of which can decrease electric consumption by more than 1/2, and decrease carbon emissions to zero.  The EPA estimates that as much as 50% of CA’s home water consumption goes to lawn & gardens.  Toilet & other waste water will be treated & recycled to irrigation.  Collected rain water will go to toilets & washers.  Efficient fixtures will be installed.  Treated solid wastes will become compost.  Elsewhere in USA, Europe, N.Africa, & Asia have shown interest in redesigning whole communities, not just homes. (Scientific American, 12, 2017)

 

NATURE TRIVIA: May, 2018

Greenland has some old sharks.  Scientists have used radiocarbon dating to determine most specimens predating l950s.  They have an extremely slow growth rate & the largest was likely just shy of 4 centuries old.  Given the margin of error, it could be 272 – 512 years old.  The Inuits called it “skalugsuak” & said it lived for centuries & could destroy human flesh with its skin.. True.  Fishermen who tried to eat one caught in their net found it toxic.  (Avi Selp, Washington Post, Dec. 2017)

Altruistic Plants:  The University of Delaware reports that insect damage to a common mustard species’ leaves causes the victims to send out volatile organic compounds.  This doesn’t help the victim, but its neighbors.  A day or 2 after the neighbor received the warning signals, its roots grow longer & more robust to get more nutrition to fight the insect. (Nat’l Wildlife, Apr 2018)

Tiniest crop duster: To keep harmful pathogens, molds, & fungi at bay, farmers often spray harmful chemicals.  Bee Vector Technology has developed an environmental friendly alternative: the bee.  A tray at the hive’s entrance coats the bees’ legs with a natural powderized fungus which grows harmlessly on the plant, but prevents parasites & bacteria from taking hold.  It is very efficient.  It should beat Montsanto’s paying farmers to use their very harmful chemicals.

 

CONSERVATION REPORT: April, 2018

By Anne Hammond

*Nitrogen FERTILIZER is a significant source of air pollution, acid rain, & respiratory illness in CA. (U of CA, Davis, 2, 2018)

*HERBICIDE PARAQUAR again linked to Parkinsonian symptoms in brain. The European Institute for the Biology of Agriculture is studying this in hopes of finding ways to prevent progress of Parkinson’s disease. (Beyond Pesticides, 2-1-18)

*WOOLWORTHS, one of Australia’s largest retailers, is no longer going to sell neonics which are linked to global bee decline.  (Beyond Pesticides, 1/31/18)

*NEONICOTINOIDS threaten aquatic life in the GREAT LAKES.  The USGS has found it year-round in the world’s largest fresh water ecosystem & in its tributaries.  (Beyond Pesticides, 1/30/18)

*Not only are we BEING FED PESTICIDES in our non-organic food, but the oil & gas industry, desperate for money (?), is selling toxic water from their drilling to farmers in CA’s dry central valley.  (Yum, yum)  (Food & Water Watch, Winter, 2017)

*COSTCO’s commitment to social responsibility seems to be taking a turn.  It sells a lot of rotisserie chickens, so is planning to build its own factory farm & slaughter house.  These birds produce lots of waste which will then be spread on farm land at excessive rates upstream from Lincoln’s & Omaha’s drinking water supply. (Food & Water Watch, Winter 2017)

*MAN’S QUEST FOR GOLD is never ending.  In spite of local government’s efforts to curb it, illegal mining in Peru’s rainforest “protected areas” has increased at a staggering rate.  The total mining area increased about 40% in just 1 year.  Extracting gold from rock can contaminate the environment.  Liquid mercury is often used & can drop onto the soil or be released as toxic fumes.  (Scientific American, Jan 2018)

*CORALS:  Researchers have found that stressing corals can turn on genes that lead to more resilient off spring.  Corals broken into eraser-size can grow 25-50 times more quickly than in the wild.  By cross-breeding scientists can create diversity.  But all this is of no value unless humans slow global warming.  (Scientific American, Jan. 2018)

NATURE TRIVIA – WAXY MONKEY TREE FROG

HABITAT: Dry scrub forests of S. America’s Chaco region.  Spends most of its life in treetops where it snoozes for hours in the hot sun.  Most frogs’ skin needs to stay moist, but this frog produces a waxy protective substance that he spreads over his skin as a sun block.

EGGS:  are folded into a large leaf suspended over water.  When they hatch, the tadpoles drop into the water and grow.

HANDS: prehensile with opposable thumbs needed for gripping branches & helping it to walk rather than hop (hence the “monkey’ in its name.)

REAR LEGS: incredibly flexible for spreading the sunblock & walking through the treetops..

DEMORPHIN:  contained in its secretions & is a unique natural opioid, 40 times stronger than morphine.  In recent years, a synthetic version has been used illegally so race horses will keep running in spite of injury

 

Conservation Report -February, 2016
From Anne Hammond

Cadmium chloride is a nasty, dangerous compound used as a coating for thin-film solar cells.  Now an English team has found Magnesium chloride is non-toxic, abundant, costs about 300 times less, and is easily sprayed on.
(Scientific American, Sep. 2014)

Fracking in U.S. is causing more social, economic, and environmental problems than it solves.  Employment rates drop and social problems increase as high school male drop-outs become trapped permanently in low skill and low education roles.  Violent crime, STDs, traffic deaths, and rents rise in areas with increased fracking.  In drought-stricken NM, fracking consumed 1.3 billion gal. of water which becomes toxic, unusable… Renewables are commercially available today.

(Earth Justice, Nov 2015)

Conservation Report – January, 2016
From Anne Hammond
As costs plummet, solar systems are going up. Last year solar batteries accounted for almost 30% of U.S. capacity. Reliable batteries could make rooftop systems independent of the grid (which the electric companies are, as expected, fighting.)
(Scientific American, 11-2014)

After more than a decade of fighting, the US Navy has agreed to limit deadly sonar & explosions during training.
(Nat’l Resources Defense Council, 9/14/15)

A routine termite pesticide treatment of a home can cause traumatic brain injury.
(Beyond Pesticides, 9-14-15)

A study published in “Pediatrics”, finds that children exposured to pesticides in & around the home increases the risks of certain childhood cancers.
(Beyond Pesticides, 9/21/15)

 

Conservation Report – October, 2015

From Anne Hammond

The FL Everglades used to be bigger than NJ, but development & farming have taken over more than 1/2, polluting water and blocking its path to the south end of the wetlands.  Several projects hope to undo some of the damage: 1) 6 mi. of the Tamiami Tr., now acting as a dam, will be bridged.  2) State & Fed. Partners are constructing pumps, levees, & canals meant to clean water before it flows south.  3)  Big ag is fighting a plan for FL to acquire about 50,000 acres of sugar farm land to store & treat water that previously had been diverted to the Atlantic and gulf.
(Nat’l Parks, summer ’15)

Carcinogenic Glyphosate (Roundup) linked to DNA damage leading to cancer, as residues are found in bread.  Pyrethroid pesticide use increases rates of ADHD in children and young teens.  CT bans toxic lawn pesticides in municipal playgrounds statewide.  (At least some people are not corrupt.)
(Beyond Pesticides, 7/10, 6/8, 7/27/15)