1% of farms operate 70% of world's farmland

Found on The Guardian on Tuesday, 08 December 2020
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Since the 1980s, researchers found control over the land has become far more concentrated both directly through ownership and indirectly through contract farming, which results in more destructive monocultures and fewer carefully tended smallholdings.

The authors said the trend was driven by short-term financial instruments, which increasingly shape the global environment and human health.

"Grow or die" was a famous quote that had been used to force farmers to grow so they could stay competitive. This concentration makes it also easier to push prices down even more, so it's dangerous circle.

Meat-free diets linked with greater risk of breaking bones

Found on New Scientist on Monday, 30 November 2020
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The effect may stem from a lack of calcium and protein in their diet, as well as the fact that they tend to be thinner and so have less flesh to cushion a fall.

Several previous studies have shown that vegetarians have weaker bones than meat eaters, but it was unclear if this had any meaningful effect on their risk of fractures.

Humans are omnivores. Just consume a wide range of different foods and your body will take what it requires from it.

Microplastic pollution discovered near the top of Mount Everest

Found on New Scientist on Sunday, 29 November 2020
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Microplastics are present at both the highest and deepest points on Earth. The tiny pieces of plastic had previously been discovered in the 11-kilometre-deep Mariana trench in the Pacific Ocean and have now been detected on Mount Everest.

The most polluted sample was from the Everest Base Camp in Nepal, where most human activity on the mountain is concentrated. It had 79 particles of microplastics per litre of snow. The highest sample, taken at 8440 metres above sea level, or 408 metres below the peak, had 12 microplastics per litre of snow.

Today the Mount Everest is now just a spot for mass tourism. It's obvious that all sorts of junk will pollute it too.

'Paradise island' hosts untold botanical treasures

Found on BBC News on Thursday, 06 August 2020
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More than 13,000 species can be found on New Guinea, ranging from tiny orchids to giant tree ferns, two-thirds of which do not exist elsewhere.

"If we lose them, there's no way we can restore them from anywhere else, because they're just not found outside the island," he said.

Hopefully New Guinea will stay like this. Too many species get lost all over the world.

Panicked over ‘murder hornets,’ people are killing native bees we desperately need

Found on Los Angeles Times on Wednesday, 13 May 2020
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Since last week, when it was reported that two hornets were spotted for the first time in Washington state, the national panic has led to the needless slaughter of native wasps and bees, beneficial insects whose populations are already threatened, said Doug Yanega, senior museum scientist for the Department of Entomology at UC Riverside.

My colleagues in Japan, China and Korea are just rolling their eyes in disbelief at what kind of snowflakes we are.”

Many people can't even keep wasps and bees apart; it makes you wonder what low levels of education people have reached.

That Fresh Sea Breeze You Breathe May Be Laced With Microplastic

Found on Wired on Tuesday, 12 May 2020
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When you stand on a beach and take in a great big gulp of fresh air, you’re actually breathing bacteria, viruses, and aerosolized salts. Those are all punted into the air when whales breach or waves crash or even when bubbles rise to the surface of the sea, ejecting material that gets caught up in sea breezes and fog banks. And as much as I hate to rain on your beach day, you can now add an omnipresent pollutant to that list of debris: microplastics.

When the bubble surfaces, half of it protrudes above the water line, with the other half hidden beneath it. “On the top side out of the water, you've got a very thin layer of water, which when it bursts actually fragments, and that releases nano-sized materials,” says University of Strathclyde microplastic researcher Steve Allen, co-lead on the work.

It is somewhat amusing that the ocean refuses to act like a dumpster and fires the junk back at humans.

Insect numbers down 25% since 1990, global study finds

Found on The Guardian on Thursday, 23 April 2020
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The analysis combined 166 long-term surveys from almost 1,700 sites and found that some species were bucking the overall downward trend. In particular, freshwater insects have been increasing by 11% each decade following action to clean up polluted rivers and lakes. However, this group represent only about 10% of insect species and do not pollinate crops.

Recent analyses from some locations have found collapses in insect abundance, such as 75% in Germany and 98% in Puerto Rico. The new, much broader study found a lower rate of losses. However, Roel van Klink, of the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research in Leipzig, who led the research, said: “This 24% is definitely something to be concerned about. It’s a quarter less than when I was a kid. One thing people should always remember is that we really depend on insects for our food.”

On the other hand, it feels like the numbers of annoying insects, like mosquitoes and ticks, went up.

Germany Rejected Nuclear Power—and Deadly Emissions Spiked

Found on Wired on Monday, 27 January 2020
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The German government quickly passed legislation to decommission all of the country’s nuclear reactors, ostensibly to keep its citizens safe by preventing a Fukushima-style disaster. But a study published last month by the nonprofit National Bureau of Economic Research suggests that Germany’s rejection of nuclear power was an expensive and possibly deadly miscalculation.

Altogether, the researchers calculated that the increased carbon emissions and deaths caused by local air pollution amounted to a social cost of about $12 billion per year. The study found that this dwarfs the cost of keeping nuclear power plants online by billions of dollars, even when the risks of a meltdown and the cost of nuclear waste storage are considered. “People overestimate the risk and damages from a nuclear accident,” says Akshaya Jha, an economist at Carnegie Mellon and an author of the study. “It’s also clear that people don’t realize the cost of local air pollution is pretty severe. It’s a silent killer.”

Knee-jerk reactions are rarely a good basis for long-term politics. Nuclear energy is CO2 neutral, simple as that; and as long as people use more and more electric devices for often pointless reasons, then you have an increasing basic energy demand.

Climate change: Last decade UK's 'second hottest in 100 years'

Found on BBC News on Friday, 03 January 2020
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Four new UK records were set last year alone, including the highest winter and summer temperatures ever recorded.

It said 2019 was provisionally the 11th warmest year on record, with a mean temperature of 9.42C, putting it just outside the top 10 - all of which have all occurred since 2002.

A government spokesman said climate change was a "national priority" and it was committed to increasing the momentum around environmental action.

As long as it's jus talk nothing will get better; and the vast majority of people will not change their own lifestyle but rely on others to fix it. So they can still receive daily parcels from online shopping with multiple delivery attempts because they are out, driving a few hundred meters to buy freshly imported oversea foods.

COP25 climate summit ends in 'staggering failure of leadership'

Found on New Scientist on Tuesday, 17 December 2019
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António Guterres, the UN secretary general, said he was disappointed with the outcome, and that leaders had missed an opportunity to be more ambitious on climate change mitigation, adaptation and finance for poorer countries. “But we must not give up, and I will not give up,” he tweeted.

The intransigence of big polluters – including China, the US, Brazil and India – at the meeting led to the European Union, small island states and members of the public expressing frustration.

So introduce a carbon tax. Imports from countries with high pollution rates get a serious percentage on top of the product price until they bring pollution down; the less pollution, the less tax. Sometimes compromises just won't work.