Your Sunscreen Is Hazardous

Sunblock poses potential hazard to sea life — ScienceDaily.

The sweet and salty aroma of sunscreen and seawater signals a relaxing trip to the shore. But scientists are now reporting that the idyllic beach vacation comes with an environmental hitch. When certain sunblock ingredients wash off skin and into the sea, they can become toxic to some of the ocean’s tiniest inhabitants, which are the main course for many other marine animals.

They turn into hydrogen peroxide and other compounds, which harm the organisms at the base of the food chain.

On Majorca, in the Mediterranean Sea, researchers gathered data using

seawater sampling and tourism data, the researchers concluded that titanium dioxide from sunblock was largely responsible for a dramatic summertime spike in hydrogen peroxide levels in coastal waters — with potentially dangerous consequences for aquatic life.

Beans, But No Chocolate

This is amazing and heart-breaking at the same time.  These farmers grow the beans, but have never tasted the final product – they don’t even know what their crop is used for!

via First taste of chocolate in Ivory Coast – YouTube.

How Big is That Comet?

 

Graphic Shows The Size Of Rosetta’s Comet | IFLScience.

Compared to Los Angeles, it’s pretty big.  Fortunately it doesn’t cross paths with earth’s orbit.

This Continues to Fascinate Me

Are Your Bacteria Making You Fat? | IFLScience.

If it sounds ridiculous that life forms too small to see are controlling our behavior, remember the bacteria within you outnumber your own cells at least 10 to one (some estimates say 100 to one).

“Our diets have a huge impact on microbial populations in the gut,” Maley says. “It’s a whole ecosystem, and it’s evolving on the time scale of minutes.” Within 24 hours of switching to a new diet changes to the species distribution inside us are measurable, as those that benefit from the new food intake multiply.

You are what you eat…..

 

Bataclysm: Extinction a Definite Possibility

The Secret Bataclysm: White Nose Syndrome and Extinction | Science Blogs | WIRED.

We need bats; but our bats are dying. In Spring 2006, 6.5 million Little Brown Bats (Myotis lucifuguslived in the Eastern US, making them America’s most common wild mammal species. Later that same year, thousands of little bodies were discovered strewn outside caves near New Albany, New York. Bats were dying in catastrophic numbers.

These prolific insect-eaters had contracted a fungus which is always deadly.  Originally from Europe, the fungus has spread to the US, most likely by human spelunkers.

Like other diseases imported to the “New World” from Europe, White Nose causes catastrophic mortality in indigenous populations. Unlike Eastern European bats, which tolerate the infection, North American bats do not seem to have any resistance to this fungal disease. White Nose mortality rates are 90-100 percent in American bat caves.

Although most people don’t think fondly about bats, they are a very important part of our ecosystem.  Bats eat tons of insect pests every year, and some species pollinate crops.

 2014 publication estimated the total biomass of insects no longer being eaten as a result of catastrophic loss of multiple bat species is 2,079 metric tons of insects per year.

What can you do to help?  Here’s how, according to the article:

Stay out of caves and mines where bats are hibernating during winter.

Reduce disturbance to natural bat habitats around your home (e.g., reduce outdoor lighting, minimize tree clearing, protect streams and wetlands).

Honor cave closures. Check with your state and federal agencies or a local chapter of the National Speleological Society for the status of caves and caving in your area. Follow National WNS Decontamination Protocol to clean and disinfect clothes, footwear, and equipment used in caves or mines.

Help spread the word about the value of bats! Bats are good neighbors, not pests.

Recognize that rabies in bats is extremely rare.

 

Why You Should Care – $$$ and Health

Farming practices and climate change at root of Toledo water pollution | World news | theguardian.com.

The toxins that contaminated the water supply of the city of Toledo – leaving 400,000 people without access to safe drinking water for two days – were produced by a massive algae boom. But this is not a natural disaster.

Every store and restaurant had to close, people couldn’t bathe or cook with the water.  No tooth-brushing, no rinsing fruit or veggies – all because of the environment’s response to people’s actions.

Residents were warned not to drink the water on Saturday, after inspectors at the city’s water treatment plant detected the toxin known as microcystin. The toxin is produced by microcystis, a harmful blue-green algae; it causes skin rashes and may result in vomiting and liver damage if ingested. It has been known to kill dogs and other animals and boiling the water does not fix the problem; it only concentrates the toxin.

In the 1960s and 1970s, before the ban on phosphorus in laundry detergents, the main sources of phosphorus in Lake Erie were urban and industrial waste. Now it’s farming, which accounts for the vast majority of the phosphorus entering the lake through the Maumee River.

This satellite image provided by NOAA shows the algae bloom on Lake Erie in 2011 which according to NOAA was the worst in decades. Photograph: AP

With warmer waters and more spring rain due to the changing climate, the fertilizer running off the farms feeds the algae.  The massive bloom produces toxins, which poison the water.

Expect more of this in the future.

Starving

 

BBC News – South Sudan’s food crisis ‘worst in the world’ – UN.

Thousands have now died in the conflict that started as a political dispute between President Salva Kiir and his deputy Riek Machar but has since escalated into ethnic violence.

Months of fighting have prevented farmers from planting or harvesting crops, causing food shortages nationwide.

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