Science and Nature Discussion

Irondan

Moderator
I looked for a discussion on general "Science and Nature" but couldn't find one. We can use this thread for general discussion on nature and science.

I'd like to start off with an article that I just read on CNN about a 27-year study that took place in Germany about insect populations declining by 75% over the study period. This study is stunning because it shows that not only are the "pollinators" disappearing at alarming rates (which we all knew was already happening) but all insects are somehow declining at rates that are not sustainable for very much longer.

I'm not an expert on this subject but I'd like to hear what other opinions on this matter have to say.

I can say one thing, the mosquito population on Mount Rainier is not suffering. It's thriving if anything. I'd like to see a long-term study such as the one in Germany done in other places in the world to see if the same results can be seen.

http://www.cnn.com/2017/10/19/europe/insect-decline-germany/index.html
 
Times are bad for many animals. I don't imagine most people will see the decline of insects as a thread, except for the pollinating ones. Their niche is very important in basically every ecosystem though, so it's bad news overall.

Meanwhile, it's been a tragical year for penguins, as the adults had to swim a bunch further to get food for the chicks. Only 2 chicks surveved in a huge colony

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/oct/12/penguin-catastrophe-leads-to-demands-for-protection-in-east-antarctica
 
Good call, Aphro. I had been considering posting something about the fires in the politics thread, but for what I was going to say, this thread would be better.

One thing not mentioned in the story you linked is the effect of the fires on areas outside of the burning zone. I live in Oakland, a long ways away from the major fires north of the Bay area (though we've had some smaller ones down here), but we've definitely felt the effect on air quality. One day last week I went outside and thought someone in the neighborhood was illegally burning trash, the smell of smoke was so strong. The particulate concentration was in the danger zone for several days or more. I think one estimate was that there was more exposure to particulates in the Bay area in one day than in months of the usual smoggy traffic. Home Depot and other local hardware suppliers were reported to be sold out of protective masks.

Of course this is a global phenomenon now, and about far more than fires. We have to care about China's industry, because air-borne products from there routinely reach the west coast.
 
Sure, the hill fires are pretty much a perennial thing, but this seemed to be moving on a whole other level. I saw a handful of articles this week on bay area air effects: the Gate maybe and elsewhere.

Jinping suggested in his speech that China would pick up some climate slack. I guess current technology makes it possible to leapfrog many 20th century mistakes. Given the will and tighter control of the middle classes.
 
Aug 2, 2012
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how long 'til all large predators are extinct?

progress or disaster?

are those whom cry 'disaster' only doing so 'cos there are no large predators in their own backyard?

Mark L
 
For me personally (because I never wish to speak for anyone else!), science only makes sense once it's applied. The books I had read back in high school and in college had never made any difference to me, but now that I've been doing some gardening, and had been keeping an aquarium for years, I appreciate the importance of chemistry. And once you do some mechanical stuff on the bicycle you'll appreciate some physics - it all comes together somehow.

Btw., we all will be eating some plastic at some point (if not already), whatever you *** out into the water and into the environment will come back to haunt you.
 
Re:

Tricycle Rider said:
For me personally (because I never wish to speak for anyone else!), science only makes sense once it's applied. The books I had read back in high school and in college had never made any difference to me, but now that I've been doing some gardening, and had been keeping an aquarium for years, I appreciate the importance of chemistry. And once you do some mechanical stuff on the bicycle you'll appreciate some physics - it all comes together somehow.

Btw., we all will be eating some plastic at some point (if not already), whatever you **** out into the water and into the environment will come back to haunt you.

https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/04/09/plastic-waste-kills-six-ton-whale/
 
Mar 29, 2016
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Re:

Tricycle Rider said:
Btw., we all will be eating some plastic at some point (if not already), whatever you **** out into the water and into the environment will come back to haunt you.
Seems the Gulf of Mexico has more pollution then most of us knew - a 14 year long oil leak.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/a-14-year-long-oil-spill-in-the-gulf-of-mexico-verges-on-becoming-one-of-the-worst-in-us-history/2018/10/20/f9a66fd0-9045-11e8-bcd5-9d911c784c38_story.html
An oil spill that has been quietly leaking millions of barrels into the Gulf of Mexico has gone unplugged for so long that it now verges on becoming one of the worst offshore disasters in U.S. history.

Between 300 and 700 barrels of oil per day have been spewing from a site 12 miles off the Louisiana coast since 2004, when an oil-production platform owned by Taylor Energy sank in a mudslide triggered by Hurricane Ivan. Many of the wells have not been capped, and federal officials estimate that the spill could continue through this century. With no fix in sight, the Taylor offshore spill is threatening to overtake BP’s Deepwater Horizon disaster as the largest ever.
 
Re:

ebandit said:
how long 'til all large predators are extinct?

progress or disaster?

are those whom cry 'disaster' only doing so 'cos there are no large predators in their own backyard?

Mark L
Disaster. The absence of wolves and their reintroduction gives a small peek into ecological balance.
One example: No wolves, elk eat treelings, no trees, songbirds disappears for decades. Reintroduce wolves, elk move more/can't just stand and graze all day, trees return, songbirds return.

FYI: I grew up in the boonies of North Idaho with big predictors (wolves, bears, cougars...), and they aren't too far away here in Boise either (especially since I play 'outside' a lot).
 
In a place right outside Ensenada..Baja California..@85 miles south of San Diego..there is an explosion in eco-tourism.based on the surrounding wine business...all the ranches and vineyards in and surrounding Valle de Guadalupe..it is beautiful and has ideal weather and terrain for training on the. bike...
I have noticed more and more dead bees..in San Diego the declining hive populations have some "loose" scientific theories about exposure to chemicals and pesticides and after returning to the hive the cross contamination kills lots indirectly..
But out in the country in Baja most farms lean toward organic..it may just be that I am just now noticing...but I see more dead bees than I did before..I am sure that pesticide probably plays a role..
 
Are they honey bees? It’s around now that the workers leave the hive so you will start seeing them. As they’re used to pollinate a lot of crops, it may be an increase in number of hives in the area leads to an increase in the number you see. It’s a confounding factor that needs to be considered.
 
Mar 29, 2016
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How in good lords name these things are still working is amazing -
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/voyager-2-nasa-solar-system-spacecraft-interstellar-space-agency-latest-a8676036.html
Nasa's pioneering Voyager 2 spacecraft has gone interstellar.

The craft – which left Earth in 1977 and has been flying through space ever since – becomes only the second ever man-made object to make it out of our galactic neighbourhood.

It follows Voyager 1 in venturing out into interstellar space, according to Nasa's Ed Stone, who made the announcement at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union.

Voyager 2 takes with it a pioneering instrument that send back observations of this uncharted part of space, beaming them over 11 billion miles to Nasa scientists. Mission operators are still able to communicate with the spacecraft but it takes information – moving at the speed of light – a full 16.5 hours to make the long journey.

Nasa declared the spacecraft had left when the onboard Plasma Science Experiment (PLS) showed that it was no longer detecting the plasma flowing out the sun. That outflow creates a bubble called the heliosphere, which envelopes the planets of the solar system and represents the edge of the solar system.
 
Mar 29, 2016
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https://www.scmp.com/news/china/science/article/2180071/chinas-new-antenna-five-times-size-new-york-city-it-also-cancer
China has built a giant experimental radio antenna on a piece of land almost five times the size of New York City, according to researchers involved in the highly controversial project.

The Wireless Electromagnetic Method (WEM) project took 13 years to build but researchers said that it was finally ready to emit extremely low frequency radio waves, also known as ELF waves. Those waves have been linked to cancer by the World Health Organisation-affiliated International Agency for Research on Cancer.

Although the project has civilian applications – officially it will be used for earthquake and mineral detection and forms part of China’s 11th five-year plan – it could also play a crucial role in military communications.

Scientists said that its transmissions could be picked up by a submarine lurking hundreds of metres under the sea, thus reducing the vessel’s risk of having to resurface to receive transmissions.
...
But the project has caused concern among some academics, who worry about the possible impact on public health.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the World Health Organisation, has previously warned that ELF waves are “possibly carcinogenic to humans”.

Numerous epidemiological and experimental studies conducted by researchers around the world have linked long-term ELF exposure to an increased risk of childhood leukaemia.

In a 500-page report constantly updated since 2007, the WHO has documented a large number of academic investigations linking ELF radiation to a range of illnesses including delusions, sleep deprivation, stress, depression, breast and brain tumours, miscarriages and suicide.
...
In 1968, the US Navy proposed Project Sanguine, a giant ELF antenna that would have covered two-fifths of the state of Wisconsin to enable undersea communications with submarines.

The project was terminated due to massive protest by residents.
...
According to the WHO, an ELF field can affect human nerve fibres and stimulate synaptic transmissions in neural networks.

It can also affect retina cells, generating a sporadic flash of light in people’s eyes.

Animals can use low frequency signals to detect threats or changes in surrounding environments, an ability critical for survival in nature, according to some biologists, and experiments suggest that ELF radiation could also have an effect on cattle.
Project Sanguine details at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Sanguine

There is an X-files episode called "Drive" that has the ELF transmiter fears.
 
I'm not a biologist, but how would radiation of such low frequencies with photon energies in the range of 10^-14 eV be able to cause cancer, i.e. to break up DNA for mutations to form? Considering the emitted power of a few watts I wouldn't be too concerned with health problems, but I would be happy to learn more.
 
I’d have to see the report but as far as I’m aware there has only been a correlation found in a small amount of work, no causative mechanism has been shown and at the moment the general opinion is that it does not cause cancer. Lab studies have not shown a link.

One possible mechanism is suppression of hormones, melatonin in particular. Again, there’s no real evidence for this.
 
Re:

King Boonen said:
I’d have to see the report but as far as I’m aware there has only been a correlation found in a small amount of work, no causative mechanism has been shown and at the moment the general opinion is that it does not cause cancer. Lab studies have not shown a link.

One possible mechanism is suppression of hormones, melatonin in particular. Again, there’s no real evidence for this.
So the theory is that radiation-induced lower levels of melatonin would increase the risk of cancer? That's interesting. I have never heard of any scientific consensus that would suggest any radiation of longer wavelength than Ultraviolet (~300 nanometers) could cause cancer. There have been plenty of studies looking into this matter for radiation in the microwave- and radio-spectrum as it is used in electronics.
 
Re: Re:

Sestriere said:
King Boonen said:
I’d have to see the report but as far as I’m aware there has only been a correlation found in a small amount of work, no causative mechanism has been shown and at the moment the general opinion is that it does not cause cancer. Lab studies have not shown a link.

One possible mechanism is suppression of hormones, melatonin in particular. Again, there’s no real evidence for this.
So the theory is that radiation-induced lower levels of melatonin would increase the risk of cancer? That's interesting. I have never heard of any scientific consensus that would suggest any radiation of longer wavelength than Ultraviolet (~300 nanometers) could cause cancer. There have been plenty of studies looking into this matter for radiation in the microwave- and radio-spectrum as it is used in electronics.
Pretty much yes. There is some evidence the melatonin can suppress the growth of certain tumours. I've not read much into it so I don't know how strong the evidence is.

Yep, lots of people have looked at it and the current consensus is that EMF/ELF does not cause cancer. Again, it's not something I have much time to look into that often, I'm surprised the WHO is releasing documents with evidence that it does. I'd like to see the work they cite, I may try dig it out if I get chance.
 
Mar 29, 2016
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https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-46862486
Cern has published its ideas for a £20bn successor to the Large Hadron Collider, given the working name of Future Circular Collider (FCC).

The Geneva based particle physics research centre is proposing an accelerator that is almost four times longer and ten times more powerful.

The aim is to have the FCC hunting for new sub-atomic particles by 2050.
...
Prof Jon Butterworth of University College, London is among those drawing up the strategy. He told BBC News that, although he was keeping an open mind, he was particularly attracted to Cern's proposal.

It entails gradually building up to a 100km ring that is almost ten times more powerful than the LHC.
Wow! Just watch out for the black holes and worm holes it will create. ;)
 
Mar 29, 2016
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PM 2.5 problems in Asia -
http://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20190123000626
South Korea plans to conduct this year’s first artificial rain experiment over the Yellow Sea on Friday, as part of efforts to tackle fine dust pollution amid growing concerns over public health.

The Korea Meteorological Administration said Wednesday the one-hour experiment will be conducted in the sea between the Korean Peninsula and China on Friday morning, with a plane, boat and other devices mobilized to measure meteorological conditions.

The KMA will carry out a cloud seeding experiment and observe changes in particles in the clouds. The Ministry of Environment will then analyze whether the artificially produced rain helps get rid of fine and ultrafine dust in the air.
...
However, the impact of artificial rain on dust reduction or broader weather patterns is not yet known. Some pointed out that the humidity caused by cloud seeding could enlarge dust particles, therefore worsening the pollution. There are also environmental questions over the use of silver iodide.
Meanwhile in Thailand - https://www.bangkokpost.com/news/general/1615894/drone-zone-smog-battle-takes-to-skies
Authorities are toying with the idea of using drones to combat haze caused by PM2.5 which has shrouded Bangkok and its surrounding provinces for over two weeks. A test run is being conducted this week.

He said 12 drones were provided by private and state organisations for the test mission.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has declared the test runs a success.

He said China had also used drones to combat haze, including spraying chemicals into the air.
 
Mar 29, 2016
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http://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20190128000686
The South Korean government’s first artificial rain experiment this year over the Yellow Sea failed to induce rain, the Korea Meteorological Administration said Monday, with 14 more experiments planned throughout the year.

The KMA observed an increase in the size of precipitation particles in the clouds, but there was no rain or snow, it said, announcing the interim result of the experiment carried out Friday.

The KMA and Ministry of Environment conducted the cloud seeding experiment over the sea about 11 kilometers southwest of Gunsan, North Jeolla Province, to increase precipitation and analyze whether the rainfall, if any, could help reduce fine dust in the air.
 
Interesting how they want to fight air pollution in the lower atmosphere by bringing in particles in the upper atmosphere (still troposphere of course). For diffusive droplet growth to start, usually a nucleus, like Aerosoles, are required. As soon as the droplet size passes a specific radius of about 0.5 micrometers, the droplets will grow regardless of decreasing supersaturation in the cloud. However, this also means if you fail to produce rain in the desired area it becomes more likely that rain falls in other areas, thus decreasing the relative humidity in the region and making it more unlikely for the required super saturation to occur and for precipitation to happen naturally (looking at relatively small space and time frames).
 
Mar 29, 2016
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https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jan/30/toxic-smog-forces-bangkok-to-close-hundreds-of-schools
Toxic smog forced Bangkok authorities to issue an unprecedented order to shut nearly 450 schools on Wednesday as authorities struggled to manage a pollution crisis that has stirred widespread concern.

The Thai capital has been shrouded in murky haze for weeks, forcing residents to don masks and sparking social media criticism of the uneven response by the government.

Reasons given for the lingering pall include exhaust from traffic, unfettered construction, the burning of crop stubble, and pollution from factories getting trapped in the city.
...
Fleets of drones are set to be deployed to disperse sugary liquid solution to help clear the air of microscopic particles. It is not clear how effective that will be given the scale of the smog cloaking the city.

Aswin also said city hall may soon issue a warning against exercising in parks.

Air Visual, an independent online air quality index (AQI) monitor, on Thursday pegged Bangkok at the “unhealthy” level of 171, up from 156 mid-month.
https://www.bangkokpost.com/news/environment/1620462/no-relief-from-intensifying-bangkok-smog-before-monday
Sprinklers installed above toll gates help keep down the dust on Bangkok's eastern ring road in Saphan Sung district -
 
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