Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Science news below the fold

The "WAGD" article of the day: Shallow Undersea Methane Hydrate Deposits found in Arctic

The newly discovered deposit is of modest size, but such trapped deposits represent a large global carbon reservoir and some researchers fear that their destabilization around the world, caused by changes in sea temperature or drilling, could cause a release of methane into the environment and accelerate global warming.

We all want to protect "indigenous tribes", yet one wonders when outsiders rush in to protect the "rights" of the 1 percent so that the rest of the population, including a lot of poor Brazilians, are prevented from developing the local resources to get out  of poverty.

If you read the book 1491, maybe their "pristine" lifestyle is quite different from the lifestyle of their more sophisticted ancestors... I mean, the life of these tribes is not paradise, except in the eyes of outsiders. Hunger, disease, malnutrition, food insecurity, only primative medical care, etc. Which is why most of their fellow Indians have voted with their feet...

In Mindanao, much of the logging was for foreign corporations but the people didn't complain because they needed jobs and the politicians took bribes. The problem was failure to reforest.

But the disaster after the latest typhoon (see article in previous post) was mainly caused by "mom and pop" miners who don't follow regulations. Bringing in a professional mining corporation who follows the laws to protect the environment is the answer, not the problem, but alas the outsiders want no mining (or jobs for locals) at all...but to force the rich corporations to follow the law you need to stop the culture of corruption, where it's cheaper to pay the gov't to look the other way and kill those who protest.


a discussion of the problem and the complexity of cooperation between mines who bring jobs and the ecology minded HERE.

Asian economies will surpass Europe, US.

Well, why not? There are a lot more Asians...
The study said that in a best-case scenario, Americans, together with nearly two-thirds of the world's population, will be middle class, mostly living in cities, connected by advanced technology, protected by advanced health care and linked by countries that work together, perhaps with the United States and China cooperating to lead the way.

they also predict less terrorism but more cyber attacks, and potential problems in China and other places where the population is falling, and this:
One bright spot for the U.S. is energy independence. "With shale gas, the U.S. will have sufficient natural gas to meet domestic needs and generate potential global exports for decades to come," the report said.
Ah yes: North Dakota to the rescue...


They found another source for Adult Stem cells to replace brain cells.

Scientists often reprogram cultured skin and blood cells into induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS), which can form any cell in the body. However, urine is a much more accessible source. 

But there is a more important part to the story:
Previously, retroviruses were used to insert pluripotency genes into cells. This alters the genetic make-up of cells and can make them less predictable. Instead, in this study, the genes were introduced using vectors which didn’t integrate them into the cellular genome. This produced reprogrammed cells resembling iPS cells after only 12 days, half the time needed to produce iPS cells with current techniques.
[via Nature]

Dave Barry's ecology headline of the day:

Britain gives millions in 'climate aid' to tackle flatulent Colombian cows


Read more here: http://blogs.herald.com/dave_barrys_blog/2012/12/we-saw-them-open.html#storylink=cpy

and asking the really important science questions of the day:

How does Gollum see in the dark?

I always thought that, since it was wet in that part of the cave, it was due to the bioluminescent algae:

photo from naturalplaneblog

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