Archives par mot-clé : Organisms

UN Biodiversity Officials Fail Transparency Test

by Donna Laframboise, May 13, 2019 in BigPictureNews

The United Nations Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) is a clone of the IPCC, the UN’s climate body. But there are some notable differences.

We’re told that a great deal of power resides with the Multidisciplinary Expert Panel (MEP), which currently consists of 28 individuals. These are the people who, for example, decide which international scholars will be assigned to discuss which topics within the pages of official IPBES reports.

To its credit, that entity’s website has been designed to provide the CV of everyone who sits on this panel. Rather than taking the UN’s word for it that these are world class experts, the public is given the opportunity to examine their credentials firsthand.

But saying you believe in transparency is different from acting like it. If organizations aren’t living up to the standards they’ve set for themselves, that’s worth noticing.

Last week was hugely important for the IPBES – it sought and received massive international media coverage. Despite this, it utterly failed its own transparency test. The CVs of most MEP members aren’t actually available online.

Methane-consuming bacteria could be the future of fuel

by Northwestern University, May 9, 2019 in ScienceDaily

Discovery illuminates how bacteria turn methane gas into liquid methanol.
Researchers have found that the enzyme responsible for the methane-methanol conversion in methanotrophic bacteria catalyzes the reaction at a site that contains just one copper ion. This finding could lead to newly designed, human-made catalysts that can convert methane — a highly potent greenhouse gas — to readily usable methanol with the same effortless mechanism.
The study will publish on Friday, May 10 in the journal Science. Rosenzweig is the Weinberg Family Distinguished Professor of Life Sciences in Northwestern’s Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. Hoffman is the Charles E. and Emma H. Morrison Professor of Chemistry at Weinberg.

By oxidizing methane and converting it to methanol, methanotrophic bacteria (or “methanotrophs”) can pack a one-two punch. Not only are they removing a harmful greenhouse gas from the environment, they are also generating a readily usable, sustainable fuel for automobiles, electricity and more.

Current industrial processes to catalyze a methane-to-methanol reaction require tremendous pressure and extreme temperatures, reaching higher than 1,300 degrees Celsius. Methanotrophs, however, perform the reaction at room temperature and “for free”.

IPCC Clone Predicts Doom

by Donna Laframboise, May 6, 2019 in BigPictureNews

Here we ago again. For some time, I’ve warned that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is a template, that the United Nations is up to the same tricks elsewhere.

Today, in Paris, an IPCC clone known as the IPBES – the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services – will announce the completion of an 1,800-page report.

Jonathan Watts, the UK Guardian‘s global environment editor, has already told us everything we need to know about this ‘IPCC for Nature‘.

Under the headline Biodiversity crisis is about to put humanity at risk, UN scientists to warn, he insists this report was written by “The world’s leading scientists.” Funny, that’s how compliant, gullible journalists described IPCC personnel. For years and years. Until I began to notice that some of those involved were graduate students in their 20s.


by Andrew Montford, April 23, 2019 in GWPF

Extinction Rebellion seem to be everywhere at the moment. And everywhere their story is the same. We are in the middle of a climate catastrophe. As the Huffington Post put it,

Human-caused climate change is driving sea-level rise, drought, extreme weather and a biodiversity crisis that scientists have declared Earth’s sixth mass extinction event. As many as 150 species die off each day.

Scary eh? Surely that’s enough to justify the odd street protest?

It was therefore interesting to see read some remarks from Richard Betts today. Professor Betts is the head of climate impacts at the Met Office, so his views in this area carry a certain amount of weight. Asked what he thought were the top three negative impacts of climate change that have “absolutely started”, he replied:

  • Sea level rise
  • Increasing risk of high temperatures
  • Changes in phenology and distribution for numerous species

This left me agog. There was nothing about drought or hurricanes or any of the other manifestations of extreme weather that are said to be afflicting us; nothing about floods, or typhoons, or desertification or crashing crop yields or climate refugees, mass extinctions, skydiving walruses and any of the thousand and one tall tales that climate activists spin and the media faithfully repeat every day. The contrast between this take on currently observed negative impacts and David Attenborough’s risible Climate Change: the Facts programme last week is startling. The take home message is that most of what the “national treasure” told viewers about climate change was grubby insinuation rather than fact: less to do with science than with the BBC’s ongoing eco-campaign.

New evidence suggests volcanoes caused biggest mass extinction ever

by University of Cincinnati, April 15, 2019 in ScienceDaily from Nature

Mercury found in ancient rock around the world supports theory that eruptions caused ‘Great Dying’ 252 million years ago.

Researchers say mercury buried in ancient rock provides the strongest evidence yet that volcanoes caused the biggest mass extinction in the history of the Earth.

The extinction 252 million years ago was so dramatic and widespread that scientists call it “the Great Dying.” The catastrophe killed off more than 95 percent of life on Earth over the course of hundreds of thousands of years.

Paleontologists with the University of Cincinnati and the China University of Geosciences said they found a spike in mercury in the geologic record at nearly a dozen sites around the world, which provides persuasive evidence that volcanic eruptions were to blame for this global cataclysm.

The study was published this month in the journal Nature Communications.

The eruptions ignited vast deposits of coal, releasing mercury vapor high into the atmosphere. Eventually, it rained down into the marine sediment around the planet, creating an elemental signature of a catastrophe that would herald the age of dinosaurs.

“Volcanic activities, including emissions of volcanic gases and combustion of organic matter, released abundant mercury to the surface of the Earth,” said lead author Jun Shen, an associate professor at the China University of Geosciences.

“Global climate change” does not cause species extinctions

by Paul Berth, March 22, 2019 in ScienceClimatEnergie

Contrary to what the media tries to make you believe, global climate change is not a major cause of species extinction. A recent study published in March 2019 in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment shows that the major cause of extinction is the introduction of invasive alien species (IAS) into ecosystems. This phenomenon, well known to biologists and confirmed by the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature), is unfortunately little known to the general public.

Figure 1. Number of recent animal extinctions (IUCN categories “extinct” [EX] and “extinct in the wild” [EW]) for different groups of animals (figures from IUCN Table 3a). The colors provide information on the causes of the extinctions (“Driver”); for example dark purple is used for IAS (“Alien”), extinctions caused by local species (“Native”) are light purple. The category “Neither” includes other causes of extinction or unknown causes (source, Blackburn et al., 2019).



Le “Changement climatique global’ ne cause pas de disparitions d’espèces

by Prof. Paul Berth, 22 mars 2019 in ScienceClimateEnergie

Contrairement à ce que les médias tentent de vous faire croire, le changement climatique global n’est pas une cause majeure de disparition d’espèces. Une récente étude publiée en mars 2019 dans le journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment vous le démontre : la cause majeure d’extinction est l’introduction d’espèces exotiques envahissantes (EEE) dans les écosystèmes. Ce phénomène, bien connu des biologistes et confirmé par l’IUCN(Union Internationale pour la Conservation de la Nature), est malheureusement peu connu du grand public.

1. Introduction

En se déplaçant d’un continent à l’autre, l’être humain a toujours emmené avec lui toute une série de plantes et d’animaux qui se retrouvaient ainsi en dehors de leurs limites biogéographiques habituelles. Avec le développement du commerce international ce phénomène ne fait que s’amplifier. Par exemple, à l’intérieur de l’Union Européenne, le nombre d’EEE aurait augmenté de 76% entre 1970 et 2007. Bien que l’impact écologique de la plupart des espèces introduites est inconnu ou semble négligeable, il est démontré que certaines introductions d’espèces ont provoqué des changements substantiels dans des écosystèmes[1]. Ces changements incluent souvent la disparition d’espèces locales[2]. On a d’abord pensé que ces phénomènes d’extinction étaient exagérés et que des espèces locales pouvaient également être à la base d’extinctions[3], et certains auteurs pensent même que les efforts déployés pour contrôler ou éradiquer les espèces étrangères introduites ne seraient pas nécessaires[4]. Cependant, personne n’a jamais vraiment testé si les espèces introduites provoquaient plus ou moins d’extinctions par rapport aux espèces locales ou aux autres causes d’extinctions. Cette question a donc été étudiée par l’équipe de Tim Blackburn (University College London, UK) dans une récente publication de mars 2019[5]. Ils ont pour cela utilisé la base de données des extinctions globales fournie par l’IUCN.

Figure 1. Nombre d’extinctions animales récentes (catégories IUCN “extinct” [EX] et “extinct in the wild” [EW]) pour différents groupes d’animaux (chiffres issus de la Table 3a de l’IUCN). Les couleurs renseignent sur les causes des extinctions (“Driver”); par exemple le mauve foncé est employé pour les EEE (“Alien”), les extinctions causées par des espèces locales (“Native”) sont en mauve clair. La catégorie “Neither” comporte les autres causes d’extinction ou alors des causes inconnues (source, Blackburn et al. 2019).


Uranium in mine dust could dissolve in human lungs

by American Chemical Society, December 5, 2018 in ScienceDaily

New Mexico contains hundreds of historic uranium mines. Although active uranium mining in the state has ceased, rates of cardiovascular and metabolic disease remain high in the population residing close to mines within the Navajo Nation. According to a new study in ACS’ journal Environmental Science & Technology Letters, inhaled uranium in dusts from the mines could be a factor.

Pulses of sinking carbon reaching the deep sea are not captured in global climate models

by Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, December 3, 2018 in ScienceDaily

More than two miles below the ocean’s surface, microbes, worms, fishes, and other creatures great and small thrive. They rely on the transport of dead and decaying matter from the surface (marine snow) for food at these dark depths.

Up near the sea surface, carbon dioxide from the atmosphere is incorporated in the bodies of microscopic algae and the animals that eat them. When they die, these organisms sink to the depths, carrying carbon with them.

This supply of carbon to the deep sea isn’t steady. At times, months’ to years’ worth of marine snow falls to the abyss during very short “pulse” events.

In a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), MBARI scientists and their collaborators show that there has been an increase in pulse events off the coast of California. They also show that, although such episodes are very important to the carbon cycle, they are not well represented in global climate models.

Another failure of peer review, due to corrupt temperature data from a single station

by Anthony Watts, November 7, 2018 in WUWT

A new study, based on 27 years of data from Mana Pools National Park in Zimbabwe, suggests that temperature increases over the last three decades have already caused major declines in local populations of tsetse flies.

This analysis, published in the journal PLOS Medicine this week, provides a first step in linking temperature to the risk of sleeping sickness in Africa.

My analysis

A model for fly population mortality is only as good as the temperature data used to run the model. It appears they only used one source of temperature data, the only one available to them, the Rekomitjie Research Station.

Interestingly, this helpful photo was also included in the press release from Eurekalert. It is the weather station used to monitor climate at the Rekomitjie Research Station, Zimbabwe. I provide it below, click for full-size. At the scale displayed above, you might not notice some important details about the weather station itself, but I did. Here it is, magnified: …

Integrated genomic and fossil evidence illuminates life’s early evolution and eukaryote origin

by Holly C. Betts et al., August 20, 2018 in NatureEcology&Evolution

We derive a timescale of life, combining a reappraisal of the fossil material with new molecular clock analyses. We find the last universal common ancestor of cellular life to have predated the end of late heavy bombardment (>3.9 billion years ago (Ga)). The crown clades of the two primary divisions of life, Eubacteria and Archaebacteria, emerged much later (<3.4 Ga), relegating the oldest fossil evidence for life to their stem lineages. The Great Oxidation Event significantly predates the origin of modern Cyanobacteria, indicating that oxygenic photosynthesis evolved within the cyanobacterial stem lineage. Modern eukaryotes do not constitute a primary lineage of life and emerged late in Earth’s history (<1.84 Ga), falsifying the hypothesis that the Great Oxidation Event facilitated their radiation…

Billion-year-old lake deposit yields clues to Earth’s ancient biosphere

by McGill University, July 18, 2018 in ScienceDaily

The findings, published in the journal Nature, represent the oldest measurement of atmospheric oxygen isotopes by nearly a billion years. The results support previous research suggesting that oxygen levels in the air during this time in Earth history were a tiny fraction of what they are today due to a much less productive biosphere.

“It has been suggested for many decades now that the composition of the atmosphere has significantly varied through time,” says Peter Crockford, who led the study as a PhD student at McGill University. “We provide unambiguous evidence that it was indeed much different 1.4 billion years ago.”

The study provides the oldest gauge yet of what earth scientists refer to as “primary production,” in which micro-organisms at the base of the food chain — algae, cyanobacteria, and the like — produce organic matter from carbon dioxide and pour oxygen into the air.

In the ocean’s twilight zone, tiny organisms may have giant effect on Earth’s carbon cycle

by Florida State University, July 18, 2018 in ScienceDaily

Deep in the ocean’s twilight zone, swarms of ravenous single-celled organisms may be altering Earth’s carbon cycle in ways scientists never expected, according to a new study from Florida State University researchers.

In the area 100 to 1,000 meters below the ocean’s surface — dubbed the twilight zone because of its largely impenetrable darkness — scientists found that tiny organisms called phaeodarians are consuming sinking, carbon-rich particles before they settle on the seabed, where they would otherwise be stored and sequestered from the atmosphere for millennia.

This discovery, researchers suggest, could indicate the need for a re-evaluation of how carbon circulates throughout the ocean, and a new appraisal of the role these microorganisms might play in Earth’s shifting climate.

The findings were published in the journal Limnology and Oceanography.

Scientists discover Earth’s youngest banded iron formation in western China

by University of Alberta, July 11, 2018 in ScienceDaily

Discovery provides evidence of iron-rich seawater much later than previously thought.

The banded iron formation, located in western China, has been conclusively dated as Cambrian in age. Approximately 527 million years old, this formation is young by comparison to the majority of discoveries to date. The deposition of banded iron formations, which began approximately 3.8 billion years ago, had long been thought to terminate before the beginning of the Cambrian Period at 540 million years ago.

The Early Cambrian is known for the rise of animals, so the level of oxygen in seawater should have been closer to near modern levels. “This is important as the availability of oxygen has long been thought to be a handbrake on the evolution of complex life, and one that should have been alleviated by the Early Cambrian,” says Leslie Robbins, a PhD candidate in Konhauser’s lab and a co-author on the paper.

Why life on Earth first got big

by University of Cambridge, June 25, 2018 in ScienceDaily

Some of the earliest complex organisms on Earth — possibly some of the earliest animals to exist — got big not to compete for food, but to spread their offspring as far as possible.

The research, led by the University of Cambridge, found that the most successful organisms living in the oceans more than half a billion years ago were the ones that were able to ‘throw’ their offspring the farthest, thereby colonising their surroundings. The results are reported in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution.

Prior to the Ediacaran period, between 635 and 541 million years ago, life forms were microscopic in size, but during the Ediacaran, large, complex organisms first appeared, some of which — such as a type of organism known as rangeomorphs — grew as tall as two metres.


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