environmental decline

Food Diversity Is Collapsing

Food diversity at risk… But fewer people have heard about another ongoing mass extinction that involves the foods that we eat. More than 75 percent of the fruit and vegetable varieties that humans once consumed have already gone the way of the wooly mammoth and the saber-toothed tiger, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization. And half of all domesticated animal breeds have been lost in roughly the past century. Apple historian Dan Bussey says that of the 20,000 named apple varieties that have been cultivated in North America, only 4,000 remain. Thousands of varieties of rice once flourished in the Philippines. Today, less than 100 varieties survive. And similar numbers could be cited for virtually all of our food crops. This massive loss of diversity is - you guessed it - the result of the rapid spread of industrial agriculture and the increasing standardization of the food industry, where unconventional varieties have been squeezed off of supermarket shelves.
From; http://apocadocs.com/
And; http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/27760-seeds-of-the-future


The Amazing Pop-Surrealism of Michael Page

Michael Page

Michael Page’s work offers the viewer an optic alternative to the visual reality of life, as we know it.  The artist’s characters and organisms inhabit otherworldly realms that are vaguely familiar in their resemblance to our shared reality, but are ultimately their own cosmic manifestation.  Narratives of worlds in crisis, such as a self-imposed environmental degradation and the decline of civilization play out across the canvas.  His enigmatic imagery is rendered in a rich color palette of swirling and flowing shapes and line that create dynamic movement.  The resulting liveliness of the work assists in aiding the viewer’s suspension of disbelief when contemplating the fantastical realities of the artist’s imagination. Txt

Older adults nearly twice as likely to have memories affected by environmental distractions

Older people are nearly twice as likely as their younger counterparts to have their memory and cognitive processes impaired by environmental distractions (such as irrelevant speech or written words presented along with target stimuli), according to a new study from psychologists at Rice University and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Whereas other studies had found that older adults are distracted by memories of prior similar events, this was the first study to convincingly demonstrate across several tasks an impairment from environmental distractions.

“Cognitive Declines in Healthy Aging: Evidence from Multiple Aspects of Interference Resolution” appeared in a recent edition of Psychology and Aging. The study supported previous research that showed memory accuracy and the speed of cognitive processing declines with age. It also revealed that older people were at least twice as likely as younger to have irrelevant memories intrude during memory recall and also showed twice as much slowing in cognitive processing in the presence of distracting information in the environment.

The study included 102 people between the ages of 18 and 32 (average age of 21) and 60 people between the ages of 64 and 82 (average age of 71) who participated in a series of memory and cognitive tasks.

For example, when the participants were tested on remembering lists of words, individuals in the young test group remembered words on the list with an average accuracy of 81 percent; in comparison, the old test group’s accuracy was only 67 percent. When irrelevant words were introduced that were to be ignored, the young test group’s accuracy dropped to 74 percent, but the accuracy of the old test group’s performance dropped to 46 percent.

“Almost any type of memory test administered reveals a decline in memory from the age of 25 on,” said Randi Martin, the Elma W. Schneider Professor of Psychology at Rice and the study’s co-author. “However, this is the first study to convincingly demonstrate the impact of environmental interference on processing having a greater impact on older than younger adults.”

Martin hopes that the research will encourage further research of how the brain is affected by environmental distractions.

“From our perspective of studying neuroplasticity (the brain’s ability to reorganize itself after traumatic injury or neurological disorders) and testing patients with brain damage, this research is very important,” Martin said. “The tests used in this study are important tools in determining how the brain is affected by environmental interference, which is critical information in treating neurological disorders, including stroke and traumatic brain injuries.”

anonymous asked:


22:Talk about your worst fear.
     First, you gotta keep in mind that I have mega hardcore anxiety to the extreme.
     Okay. There’s this super pretentious hipster art professor here, and I guess something he hates is when people use the word “literally” wrong. He was trying to show me how to do some sort of metal casting, and he got a bit frustrated and told me to stop being so scared of the equipment. I got all worked up and blurted out “Sean. I am literally afraid of everything.“ He paused in what I thought was anger before saying "In your case, the word ‘literally’ is being used in the proper context.”
So everything.

Specifically wasps.

Polluting The Great Lakes With Prescription Drugs In Sewage

Only half of prescription drugs removed by sewage treatment – Drugs found in Lake Michigan, miles from sewage outfalls

Only about half of the prescription drugs and other newly emerging contaminants in sewage are removed by treatment plants.

That’s the finding of a new report by the International Joint Commission, a consortium of officials from the United States and Canada who study the Great Lakes.

The impact of most of these “chemicals of emerging concern” on the health of people and aquatic life remains unclear. Nevertheless, the commission report concludes that better water treatment is needed.

“The compounds show up in low levels – parts per billion or parts per trillion – but aquatic life and humans aren’t exposed to just one at a time, but a whole mix,” said Antonette Arvai, physical scientist at the International Joint Commission and the lead author of the study. “We need to find which of these chemicals might hurt us.”

More than 1,400 wastewater treatment plants in the United States and Canada discharge 4.8 billion gallons of treated effluent into the Great Lakes basin every day, according to the study.

The scientists reviewed 10 years of data from wastewater treatment plants worldwide to see how well they removed 42 compounds that are increasingly showing up in the Great Lakes.

Six chemicals were detected frequently and had a low rate of removal in treated effluent: an herbicide, an anti-seizure drug, two antibiotic drugs, an antibacterial drug and an anti-inflammatory drug.

Caffeine, acetaminophen and estriol (a natural estrogen) also were frequently detected in sewage but had high removal rates.

The wastewater plants had a low removal rate (less than 25 percent chance of removing 75 percent or more) for 11 of the 42 chemicals.

From; http://www.desdemonadespair.net/2013/11/only-half-of-prescription-drugs-removed.html

signs as types of apocalypse
  • aries: nuclear apocalypse
  • taurus: 'natural disaster' apocalypse
  • gemini: plague apocalypse
  • cancer: 'monsters destroy the world' apocalypse
  • leo: 'social collapse and environmental decline' apocalypse
  • virgo: 'utopia gone wrong' apocalypse
  • libra: robot uprising apocalypse
  • scorpio: 'humanity abandons earth' apocalypse
  • sagittarius: 'aliens destroy the world' apocalypse
  • capricorn: zombie apocalypse
  • aquarius: 'supernatural end of days' apocalypse
  • pisces: 'nature turns on us' apocalypse
Amazon deforestation jumps 29%

The destruction of the world’s largest rainforest accelerated last year with a 29% spike in deforestation, according to final figures released by the Brazilian government on Wednesday that confirmed a reversal in gains seen since 2009.Satellite data for the 12 months through the end of July 2013 showed that 5,891 sq km of forest were cleared in the Brazilian Amazon, an area half the size of Puerto Rico.Fighting the destruction of the Amazon is considered crucial for reducing global warming because deforestation worldwide accounts for 15% of annual emissions of heat-trapping gases, more than the entire transportation sector. Besides being a giant carbon sink, the Amazon is a biodiversity sanctuary, holding billions of species yet to be studied.
From; http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/sep/11/amazon-deforestation-jumps

China's Toxic Air Is Killing Food Plants & Slowing Photosynthesis

Photo; Farm produce dying fropm toxic air pollution near a chemical plant.

wotfigo; What else are the Chinese people eating? And exporting?

China’s toxic air pollution resembles nuclear winter, say scientists – ‘Now almost every farm is caught in a smog panic’

 Chinese scientists have warned that the country’s toxic air pollution is now so bad that it resembles a nuclear winter, slowing photosynthesis in plants – and potentially wreaking havoc on the country’s food supply.

He Dongxian, an associate professor at China Agricultural University’s College of Water Resources and Civil Engineering, said new research suggested that if the smog persists, Chinese agriculture will suffer conditions “somewhat similar to a nuclear winter”.

She has demonstrated that air pollutants adhere to greenhouse surfaces, cutting the amount of light inside by about 50% and severely impeding photosynthesis, the process by which plants convert light into life-sustaining chemical energy.

She tested the hypothesis by growing one group of chilli and tomato seeds under artificial lab light, and another under a suburban Beijing greenhouse. In the lab, the seeds sprouted in 20 days; in the greenhouse, they took more than two months. “They will be lucky to live at all,” He told the South ChinaMorning Post newspaper.

She warned that if smoggy conditions persist, the country’s agricultural production could be seriously affected. “Now almost every farm is caught in a smog panic,” she said.

Early this month the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences claimed in a report that Beijing’s pollution made the city almost “uninhabitable for human beings”.

From; http://www.desdemonadespair.net/2014/03/chinas-toxic-air-pollution-resembles.html

And http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/feb/25/china-toxic-air-pollution-nuclear-winter-scientists

Fukushima Uninhabitable? Well It's Much Worse Than That Really.

Fukushima residents may never go home, say Japanese officials – ‘At some point in time, someone will have to say that this region is uninhabitable’

 Japanese officials have admitted for the first time that thousands of people evacuated from areas near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant may never be able to return home.

A report by members of the governing Liberal Democratic party [LDP] and its junior coalition partner urges the government to abandon its promise to all 160,000 evacuees that their irradiated homes will be fit to live in again.

The plan instead calls for financial support for displaced residents to move to new homes elsewhere, and for more state funding for the storage of huge quantities of radioactive waste being removed from the 12-mile evacuation zone around the plant.

The parties’ admission that some areas closest to the wrecked facility will remain too contaminated for people to make a permanent return is a blow to official assurances that radiation can be brought down to safe levels.

The government has come under pressure to abandon those promises amid evidence that attempts to reduce radiation to its target of 1 millisievert a year are failing.

Engineers at Fukushima prepare to extract fuel rods – ‘When I asked them where they thought the melted reactor cores were, they shook their heads’

From; http://www.desdemonadespair.net/2013/11/fukushima-residents-may-never-go-home.html


You hear “save the planet” pretty often, so often that it has become background noise. But its a little misleading, and we’re too self-absorbed to respond emotionally.
We aren’t “destroying Earth” through man-made climate change; we’re only destroying our own ecosystem, the plants and animals which sustain our way of life. We’re only destroying ourselves. 

Bees are responsible for 80% of all pollination worldwide and provide a critical link in the food-chain. 

When we see the bee population in decline, we’re looking at the first signs of a drastic drop in biodiversity. 

Further reading:

Save the bees - Greenpeace

Biodiversity and you - WWF

Rate of species decline threatens human prosperity - The Independent

The importance of bees - British Beekeepers Association

Infographic on the impact of neonic pesticides - Soil Association

 Study showing decline in dog fertility may have human implications

Britain’s dogs are becoming less fertile. Researchers who have systematically examined canine sperm over a span of 26 years say that overall sperm quality has been in decline.

Environmental chemicals are implicated. And the study may throw light on the fertility changes in male humans.

“If you think about it, we are exposed to a cocktail. Who knows how many chemicals are out there and what they are doing? It gets even more complicated when you start to look at the effects of mixtures of chemicals,” Dr Lea said.

The study used semen samples from a monitored population of labradors, border collies, German shepherds and golden retrievers used to breed dogs intended to help the disabled. Photograph: Wayne Neal/Alamy

a thought provoking piece of modern art. by depicting a bee then paradoxically stating “this is not a bee” the inherent trickery of images is addressed. this is merely the image of a bee and it does not seek to be anything other than that. this is also a poignant environmental statement addressing the decline of bee populations; soon we will only have images of bees.

Poisoning The Planet. And Us. Toxic Chemicals In Childrens Clothing

Contaminating our clothes

Greenpeace East Asia went on to test children’s clothing purchased and produced in Shishi and another centre for children’s textiles, the city of Zhili in Zhejiang Province. Together, these two cities account for 40% of all the children’s clothes made in China. The testing revealed that many of the very same chemicals found in the dyeing facilities discharge wastewater were also in the clothes themselves. Greenpeace tested 85 clothing items for a range of hazardous chemicals including phthalates, antimony and nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs) which break down to form the toxic chemical nonlyphenol (NP). The findings revealed:

  • 26 samples tested positive for NPEs with the highest concentration reaching 1,800 mg/kg
  • Over 90% of the samples containing polyester tested positive for antimony
  • Two samples were found to contain phthalates with a concentration of above 1,000 mg/kg, the highest being 1,7000 mg/kg. It was also found in some other products, though at lower concentrations

The use of hazardous chemicals during the manufacture of children’s clothing poses a large-scale problem in China and around the world. Not only is it leading to environmental pollution locally, as seen from the discharges in Wubao, residues of these substances can also be found amongst the millions of products, sold and exported across China and to countries all over the planet from textile towns such as Shishi and Zhili. For example, 70 – 80% of products produced in Shishi are exported to countries in the Middle East, Europe, North America, Southeast Asia and Africa.

The continued use of hazardous chemicals such as these, not just in clothes but also in children’s toys and other products, will inevitably lead to increased levels being released into the environment either at the site of production or from various other sources. This can include domestic washing machines or even from some products into the air. Given the scale of manufacture in the textile industry, the use of these chemicals, even at low levels, can lead to considerable amounts ending up in our environment, increasing children’s exposure to these hazardous substances and heightening the potential health risks they pose.

Compared to adults, children can be more sensitive to some effects of certain hazardous chemicals. Some chemicals have the ability to interfere with children’s normal hormone functions and affect the development of the reproductive system, immune system or nervous system. 

From; http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/news/features/A-Monstrous-Mess-toxic-water-pollution-in-China/

As a geography major who studied environmental science pretty extensively, I love that so many of the older-gen Pokemon that have Alola forms are Dark Type.

Like… several of their pokedex entries make sure to emphasize that they weren’t originally from the Alola region, which implies that their introduction to the region led to some pretty heavy environmental decline.

Hawaii and several other island environments, for example, witness a similar phenomenon where their beautiful unique (native) birds die off because they can’t compete with the introduction of domesticated cats, rats, not to mention the increase of polluted resources.

The Drive For Endless Economic Growth Is Killing The Planet.

Photo; Toronto, Canada.

How economic growth has become anti-life

An obsession with growth has eclipsed our concern for sustainability, justice and human dignity. But people are not disposable – the value of life lies outside economic development

Limitless growth is the fantasy of economists, businesses and politicians. It is seen as a measure of progress. As a result, gross domestic product (GDP), which is supposed to measure the wealth of nations, has emerged as both the most powerful number and dominant concept in our times. However, economic growth hides the poverty it creates through the destruction of nature, which in turn leads to communities lacking the capacity to provide for themselves.

The concept of growth was put forward as a measure to mobiliseresources during the second world war. GDP is based on creating an artificial and fictitious boundary, assuming that if you produce what you consume, you do not produce. In effect , “growth” measures the conversion of nature into cash, and commons into commodities. 

Thus nature’s amazing cycles of renewal of water and nutrients are defined into nonproduction. The peasants of the world,who provide 72% of the food, do not produce; women who farm or do most of the housework do not fit this paradigm of growth either. A living forest does not contribute to growth, but when trees are cut down and sold as timber, we have growth. Healthy societies and communities do not contribute to growth, but disease creates growth through, for example, the sale of patented medicine.

Water available as a commons shared freely and protected by all provides for all. However, it does not create growth. But when Coca-Cola sets up a plant, mines the water and fills plastic bottles with it, the economy grows. But this growth is based on creating poverty – both for nature and local communities. Water extracted beyond nature’s capacity to renew and recharge creates a water famine. Women are forced to walk longer distances looking for drinking water. In the village of Plachimada in Kerala, when the walk for water became 10 kms, local tribal woman Mayilamma said enough is enough. We cannot walk further; the Coca-Cola plant must shut down. The movement that the women started eventually led to the closure of the plant.

Nature is impoverished, biodiversity is eroded and a free, open resource is transformed into a patented commodity. Buying seeds every year is arecipe for debt for India’s poor peasants. And ever since seed monopolies have been established, farmers debt has increased. More than 270,000 farmers caught in a debt trap in India have committed suicide since 1995.

Poverty is also further spread when public systems are privatised. The privatisation of water, electricity, health, and education does generate growth through profits . But it also generates poverty by forcing people to spend large amounts of money on what was available at affordable costs as a common good. When every aspect of life is commercialised and commoditised, living becomes more costly, and people become poorer

From; http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/nov/01/how-economic-growth-has-become-anti-life

Overpopulation And Energy. A Time Bomb.

The Real Population Problem

Sometimes considered a taboo subject, the issue of population runs as an undercurrent in virtually all discussions of modern challenges. Naturally, resource use, environmental pressures, climate change, food and water supply, and the health of the world’s fish and wildlife populations would all be non-issues if Earth enjoyed a human population of 100 million or less.

The subject is taboo for a few reasons. The suggestion that a smaller number would be nice begs the question of who we should eliminate, and who gets to decide such things. Also, the vast majority of people bring children into the world, and perhaps feel a personal sting when it is implied that such actions are part of the problem.

Recently, participating in a panel discussion in front of a room full of physics educators, I made the simple statement that “surplus energy grows babies.” This is motivated by my recognition that population growth bent upwards when widespread use of coal ushered in the Industrial Revolution and bent again when fossil fuels entered global agriculture in a big way during the Green Revolution

India adds about 15 million people per year (wow). China adds a little over 6 million. Nigeria is next, at about 4 million. Then we have the U.S., adding 3 million per year. But of those, the U.S. is the hungriest in energy terms. The graph shows how many petajoules (PJ) of demand are added each year per country due to population growth (other factors can also contribute to energy growth or decline; here we isolate the population portion). For reference, the entire world’s annual appetite is 530,000 PJ. What we see is that population growth in the U.S. is adding energy demand faster than any nation on Earth. China and India are also important (and in absolute terms they are certainly more important energy growers, due to a rapidly changing standard of living). But the answer to the question: who’s population growth is having the largest effect on global energy demand?—it’s the U.S.

We are in the midst of an unplanned experiment of unprecedented scale. We have 7 billion people on the planet, growing at almost three new (net) people per second. It’s an uncontrolled mad dash into the future. One could imagine metaphorical scenarios of crashing into a brick wall or running off a cliff, exhausting ourselves and stopping to catch our breath, or leaping into space to leave the planet. I certainly have my guesses, but I can’t spell out an unwritten future.

I dredge back up the single-most important graphic that informs my world-view. We know that fossil fuels have far-and-away dominated the scale of our energy use, and that these are finite resources. We can therefore make the following plot with some confidence. I am especially confident about the big question mark in the future.

To the extent that surplus energy is responsible for the population boom, does the symmetry of the fossil fuel curve carry predictive power for population as well? These curves have been historically tied together. The burden of proof is on the optimists who presume that we can break the dependence. In a prior post, I emphasized the difficulties associated with breaking from this curve. Another post tabulates the relative superiority of fossil fuels over present-day alternatives, amplifying the challenge. It is not physically impossible, but supporting billions of people on this planet for the long haul is not something we are proving adept at doing. When the historical record is riddled with examples of civilizations peaking, overreaching, and collapsing, it becomes rather difficult to subscribe to the notion that this time is different, when faced with so many monumental and simultaneous challenges. -

See more at: http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/2013/09/the-real-population-problem/#sthash.y8REBtAg.dpuf