THE GREEN PLANET BLOG - Our World and Environment...

All about conservation, ecology, the environment, climate change, global warming, earth- watch, and new technologies etc.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Ireland says no to GM crops in that country...

Ireland says no to GM crops in that country...

Ireland has taken the bold step of banning the cultivation of all GM crops. Photo by ellievanhoutte via Flickr.

Prince Charles has called it the "biggest environmental disaster of all time," while Monsanto and others maintain it's safe for humans and the environment. Genetically modified foods are a contentious issue, but Ireland is erring on the side of caution, placing a ban on growing any genetically modified crops.

Ireland will ban growing of GM crops, and a voluntary GM-free label can be placed on all animal products--such as meat, poultry, eggs, fish, crustaceans, and dairy--that are raised with GM-free feed, according to a GM-Free Ireland press release. Ireland joins Japan and Egypt as one of the few but growing number of countries that have banned the cultivation of GM crops.

Smart Move for Irish Farmers:

The agreement, signed by the government's two coalition partners, declares Ireland a "GM-free Zone."

The move will help Irish farmers who can't compete with subsidized agriculture powerhouses, says GM-Free Ireland Co-ordinator, Michael O'Callaghan...
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Monday, June 20, 2011

Palaentologists in a race against time to uncover huge ice-age treasure trove of fossils...

Palaeontologists are in a race against time to uncover a treasure trove of huge ice age fossils before the site becomes flooded by an expanding reservoir.

Enormous skeletons belonging to woolly mammoths, giant sloths and bison have been discovered in a lake bed in Colorado in what is one of the most significant finds in recent years, the Aspen Times reported.

The ice age animals are believed to have sunk into the muddy lake edge and drowned, with the heavy clay preserving their skeletons perfectly.

But the palaeontologists must have their work completed before July, when the lake bed will be flooded for a new reservoir.

Denver Museum of Nature and Science curator Kirk Johnson said the specimens found at the site were "gorgeous", showing a giant sloth claw to journalists.

"This looks like it fell off a sloth last Tuesday," Dr Johnson said.

"I have no question that if you got too close to one of those sloths, it would immediately rip your face off."

Scientists estimate the bones date from between 50,000 and 150,000 years ago.

Treasure trove of ice-age fossils

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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Kiwis should send Sealord a strong message about its source of tuna...

Kiwis should send Sealord a strong message about its source of tuna..

Sealord needs to do more than change its logo. Sealord needs to change its tuna.

Sealord wants to be the ‘most trusted seafood company’. But, how can we trust Sealord’s sustainability messages when your company uses one of the worst fishing methods around, killing endangered sharks, turtles, juvenile tuna and other ocean life in addition to the tuna for Sealord cans.

As New Zealand’s largest brand of canned tuna, Sealord, the self-proclaimed ‘seafood experts’ should be leading the way on sustainability. So it shocks me to learn that your company is sourcing tuna caught by a method which you know catches far more than just tuna – up to 10 times more bycatch than more sustainable practices. That’s exploitation, not expertise!

I see that your website states that Sealord will avoid sourcing tuna from “fisheries that use indiscriminate fishing practices that result in significant quantities of catch being discarded or landed as juveniles or unmarketable species”.

So, live up to this promise and stop using fish aggregation devices (FADs) with purse seine nets. This would dramatically reduce the amount of bycatch.

If you are serious about the sustainability of Pacific tuna you would take this simple step as has occurred in the UK where all but one of the major brands have committed to source only pole and line or FAD-free purse seined tuna.

I am encouraged that Sealord is supporting plans to create marine reserves in the high seas.

Please let me know when Sealord will end the use of FAD-caught purse seined tuna to help save Pacific tuna and other ocean life - and become a leader for sustainability amongst New Zealand canned tuna brands.

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Sealord is New Zealand’s largest supplier of canned tuna but it’s also one of the worst.

That's because Sealord gets its Pacific tuna from companies using one of the worst fishing methods killing endangered sharks, turtles, juvenile tuna and other ocean life as well. These creatures are known as bycatch and are often thrown back into the ocean dead or dying. That’s exploitation, not expertise.

Sealord needs to clean up its act if it wants to live up to the ‘seafood experts’ image it advertises, and achieve its goal of becoming the ‘most trusted seafood company’. Sealord must stop sourcing tuna caught using fish aggregation devices (FADs). FADs are used to lure tuna but, also attract other ocean life which is then scooped up in huge purse seine nets. FADs increase the bycatch of purse seine fisheries up to 10 times more than other more sustainable methods.

If Sealord is serious about sustainability it would stop sourcing tuna caught using this indiscriminate method.

All but one of the UK’s major canned tuna brands have announced they’re phasing out purse seine tuna caught with FADs.

Sealord and other brands of canned tuna sold in New Zealand can do it too.

Last week Sealord announced it was updating its branding. Sealord needs to change more than just its logo. Tell Sealord to change its tuna and move to more sustainable fishing methods.

A message to Sealord

The Blogfrog

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Sunday, June 5, 2011

Worms from hell found far below the surface of the Earth...

Worms from Hell found far below the surface of the earth...

( -- In a study published this week in Nature, researchers Gaetan Borgonie from Ghent University in Belgium and Tullis Onstott from Princeton University announced the discovery of new nematode species living kilometers below the earth in several South African mines. Nematodes had been previously found much closer to the surface, but this discovery of deep-dwelling nematodes, or roundworms, are the first multicellular organisms to ever be found at these depths.

Halicephalobus mesphisto was named after Mesphistopheles which is the literary nickname for the Devil. It was located in a mine some 1.3 km (0.8 miles) below the surface where the temperatures reach 37C (98.6F). This was believed to be a higher temperature than most nematodes could tolerate. H. mephisto measures 0.5mm and eats films of bacteria. It was found in the Beatrix gold mine some 240 kilometers southwest of Johannesburg.

The Driefontein mines revealed two more nematode species. Plectus aquatilis and another unkown species from the Monhysterid order were located at 0.9 km (0.55 miles) below the surface at a temperature of 24C (75.2F).

The most amazing discovery came from the Tau Tona mine where researchers discovered DNA from another unknown monhysterid. This DNA was recovered from some 3.6 km (2.24 miles) below the surface where temperatures reach 48C (118.4F).

In order to rule out contamination and the possibility these nematodes were from closer to the surface, Borgonie tested the water’s chemical composition that the nematode was collected in and found levels of oxygen, sulphur, and other chemicals that were expected to have come from the source location. He used carbon dating and determined that the water had been isolated from the earth’s surface for 3,000 to 12,000 years.

More information: Nematoda from the terrestrial deep subsurface of South Africa, Nature 474, 79–82 (02 June 2011) doi:10.1038/nature09974

Since its discovery over two decades ago, the deep subsurface biosphere has been considered to be the realm of single-cell organisms, extending over three kilometres into the Earth’s crust and comprising a significant fraction of the global biosphere. The constraints of temperature, energy, dioxygen and space seemed to preclude the possibility of more-complex, multicellular organisms from surviving at these depths. Here we report species of the phylum Nematoda that have been detected in or recovered from 0.9–3.6-kilometre-deep fracture water in the deep mines of South Africa but have not been detected in the mining water. These subsurface nematodes, including a new species, Halicephalobus mephisto, tolerate high temperature, reproduce asexually and preferentially feed upon subsurface bacteria. Carbon-14 data indicate that the fracture water in which the nematodes reside is 3,000–12,000-year-old palaeometeoric water. Our data suggest that nematodes should be found in other deep hypoxic settings where temperature permits, and that they may control the microbial population density by grazing on fracture surface biofilm patches. Our results expand the known metazoan biosphere and demonstrate that deep ecosystems are more complex than previously accepted. The discovery of multicellular life in the deep subsurface of the Earth also has important implications for the search for subsurface life on other planets in our Solar System.

© 2010




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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Solar company announces solar cell breakthrough...

Solar Company Announces Solar Cell Breakthrough...


By Antonio Pasolini of Energy Refuge

A Californian company called HyperSolar earlier this week announced that new solar design models “show potential magnification of 300%”. HyperSolar develops technology that increases the power output of solar cells, one of the technological challenges the industry faces.

“We believe that a critical advancement will be to actually control the delivery of sunlight onto solar cells. We are developing the world’s first thin and flat light magnification layer for direct application on top of standard solar cells to increase their power output”, said HyperSolar’s CEO, Tim Young. “Our plan is to move to the prototype stage early next year and then to a commercial product.”

The magnification layer employs thousands of very small light collectors on the surface that funnel light into a proprietary light routing network in the middle. From there, light is carried to a smaller output area on the bottom where a solar cell can be attached.

Instead of using three solar cells to cover an area on a solar panel, only one solar cell is needed underneath a 300% layer called HyperSolar layer. The company says this will allow solar panel manufacturers to reduce the number of expensive solar cells in their panels by 66%, reducing the cost per watt of their solar panels.

“The higher the light magnification in the HyperSolar layer, the higher the power magnification of the attached solar cell. As part of our development plan, we are exploring various designs and microphotonic elements to increase the magnification by as much as 400% in the final product”, Mr. Young said.

Eco Spree - Solar Cell Breakthrough

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