Top Stories

Chilean Sea Bass?

Who knew? Chilean sea bass is not from Chile, nor is it a bass. Since 1996, fishing vessels from a dozen nations have traversed the world’s most remote sea to catch the Antarctic toothfish. The fishery lands 3,000 tons annually, selling much of it as "Chilean sea bass," deceiving customers of high-end restaurants and supermarket chains around the world and threatening "the most pristine marine ecosystem on Earth," according to the filmmakers behind "The Last Ocean," which was recently screened at the Casino Theater. >> Read the Full Article

Data from HMS Challenger Expedition Helps Confirm Long Term Ocean Warming

Global warming has been going on for a long time. What were the temperatures like a hundred years ago? Terrestrial records go back that far and farther, but what about ocean temperatures? In the late 1800's the HMS Challenger conducted extensive measurements of ocean temperatures across the globe. Researchers from the University of Tasmania, Sandy Bay, Australia; and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., combined the ship's measurements of ocean temperatures with modern observations from the international Argo array of ocean profiling floats. They used both as inputs to state-of-the-art climate models, to get a picture of how the world's oceans have changed since the Challenger's voyage. The Challenger expedition, from 1872 to 1876, was the world's first global scientific survey of life beneath the ocean surface. Along the way, scientists measured ocean temperatures, lowering thermometers hundreds of meters deep on ropes. >> Read the Full Article

The Bonn Declaration

Long before nations fought over oil, they fought over water and food. A conference in Bonn Germany of 500 leading water scientists from around the world today issued a stark warning that, without major reforms, "in the short span of one or two generations, the majority of the 9 billion people on Earth will be living under the handicap of severe pressure on fresh water, an absolutely essential natural resource for which there is no substitute. This handicap will be self-inflicted and is, we believe, entirely avoidable." >> Read the Full Article

The Tesla Model S

The new all-electric Tesla S sedan is not just the favorite of car magazines, now Consumer Reports calls it the best car they’ve ever driven, scoring 99 points of 100 and beating out the Lexus LS460 that held the previous record back in 2007. What does this massive battery-powered EV have that no others do? "It handles like a sports car, it rides like a luxury car, it has the energy efficiency that is twice as good as the best hybrids and is the quietest car we’ve ever tested," said CR tester Gabe Shenhar. "It does so many things so right on so many levels that to us it wasn't a surprise." Perhaps that's why Tesla Motors has sold more cars during the first quarter of 2013 than luxury German automakers, Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi, prompting the Palo Alto-based firm to declare its first-ever profit and raise expected sales for 2013 from 20,000 to 21,000. >> Read the Full Article

Memorial Day Travel will Cost Americans over $1 Billion on Gasoline

Memorial Day not only marks the day we pay tribute to those who have served in the United States Armed Forces, but it also marks the first unofficial weekend that kicks off the summer. With that said, tens of millions of Americans are expected to get away this weekend and according to an analysis by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), Americans will spend more than $1.4 billion filling up their tanks! The new analysis utilizes newly released data from the American Automotive Association (AAA), which estimated that 89 percent of Memorial Day weekend travelers (about 31.2 million Americans) will travel by vehicle. >> Read the Full Article

To Walk or to Climb

To walk on two or four limbs, that is the question... Jeremy M. DeSilva an anthropologist at Worcester University in Massachusetts has published Functional Morphology of the Ankle and the Likelihood of Climbing in Early Hominins, in the peer-reviewed journal, Proceeding of the National Academies of Sciences of the USA current issue. The study includes data gathered by DeSilva in Uganda's Kibale National Park of modern chimpanzee and comparisons of hominin fossil skeletal remains dating back some 4.12 million to 1.53 million years ago. The findings appear to show that if early hominins depended on tree climbing as part of their survival repertoire, they were performing it decidedly different from modern chimpanzee locomotor activity. The question DeSilva addresses is whether early man's adaptation to full bipedalism involved a swift shedding of the ability to climb and swing from trees. DeSilva compared the great apes and early hominin ankle joint, the tibia and the talus in the foot. He discovered marked differences between the structure and capacity of these two skeletal fossils. >> Read the Full Article

Jaffna aquifer depleting from overuse

The single limestone aquifer, which is the main source of freshwater in Sri Lanka's northern Jaffna peninsula, is gradually depleting through overuse, researchers say. "The area suffers from severe groundwater imbalance which might reach crisis proportions in the future," Shanti de Silva, one of two scientists who carried out the research for the agricultural department of the University of Jaffna, told SciDev.Net. >> Read the Full Article

Free Range Milk?

Free-Range Dairy is a new initiative that could reverse the trend towards industrialised mega-farms. The Ecologist office is set in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty within a United Nations Biosphere Reserve. Hartland peninsular is dotted with steep, wooded valleys where bluebells, early purple orchids and woodpeckers abound.The hills afford breathtaking views across the Bristol channel to Lundy Island, itself a nature reserve with a no-fish zone that is having a beneficial effect on marine ecology, and looking south-west down to Cornwall, on a clear day, one can see to Boscastle and Bodmin moor beyond. But something is missing from this bucolic scene - one notices it first whilst walking the country lanes on a warm spring evening. There is no rhythmic munching of grass on the other side of the hedge; no bovine belching or contented sighing as the cows enjoy the sun on their backs after a long winter in the cattle yard. For here in Hartland, as elsewhere in the country, the trend is towards carbon-intensive, 'industrialised' farming where huge herds of 1,000 cows or more are kept indoors all year long, with only a concrete yard for exercise. >> Read the Full Article

Ocean Acidification and Deep-sea Organisms

Although the natural absorption of CO2 by the world's oceans help mitigate climate effects, the resulting decrease in pH causes ocean acidification which can have negative consequences for much of the marine life, specifically calcifiers such as corals and mollusks that construct their shells and skeletons from calcium carbonate. >> Read the Full Article

New Anti-Staph Drugs

Bugs and infections are growing ever stronger and more resistant to the antibiotics and the like. A team of Wisconsin scientists has synthesized a potent new class of compounds capable of curbing the bacteria that cause staph infections. They describe these new agents as effectively interfering with the quorum sensing behavior of Staphylococcus aureus, a bacterium at the root of a host of human infections ranging from acne to life-threatening conditions such as pneumonia, toxic shock syndrome and sepsis. >> Read the Full Article