Environment

For nearly four decades, some have suspected that persistent organic pollutants -  a large group of man-made chemicals that, as their name indicates, persist in the environment - contributed to a green turtle's susceptibility to the virus that causes fibropapilomatosis, a disease that forms large benign tumors that can inhibit the animal's sight, mobility and feeding ability. 

A new paper by researchers from the Hollings Marine Laboratory (HML) and university and federal collaborators in Hawaii demonstrated these man-made chemicals are not a co-factor linked to the increasing number of green sea turtles afflicted with fibropapilomatosis.


Crop spraying on British farms could be aiding a life-threatening fungus suffered by tens of thousand of people in the UK each year.

New research by British and Dutch scientists has found that Aspergillus – a common fungus that attacks the lungs and is found in soil and other organic matter – has become resistant to life - saving drugs in parts of rural Yorkshire.

It's the first time a link has been made in the UK between drug resistance in Aspergillus and fungicide used on crops. Experts warn their findings, now published, are significant and raise serious implications for transplant patients, those with leukaemia and people who suffer from severe asthma.


The fad du jour (and I defy you to find a non-du jour day) is something that sounds like an absolute win-win. It has all the correct buzzwords—green, sustainable, environmentally friendly, endocrine disruptors, bioaccumulation. And many more. Today it's buildings.

This is exactly what we at ACSH deal with every day in different forms. There is more than a passing similarity to the very successful promotion of organic foods, dietary supplements, and "chemical-free" (fill in the bank). This is because certain industries and trade groups take full advantage of the usual (but nonetheless effective) scare tactics and slight of hand to scare people into buying their products because of cleverly staged, feel-good, anti-scientific dogma.

Marine biologists at Plymouth University and the activist group WorldFish conducted analyses of catches over the past 90 years and found significant evidence of the practice of 'fishing down the food web' - removal of many top predators from the sea that has left fishermen 'scraping the barrel' for increasing amounts of shellfish.

Sharks, rays, cod, haddock and many other species at the head of the food chain are at historic lows with many removed from the area completely, they say.

The report used catch statistics from the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas to establish a 'mean trophic level' for catches – an average for how far up the food chain the fish are located.


It's not well known to urban environmentally conscious people but rural people know that deer are a lot like rats - they will eat everything if you don't stop them.

Because state forests are part of a political machine, various political lobbying has blocked biology and that led to an overabundance of deer and decades of damage.

But regulated deer hunts in Indiana state parks helped damaged forests recover nicely. The big win, found analysis of a 17-year-long Indiana Department of Natural Resources policy of organized hunts in state parks, was for native tree seedlings, herbs and wildflowers once rendered scarce by deer. 


One way to scientifically optimize nature is to understand how soil moisture, the water contained within soil particles, behaves in Earth's water cycle.

Soil moisture is essential for plant life and influences weather and climate  and now researchers working with data from NASA's Aquarius instrument have created worldwide maps of soil moisture, showing how the wetness of the land fluctuates with the seasons and weather phenomena. 


China's richest provinces are having a huge environmental impact on the country's water-scarce regions, according to a new estimate by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) and the University of Maryland.


Fish is good for you and has been growing in popularity. 

Atlantic Bluefin Tuna is a much sought after delicacy, though the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists it as endangered. So far, farming of this species in the Mediterranean area involves capturing medium-sized specimens and fattening these in farms, which still depletes the wild stocks - but a sustainable solution may be available.

The reduction of soil carbon stock caused by the conversion of pasture areas into sugarcane plantations is very common change in Brazil in recent years but those worried about the impact on CO2 can rest easy. It can  be offset within two or three years of cultivation.

The calculation by researchers at the Center for Nuclear Energy in Agriculture (CENA) of the University of São Paulo (USP) in collaboration with colleagues from the Luiz de Queiroz College of Agriculture (Esalq), also at USP, concluded, "Soil carbon stocks on land-use change process to sugarcane production in South-Central Brazil."


Though the central coast of California is some of the best farmland in the world, organic farmers who don't want to use modern science have a difficult time producing crops for their $35 billion and growing in corporate customers.

Yet science can help there also. Cover crops can provide weed and erosion control so scientifically determining the best method for establishing a uniform and dense cover crop stand as soon as possible after planting is a critical first step.