Hexbyte Glen Cove Leaving by staying: Dispersal decisions of young giraffes thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Leaving by staying: Dispersal decisions of young giraffes

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Young male and female Masai giraffes in the Tarangire Ecosystem of Tanzania show sex differences in dispersal probabilities and types. Credit: Derek Lee/Wild Nature Institute.

Dispersal, the process where animals reaching sexual maturity move away from family, is important for maintaining genetic diversity and is key to the long-term persistence of natural populations. For most animals, this involves having to make risky journeys into the unknown in the hope of finding new communities in which to settle and reproduce. However, many animal societies—including those of humans—have structured social communities that overlap in space with one another. These potentially provide opportunities for maturing individuals to disperse socially without having to make large physical displacements. New research published today in the Journal of Animal Ecology shows that this strategy is employed by young dispersing giraffes.

The process of moving away from family is known as natal dispersal. Dispersal is a fundamental biological process that has been shown to reduce the chances of mating with a relative, ensuring that individuals have healthy offspring. However, dispersal is first and foremost a social process. Nevertheless, it has been mostly studied as a spatial process because in most , families defend physical areas excluding others, forcing young to have to leave this area to establish their own family. A research team, led by University of Zurich (UZH) postdoctoral research associate Dr. Monica Bond, tested whether animals that live in structured societies comprising social communities that overlap in space with one another could disperse simply by switching communities. Doing so would avoid the risks of moving through the unknown.

The researchers studied a large population of hundreds of giraffes in northern Tanzania. Using data on group composition collected over a huge 2200 km2 area, the team found that most male giraffes leave home once they reach reproductive maturity, and that a significant proportion of these achieve their dispersal by simply switching to new social communities, thereby avoiding the risks of moving far from home. On the other hand, most young female giraffes remained within the same community into which they were born. While sex differences in natal dispersal are well established in animals, this study is amongst the first to demonstrate how living in a structured society provides a unique opportunity for maturing individuals to find a new social community without having to move to new areas.

Complex giraffe societies

The team of scientists from UZH and Penn State University previously documented that the adult female giraffes form distinct social communities. The membership to these communities, comprising about 60 to 90 individual females, is very stable over time, despite social groups that are made up of these members merging and splitting throughout each day. They found that these social dynamics have two major consequences. The first is that females maintain enduring social bonds with other females in their community, with bonds likely to last over their entire lifetimes. The second is that these communities are completely structured socially, with different communities using the same physical space. Thus, while individuals from different communities might occasionally encounter one another, they rarely, if ever, form groups together.

“This led us to wonder whether maturing young giraffes might forge relationships with the members of nearby female communities that are different from their birth community, to avoid accidentally mating with their relatives, without having to travel long distances into unknown and possibly dangerous places,” says Dr. Damien Farine, co-author and UZH Eccellenza Professor.

What they found was that, like in most other mammals, dispersal was predominately done by males, with dispersers leaving at about 4 years of age. “The key question was then to ask what strategies young males used to find new communities in which they could search for unrelated mates or avoid conflict with relatives,” says UZH professor Dr. Barbara König, senior author of the study.

Females stay in the same social networks, males switch

The team used social network analyses to quantify the social communities of adult females, and then monitored which community 67 male and 70 female calves associated with as they matured over a 7-year period. The data revealed that while four out of five of young male dispersers switched to social communities different from their birth communities, about one in four of the male dispersers switched communities while staying relatively close their birth site. In other words, they were able to disperse without having to move far at all.

“This type of social dispersal, where males remained close to home but joined different female communities, would not be detected if only spatial movements were measured,” says Bond.

Giraffes may not be unique in being able to disperse socially without having to move away from home. In many other species, including dolphins, elephants, and bats, researchers have reported merging and splitting of groups—called ‘fission-fusion’—within a larger, more stable social community. “It would be interesting to see if dispersing socially within the same physical space is a common strategy that is employed in species that live in societies with many overlapping social communities” Bond says. “Given the importance of maintaining healthy populations, the more we understand the natal dispersal process, the better we can help conserve wildlife.”

According to expert Dr. Fred Bercovitch, who was not part of the study: “This research has crucial implications for the conservation of giraffes because it demonstrates that the preservation of in giraffes requires saving large ecosystems that allow animals to disperse into different communities, and not the translocation of a handful of giraffes to a new area, where breeding opportunities are limited.”

More information:
M. L. Bond, D. E. Lee, A. Ozgul, D. R. Farine, and B. König. Leaving by staying: Social dispersal in giraffes. 20 September 2021. Journal of Animal Ecology. DOI: 10.1111/1365-2656.13582

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Hexbyte Glen Cove What life is like aboard the SpaceX Dragon capsule thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove What life is like aboard the SpaceX Dragon capsule

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The Inspiration4 crew (L-R): Jared Isaacman, Hayley Arceneaux, Chris Sembroski and Sian Proctor.

The first space tourism mission by Elon Musk’s SpaceX blasted off from Florida on Wednesday and the four crew members—a billionaire and three other Americans—have already seen more than 25 sunsets and sunrises.

SpaceX has released few details about their adventure since they reached an orbit which is more distant than that of the International Space Station.

Here’s what we know about their life on board:

Nine square meters

The four are aboard the SpaceX capsule called Dragon.

It is 8.1 meters (26.7 feet) tall and has a diameter of four meters (13 feet).

The capsule is composed of a trunk, which is inaccessible to the crew, upon which sits the living quarters.

The entire volume of the capsule is just 9.3 square meters (328 square feet).

Chris Sembroski, a 42-year-old Air Force veteran who is one of the , has compared it to travelling with friends in a van—one you can’t step away from though if you want to take a break.

Toilets with a view

The exact technology behind the toilets aboard the capsule is a SpaceX secret.

But Hayley Arceneaux, one of the four crew members, said in a Netflix documentary that the “bathroom is on the ceiling.”

“Really literally a panel that we take off and there’s like a funnel,” Arceneaux said. “There’s no upside down in .”

Inspiration4 crew member Hayley Arceneaux looking out of the observation window on the SpaceX capsule.

The toilet is located near the clear glass observation dome, or cupola, installed on Dragon, which provides a spectacular 360-degree view of the cosmos.

“When people do inevitably have to use the bathroom, they’re going to have one hell of a view,” billionaire Jared Isaacman, the mission commander, told Business Insider.

Privacy is ensured with a simple curtain.

‘Eating, doing chores’

SpaceX released a video call Friday between the Inspiration4 crew and patients at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.

The 29-year-old Arceneaux, who was treated for bone cancer as a child at St. Jude and works there now as a physician assistant, was asked by a patient what the astronauts do for “fun” in space.

She said they have spent time “eating, doing chores and looking out the window at the world.”

Sembroski said they’ve also been doing “a lot of blood tests and glucose monitoring.”

Inspiration4 commander Jared Isaacman communicating while looking out the observation window on the SpaceX capsule.

The astronauts were also asked what is their favorite “space food.”

“My favorite space food is pizza which I had yesterday and I’ll probably have for dinner tonight also,” said Sian Proctor, 51, who teaches geology at a small college in Arizona and was a finalist to become a NASA astronaut.

Musical interludes are also planned. Each passenger drew up a 10-song playlist and Sembroski planned to bring his ukelele.

The instrument and other objects are to be auctioned later with the proceeds going to St Jude.

The goal of the mission is to raise $200 million for the hospital, with Isaacman personally donating $100 million.

Scientific research

SpaceX tweeted on Thursday that the crew had carried out a “first round of scientific research.”

One of the goals of the mission is to collect data on the effects of the environment of space on complete novices.

Graphic on the four all-civilian passengers on SpaceX’s mission to orbit around the Earth, launched September 15, 2021 from Florida.

Their cardiac rhythms, sleep and blood oxygen levels will be monitored along with radiation exposure.

Their cognitive functions were tested before the flight and will be examined again on their return.

© 2021 AFP

What life is like aboard the SpaceX Dragon capsule (2021, September 18)
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Hexbyte Glen Cove US firefighters optimistic over world's biggest tree thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove US firefighters optimistic over world’s biggest tree

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A dead tree (L) stands alongside living trees as smoke rises during the KNP Complex fire in the Sequoia National Forest near Red Fir, California on September 17, 2021.

Firefighters battling to protect the world’s biggest tree from wildfires ravaging the parched United States said Friday they are optimistic it can be saved.

Flames are creeping closer to the majestic General Sherman and other giant sequoias, as man-made worsens California’s fearsome fire season.

“We have hundreds of firefighters there giving it their all, giving extra care,” Mark Garrett, communications officer for the region’s fire department, told AFP, of the operation in Sequoia National Park.

Crews are battling the spreading Paradise and Colony fires, which have so far consumed 4,600 hectares (11,400 acres) of since they were sparked by lightning a week ago.

The blazes are threatening Giant Forest, a grove of around 2,000 sequoias that includes five of the largest trees on the planet—some up to 3,000 years old.

The biggest of them all, the General Sherman stands 83 meters (275 feet) tall.

On Thursday, General Sherman was wrapped in fire-proof blankets— intended to protect its giant trunk from the worst of the flames.

By Friday, managers felt they had the upper hand, thanks in part to clearing of undergrowth and controlled burns that starve the fire of fuel.

General Sherman, the world’s biggest tree, has been wrapped in foil to protect it from flames.

“I think the most challenging part is the terrain here,” said Garrett.

But “we haven’t seen explosive fire behavior; it really slowed down and gave us a chance to get ahead of it.”

Around 600 personnel are involved in the fight.

“We have folks up in the Giant Forest protecting structures and preparing everything.

“The fact is that they’ve been prescribed burning for the past 25 or 30 years so it is really prepared.”

Photographer Stuart Palley (L) takes photographs of giant sequoia trees among smoke filled skies in the “Lost Grove” along Generals Highway north of Red Fir during a media tour of the KNP Complex fire in the Sequoia National Park in California on September 17, 2021.

Millions of acres of California’s forests have burned in this year’s ferocious season.

Scientists say , stoked by the unchecked use of fossil fuels is making the area ever-more vulnerable to bigger and more destructive wildfires.

The enormous trees of the Giant Forest are a huge tourist draw, with visitors traveling from all over the world to marvel at their imposing height and extraordinary girth.

The fire-proof cladding that firefighters are using is the same material they deploy to protect vulnerable homes.

While not the tallest trees—California redwoods can grow to more than 300 feet—the are the largest by volume.

Smaller fires generally do not harm the sequoias, which are protected by a thick bark and often only have branches 100 feet above the ground.

But the larger, hotter blazes that are laying waste to the western United States are dangerous to them because they climb higher up the trunks and into the canopy.

© 2021 AFP

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Yeast and bacteria together biosynthesize plant hormones for weed control thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Yeast and bacteria together biosynthesize plant hormones for weed control

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Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Plants regulate their growth and development using hormones, including a group called strigolactones that prevent excessive budding and branching. For the first time, scientists led by UC Riverside have synthesized strigolactones from microbes. The work is published in the open-access journal, Science Advances.

Strigolactones also help form symbiotic relationships with microorganisms that allow the plant to absorb nutrients from the soil. These two factors have led to agricultural interest in using strigolactones to control the growth of weeds and root parasites, as well as improving nutrient uptake.

These root-extruding compounds don’t come without risks. They also stimulate germination of witchweeds and broomrapes, which can cause entire crops of grain to fail, making thorough research essential prior to commercial development. Scientists are still learning about the physiological roles played by this diverse group of hormones in . Until recently, manufacturing pure strigolactones for scientific study has been difficult and too costly for agricultural use.

“Our work provides a unique platform to investigate biosynthesis and evolution, and it lays the foundation for developing strigolactone microbial bioproduction processes as alternative sourcing,” said corresponding author Yanran Li, a UC Riverside assistant professor of chemical and environmental engineering.

Together with co-corresponding author Kang Zhou at National University Singapore, Li directed a group that inserted plant genes associated with strigolactone production into ordinary baker’s yeast and nonpathogenic Escherichia coli bacteria that together produced a range of strigolactones.

Producing strigolactones from yeast turned out to be very challenging. Although engineered yeast is known to modify the strigolactone precursor, called carlactone, it could not synthesize carlactone with any of the specific genes used by the researchers.

“This project started in early 2018, yet for over 20 months there was basically no progress. The gatekeeping enzyme DWRF27 is not functional no matter how we try in yeast,” Li said. “Kang developed a microbial consortium technique to produce a Taxol precursor in 2015 and that inspired this wonderful collaboration.”

The team turned toward E. coli, which had already been shown capable of producing carlactone. The carlactone it produced, however, was unstable and could not be further modified by engineered E. coli into any strigolactones. Li’s group managed to optimize and stabilize the carlactone precursor.

To their delight, when the yeast and bacteria were cultured together in the same medium, the E. coli and yeast worked as a team: E. coli made carlactone, and the yeast transformed it into various final strigolactone products. The method also produced enough strigolactones to extract and study. Using this platform, the group identified the function of multiple strigolactone , showing that sweet orange and grape have the potential to synthesize orobanchol-type strigolactones.

The team also engineered microbe metabolism to boost strigolactone production threefold to 47 micrograms per liter, enough for scientific study. Though commercial production of strigolactones is still a long way off, the new method for biosynthesizing them from a yeast-bacterium consortium will help scientists learn more about this important group of plant hormones, especially the enzymes involved.

Enzymes are protein catalysts and are responsible for modification of carlactone by yeast. Because carlactone is unstable, it cannot be purchased from commercial sources. As a result, many plant scientists have difficulty studying new enzymes that may work to transform carlactone into strigolactones.

“The new yeast-bacterium co-culture provides a convenient way for scientists to complete such works because the bacterium makes carlactone in situ,” Zhou said. “With discovery of more enzymes and optimization of the microbial consortium, we can manufacture strigolactones in quantity in the future.”

The paper is titled “Establishment of strigolactone-producing bacterium- consortium.”

More information:
Sheng Wu et al, Establishment of strigolactone-producing bacterium-yeast consortium, Science Advances (2021). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abh4048

Yeast and bacteria together biosynthesi

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Rhino drowns at Dutch zoo in mating mishap thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Rhino drowns at Dutch zoo in mating mishap

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The southern white rhino is listed as ‘near threatened’ by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

A female rhinoceros drowned at a zoo in the Netherlands after a first date with a new male went tragically wrong, the zoo said on Friday.

Elena was “startled” on Thursday by the arrival of a white rhino named Limpopo at the Wildlands zoo in the eastern city of Emmen near the German border.

After a chase the exhausted female slipped into a waterhole, at which point zookeepers lured the bull rhino away from her.

“Unfortunately, this help came too late for Elena and she had already drowned,” the zoo said in a statement.

The 19-year-old Limpopo had arrived at the park in early September from another Dutch zoo where he sired three offspring as part of a European breeding programme.

The male and the Wildlands zoo’s two female , sisters Elena and Zahra, started getting to know each other by smelling and seeing each other in separate pens.

The “most exciting” part, the zoo said, was planned for Thursday morning, before visitors arrived, when Limpopo was allowed into the area where the females were grazing.

“From that moment on it became restless: both women were startled by the male and instead of putting him in his place together, they both ran off,” it said.

“As a result, Limpopo gave chase. He seemed particularly focused on Elena, because she was the closest to him.”

Both animals appeared exhausted after 15 minutes, and Elena slipped into a shallow pool of water, landed on her side and was unable to get up, the zoo said.

Caretakers were unable to stop her drowning.

Limpopo’s past problems

Stunned zoo vet Job Stumpel paid tribute to the “beautiful, sweet, stable and calm” Elena

“You want to jump over there and lift her head above water but you couldn’t. Rhinos are not only very dangerous, but they also weigh almost 2,000 kilos (4,409 pounds),” he told AD newspaper.

“We raced to it with a shovel and chased the male away with it, so we could get to the female, but it was too late.”

The zoo said such an introduction “often requires intervention, but never before has one been fatal”.

Limpopo had been moved from a German zoo six years ago because he “didn’t treat the female there properly”, the Brabants Dagblad newspaper said.

In his most recent home, the Beekse Bergen safari park near Tilburg in the southern Netherlands, he was a “proven breeder” living with a herd of six females.

The is listed as “near threatened” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, with 10,080 animals in existence.

Rhinos are killed for their horns, highly prized across Asia for traditional and medicinal purposes.

But breeding them is difficult, as a female only gives birth to a calf once every three to four years, after a 16-month pregnancy, the zoo said.

© 2021 AFP

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Hexbyte Glen Cove World on 'catastrophic' path to 2.7C warming: UN chief thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove World on ‘catastrophic’ path to 2.7C warming: UN chief

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A bombshell “code red” for humanity warned Earth’s average temperature will reach 1.5C a decade earlier than projected only three years ago.

A failure to slash global emissions is setting the world on a “catastrophic” path to 2.7 degrees Celsius heating, UN chief Antonio Guterres warned Friday just weeks before crunch climate talks.

His comments come as a United Nations report on global emissions pledges found instead of the reductions needed to avoid the worst effects of climate change, they would see “a considerable increase”.

This shows “the world is on a catastrophic pathway to 2.7-degrees of heating,” Guterres said in a statement.

The figure would shatter the temperature targets of the Paris climate agreement, which aimed for warming well below 2C and preferably capped at 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.

“Failure to meet this goal will be measured in the massive loss of lives and livelihoods,” Guterres said.

Under the landmark 2015 Paris deal, nations committed to slash emissions, as well as to provide assistance to the most climate-vulnerable countries.

But the window for action is narrowing as nations slow-walk their responses.

Last month a bombshell “code red” for humanity from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned that Earth’s average temperature will be 1.5C higher around 2030, a decade earlier than projected only three years ago.

“We have to act, all of us, we have to act now,” said US President Joe Biden on Friday, urging the world to bring its “highest” ambition to the UN climate conference in Glasgow in November.

“Those who have not yet done so, time is running out,” Biden said in the White House at the start of a virtual summit with nine foreign leaders.

‘Wrong direction’

With only 1.1C of warming so far, the world has seen a torrent of deadly weather disasters intensified by climate change in recent months, from asphalt-melting heatwaves to flash floods and untameable wildfires.

The IPCC says emissions should be around 45 percent lower by 2030 compared with 2010 levels to meet the 1.5C goal.

But current pledges by 191 countries would see emissions 16 percent higher at end of the decade than in 2010—a level that would eventually cause the world to warm 2.7C.

“Overall greenhouse gas emission numbers are moving in the wrong direction,” said UN climate chief Patricia Espinosa in a press conference.

But she said there was a “glimmer of hope” from 113 countries that had updated their pledges, including the United States and European Union.

These new pledges, known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), would see their emissions reduced 12 percent by 2030 compared to 2010.

Big emitters

The Paris deal included a “ratchet” mechanism for countries to review and toughen up their climate pledges every five years.

Despite an end of 2020 deadline, many major emitters have yet to issue new targets.

That includes China—the world’s biggest emitter—which has said it will reach net zero emissions by 2060, but has not yet delivered its NDC to spell out emissions reductions by 2030.

Meanwhile updates from Brazil and Mexico were actually weaker than pledges they submitted five years ago, according to an analysis by the World Resources Institute.

The UN report was a “damning indictment” of global progress on climate, particularly by G20 nations, responsible for around 80 percent of emissions, said Mohamed Adow, who leads the think tank Power Shift Africa.

“They are the countries which have caused this crisis and yet are failing to show the leadership required to lead us out of this mess,” he said.

Time to ‘deliver’

Another unfulfilled pledge will be a flashpoint at the Glasgow summit—the promise by wealthy nations to provide annual climate funding of $100 billion from 2020 to poorer countries, who bear the greatest impact of warming.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development on Friday said progress was “disappointing”, with developing countries receiving $79.6 billion in 2019.

It warned that the 2020 target would be missed.

“The fight against climate change will only succeed if everyone comes together to promote more ambition, more cooperation and more credibility,” said Guterres.

“It is time for leaders to stand and deliver, or people in all countries will pay a tragic price.”

© 2021 AFP

World on ‘catastrophic’ path to 2.7C warming: UN chief (2021, Septem

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Mental health could be the next casualty of global warming thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Mental health could be the next casualty of global warming

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One evening in July, Stephanie Felts was lying in bed trying to process simultaneous climate disasters all over the world. From a crushing Canadian heatwave to U.S. wildfires and China floods, the drumbeat triggered memories of a close call her family had with a raging inferno when they lived in Salt Lake City a few years ago.

“I just realized, OK, this is as good as it will ever be—not because we can’t do anything to make things better, but because we just won’t,” said Felts, 43, who works in financial services and now lives near Atlanta. “It makes you feel like, ‘hey, the apocalypse is starting.'”

She’s not alone. More people are finding it hard to cope with a growing sense that governments and businesses won’t do enough to slow global warming. To make matters worse, there’s the knowledge that even if humanity suddenly unified in a historic shift to renewable energy, it’s too late to avoid the grim consequences already baked in.

Perhaps not since the depths of the Cold War has such a profound, widespread despair for the future emerged. Whether one calls it climate anxiety, ecological grief or something else, deep concern about global warming is increasingly affecting many people’s everyday life. A majority of U.S. adults already say they are somewhat or extremely anxious about the effect the climate crisis has on their , a poll from the American Psychiatric Association found. That’s on top of the stress of trying to protect against the coronavirus.

But while the pandemic may recede in the coming months or years, the atmospheric changes wrought by burning fossil fuels will remain for a long time to come. As this reality dawns on more people, mental health professionals all over the world find themselves racing to develop strategies to help them deal with the fallout, knowing it’s a phenomenon that may someday affect almost everyone.

In the developing world, millions have been dealing with the psychological effects of global warming for years. Rising temperatures in Nigeria are contributing to desertification, forcing herders in the north to move south to feed their cattle. The shift has precipitated confrontations with crop farmers. Fear of violence over increasingly scarce resources is not uncommon.

Last October, Amuche Nnabueze’s relatives learned that a stand of trees planted by her uncles had been cut down in a property dispute. “Now that you’ve cut the trees down, the animals that were living there are homeless,” said Nnabueze, 50, a lecturer at the University of Nigeria in Nsukka. “The oxygen [the trees] were generating is no longer there.”

The conflict is emblematic of how, thanks to , large swaths of the African Sahel and savanna are expected to become the front lines of a competition for resources.

Mariana Menezes said she celebrated when the Paris Agreement was signed. Living near Porto Alegre in southern Brazil, Menezes said she “felt like we were going to manage to solve everything.” But in 2017, when U.S. President Donald Trump announced he was going to withdraw from the pact, she was crestfallen. “I feel like I was naïve, and sort of ill-informed,” Menezes said. “I started getting really worried, thinking, ‘oh no, we’re not going to make it.'”

She started reading more about the crisis. The more she learned, the worse it got. “I became very anxious. I couldn’t sleep,” said Menezes, 44, a mother of three. “I was thinking about my children.”

In Colombia, people are bracing for an increase in average temperature of as much as 0.9 degrees Celsius by 2040, which could reduce agricultural productivity in a coffee-growing country where more than 40% of the population is already poor. Luis Gilberto Murillo, Colombia’s former environment minister, warns that the developing world already faces life-and-death choices tied to global warming.

“These communities’ concern isn’t necessarily that we’re facing the great catastrophe of climate change, and that in 10 years they won’t exist,” he said. “These communities have no guarantee they’ll still exist in two years.”

The sheer number of people across the globe susceptible to climate-induced stress has fostered a sense of urgency among mental health professionals seeking to understand the issue. Virtually anyone “could be affected by climate anxiety, regardless of their own personal vulnerability or relative safety,” according to Susan Clayton, a psychology professor and researcher at The College of Wooster in Ohio.

Several studies have found a sizable minority saying the changing climate already affects their normal functioning. Seattle-based counselor Andrew Bryant said people are anxious about both global warming and being directly affected by a climate disaster. New York psychiatrist Janet Lewis said individuals are struggling with the everyday dissonance of daily activities—things they know are harmful, like eating red meat or driving a gas-burning car.

Lewis, who practices in upstate New York, used to get laughs from colleagues about her climate-related work when she began in 2015. Now there’s increasing evidence that rising temperatures are associated with more violence, including suicide.

The Climate Psychiatry Alliance, of which Lewis is a member, is working with the Climate Psychology Alliance of North America to create training materials for mental health professionals. The American Psychological Association already has a course for practitioners, and Australian nonprofit Psychology for a Safe Climate has produced a professional development series. Other efforts around the globe are also in the works.

Among practitioners, a lack of awareness of climate-related mental health issues creates a risk of misunderstanding. If someone expresses trepidation about having kids because of the climate crisis, a professional not aware of the issue “might think of it as a defense against some deeper, more personal anxieties,” said psychiatrist Elizabeth Haase.

Mental health experts emphasize that communicating with friends and family remains an effective way to cope—not everyone needs a therapist. Still, only 37% of Americans say they talk about global warming on a regular basis with people close to them, according to a survey from the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.

Exploring the nature of the problem is key to finding ways to psychologically cope, according to Clayton. Climate change is real, so it’s rational to be worried. It’s in flux, so complete adaptation is impossible. And it’s uncertain, so anxiety may be more likely than fear. Normally, Clayton said, it’s possible to face a challenge in at least two ways: solve it or change your attitude towards it. But no one person can slow global warming or climate change, so a sense of powerlessness may take hold—spurring a retreat into denial.

But there’s a third way, she said: finding purpose in the “struggle” to find solutions, from everyday behavior like recycling and buying sustainable food to advocacy. Lewis said people need to be “in touch with their own agency, their own ability to act and influence change rather than being shut down, overwhelmed or just retreating.”

The idea of “re-earthing,” or strengthening the connection between individuals and the planet, is gaining support as a way of both increasing environmental awareness and staving off despair, according to clinical psychologist Elizabeth Allured. Along similar lines, Portland, Oregon-based psychologist Thomas Doherty said he encourages people to explore their environmental identity. Though a relatively new concept, some broad classifications could include “egocentric” (inspired by personal benefit), “altruistic” (concern for others), or “Earth-based” (seeking to protect the natural world for its own sake). People often showcase a mix of these motivations, according to Doherty.

Different environmental identities lead some to try different paths—from working to save endangered species to securing access to clean water or reducing waste. Doherty has treated everyone from a teenager dealing with climate grief to a septuagenarian economist and environmentalist grappling with the sense of having “lost” the battle. He also offers courses for practitioners.

“If you don’t really have any kind of environmental-identity basis, it’s like an empty box that you’re trying to put a heavy thing on,” Doherty said. “It just collapses.”

Rowan Ryrie, 39, discovered her climate identity after wondering for a long time how parents like her could organize around global warming issues. After attending a demonstration in Oxford, in the U.K., she chose to embark on a bigger environmental enterprise.

Eventually, she co-founded a global advocacy network called Parents for Future. Menezes in Brazil and Nnabueze in Nigeria steer national groups that are part of the organization. “I feel connected with parents all over the world who are trying to do the same climate work that I’m trying to do,” Ryrie said. “That’s really heartening. It gives me a lot of hope.”

In Nigeria, Nnabueze, who is also an artist, makes sculptures out of litter and works to reclaim indigenous knowledge on waste management through skills such as basketweaving, a more sustainable alternative to plastic bags. Stephanie Felts in the U.S. writes open letters to her daughters, posting them to the Good Grief Network, a digital space to discuss distress over topics ranging from global warming to the coronavirus. She said sharing her thoughts with like-minded people can bring relief.

Then there’s Sophia Kianni, a 19-year-old Iranian-American activist who founded a nonprofit that translates climate research into 100 languages, all while serving on a United Nations advisory group and attending college. Kianni came up with

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Pathway to forerunner of rugged nanotubes that could lead to widespread industrial fabrication thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Pathway to forerunner of rugged nanotubes that could lead to widespread industrial fabrication

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Author and co-authors with figure from paper. Clockwise from top left: Lead author Yuri Barsukov with co-authors Igor Kaganovich, Alexander Khrabry, Omesh Dwivedi, Sierra Jubin, Stephane Ethier. Credits: Batalova Valentina, Elle Starkman/Office of Communications, Elle Starkman, Han Wei, Hannah Smith, Elle Starkman. Credit: Elle Starkman.

Scientists have identified a chemical pathway to an innovative insulating nanomaterial that could lead to large-scale industrial production for a variety of uses – including in spacesuits and military vehicles. The nanomaterial—thousands of times thinner than a human hair, stronger than steel and noncombustible—could block radiation to astronauts and help shore up military vehicle armor, for example.

Collaborative researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) have proposed a step-by-step chemical pathway to the precursors of this nanomaterial, known as boron nitride nanotubes (BNNT), which could lead to their large-scale production. 

“Pioneering work”

The breakthrough brings together  and quantum chemistry and is part of the expansion of research at PPPL. “This is pioneering work that takes the Laboratory in new directions,” said PPPL physicist Igor Kaganovich, principal investigator of the BNNT project and co-author of the paper that details the results in the journal Nanotechnology.

Collaborators identified the key chemical pathway steps as the formation of molecular nitrogen and small clusters of boron, which can chemically react together as the temperature created by a plasma jet cools, said lead author Yuri Barsukov of the Peter the Great St. Petersburg Polytechnic University. He developed the chemical reaction pathways by performing quantum chemistry simulations with the assistance of Omesh Dwivedi, a PPPL intern from Drexel University, and Sierra Jubin, a graduate student in the Princeton Program in Plasma Physics.

The interdisciplinary team included Alexander Khrabry, a former PPPL researcher now at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory who developed a thermodynamic code used in this research, and PPPL physicist Stephane Ethier who helped the students compile the software and set up the simulations. 

The results solved the mystery of how molecular nitrogen, which has the second strongest chemical bond among diatomic, or double-atom molecules, can nonetheless break apart through reactions with boron to form various boron-nitride molecules, Kaganovich said. “We spent considerable amount of time thinking about how to get boron – nitride compounds from a mixture of boron and nitrogen,” he said. “What we found was that small clusters of boron, as opposed to much larger boron droplets, readily interact with nitrogen molecules. That’s why we needed a quantum chemist to go through the detailed quantum chemistry calculations with us.”

BNNTs have properties similar to carbon nanotubes, which are produced by the ton and found in everything from sporting goods and sportswear to dental implants and electrodes. But the greater difficulty of producing BNNTs has limited their applications and availability. 

Chemical pathway

Demonstration of a to the formation of BNNT precursors could facilitate BNNT production. The process of BNNT synthesis begins when scientists use a 10,000-degree plasma jet to turn boron and nitrogen gas into plasma consisting of free electrons and atomic nuclei, or ions, embedded in a background gas. This shows how the process unfolds:

  • The jet evaporates the boron while the molecular nitrogen largely stays intact;
  • The boron condenses into droplets as the plasma cools;
  • The droplets form small clusters as the temperature falls to a few thousand degrees;
  • The critical next step is the reaction of nitrogen with small clusters of boron molecules to form boron-nitrogen chains;
  • The chains grow longer by colliding with one another and fold into precursors of .

“During the high-temperature synthesis the density of small boron clusters is low,” Barsukov said. “This is the main impediment to large-scale production.”

The findings have opened a new chapter in BNNT nanomaterial synthesis. “After two years of work we have found the pathway,” Kaganovich said. “As boron condenses it forms big clusters that nitrogen doesn’t react with. But the process starts with small clusters that nitrogen reacts with and there is still a percentage of small clusters as the droplets grow larger,” he said.

“The beauty of this work,” he added, “is that since we had experts in plasma and fluid mechanics and we could go through all these processes together in an interdisciplinary group. Now we need to compare possible BNNT output from our model with experiments. That will be the next stage of modeling.”

More information:
Yuri Barsukov et al, Boron nitride nanotube precursor formation during high-temperature synthesis: kinetic and thermodynamic modelling, Nanotechnology (2021). DOI: 10.1088/1361-6528/ac1c20

Pathway to forerunner of rugged nanotubes that could lead to widespread industrial fabrication (2021, September 16)
retrieved 17 September 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-09-pathway-forerunner-rugged-nanotubes-widespread.html

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Climate change will force people to move. We need to find out where they'll go thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Climate change will force people to move. We need to find out where they’ll go

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by Peter R. Orszag

Credit: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain

As the risk of severe climate change rises, and efforts to reduce carbon emissions ramp up, serious thought must also be given to the movement of people that climate change stands to provoke. This migration looks to be disruptive, but it may also significantly affect the long-term economic consequences of climate change—and not necessarily for the worse.

Many studies have found reason to assume that people will relocate in response to climate change. A recent analysis by Jamie Mullins of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and Prashant Bharadwaj of the University of California, San Diego, for example, found “substantial and significant effects of extreme temperatures on outmigration rates.” The researchers estimate that every additional day per year with an average temperature above 90 degrees Fahrenheit could lead to almost a 1% increase in the migration rate. (That may sound alarmingly large, but note that the migration rate itself averages about 5% of the population, so a 1% increase means it rises from 5% to 5.05%. Also, the effect is diminishing, so a second day above 90 degrees has a smaller impact than the first day.)

Such movement of people will be costly, but it can also help reduce the ongoing economic damage from climate change. Indeed, a new analysis by a large team of scientists and economists suggests its impact could be surprisingly large. Sea level rise associated with climate change is expected to lower global real gross domestic product 4.5% in the year 2200. But that decrease shrinks to just 0.11%.once migration is taken into account.

What explains this? Mostly it’s that if we can relocate economic activity away from more affected areas and toward more protected ones, we can attenuate the effect on the economy. The size of the benefit from migration, though, depends on two assumptions: First, migration is assumed to occur because of a gradual rise in sea level, easing the adjustment. For example, even though the principal results of the new analysis exclude physical capital, most buildings and factories depreciate over time and therefore need to be replaced even if sea level doesn’t rise. As the authors explain, ” … any substantial rise in sea level takes longer to materialize than the standard time it takes for capital and infrastructure to depreciate. As a result, the cost of capital destruction due to the permanent rise in sea level is likely to be relatively small.”

Second, the effects of migration depend crucially on where people move from and to. Cities, for example, have thrived when talented people have gathered in them, benefiting from the exchange of ideas and a fluid labor market. If people leave a city that is in danger of being flooded, the economic effects thus depend on whether they mostly gather again in another location. The analysis effectively assumes that it’s possible to lift people out of Manhattan and move them collectively somewhere else. (Some people in New York during the coldest part of the winter or the warmest part of the summer often bemoan our inability to do so something similar.

Even making these two assumptions, the effects of migration can be expected to vary substantially across the world. Sea level rise will cause about 7% of the population in both Amsterdam and Miami to migrate elsewhere, compared with only 0.4% of people in New York City. This highlights how important it is to do this sort of analysis at a very granular level. (These researchers use a model with 64,800 cells across the world.)

To be sure, there are reasons to question the two assumptions. First, people may move not in response to gradual sea level increases, but rather to an increasing incidence of severe weather events—hurricanes and coastal flooding, for example. Scientists still do not understand all the potential non-linearities in the climate system, and weather events may become more frequent even if sea level rises only gradually. In other words, in this analysis, both the cause of migration and its timing may be misplaced. And that is crucial, because more sudden migration could impose more substantial costs than the researchers expect.

What’s more, there may be other reasons that people gather in particular cities than the analysis assumes. Are people attracted to living in Boston only because of the other people already there, or also because of the city’s rich history? If the Bostonians who scatter in response to climate change had been drawn by the city’s unique heritage, they may not gather together again elsewhere. More broadly, it is extremely challenging to project future decisions with any degree of specificity—and yet that is what’s required to predict the effects.

Then again, precise predictions are not what matters most here. More important is the message that our efforts to curb greenhouse gasses have not been fast enough to prevent change. At this point, it is essential to also pay attention to the inevitable economic adaptation.

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Study reveals gophers' biofluorescence thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Study reveals gophers’ biofluorescence

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A pocket gopher illuminated with UV light. Credit: University of Georgia

You can learn a lot about animals by simply watching them. But some secrets can only be revealed in the dark … with an ultraviolet flashlight.

This happens to be the case for pocket gophers, small rodents that live underground in sandy soil. A new paper by University of Georgia researchers found that these feisty, solitary, round-cheeked animals have a special skill that’s only revealed under ultraviolet light: They are biofluorescent, giving off a colored glow when illuminated with UV light.

Published in The American Midland Naturalist, this is the first time biofluorescence has been documented in pocket gophers. J.T. Pynne, a recent Ph.D. graduate of the UGA Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources and lead author of the study, said he was inspired to shine a light on the possibility a few years ago, after reading similar studies documenting the phenomenon in flying squirrels and opossums.

“A bunch of people, myself included, were curious about other animals,” said Pynne, now a private lands wildlife biologist with the Georgia Wildlife Federation. So, he turned to Warnell’s collection of animal specimens.

“We tested it on the flying squirrels we had, and sure enough, it worked. So, I said, ‘Well, what else do we have?'” During his time at Warnell, Pynne focused his research on pocket gophers, which are short-tempered and live in underground tunnels. So, he turned his UV flashlight toward those he had on hand. “And it turned out, pocket gophers, flying squirrels and opossums were the only animal specimens that fluoresced. And I’m thinking, of course my strange little animals do this.”

This was in 2019. At the time, identifying organisms that glowed purple, orange or pink under a black light was a bit of a thing in certain scientific circles. What started with the revelation of the flying squirrel snowballed into several other fluorescent discoveries, such as the nocturnal springhare and the platypus. Biofluorescence has also been documented in birds, salamanders, spiders and scorpions, among other organisms, said Warnell professor Steven Castleberry.

A UV light is required for humans to see biofluorescence.

“Just in the past few years, there’s been this uptick of people shining UV light on mammals to see if they glow. So now people have started to ask, why do they fluoresce?” added Castleberry. Whether the fluorescence is a defense mechanism, a communication method, camouflage or simply a trait from earlier eras is anyone’s guess at this point. “There’s some speculation and hypotheses, but nobody really knows the truth.”

Pynne also documented biofluorescence in pocket gophers in the wild, which emit a more intense orange-pink glow. He also tested specimens of other pocket gopher species archived at the Georgia Museum of Natural History, all of which emitted biofluorescence.

While the reason for pocket gophers’ and other animals’ ability to glow under is still up for debate, Pynne said it can serve as a unique introduction to the animals’ world. With UV flashlights readily available, most anyone can highlight a foraging opossum in their backyard, for example, or watch how different insects light up at night.

“We have known for a long time that arthropods fluoresced. Any time I catch a scorpion or a spider or a millipede and I have my black light, they’re bright blue,” said Pynne, who keeps an ultraviolet flashlight in his backpack whenever he’s exploring new places. “It’s probably more of a cool teaching thing than anything.”

Although pocket gophers, with their long, curved teeth and penchant for burrowing, would rather be left alone, thank you very much.

More information:
J. T. Pynne et al, Ultraviolet Biofluorescence in Pocket Gophers, The American Midland Naturalist (2021). DOI: 10.1674/0003-0031-186.1.150

Study reveals gophers’ biofluorescence (2021, Septembe

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