Monthly Archives: June 2015

(No) more fish in the sea

Catch of Pacific sardines via NOAA FishWatch

Catch of Pacific sardines via NOAA FishWatch

Holly Moeller

In mid-April, a 20-million-dollar industry hit the brakes when the Pacific Fishery Management Council voted to close the West Coast sardine fishery, effective immediately.

It’s unusual for a fishery to be shuttered so abruptly (the current season would normally have run another two months until the end of June), but certainly not unwarranted. In the last eight years, the sardine population has plunged by 91%. With the population on the verge of (or perhaps already past the point of) collapse, the industry’s only hope for recovery is to pull their nets and hope the sardines bounce back.

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The South African conservation programme also fighting gender based violence

5David Johnson

Conservation programmes integrating actions directly leading to community health benefits, generating livelihoods, and/or other actions benefitting rural communities, are growing in number. A prime example is a new South African project combatting the illegal wildlife trade, which also seeks to eradicate social crimes and improve knowledge on sexual and reproductive health rights and services.
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Why Our Students Should Debate Climate Change

The Field Museum | Image by America’s Power, July 2010, via Flickr

The Field Museum | Image by America’s Power, July 2010, via Flickr

Andrew Stuhl

Before I go any further, let me be clear: climate change is real. It is happening now. Humans drive the process by burning fossil fuels. And there is no dissent among scientists about these things. Read the rest of this entry

“When is a drought a drought?”

Drought takes hold near Christchurch, New Zealand. Photo: Ilan Kelman

Drought takes hold near Christchurch, New Zealand. Photo: Ilan Kelman

Ilan Kelman

Droughts are complicated, often more human-caused than precipitation-caused (Wilhite and Glantz, 1985). Nonetheless, precipitation and water certainly have a role to play, by definition.

In discussions of the ongoing California drought, much of the emphasis is on industrial and agricultural water use. A few commentators have the knee-jerk reaction that it must be climate change only. It might eventually be proven that climate change contributed, even contributed significantly. Read the rest of this entry

The next generation of antibiotics might be right under our feet

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Photo by Michał Ochman via Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA

Andrew Beattie

The discovery of a new antibiotic called teixobactin was announced by international team of researchers, in January this year. It is the most significant new antibiotic to be discovered in more than 30 years, and it may help combat the growing number of drug-resistant bacteria. Read the rest of this entry

Doctor Nature: How our health hinges on biodiversity

Penicillium notatum by Crulina 98 via Wikimedia Commons

Penicillium notatum by Crulina 98 via Wikimedia Commons

Holly Moeller

In 1928, a Scottish biologist named Alexander Fleming got very, very lucky. So lucky, in fact, that he made a discovery that would revolutionize medicine by identifying arguably the most important drug ever discovered: Penicillin. It was a discovery that, like many of our most important medicines, was possible because of natural biodiversity on the planet. Read the rest of this entry

TV As Birth Control

123Fred Pearce

How to defuse the population bomb: Provide people with a steady diet of soap operas and reality TV shows that depict modern, urban lifestyles. New research makes a compelling case that when TV ownership rises, fertility falls.

Earlier this year Stanford human geographer Martin Lewis asked his students a simple question: How did they think U.S. family sizes compared with those in India? Between Indian and American women, who had the most children? It was, they replied, a no-brainer. Of course Indian women had more—they estimated twice as many. Lewis tried the question out on his academic colleagues. They thought much the same. Read the rest of this entry

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