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Internet Television

Taking cues from Chromecast, Sharp turns TVs into art displays 08 January 2015, 00.14 Internet Television
Taking cues from Chromecast, Sharp turns TVs into art displays
One of the features Sharp had on display at its CES booth looked vaguely familiar: Sharp’s 2015 TVs automatically display a series of works of art and great-looking photos when not in use, which the company is calling
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Online outlets showed Hebdo images but offline media didn’t. Why? 08 January 2015, 00.14 Internet Television
Online outlets showed Hebdo images but offline media didn’t. Why?
As the world struggled to understand the violence in Paris, where 12 cartoonists and other staff at the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo were gunned down by Islamic extremists, media outlets were faced with a challenge: Should
Read More 543 Hits 0 Ratings
Neil Young: Pono won’t be a hardware company for long (video interview)
Neil Young’s high-definition audio startup Pono just started selling its Pono player, but the music legend told me during an interview at CES in Las Vegas Wednesday that he sees Pono getting out of the hardware business
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Tesco sells Blinkbox to TalkTalk and may offload Dunnhumby 08 January 2015, 00.14 Internet Television
Tesco sells Blinkbox to TalkTalk and may offload Dunnhumby
The British supermarket giant Tesco is, to put it mildly, having financial difficulties. On Thursday it unveiled a range of measures that it hopes will help dig it out of its hole. These include the sale of Tesco Broadband and
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Deezer buys mobile-focused Muve Music from Cricket / AT&T 08 January 2015, 00.14 Internet Television
Deezer buys mobile-focused Muve Music from Cricket / AT&T
Paris-based music streaming service Deezer has acquired Muve Music, the mobile-focused music service from Leap Wireless. Leap is a virtual mobile operator better known for its Cricket service, which was itself acquired by
Read More 519 Hits 0 Ratings

Earth News Reports

These Necklaces, Eyeglasses Make Dramatic Statements About U.K.’s Air
Most statement necklaces are just about standing out and looking great, but these dramatic necklaces are actually making a statement about air quality and pollution in the UK. London-based artists Stefanie Posavec and Miriam
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Win a Pair of PETA-Approved Vegan-Leather Espadrilles by M4D3
If you’re kicking off your shoes this summer, make them a pair of these cruelty-free espadrilles. A collaboration between People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and “footwear with a purpose” brand M4D3, the
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Organotex: Eco-Friendly Fabric Treatment That Repels Water Like a Plant
ORGANOTEX /ôrɡən ō teks/ n. 1 a: A biodegradable, breathable, and fluorocarbon-free fabric treatment that mimics a plant’s ability to repel moisture. b: Uses a system of plant-based catalysts and organic polymers to
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Chocolate Legos by Akihiro Mizuuchi 06 August 2015, 23.46 Green Architecture
Chocolate Legos by Akihiro Mizuuchi
Chocolate. Lego. Space-invaders. If you are a normal person of the 21st century, at least one of these words should appeal to you. Japanese designer and illustrator Akihiro Mizuuchi has designed and built some moulds that let
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Nooks: unique handmade dollhouses 06 August 2015, 23.46 Green Architecture
Nooks: unique handmade dollhouses
Janine Rewell is an illustrator from Finland. Based in Helsinki, she is easy to recognize with her cool, geometric and colorful illustrations. From newspapers to art galleries, but also in advertising on on human skin, you can
Read More 1106 Hits 0 Ratings
ShelfPack: The suitcase that turns into a mobile shelf 06 August 2015, 23.46 Green Architecture
ShelfPack: The suitcase that turns into a mobile shelf
According to the clever guy who started this cool Kickstarter project, the last major innovation in suitcase design was in the eightees, with the invention of wheeled cases. A new invention like the ShelfPack was definitely
Read More 1037 Hits 0 Ratings
Brandversations: when competing logos meet 06 August 2015, 23.46 Green Architecture
Brandversations: when competing logos meet
Brandversations is a graphic design project by Stefan Asafti, a Romanian graphic designer. It consists of a series of posters that display the logo of today’s most famous brands. The catch? Each logo is designed using
Read More 1082 Hits 0 Ratings
Playful illustrations that will mess with your mind 06 August 2015, 23.46 Green Architecture
Playful illustrations that will mess with your mind
Flyingmouse365 is a brand of funny, illustrated t-shirts. We already shared their illustrations of the part-time jobs of superheroes. They have another series of cool drawings that will make you think a little more, these are
Read More 1080 Hits 0 Ratings
A chess board that uses 3D printed micro-planters as pieces 06 August 2015, 23.46 Green Architecture
A chess board that uses 3D printed micro-planters as pieces
Elena Low and her husband Kae Woei Lim run together a XYZ Workshop, a creative online hub for makers who enjoy tinkering with desktop manufacturing. They published all kinds of cool 3D printing projects, but this chess board
Read More 1679 Hits 0 Ratings
10 examples of corporate identity design done the right way 06 August 2015, 23.46 Green Architecture
10 examples of corporate identity design done the right way
Corporate identity design is pretty much the only way to give a face to brands and corporations. It is crucial to any business and shows the importance of the graphic designers in our modern world. In this post you can discover
Read More 1280 Hits 0 Ratings

Horoscope by Question Kit


Future News Reports

Obama's War Against US Energy Independence:  Give Away Oil Rich Alaskan Islands to Russia!
  By Joe Miller The Obama administration, despite the nation’s economic woes, effectively killed the job-producing Keystone Pipeline last month. The Arab Spring is turning the oil production of Libya and other Arab
Read More 3226 Hits 0 Ratings
OSBIT Power's MaXccess system completes successful offshore trials 08 April 2012, 02.33 Administrator Energy
OSBIT Power's MaXccess system completes successful offshore trials
OSBIT Power's MaXccess system completes successful offshore trials Visit for further information OSBIT Power (OP), Siemens Wind Power and Statoil have successfully completed offshore
Read More 2994 Hits 0 Ratings
North America's EV charging infrastructure to get a boost 12 January 2012, 02.01 Administrator Energy
North America's EV charging infrastructure to get a boost
        North America’s EV charging infrastructure may soon see significant improvements, thanks to a recent agreement between Eaton Corporation and Coulomb Technologies. Under the deal, Eaton’s Level II and
Read More 2922 Hits 0 Ratings
Could The Gravitomagnetic Field Be The Ultimate Energy Source? 28 May 2011, 01.34 Administrator Energy
Could The Gravitomagnetic Field Be The Ultimate Energy Source?
      Have scientists already unknowingly discovered the source for all atomic energy reactions, and could the discovery of the gravitomagnetic field be the ultimate energy source?  What if our understandings on how
Read More 7063 Hits 1 Rating
Physicists urge caution over apparent speed of light violation 25 September 2011, 16.27 Administrator Energy
Physicists urge caution over apparent speed of light violation
Physicists wary of junking light speed limit yet Physicist Antonio Ereditato poses before presenting the result of an experiment, which found a subatomic particle, the neutrino, seemed to move faster than the speed of
Read More 4153 Hits 1 Rating
STEORN ORBO  FREE ENERGY:  What's Next a Self Charging Unit for your Electric Car?
Steorn's Free Energy Orbo -- From Permanent Magnets to Solid State Systems   My associate, Hank Mills composed this for PESN, Saturday, February 12, 2011 6:17 Steorn is a small company based in Dublin, Ireland. For
Read More 5969 Hits 1 Rating
Cold Fusion, Releases Energy from Hydrogen's Gravitomagnetic Field 16 January 2011, 09.17 Administrator Energy
Cold Fusion, Releases Energy  from Hydrogen's Gravitomagnetic Field
Cold Fusion "In Bologna we did it" By Ilaria VENTURI, La Republica News, Bolona, Italy For the first time in Italy, in front of experts, the process was carried out using nickel and hydrogen. It 's the way to achieve
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Abu Dhabi Media Zone to generate renewable energy through its façade
Eco Factor: Sustainable development to generate renewable solar energy. Bernard Tschumi Architects have re-imagined their master plan for the new Abu Dhabi Media Zone, by incorporating several environmentally-friendly
Read More 3322 Hits 1 Rating


Change The World!

Latest Published Articles



Steps Forward in Haiti, Backward at Home PDF Print E-mail

What is climate change? Are humans causing it? What can we do to fix it? Find out the answers to all of these questions so you can then question them yourself in the first episode of “Answers Questioned.”

Today our skeptical host Ben Kissel sits down with Jason Smerdon, Lamont Associate Research Professor at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University.

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Everything You Need to Know About Climate Change PDF Print E-mail

What is climate change? Are humans causing it? What can we do to fix it? Find out the answers to all of these questions so you can then question them yourself in the first episode of “Answers Questioned.”

Today our skeptical host Ben Kissel sits down with Jason Smerdon, Lamont Associate Research Professor at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University.

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  Section:  Articles - File Under:  Earth  |  
Climate Scientists Bring Studies Down to Neighborhood Scale PDF Print E-mail

It’s an obvious point, but one worth stressing- climate change will not impact all 8 million-plus New York City residents in the same way. Depending on where exactly you live, your socio-economic status, age and general health, and so many other factors, the impacts of climate change could affect you somewhat differently than even your immediate neighbors.

And New York City doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Our local economy, transportation networks, and coastline and waterways intersect with those across the region. This is also important to consider when preparing for a global phenomenon like climate change.

Think of the flooded New Jersey oil refineries around New York Harbor that caused gas shortages in the days after Sandy.

In light of these enormous complexities, the de Blasio administration says it will be examining the risks posed by climate change using a broader set of measures, including social equity and the vulnerabilities of the entire New York City metro area.

Volunteers help unload food from a truck for distribution to the residents of the Lower East Side who remain without power due to Superstorm Sandy, Friday, Nov. 2, 2012, in New York.  In Manhattan, where 226,000 buildings, homes and business remain without power, Consolidated Edison says they should have service restored by Saturday.  (AP Photo/ John Minchillo)

Volunteers unloading food from a truck for distribution to Lower East Side residents without power due to Superstorm Sandy. (AP Photo/ John Minchillo)

Mayor de Blasio announced the new metrics yesterday at the launch of the third New York City Panel on Climate Change [NPCC], an independent body that advises the City on climate risks and resiliency.

Created during the Bloomberg administration, the Panel’s goal is to ensure that the best available climate science continues to inform the City’s resiliency planning. The NPCC works in partnership with entities such as the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency and the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability.

There are currently 19 scientists on the Panel. The NPCC is led by William Solecki, Director of the CUNY Institute for Sustainable Cities, and Cynthia Rosenzweig, Senior Research Scientist at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

The third NPCC will build on previous research, the Mayor’s office said, but will also look at “climate risks through the lens of inequality at a neighborhood scale, as well as focus on ways to enhance coordination of mitigation and resiliency across the entire New York metropolitan region.”

Climate change- at the human scale

New York City’s need to plan for the impacts of climate change at the human scale was raised as an issue before Superstorm Sandy. In its first years, the NPCC’s research helped the Bloomberg administration to ascertain how climate change would impact the critical infrastructure that serves millions of New Yorkers, such as the electrical grid, the subway system, and power and sewage treatment plants.

In the summer of 2012 -weeks before Sandy struck- the New York City Council voted in favor of a bill that enlarged the scope of the NPCC to focus on populations that are especially vulnerable to extreme weather events — such as the elderly, children and the poor. The legislation also made the panel, and a related task force comprised of government agencies, utilities and other private companies, permanent.

emergency shelter

Woman receiving assistance at a New York City emergency shelter during Superstorm Sandy. Photo credit: People’s Daily Online.

“The panel’s work to date has shaped so much of our sustainability and resiliency efforts,” said Mayor de Blasio in a statement yesterday.

The Mayor referenced the City’s push to cut greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050, and the April, 2015 release of One New York: The Plan for a Strong and Just City, which seeks to integrate four massive goals- economic growth, climate resiliency, environmental sustainability, and social equity.

“Now, NPCC3 will build on that strong foundation, ensuring that – as we adapt to climate risks – we are doing so in a way that serves all New Yorkers and reflects the regional collaboration we need,” the Mayor added.

[For a deeper look at how the City is preparing for climate change, take a look at our analysis published in April, together with the Gotham Gazette and AdaptNY.]

A warning to all New Yorkers

The NPCC’s most recent report – Building the Knowledge Base for Climate Resiliency – was released in February 2015.

Crowds wait for free gas November 3, 2012 at the Brooklyn Armory in New York City. With the death toll currently over 90 and millions of homes and businesses without power, the US east coast is attempting to recover from the effects of floods, fires and power outages brought on by Superstorm Sandy.

Waiting for free gas at the Brooklyn Armory days after Superstorm Sandy. Photo credit: Koan Collective

The authors lead off the report with the following statement:

“The climate of the New York metropolitan region is changing—annual temperatures are hotter, heavy downpours are increasingly frequent, and the sea is rising.

These trends, which are also occurring in many parts of the world, are projected to continue and even worsen in the coming decades due to higher concentrations of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere caused by burning of fossil fuels and clearing of forests for agriculture.

These changing climate hazards increase the risks for the people, economy, and infrastructure of New York City. As was demonstrated by Hurricane Sandy, populations living in coastal and low-lying areas, the elderly and very young, and lower-income neighborhoods are highly vulnerable.”

According to the report, area sea levels could increase 11-21 inches by the 2050s, and 18-39 inches by the 2080s. By 2100, they could rise by as much as six feet.

The report suggests that the 12 inches of local sea level rise that have already occurred since 1900 may have expanded Superstorm Sandy’s flood area by approximately 25 square miles.

What are the City’s scientists recommending?

The authors of the 2015 report present a series of recommendations for climate resiliency. You can read through them in the report’s executive summary.

The NPCC states that New York City should both prepare for the inevitable impacts of climate change (adaptation); but it can also take steps to reduce the severity of what is coming (mitigation). Here are just two of the NPCC’s recommendations.

1.) New York City needs “an integrated approach that includes engineering, ecosystems, and social strategies.”

In more straightforward terms, this means that the city will need hard infrastructure (like sea walls) and natural solutions (like healthy wetlands) to protect neighborhoods from dangerous storm surges.

But we will also need strong social networks (possibly supported by well organized and funded neighborhood groups) in order to adequately protect vulnerable residents during extreme weather events.

Such an approach “is vital to ensuring climate resiliency in the coming decades. Land use planning for sustainable infrastructure systems, particularly in coastal zones and low-lying areas, is especially important,” the NPCC adds.

2.) At the same time, New York City should develop and support programs and policies (such as the de Blasio administration’s One City: Built to Last plan) that “work to reduce GHG emissions in order to limit the rate of future climate change and the magnitude of the associated risks.”

New climate risk assessment coming in 2016

A new NPCC report will be released in 2016. The report will tackle additional subject areas, such as:

  • Regional climate projections focusing on extreme events
  • Critical infrastructure systems at the regional level: with a focus on interdependent transportation and energy systems
  • Community-based assessment of adaptation and equity: with a focus on the neighborhood scale
  • How to establish a “New York City climate resiliency indicators and monitoring system”
  • How to develop maps that more effectively show NYC area vulnerabilities and climate resiliency, as well as geographic interdependencies

Who are the scientists carrying out climate research on behalf of New York City?


The co-chairs of the NYC Panel on Climate Change: William Solecki, Director of the CUNY Institute for Sustainable Cities, and Cynthia Rosenzweig, Senior Research Scientist at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies. Photo credit: Roosevelt House, Hunter College

Thirteen members of the NPCC have been re-appointed by the Mayor. 

  • CYNTHIA ROSENZWEIG: Co-Chair, Senior Research Scientist at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies
  • WILLIAM SOLECKI: Co-Chair, Director of the CUNY Institute for Sustainable Cities and Professor of Geography at Hunter College-CUNY
  • REGINALD BLAKE: Member, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Cooperative Remote Sensing Science and Technology Center
  • VIVIEN GORNITZ: Senior Research Scientist, Center for Climate Systems Research, Columbia University and NASA Goddard Institute for Space studies
  • KLAUS JACOB: Special Research Scientist, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory; Adjunct Professor, School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
  • PATRICK KINNEY: Director, Program on Climate and Health, Mailman School at Columbia University
  • HOWARD KUNREUTHER: James G. Dinan Professor; Professor of Decision Sciences and Business and Public Policy at the Wharton School
  • YOCHANAN KUSHNIR: Director of the Cooperative Institute for Climate Applications and Research (CICAR)
  • ROBIN LEICHENKO: Associate Professor, Department of Geography at Rutgers University
  • NING LIN: NOAA Climate and Global Change post-doctoral fellow
  • GUY NORDENSON: Structural Engineer and Professor of Architecture and Structural Engineering, Princeton University
  • MICHAEL OPPENHEIMER: Albert G. Milbank Professor of Geosciences and International Affairs in the Woodrow Wilson School and the Department of Geosciences at Princeton University
  • GARY YOHE: Woodhouse/Sysco Professor of Economics at Wesleyan University.

The NPCC also has six new members.

  • ALAN F. BLUMBERG: George Meade Bond Professor & Director of the Center for Maritime Systems, Stevens Institute of Technology; Founder of the New York Harbor Observing and Prediction System (NYHOPS)
  • BRIAN A. COLLE: Full Professor in the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences and Faculty Director of the University Scholars Program at Stony Brook
  • SHEILA FOSTER: Vice Dean, Albert A. Walsh Professor of Real Estate, Land Use & Property Law; Co-Director, Stein Center for Law and Ethics, Fordham University
  • DR. JORGE GONZALEZ CRUZ: Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Director, ESES & the Alliance for Continuous Learning Environments for STEM at CUNY
  • DR. IRWIN REDLENER: Professor of Health Policy and Management (The Earth Institute), Columbia University; Special Advisor, NYC OEM
  • RAE ZIMMERMAN: Professor of Planning and Public Administration, NYU’s Wagner Graduate School of Public Service

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Greenhouse Gas Emissions Remain the Primary Threat to Polar Bears PDF Print E-mail


Greenhouse gas emissions remain the primary threat to the preservation of polar bear populations worldwide. This conclusion holds true under both a reduced greenhouse gas emission scenario that stabilizes climate warming and another scenario where emissions and warming continue at the current pace, according to updated U.S. Geological Survey research models.


Greenhouse gas emissions remain the primary threat to the preservation of polar bear populations worldwide. This conclusion holds true under both a reduced greenhouse gas emission scenario that stabilizes climate warming and another scenario where emissions and warming continue at the current pace, according to updated U.S. Geological Survey research models.

Under both scenarios, the outcome for the worldwide polar bear population will very likely worsen over time through the end of the century.

The modeling effort examined the prognosis for polar bear populations in the four ecoregions (see map) comprising their range using current sea ice projections from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for two greenhouse gas emission scenarios. Both scenarios examined how greenhouse gas emissions may affect polar bears: one looked at stabilization in climate warming by century’s end because of reduced GHG emissions, and the other looked at unabated (unchanged) rates of GHG emissions, leading to increased warming by century’s end.

“Addressing sea ice loss will require global policy solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and likely be years in the making,” said Mike Runge, a USGS research ecologist. “Because carbon emissions accumulate over time, there will be a lag, likely on the order of several decades, between mitigation of emissions and meaningful stabilization of sea ice loss.”

Under the unabated emission scenario, polar bear populations in two of four ecoregions were projected to reach a greatly decreased state about 25 years sooner than under the stabilized scenario. Under the stabilized scenario, GHG emissions peak around 2040, decline through 2080, then decline through the end of the century. In this scenario, USGS projected that all ecoregion populations will greatly decrease except for the Archipelago Ecoregion, located in the high-latitude Canadian Arctic, where sea ice generally persists longer in the summer. These updated modeling outcomes reinforce earlier suggestions of the Archipelago’s potential as an important refuge for ice-dependent species, including the polar bear.

The models, updated from 2010, evaluated specific threats to polar bears such as sea ice loss, prey availability, hunting, and increased human activities, and incorporated new findings on regional variation in polar bear response to sea ice loss.

“Substantial sea ice loss and expected declines in the availability of marine prey that polar bears eat are the most important specific reasons for the increasingly worse outlook for polar bear populations,” said Todd Atwood, research biologist with the USGS, and lead author of the study. “We found that other environmental stressors such as trans-Arctic shipping, oil and gas exploration, disease and contaminants, sustainable harvest and defense of life takes, had only negligible effects on polar bear populations—compared to the much larger effects of sea ice loss and associated declines in their ability to access prey.”

Additionally, USGS researchers noted that if the summer ice-free period lengthens beyond 4 months – as forecasted to occur during the last half of this century in the unabated scenario – the negative effects on polar bears will be more pronounced. Polar bears rely on ice as the platform for hunting their primary prey – ice seals – and when sea ice completely melts in summer, the bears must retreat to land where their access to seals is limited. Other research this year has shown that terrestrial foods available to polar bears during these land-bound months are unlikely to help polar bear populations adapt to sea ice loss.

USGS scientists’ research found that managing threats other than greenhouse gas emissions could slow the progression of polar bear populations to an increasingly worse status. The most optimistic prognosis for polar bears would require immediate and aggressive reductions of greenhouse gas emissions that would limit global warming to less than 2°C above preindustrial levels.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the polar bear as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 2008 due to the threat posed by sea ice loss. The polar bear was the first species to be listed because of climate change. A plan to address recovery of the polar bear will be released into the Federal Register by the USFWS for public review on July 2, 2015.

The updated forecast for polar bears was developed by USGS as part of its Changing Arctic Ecosystems Initiative, together with collaborators from the U.S. Forest Service and Polar Bears International. The polar bear forecasting report is available online.

polar bear ecoregions

Polar Bear Ecoregions: In the Seasonal Ice Ecoregion (see map), sea ice melts completely in summer and all polar bears must be on land. In the Divergent Ice Ecoregion, sea ice pulls away from the coast in summer, and polar bears must be on land or move with the ice as it recedes north. In the Convergent Ice and Archipelago Ecoregions, sea ice is generally retained during the summer

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Flatworms Could Replace Mammals for Some Toxicology Tests PDF Print E-mail

By Kim McDonald
UC San Diego News Center

Laboratories that test chemicals for neurological toxicity could reduce their use of laboratory mice and rats by replacing these animal models with tiny aquatic flatworms known as freshwater planarians.

aquatic flatworm

Freshwater planarians are small, inexpensive, easy to breed, sensitive to chemicals in the water and develop within a week. Credit: UC San Diego

Scientists at UC San Diego have discovered that planarians, commonly used in high-school biology labs to study regeneration and the primitive nervous system, are actually quite sophisticated when it comes to modeling the response of the developing human nervous system to potentially toxic chemicals.

The researchers published their findings in the current issue of the journal Toxicological Sciences.

“Because planarians have unique features such as a brain of intermediate complexity, a short regeneration time and offer the possibility of studying adults and developing worms in parallel, they make a good complementary system to existing animal models for studying developmental neurotoxicity,” said Eva-Maria Schoetz Collins, an assistant professor of biology and physics who headed the research group. “Using such alternative animal models will not only reduce costs, but will also significantly reduce the number of laboratory mammals used in toxicology tests.”

Humans are faced with thousands of potentially toxic compounds in their environment and new chemicals are added daily in the products we use, from pesticides to cosmetics to food additives. How to test these new chemicals for their safety has become a growing problem, given that traditional toxicology testing has long relied on laboratory rodents. Now, efforts are being made to replace them with alternatives that employ cultured cells or alternative animal models, such as zebrafish, that permit researchers to screen thousands of potential toxins more quickly and at a reduced cost.

“In recent years, several government agencies have begun to work together in what is called the ‘Tox21 Initiative,’ with the goal of changing the way toxicology testing has been done through in vitro assays such as cultured cells and alternatives to laboratory rodents,” explained Schoetz Collins. “Because each testing platform, be it an animal model or in vitro assay, has its limitations, it is important to perform tests across several platforms to determine the toxic concentrations and mechanisms of action for the development of reliable exposure guidelines for humans.”

Schoetz Collins and her collaborators began their study when they noticed that the planarians they were using in their laboratory experiments were particularly sensitive to different environmental conditions.

As an experiment, they developed a five-step semi-automatic screening platform to characterize the toxicity of nine known “neurotoxicants”—consisting of commonly used solvents, pesticides and detergents—and a neutral agent, glucose, on a species of planaria called Dugesia japonica. The researchers then quantified the effects of the various compounds on the planarians’ viability, stimulated and unstimulated behavior, regeneration and brain structure.

“Comparisons of our findings with other alternative toxicology animal models, namely zebrafish larvae and nematodes, demonstrated that planarians are comparably sensitive to the tested chemicals,” the scientists concluded in their paper.

“Like zebrafish and nematodes, freshwater planarians are small, inexpensive and easy to breed, sensitive to chemicals in the water and develop quickly,” in approximately one week, the researchers added.

But planarians also have important advantages to these alternative animal models.

“What renders freshwater planarians unique and particularly well-suited for developmental neurotoxicology is our ability to simultaneously study genetically identical adult and developing animals, allowing us to directly compare the effect of potential toxicants on the adult and developing brain, without possible complications from the variability of genetic factors,” the scientists wrote.

In addition, they added that the planarian nervous system is much more complex than that of nematodes, but simpler than that of zebrafish, and shares “the same neuronal subpopulations and neurotransmitters as the mammalian brain, to be relevant to human studies. In fact, the planarian brain is thought to be more similar to the vertebrate brain than to other invertebrate brains in terms of structure and function.”

Schoetz Collins emphasized that while her group’s research study demonstrates the viability of freshwater planarians as an alternative animal model for neurotoxicity, the aquatic flatworms won’t replace laboratory rodents, but will instead limit their use.

“Mammalian models will still be necessary,” she added, “but pre-screening with different models will allow us to select a smaller number of toxicants to be tested in mammals, thus reducing their use to the strict minimum.”

Other UC San Diego researchers involved in the study were Danielle Hagstrom, Olivier Cochet-Escartin, Siqi Zhang and Cindy Khuu.

Their paper in Toxicological Sciences is referenced at doi: 10.1093/toxsci/kfv129. The project was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health (5T32GM007240-37), Hellman Foundation, Burroughs Wellcome Fund and Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

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Death Toll Soars in ‘Unbelievable’ Pakistan Heat Wave PDF Print E-mail

By Nadia Prupis
Common Dreams

State of emergency declared for hospitals as heat stroke and dehydration claim hundreds of lives

Quetta, Pakistan

Quetta, Pakistan

A deadly heat wave spreading through southern Pakistan has killed nearly 800 people in just a few days—a number that threatens to rise as temperatures remain unusually high this week.

At least 740 people have died of dehydration, heat stroke, and other heat-related illnesses in Karachi, the country’s largest city, since Saturday, with various sources estimating the death toll to have hit anywhere from 744 to 775. Local media reports that an additional 38 people have died in other provinces.

As temperatures hit 45°C (113°F) on Tuesday, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif declared a state of emergency for hospitals, many of which have hit full capacity, with thousands needing care for heat stroke and dehydration.

Al Jazeera writes:

“The mortuary is overflowing, they are piling bodies one on top of the other,” said Dr Seemin Jamali, a senior official at the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC), the city’s largest government hospital.

“We are doing everything that is humanly possible here,” she said, adding that since Saturday, the JPMC had seen more than 5,000 patients with heat-related symptoms. Of those, 384 patients had died, she said.

“Until [Tuesday] night, it was unbelievable. We were getting patients coming into the emergency ward every minute,” she said.

Among those who have died, most have been either elderly or poor, officials say.

A former director of the Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency, Asif Shuja, said earlier this week that the soaring temperatures are an impact of climate change, fueled by rapid urbanization, deforestation, and car use. “The last 30 years – from 1993-2012 – had been warmer than the last 1,400 years. Scientists envisage a rise of 1-6.67°C in temperature till 2100 which will be disastrous,” he told the Express Tribune.

But as the Daily Pakistan points out, a study conducted by the Lancet/UCL commission this week found that only 15 percent of Pakistani citizens believe climate change is a major threat, while 40 percent are unaware or deny its existence. That makes Pakistan the “least aware” country in the South Asian region of the threats of climate change.

Commentator Juan Cole adds:

Average temperatures are set to go up by at least 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit because of the carbon dioxide we have already spilled into the atmosphere by burning petroleum, coal and natural gas. That will put Pakistan’s temperatures up to more like 114. It will go on up from there if we don’t find ways to stop emitting so much CO2.

Discontent is rising, too. Many residents are reportedly angry with some of the government measures being taken, such as power cuts, which they say prevent locals from using air conditioning and fans.

BBC reports:

Hot weather is not unusual during summer months in Pakistan, but prolonged power cuts seem to have made matters worse, the BBC’s Shahzeb Jillani reports.

Sporadic angry protests have taken place in parts of Karachi, with some people blaming the government and Karachi’s main power utility, K-Electric, for failing to avoid deaths, our correspondent adds.

The prime minister had announced that there would be no electricity cuts but outages have increased since the start of Ramadan, he reports.

Three weeks ago, India faced a similar deadly heat wave, which saw 1,200 people killed as temperatures hit nearly 50°C (122°F).

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

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Logistics and Lizards Disrupt Chevron’s Project Off Australia PDF Print E-mail

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Waiting to harvest after a rain enhances food safety PDF Print E-mail

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ScienceDaily: To protect consumers from foodborne illness, produce farmers should wait 24 hours after a rain or irrigating their fields to harvest crops, according to new research published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology. Rain or irrigation creates soil conditions that are more hospitable to Listeria monocytogenes, which when ingested may cause the human illness Listeriosis. Waiting to harvest crops reduces the risk of exposure to the pathogen, which could land on fresh produce. Cornell...
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Independent: Environmental charities should spend less time complaining about global warming and more time coming up with workable solutions to the problem, the UN’s climate change chief has said. NGOs have traditionally spent their time in opposition and must devote more of their efforts to being constructive, according to Janos Pasztor, the former WWF campaigner who is now UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s official climate change spokesman. “There is a role for opposition and saying ‘no’ but there is...
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