How hungry snails help to protect ecosystems from climate change

November 1, 2017 by  
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You may not notice their good work, but small snail-like creatures known as limpets are performing an invaluable ecological service by eating and eating and eating. The herbivores’ consumption strengthens the resilience of an ecosystem in part by making space for other creatures, making it more diverse and resistant to the pressures of rising temperatures . “At first it might seem like an ecosystem untouched by consumers [herbivores and predators] is better, and, well, it would be better for populations of plants if that was all we cared about, but it’s not better for the ecosystem as a whole,” said Rebecca Kordas, zoologist and author of a new study that details the ecological benefits of limpets. “Consumers are important because they keep the populations of the species they eat in check. They keep them from taking over all of the resources.” Kordas, whose work was recently published in the journal  Science Advances , studied the positive impact of limpets by observing intertidal zones during the hot summer and checking the health of other creatures in that particular ecosystem. She found that starfish, anemones, mussels, barnacles and seaweed all did well when limpets were present; when they weren’t, the animal populations were not nearly as robust. “When limpets were part of the community, the effects of warming were less harsh,” said Kordas. Kordas and her team created mini-marine ecosystems on Salt Spring Island in British Columbia so as to study ecological changes in a more controlled environment. Related: Snails defeat Trump: Irish seawall scrapped The principle of consumers affecting available space in an ecosystem, and thus altering the biodiversity, can be seen on a macro scale as well. When wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park , for example, the elk population was curtailed, allowing smaller organisms to thrive where previously they had been affected by an outsized elk presence. Similarly, sea otters serve the purpose of controlling the sea urchin population in kelp forests, which protect coastlines from extreme weather and act as carbon sinks like forests on land. “The story is not about limpets, per se, but is more about preserving intact ecosystems and specifically, preserving consumers?—?herbivores and predators?—?in ecosystems,” said Kordas of her research’s broader implications. “Intact ecosystems will be best equipped to resist the effects of a warming climate. Degraded ecosystems, where species have been removed, for example, because of harvesting or fishing, will not fare as well when they become stressed by rising temperatures.” + Science Advances Via Popular Science Images via Depositphotos (1)

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How hungry snails help to protect ecosystems from climate change

Elon Musk shows first glimpse of the Boring Company tunnel beneath LA

November 1, 2017 by  
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Elon Musk just gave us a peek into the future with a new picture of The Boring Company’s tunnel under Los Angeles . He shared the picture snapped recently on social media, and it seems the project started less than a year ago is well underway. In an image that looks straight out of science fiction, Musk shared a glimpse of what The Boring Company has been up to in Los Angeles. They’ve been anything but idle: the startup has built a tunnel for transportation beneath the city notorious for traffic woes. Musk shared the picture of the tunnel on Twitter on October 28, and said it had been taken the day before. Related: Elon Musk’s Boring Company receives green light to dig a two-mile test tunnel Picture of The Boring Company LA tunnel taken yesterday pic.twitter.com/TfdVKyXFsJ — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 28, 2017 Musk said on Twitter the tunnel is 500-feet-long right now, and in three to four months, will be two miles long, “and hopefully stretch the whole 405 N-S corridor from LAX to the 101 in a year or so.” Musk provided more detail on his Instagram, according to Twitter user Kilian/0strich, who shared a screenshot of Musk’s Instagram comment saying, “First route will go roughly parallel to the 405 from LAX to the 101, with on/offramps every mile or so. It will work like a fast freeway, where electric skates carrying vehicles and people pods on the main artery travel at up to 150mph, and the skates switch to side tunnels to exit and enter. This is a big difference compared to subways that stop at every stop, whether you’re getting off or not.” The Boring Company explains on their Frequently Asked Questions page that an electric skate is a “fast plate on wheels propelled by an electric motor.” The zero-emissions, autonomous vehicles can transport goods or automobiles – and if a vacuum shell is added, can become a Hyperloop pod. + The Boring Company Images via The Boring Company and Depositphotos

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Elon Musk shows first glimpse of the Boring Company tunnel beneath LA

Hawaii issues alert for brain-invading parasite transmitted by snails

April 11, 2017 by  
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The Hawaiian island of Maui is experiencing an uptick in infections stemming from a parasitic roundworm that invades the human brain. Or, in less scientific parlance, brain slugs . In the past three months alone, health officials have confirmed six cases of the picturesquely named rat lungworm disease, with three additional cases still pending investigation. The trend is worrisome beyond the obvious: Maui has encountered only two cases of the disease over the past decade. Of the 10 or so cases that are reported each year in Hawaii, nearly all are restricted to the Big Island . The grownup version of the Angiostrongylus cantonensis , the offending nematode, is carried by rats, which drop a load of the larvae in their poop. The junior versions can thereafter hitch a ride on other hosts, including snails, slugs, freshwater shrimp, crabs, and frogs. People can get infected by eating raw or undercooked snails or slugs that have been infected by the parasite, or by handling contaminated fruits and vegetables. The infection can trigger a rare form of meningitis characterized by severe headaches, stiffness of the neck, tingling or painful feelings in the skin, a low-grade fever, nausea, and vomiting, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . Hawaii’s Department of Health Disease Investigation Branch cautions that temporary paralysis of the face and light sensitivity may also occur. Related: Rare brain-eating amoeba found in Louisiana tap water “If you could imagine, it’s like having a slow-moving bullet go through your brain and there’s no rhyme or reason why it’s going to hang out in this part of the brain or that part of the brain,”Sarah Park, a state epidemiologist, told the Associated Press . Although there is no treatment for rat lungworm disease, residents can reduce the risk of contracting it by scrupulously washing their produce before consumption, officials say. Tricia Mynar, a Maui woman who said she contracted the parasite on the Big Island, has one piece of advice . “Take your time and wash your veggies,” she said. Via ScienceAlert Photos by Unsplash

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Hawaii issues alert for brain-invading parasite transmitted by snails

Incredible farming skyscraper could fight poverty and feed the world

April 11, 2017 by  
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This incredible skyscraper is more than just eye candy—its modular and farm-integrated design was created to fight world hunger and poverty. Designers Pawel Lipi?ski and Mateusz Frankowski proposed the Mashambas Skyscraper for rural areas in sub-Saharan Africa as a means to bring a “green revolution” to impoverished small farmers. The modular Mashambas is movable and functions as an educational center for growing crops, hosting markets, and training on agricultural techniques. Although absolute poverty around the world has fallen over 20 percent in the last thirty years, poverty levels in many African countries have stayed high and stagnant. Today, over 40 percent of the population in sub-Saharan Africa lives in absolute poverty. Designers Pawel Lipi?ski and Mateusz Frankowski examined the obstacles holding the populace back, most of whom are subsistence farmers, and found that “poor infrastructure, limited markets, weak governments, and fratricidal civil wars” were among the biggest challenges. In hopes of bringing a “green revolution to the poorest people,” Lipi?ski and Frankowski designed the Mashambas Skyscraper, a modular and multipurpose building that just placed first in the renowned 2017 eVolo Skyscraper Competition . The Mashambas Skyscraper, which derives its name from the Swahili word for cultivated land, features a simple modular design that can be easily assembled, disassembled, and transported. The arched modules are stacked together to form a scalable high-rise and its flexible design allows for multiple uses including a ground floor marketplace, warehouses, drone services, classrooms, and farming areas on the upper levels. Drones would be employed to help bring supplies, whether for building construction or for agriculture , to the Mashambas Skyscraper and would also be used to deliver surplus food to the most needy and hard-to-reach areas. By concentrating a market at its base, the building will help facilitate growth and encourage farming plots to pop up around the site. The building can be enlarged as the participants increase and once the local community becomes self-sufficient , the building can be transported to other places. Related: This massive wind-powered skyscraper would cool the entire planet “Mashambas is a movable educational center, which emerges in the poorest areas of the continent,” write the designers. “It provides education, training on agricultural techniques, cheap fertilizers, and modern tools; it also creates a local trading area, which maximizes profits from harvest sales. Today hunger and poverty may be only African matter, but the world’s population will likely reach nine billion by 2050, scientists warn that this would result in global food shortage. Africa’s fertile farmland could not only feed its own growing population, it could also feed the whole world.” + Mashambas

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Incredible farming skyscraper could fight poverty and feed the world

Giant Rat-Sized Snails Invade Florida

April 22, 2013 by  
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Florida’s not having the best of luck when it comes to invasive—and in cases, unnerving—creatures. After giant Burmese pythons appeared in the state, there came warnings of super-sized mosquitoes set to descend this summer, and now officials are battling rat-sized snails. The African Land Snail has made a home in Miami-Dade County, where up to 1,000 are being captured each week. Aside from looking like something from a b-movie, the slimy creatures pose a threat to human health, property and farming. Read the rest of Giant Rat-Sized Snails Invade Florida Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: african land snail , dangerous animals , florida , giant snail , invasive species , miami dade county , mollusks , rat sized snail , snails        

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Giant Rat-Sized Snails Invade Florida

Hurricane Sandy Was So Strong it Registered 2.0 on Seismometers Across the US

April 22, 2013 by  
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Hurricane Sandy was so strong that the impact of waves it sent crashing into the eastern shore board of the United States reverberated all across the country, where it registered on seismometers positioned as far as the west coast. This is the first time in recorded history that a hurricane actually shook the earth, according to Oner Sufri, a geophysics doctoral student at the University of Utah , who is tracking the role of global warming and subsequent climate change on storm intensity. Read the rest of Hurricane Sandy Was So Strong it Registered 2.0 on Seismometers Across the US Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Climate Change , earth , Environment , global warming , Hurricane , Hurricane Sandy , microseism , News , planet , rising temperatures , seismometers , shock waves , standing waves , storms , university of utah        

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Hurricane Sandy Was So Strong it Registered 2.0 on Seismometers Across the US

World’s Largest Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion Plant Planned for China

April 22, 2013 by  
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Lockheed Martin has announced that it is to partner with the Reignwood Group to construct the world’s largest Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) plant off the coast of southern China. The OTEC process—which uses the temperature difference between the cold waters of the deep ocean and warm surface waters to generate electricity—is nothing new, but few facilities have ever been constructed. The floating pilot plant will generate 10MW of electricity, enough to power the Reignwood Group’s planned net-zero energy resort on the nearby mainland. Read the rest of World’s Largest Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion Plant Planned for China Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: “clean energy” , china energy , green energy , lockeed martin , Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion , OTEC , reignwood group , renewable energy , ridgewood , thermal energy , water energy        

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World’s Largest Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion Plant Planned for China

Russia Recruits Giant Snails to Monitor Air Pollution

January 18, 2011 by  
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Photo via Wikipedia We’ve heard of giant snails used as a great food source for undernourished communities , and even used as a way to save gorillas . But now, can the miracle creature also help Russia with air pollution problems?… Read the full story on TreeHugger

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Russia Recruits Giant Snails to Monitor Air Pollution

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