1,3-butadiene and carbon monoxide car emmissions cancer link

London: The development of cancer in childhood is strongly linked to pollution from engine exhausts, says a British researcher.

Professor George Knox, from the University of Birmingham, said yesterday that youngsters were at higher risk if they lived near emissions hotspots, such as transport depots.

But the statistical information manager at Cancer Research UK, Ruth Yates, said the results should be interpreted with considerable caution, saying much more research was needed to show what level of exposure posed a threat.

Permafrost semiperming

Bugger. This from New Scientist:

A vast expanse of western Siberia is undergoing an unprecedented thaw that could greatly increase the rate of global warming, climate scientists warn.

Researchers found that an area of permafrost spanning a million square kilometres - the size of France and Germany combined - has started to melt for the first time since it formed 11,000 years ago at the end of the last ice age.

The area, which covers the entire sub-Arctic region of western Siberia, is the world's largest frozen peat bog, and scientists fear that, as it thaws, it will release billions of tonnes of methane, a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere.

It is a scenario climate scientists have feared since first identifying tipping points - delicate thresholds where a slight rise in the Earth's temperature can cause a big change in the environment that itself triggers a far greater rise in global temperatures.

Afghanistan's famous Bamiyan Buddhas rebirth

The idea of sustainability is eloqently expressed in the rebirth of the 1600 year old Bamiyan Buddhas blown up by the Taliban in 2001:

Los Angeles: An elaborate laser show plans to "recreate" Afghanistan's famous Bamiyan Buddhas, the towering, 1600-year-old statues destroyed by the Taliban amid international outrage in 2001.

The life-size, lurid images will be projected on to the clay cliff faces of the Bamiyan Valley where the archaeological treasures originally stood on the Silk Road linking Europe and Central Asia.

Some 140 "statues" will make up the installation, due to premiere in June 2007, subject to approval by UNESCO, the United Nations cultural organisation.

Hiro Yamagata, 58, a Japanese-born California artist, wants to use wind and solar power to project the images on to 6.5 kilometres of the cliffs in the central Hindu Kush mountains, about 150 kilometres from Kabul. The Afghan Government supports the project.


Populate or perish?

I know I keep getting my stuff from the SMH, but that is all I have time to read. Besides, they do a good job covering green issue. I guess Gaia is just in the news a lot, lately.

Anyway Paul Sheehan caught the countrylink to Bathurst, hopped in the Cessna of George King who preoceeded to fly him to his two cattle properties in the Northern Territory. The parched, drought-struck country below seemed to soak up the words of King expounding the views of Allen Savoy in his book Holistic Management:

"Ecosystems function as a whole so we need to manage the whole. The role of animals in an environment like ours is critical. The Earth's surface is 70 per cent brittle-tending, and it used to support infinitely more animals than it does now. Australia has lost 94 per cent of its mega-fauna since humans have been introduced...

"In a naturally functioning ecosystem the herbivores are held in tight mobs by predators. When they get onto an area of land they graze it down heavily, trample a lot of grass, which forms a protective mulch on the soil surface; they defecate and urinate. No animal will eat fouled ground, so the plants get both fertiliser and a recovery period before being grazed again. The herbivores move on, in a tight mob for safety from predators. For millions of years, brittle environments have evolved with this herbivore-predator relationship."


Solar generated hydrogen fuel experiments reported next week

Interesting developments:

London: The dream of using hydrogen, the most plentiful element in the universe, as a green fuel has moved a step closer with the announcement that it can be made with the help of sunlight.

Nearly all hydrogen used at present is produced by expensive processes that require the burning of polluting fossil fuels.

Now the Weizmann Institute of Science, in Israel, has tested the environmentally friendly solar method on a large scale.

The results of its experiments will be reported in Orlando, Florida, next week to the world congress of the International Solar Energy Society

Oil is set to rise again

I bet the biodiesel brigade feel smug now.

Petrol too high? Make your own

A underground of an estimated 1000 strong across Australia are making their own biodiesel and not registering with the ATO to avoid having to pay the 38c per litre government exercise imposed recently:

"An underground movement of motorists is making fuel in their backyards and saving up to $1 a litre to run their diesel engines.

As oil prices continue to soar to historic highs, they are following an easy recipe available on the internet for making biodiesel fuel and putting it straight into their engines without modification.

Concocted from used vegetable oil that fish and chip shops give away, the fuel is hailed as being almost smog-free, extremely cheap and almost limitless in supply because it comes from a crop rather than an oil well.

Few are willing to admit publicly that they make the brew because the Federal Government imposed a new tax and costly tests."

"Small businessman Luke Williams admits he is breaking the law when he mixes a batch of biodiesel without registering with the Tax Office. He pays about 20 cents a litre for the ingredients instead of at least $1.20 for diesel from the bowser. Instead of sooty fumes, his car emits a slight odour reminiscent of the fish and chip shop from which it came."

"Mr Williams said fellow biodiesel-makers were too concerned about Australian Tax Office checks to speak publicly but enthusiasts believe about 1000 people across the country make their own fuel.

Under the federal laws, even backyard producers must pay $1400 for a test to ensure that every batch meets Australian standards. They must also pay a fuel excise of 38 cents a litre."


GM mutant runaway superweeds immune to herbicide

The adage "You reap what you sow" rings acutely true for those that seek to jumper the natural DNA in our food with herbicide resistant genes. A report from the Gardian details another blow for the GM industry:

Modified rape crosses with wild plant to create tough pesticide-resistant strain

Modified genes from crops in a GM crop trial have transferred into local wild plants, creating a form of herbicide-resistant "superweed", the Guardian can reveal.
The cross-fertilisation between GM oilseed rape, a brassica, and a distantly related plant, charlock, had been discounted as virtually impossible by scientists with the environment department. It was found during a follow up to the government's three-year trials of GM crops which ended two years ago.

The new form of charlock was growing among many others in a field which had been used to grow GM rape. When scientists treated it with lethal herbicide it showed no ill-effects.
It is actually not too hard to make a mutant according to the theorists and a French experiment:
Brian Johnson, an ecological geneticist and member of the government's specialist scientific group which assessed the farm trials, has no doubt of the significance. "You only need one event in several million. As soon as it has taken place the new plant has a huge selective advantage. That plant will multiply rapidly."

Dr Johnson, who is head of the biotechnology advisory unit and head of the land management technologies group at English Nature, the government nature advisers, said: "Unlike the researchers I am not surprised by this. If you apply herbicide to plants which is lethal, eventually a resistant survivor will turn up."

The glufosinate-ammonium herbicide used in this case put "huge selective pressure likely to cause rapid evolution of resistance".

To assess the potential of herbicide-resistant weeds as a danger to crops, a French researcher placed a single triazine-resistant weed, known as fat hen, in maize fields where atrazine was being used to control weeds. After four years the plants had multiplied to an average of 103,000 plants, Dr Johnson said.
Look on the bright side, this puts the kibosh on the "Intelligent Design" theory that President Bush has announced he wants taught alongside The Theory of Evolution. No sign of any intelligent designer on this planet so far, not if you are looking in the labs of Monsanto and the like.