Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Monday, March 30, 2009
No trace remains of the wolves whose howls ricocheted for millennia down the lush valleys of the Olympic peninsula in Washington state.
Settlers and trappers killed them all in little more than three decades.
But the loss of the stealthy predators in the early 1900s left a hole in the landscape that scientists say they are just beginning to grasp.
The ripples extend throughout what is now Olympic National Park, leading to a boom in elk populations, overbrowsing of shrubs and trees, and erosion so severe it has altered the very nature of the rivers, says a team of Oregon State University biologists.
The result, they argue, is an environment that is less rich, less resilient and - perhaps - in peril.
"We think this ecosystem is unravelling in the absence of wolves," said OSU ecologist William Ripple.
Everything from salmon to songbirds could feel the fallout from the missing predators, the scientists say.
It sounds hard to believe, but the research adds to growing evidence that key predators do more than simply keep prey species in check.
Most famously, Ripple and his OSU colleague Robert Beschta showed that within three years after wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park and elk populations fell, pockets of trees and shrubs began rebounding.
Beavers returned, coyote numbers dropped and habitat flourished for fish and birds.
It was an "explosive" discovery, said David Graber, regional chief scientist for the National Park Service. "The whole ecosystem re-sorted itself after those wolf populations got large enough."
A push to reintroduce wolves to Olympic National Park a decade ago fizzled in the face of local opposition, but the OSU work could revive the debate.
"If what we're saying is right, and the Park Service believes it, that means they have to do something," Beschta said.
Beschta was searching for cottonwoods in the Hoh river rain forest on a day when clouds and sunshine chased each other across the sky. Centurion cedars unfurled their boughs. Raindrops glistened on waist-high ferns, and a carpet of moss muffled the sound of footfalls.
Few corners of the state are less touched by man, and the idea that an ecological crisis was unfolding seemed laughable.
"To most people, this would look pretty pristine," Beschta conceded.
But decades spent studying forests and rivers have taught him to notice things most people don't.
Those "fern prairies," for example, shouldn't occupy vast swaths of forest floor.
Nor should you be able to see 100 yards in any direction. "This looks like a well-kept lawn," Beschta said with dismay.
Gone is the jungle-like understory of shrubs, young cottonwoods, hemlock and maple reported by early explorers.
Beschta pointed to piles of elk pellets that made walking an obstacle course.
"Trophic cascade" is the term biologists use for the ecological chain of events set off by extermination of wolves and other top predators.
Starting in Yellowstone more than a decade ago, Beschta and Ripple have documented these trickle-down effects in landscapes across the American west.
In Zion National Park, they linked the absence of cougars to an upswing of mule deer and a crash in cottonwoods, followed by stream-bank erosion and declines in butterflies, frogs and native fish.
Similar patterns of vegetation and habitat destruction emerged in Yosemite and Jasper national parks, the latter in Canada.
"We think this may be pretty universal," Ripple said.
Some are sceptical of the pair's conclusions, including Olympic National Park wildlife biologist Patti Happe.
She questions some of the historical records used to conclude the ecosystem has shifted, and points out that increased erosion could be caused by more frequent floods in recent years.
"There's no denying that predation ... would shape the behaviour and population numbers of elk," she said. "But how much, we don't know - and to extrapolate that to salmon and [rivers] is to my mind just too big of a reach."
President Theodore Roosevelt created Mount Olympus National Monument in 1909 to protect the unique subspecies of elk that now bears his name.
None of that solicitude was extended to wolves, which were trapped, poisoned with strychnine and shot on sight.
The final stragglers were killed around 1920.
Elk populations spiked, and park managers warned of the consequences.
"Unless some substitute for this now-absent controlling factor [the wolf] is provided, serious destruction of certain plants and even their total elimination ... will occur," a 1938 report said.
Starvation drove elk numbers down, and the park's year-round population has stabilised at between 3,000 and 5,000 animals, Happe estimated.
But elk today don't behave like they did when wolf packs were on the prowl. Gone is the "ecology of fear" that kept browsers on the move, wary of narrow river bottoms and thick brush.
Bear and cougar occasionally kill elk in the park, but the big herbivores feel complacent enough to hang out in the valleys and eat their fill.
That's disastrous for the young plants they fancy most, like cottonwood, hemlock, big leaf maple and Western red cedar.
With no reason to be looking over their shoulder, they now stand around and eat down to the ground," Beschta said, scanning duff and nurse logs for seedlings.
He finds none. But a cluster of cottonwoods anchors a small clearing, their trunks up to 3 feet (0.9 metres) across.
These patriarchs sprouted 140 years ago or more - a few decades after Lewis and Clark blazed a path to the Pacific.
Beschta and Ripple walked transects in the park's valleys, counting and aging every cottonwood and big leaf maple.
They found that after wolves were eradicated, very few seedlings made it past the knee-high stage.
Along one three-mile stretch of the Hoh, not a single new cottonwood survived the ravenous elk in the last half-century.
"It's totally out of whack," Beschta said.
Just as transplanted wolves have proved resilient, the experience from Yellowstone shows that ecosystems can bounce back when all of their original pieces are restored, Beschta pointed out.
"So if you put wolves back into Olympic National Park, will it recover?" he asked. "We're optimistic."
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Bamboo production brings immense benefits to those involved and importantly to the local environment, which is often in countries of modest means
Agricultural efficiency is easily its largest benefit.
Since bamboos are the fastest growing woody plants in the world, the crop can be replenished quickly.
Furthermore, bamboo is self-regenerating, which means that after the stalk has been cut, it rapidly regrows from the remaining rootstock.
As long as bamboo is grown in its native habitat, its impact on local ecosystems is minimal compared to the destructive foresting practices of timber production.
Although concerns about bamboo as a textile and clothing fabric are warranted (and consumers should probably avoid bamboo textiles unless they're particularly well-informed), bamboo is a remarkably suitable replacement for timber as building material.
It forms a very hard wood that is extremely light weight and exceptionally durable.
And despite the fact that almost all bamboo has to be imported to North America and Europe, the carbon-conscious consumer can rest easier knowing that the fuel-usage for transporting bamboo from Asia to California is essentially equivalent to shipping timber coast-to-coast in the U.S., according to the Department of Energy.
For farmers and local communities in developing countries like Vietnam, it's impossible to deny the economic benefits of growing more bamboo.
The Prosperity Institute estimates that 60% of the value of bamboo production goes right back into the pocket of the farmers who grew it.
And as demand for the gregarious grass increases around the globe, rural economies in Southeast Asia could garner huge benefits by growing and selling bamboo to foreign buyers.
As many as 1.5 billion people already rely upon bamboo or rattan in some significant way, according to the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan.
So even if bamboo isn't an omnibenevolent eco-crop, it's not bad, and it's here to stay
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Friday, March 27, 2009
Google announced recently that the grid like find made by an English aeronautical engineer using Googles new Google Earth 5.0, which includes undersea data was not Atlantis as first believed
True or false it is interesting that the find is in the area of Poseidonis which was in fact the last part of Atlantis to go under the water
For the record the truth of Atlantis is the following
Atlantis was not a city
Nor was it an island
Nor was it destroyed in a day it disappeared over many hundreds of thousands of years
Poseidonis to which he referred was the last remaining Atlantean island of note being about the size of Ireland and located beyond the Straits of Gibraltar
Atlantis proper was an immense continental system that once more or less covered the face of the globe, its main centre being located in what is now the Atlantic Ocean.
Sri Lanka (Ceylon) was the northern headland of one of the Pacific-Atlantean land-masses.
Other surviving remnants of Atlantis are the Azores, the Canaries, and the island of Madeira -- all of which were once mountain-peaks of the Atlantean continent
Lemuria was the third race before the Atlantean Fourth Root-Race
The latter, indeed, must be regarded rather as a development of the Atlantic prolongation of Lemuria, than as an entirely new mass of land upheaved to meet the special requirements of the Fourth Root-Race.
Continuity in natural processes is never broken.
Their continent was formed by the coalescence of many islands and peninsulas which were upheaved in the ordinary course of time and became ultimately the true home of the great Race known as the Atlanteans
Thursday, March 26, 2009
In the first step by a developing country to stop multinational companies patenting traditional remedies from local plants and animals, the Indian government has effectively licensed 200,000 local treatments as "public property" free for anyone to use but no one to sell as a "brand".
The move comes after scientists in Delhi noticed an alarming trend – the "bio-prospecting" of natural remedies by companies abroad.
After trawling through the records of the global trademark offices, officials found 5,000 patents had been issued — at a cost of at least $150m (£104m) — for "medical plants and traditional systems".
More than 2,000 of these belong to the Indian systems of medicine
We began to ask why multinational companies were spending millions of dollars to patent treatments that so many lobbies in Europe deny work at all," said Dr Vinod Kumar Gupta, who heads the Traditional Knowledge Digital Library, which lists in encyclopaedic detail the 200,000 treatments.
The database, which took 200 researchers eight years to compile by meticulously translating ancient Indian texts, will now be used by the European Patent Office to check against "bio-prospectors".
Gupta points out that in Brussels alone there had been 285 patents for medicinal plants whose uses had long been known in the three principal Indian systems: ayurveda, India's traditional medical treatment; unani, a system believed to have come to India via ancient Greece; and siddha, one of India's oldest health therapies, from the south.
Researchers found that in Europe one company had patented an Indian creeping plant known as Brahmi — Bacopa monnieri — for a memory enhancer.
Another patent was awarded for aloe vera for its use as a mouth ulcer treatment.
We have shown the authorities that ayurveda, unani and siddha medicinal uses were known in India.
We would like the patents therefore lifted, said Gupta.
In the past India has had to go to court to get patents revoked.
Officials say that to lift patents from medicines created from turmeric and neem, an Indian tree, it spent more than $5m.
In the case of the neem patent, the legal battle took almost 10 years.
We won because we proved these were part of traditional Indian knowledge.
There was no innovation and therefore no patent should be granted, said Gupta.
As an example the plant shown at the top is Aloe chinensis or Indian Medicine plant, and is the common plant that most in the West know aas Aloe vera
They are native to India and Vietnam and have been used for thousands of years in various treatments
Today they feature in various Western guises being claimed to help various ailments with usually scant or no reference to their origin or Indian heritage
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Monday, March 23, 2009
Professor Bill Ledger, professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at Sheffield University and a member of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, said it was legitimate for a young woman with cancer to have her eggs frozen before chemotherapy seriously damaged her childbearing potential, but it was ethically questionable for women to do it purely for what he called "lifestyle reasons".
We should be very careful about performing medical procedures on healthy people.
The group I worry about are women who are healthy and want to have kids, but do it later.
The image that's portrayed [of egg freezing] is that a woman in her late 20s or early 30s can establish a relationship 10 or 15 years later and then take the eggs out of the freezer, fertilise them with the partner's sperm and have the baby.
That's the dream.
The central issue is that it doesn't work very well.
The chance of a baby from a frozen egg with vitrification is less than 6% per egg.
By doing the egg freezing for social reasons, they are taking a huge gamble for their future.
Concern that babies born using egg freezing may not be healthy should also dissuade women from undertaking the procedure, which costs about £5,000, added Ledger.
Melanie Davies, a professor of reproductive medicine at University College Hospital in London, endorsed Ledger's comments.
They [women] may have a perception that it's a panacea and will guarantee them the opportunity to have a family in later years - that it's some sort of miracle technique.
But it's still early days to be reliant on this technique and at the moment it should not be used for women who want to guarantee a family in the future.
The message has to be that your best chance of having a baby is doing it naturally when you are under 35."
She criticised the recent introduction of an egg-freezing scheme that enables women under 35 to donate some of their eggs for implantation into a recipient in return for the fertility clinic agreeing to store their remaining eggs for free.
Such schemes could lead to the "emotional trauma" of a child born to the recipient tracing its natural donor mother when it turns 18, as the law allows.
Ledger and Davies were speaking in a personal capacity.
Forty-one clinics are licensed to offer egg freezing in the UK
HFEA figures show that 78 women froze their eggs for non-medical reasons in 2007, more than double the 33 who did so the year before, and that their average age was 37.The Guardian
Truly this is also a moral issue
How do you feel about this?
Sunday, March 22, 2009
Saturday, March 21, 2009
Friday, March 20, 2009
Thursday, March 19, 2009
They do this by offering courses and products that will allegedly help the purchaser to advance in their life journey
Nature will support you as when this is correct
Not when you want it
Not on your terms
But when you truly need it
Enlightenment is so far away that you can forget it
Just focus on being the best you can in whatever comes your way day by day
Consciousness evolution is attained by pursuing the truth of things
Enlightenment is something that has been written and spoken about since time immemorial
Enlightenment is the basis of all world teachings however distorted they have become today
True spiritual or consciousness evolution is achieved by being the best you can everyday in every way
Enlightenment is many lives away just focus on the here and now
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Planet Earth cannot sustain itself in the face of the lies and corruption that lead to so many poor decisions based on the greedy needs of the few that are so rampant in many places today
The greed and selfishness that has resulted in our present global financial situation is a perfect example of where greed and corruption lead
Inevitably greed and selfishness feed on themselves and become unstoppable until disaster strikes
The world's bankers competed with each other for more and more profit and chose to pursue reckless strategies which resulted in our current mess
None of them could stop the greed imperative driving them to certain disaster
The lies they told themselves and the world being faithfully reported by the media
Are they apologetic?
Are they contrite?
Have they said they regret their decisions?
No just grudging apologies denying that they did any wrong
Time to say it as it is they made their decisions based on their greed for more
These people are weak and dishonest
These people have lied and continue to do so
Our politicians have yet to show that they understand the anger building amongst the public
And why am I going here?
Teaching 14-16 year olds in a London school recently I was challenged on this subject
If business people, bankers and politicians lie then why should we care about lying said another?
My answer was one that came at the subject from a different direction
Judgement by other men or society is not the only issue
Judgement by society may also not be the strongest reason why we should not lie
We should not lie because if we lie it sets us on a course where because we lie we must assume that others do too
If we assume that others lie as well then we change our experience of life
For the worse
As we continue to lie we learn to make the lie true in the sense that when we lie we learn to defend it and protest that it is the truth and this gets to the point where we actually believe our own lies
People who lie frequently become adept at saying a lie and within the next heart beat have convinced themselves that the lie is the truth
By becoming cynical about life and others liars justify themselves in their own eyes
Only this way can they live with themselves
They have to be right even when it is a lie, a lie which they tell themselves and others is the truth
Over time this leads to cynicism paranoia and this is not a nice state to live in
Trusting no one
Examples of this abound throughout history and to this day
A more interesting reason not to lie maybe is because it is morally wrong
Morals are the fabric of any group and without morals society descends into anarchy
Again examples abound with many countries today showing just what happens when lying is endemic
On a personal level something inside us intuitively knows lying to be wrong
It is this knowing that is the only argument against which there is no reply
We know inside that lying is wrong
Over time not lying is also less wearing
Not lying means less stress when thinking about how we answer any given question
Nor do we get so stressed about the tension that naturally arises when the choice to lie or not to lie arises
We do not lie
Lying is a poor life strategy
Lying is for the weak
Most of the students agreed with my comments
Not all though as one who wants to go into politics said he did not agree because lying is necessary sometimes and he felt this was fine and intended to lie in order to get ahead
And when the lie sometimes becomes the norm where are you then?
My only comment to him was that he had missed the point as life is not only about man things
Life is about doing what is right
Life is about contribution and altruism
Life is about being the best we can in any given situation
This means following the moral and ethical innate something that is inside all of us
Not sure I persuaded him but if he thinks about it then maybe this is OK too
The decision is his as it is for all of us
Lying might seem obscure to our survival but this is not so our future depends on how we choose to behave
And what example are the young getting today?
Make sure that in your own life you are the best that you can be
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Monday, March 16, 2009
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Not hear it
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Friday, March 13, 2009
The ancient Greeks believed that it unleashed the soul upon a lover, whereas the Romans did it to test the sobriety of their wives.
Now scientists have found that kissing alters the love chemicals of the body.
Whatever the reasons why generations of lovers have engaged in the act of open-mouthed snogging, it seems that the mutual caressing of lips and the exchange of saliva changes the levels of the bonding hormone oxytocin released into the bloodstream from the brain.
Intriguingly, oxytocin – which is also released during childbirth and is believed to be involved in the bonding of mother to newborn baby – actually decreases in women during a kissing bout, while it increases in their male partners.
Scientists are unsure why there is this difference between the sexes, but they speculate that it may be connected with the fact that women have naturally higher levels of oxytocin in their bloodstream than men and that kissing just brings them nearer to the male level.
In addition to the changes in oxytocin levels, the scientists also found that a 15-minute bout of kissing with a loved one significantly lowers the levels of the stress hormone cortisol – which can only be good for a lover's sense of well-being.
"The science of kissing, known as philematology, is an under-researched area of study," said Wendy Hill, a professor of neuroscience at Lafayette College, Pennsylvania, who carried out the kissing experiments on 15 heterosexual couples who volunteered their time and their lips.
"Kissing is defined as a behaviour in which an adult male and female touch lips and engage in open mouth-to-mouth contact as a sign of greeting and affection.
[It has been] proposed that kissing originated as an oral food exchange between mothers and infants, a behaviour known as pre-mastication," Professor Hill said.
"Pre-mastication is still common among some non-western societies.
This behaviour closely resembles the kiss that is shared between adult pairs since both involve positive oral contact, neural stimulation and saliva exchange," she told the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Chicago.
Helen Fisher, an anthropologist at Rutgers University, New Jersey, said that kissing may stimulate any one of the three primary brain systems involved in mating and reproduction: the sex drive, romantic love and long-term attachment.
"The sex drive motivates you to seek a range of partners, romantic love motivates you to focus your mating energy on one individual at a time, feelings of attachment motivate you to sustain a pair bond at least long enough to rear a single child through infancy together," Dr Fisher said.
Kissing may have evolved as a fast-acting biological strategy to assess a potential mate quickly and to initiate a sexual partnership.
"Men like sloppier kisses with more open mouths and more tongue movement.
The hypothesis is they're trying to get small traces of oestrogen to see where the woman is in her menstrual cycle to indicate the state of her fertility," Dr Fisher said.
"There are others who think that women use smell as they are kissing to deduce some things about the man's immune system.
That's not proven yet.
"There's some who suggest that by kissing a man a woman is unconsciously able to detect aspects of a particular complex of genes in the immune system, and that what they're doing is being turned on by someone with different variations in the system," she said.
By kissing, "you can the smell the health of their teeth and what they have been eating and drinking and smoking, and these are all devices we use to size up an individual before we do something like have sex with them," Dr Fisher said.
"This is the tip of the iceberg. We are going to find many other mechanisms we unconsciously use to size up a person's biological traits."
Thursday, March 12, 2009
An eminent French cardiologist has triggered an impassioned debate in the medical world over his claim to have discovered a cure for alcoholism.
Dr Olivier Ameisen discovered baclofen had cut addiction in rats
Dr Olivier Ameisen, 55, one of France's top heart specialists, says he overcame his own addiction .to alcohol by self-administering doses of a muscle-relaxant called baclofen.
He has now written a book about his experience - Le Dernier Verre (The Last Glass) - in which he . calls for clinical trials to test his theory that baclofen suppresses the craving for drink.
But many other specialists are sceptical, warning of the dangers of so-called miracle cures.
Dr Ameisen was associate professor of cardiology at New York's Cornell University, and in 1994 he opened a profitable private practice in Manhattan.
But, stricken by an overwhelming feeling of inadequacy - he says he felt like "an impostor waiting to be unmasked" - he found relief in large quantities of whisky and gin.
Encouraging people to think that there is a miracle molecule is to completely misunderstand the nature of alcoholism, Dr Michel Reynaud
Dr Ameisen "I detested the taste of alcohol. But I needed its effects to exist in society," he says in Le Dernier Verre, which comes out in English next month.
Dr Ameisen says he tried every known remedy to end his dependence.
Between 1997 and 1999 he spent a total of nine months confined in clinics - but nothing worked.
Fearing for his own patients, he gave up his practice and returned to Paris.
Then, in 2000, he read an article about an American man who was treated with baclofen for muscle .spasms and found that it eased his addiction to cocaine.
Further investigation uncovered research showing that the drug worked on rats to cut addiction to .alcohol or cocaine.
Some experts say curing alcoholism takes more than just a drug
But, strangely, Dr Ameisen found that baclofen was unknown to specialists on dependence.
In March 2002 he began treating himself with daily doses of five milligrams.
"The first effects were a magical muscular relaxation and baby-like sleep," he says.
Almost immediately he also detected a lessening in his desire for drink.
Gradually, he increased the daily dosage to a maximum of 270mg, and found that he was "cured".
Today he continues to take 30 to 50mg a day.
"Mine is the first case in which a course of medicine has completely suppressed alcohol addiction," he says.
"Now I can have a glass and it has no effect. Above all, I no longer have that irrepressible need to drink."
Some doctors have decided to ignore the fact that the drug is not authorised for treating alcoholism, and report exciting results.
"I prescribed it to two alcoholics who were really at the end of the road. To be honest, it was pretty miraculous," says Dr Renaud de Beaurepaire of the Paul-Guiraud hospital at Villejuif near Paris.
In Geneva, Dr Pascal Garche put 12 patients on baclofen, of whom seven came through reporting marked improvements.
"I have never had reactions like this before. We cannot ignore findings such as this
However, many specialists fear that media excitement over Dr Ameisen's theory is obscuring the complex nature of alcoholism.
"Encouraging people to think that there is a miracle molecule is to completely misunderstand the nature of alcoholism, and is extremely irresponsible, " says Dr Michel Reynaud of Paul-Brousse hospital in Paris.
"We need comprehensive tests to determine how this drug acts, if it is effective and at what dosage, and if it is genuinely harmless in the longer term, " says Alain Rigaud, president of the National Association for the Prevention of Alcoholism and Addiction.
"But even if it turns out to work, that does not mean a drug alone is the solution."
Quite so however this could be very good news for what is undeniably one of mankind's worst addictions
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
This acknowledgment requires a certain detachment and honesty