Genetic Engineering Versus GMO



Thanks to Anthropocene for this summary of promising new findings for the GMO-concerned:

A novel approach to pesticide-free, non-GMO food?

Sani Choice, Yasuni Future


Wildlife watch … the author’s guide, Victor, explores an area of flooded forest in the Yasuni national park, Ecuador. Photograph: The Guardian

The Guardian keeps attention on this difficult balancing act, requiring Solomonic wisdom, that we have linked to on more than one occasion:

Ecuador’s Yasuni park: where oil vies with tourism for the rainforest

The Sani people face a choice between encouraging ecotourism to their rainforest – one of the world’s most biodiverse – and allowing in the oil companies

Kevin Rushby

Fernando was sitting on his veranda listening to the whoops and whistles of the jungle. Our visit was a surprise, but the old man was soon answering my questions, keen to talk.

“I arrived here in about 1960,” he told me. “A group of us came to start a new life. Hunting was easy. The animals were almost tame. We just used a blowpipe, no guns.” Continue reading

Farms, Interns, Valuable Life Experience


We have a long, productive and gratifying history with internships, and so we take note when the Thanks to the Atlantic’s website for this:

The Benefits of Interning on a Farm

Video by The Perennial Plate

High in the mountains of Telluride, Colorado, Tomten Farms offers the opportunity to learn agriculture through an internship program. Continue reading

Carbon Capture’s Unintended Consequences


Photo: Ryan T. Flickr Creative Commons.

Be careful what you wish for as this summary of a new scientific study reminds us:

Could carbon capture fuel our carbon addiction?

Monkeys & Tools


Monkey see, monkey smash. T. Falótico

Ed Yong’s recent story about this cleverest of creatures:

Rock-Smashing Monkeys Unintentionally Make Sharp Stone Tools

What this says—and doesn’t say—about the evolution of human technology

In 2014, Michael Haslam wedged between two boulders in northeast Brazil and filmed some monkeys. Oblivious to the voyeur, the monkeys—bearded capuchins—began smashing stones together. They lifted small cobbles into the air and brought these down upon a rock face, like a hammer upon an anvil. In the process, the hammer stones would often shatter.

After the monkeys had gone, Haslam picked up some of these broken fragments—and was amazed. Many had sharp edges, and looked remarkably like human tools. Continue reading



Midnight Snappers, Fusiliers, and Triggers school in deep water, photographed in the waters off Kofiau. Photo © Jeff Yonover

Nature Conservancy’s blog,

We Can Have Oceans Teeming with Fish with FishFace Technology


Traditional methods of gathering fisheries data can take as long as one or two years, costing time and money that many imperiled global fisheries don’t have.

Enter FishFace, a new application under development by The Nature Conservancy in partnership with Refind Technologies. Similar to facial recognition software used to identify people, FishFace uses artificial intelligence to learn to recognize fish species in photographs. Continue reading

National Park of the Week: Ras Mohammad National Park


Overlooking the Gulf of Suez on the west and the Gulf of Aqaba to the east, Ras Mohammad National Park  in Egypt lies at the southern extreme of the Sinai Peninsula and offers waters that are considered to be the jewel in the crown of the Red Sea. The coastline, characterized by vertical overhangs at least 100m deep,  is surrounded by fringing coral reefs that emerged after a change in the coastline 70,000 years ago. Due to its location at the juncture of the two gulfs, the combining waters of varying salinity has lead to a magnificent array of reef and pelagic fish, diverse coral reef and luxuriant sea walls.

Continue reading

Solar Rising


A road divides solar panels at the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System in the Mojave Desert, Nevada. Photograph: Bloomberg/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Those of us who live near the Kochi Airport in Kerala, India feel pretty proud of our 100% solar-powered access to the outside world; but this story tells us to expect even more in the USA soon:

US energy shakeup continues as solar capacity set to triple

Solar expected to almost triple in less than three years by 2017 as coal continues to fall, solidifying gas as country’s chief electricity source, reports Climate Central

Bobby Magill for Climate Central, part of the Guardian Environment Network

Solar power capacity in the US will have nearly tripled in size in less than three years by 2017 amid an energy shakeup that has seen natural gas solidify its position as the country’s chief source of electricity and coal power continue to fade, according to monthly data published by the US Department of Energy. Continue reading

Health Via Happiness


Illustration by Jeanine Murch

Thanks to Harvard Magazine for this one:


Can Happiness Make You Healthier?

THE QUEST to study human happiness, including its causes and effects, even agreeing on a definition is a formidable undertaking. Joy, euphoria, contentment, satisfaction—each of these, at times, has been used as a proxy or emphasized in research studies. Continue reading

Remote Living, Well Done

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Edinburgh of the Seven Seas, Tristan da Cunha, South Atlantic Ocean michael clarke stuff / Wikipedia

Thanks to EcoWatch for keeping us posted on the greenish news from the bottom edge of the planet:

World’s Most Remote Village Is About to Become Self-Sufficient World’s Most Remote Village Is About to Become Self-Sufficient 

The most remote village on Earth, located on Tristan da Cunha in the South Atlantic Ocean, is about to get a 21st century upgrade thanks to an international design competition aimed at creating a more sustainable future for the farming and fishing community. Continue reading

New Study on How Boobies Dive Safely

Replicas of gannet skulls from the collection at the Smithsonian Institution allowed researchers to measure the forces a bird’s skill experiences during a dive. (Photo by Sunny Jung/Virginia Tech via Smithsonian)

Replicas of gannet skulls from the collection at the Smithsonian Institution allowed researchers to measure the forces a bird’s skill experiences during a dive. (Photo by Sunny Jung/Virginia Tech)

The title may seem silly, but I can’t help that a whole family of birds are alternatingly called boobies or gannets – most of us have heard of the Blue-footed Booby, but there are several other species, all of which hunt for fish by diving, head first, at extremely high speeds from many meters above the water. For a human entering water at fifty miles an hour, a neck injury would be a certainty, and even organ damage could occur, but boobies/gannets accomplish the dives plenty of times during a day’s hunting, with no apparent problem. It seems that their physiology, as well as the way they contract their muscles during the plunge, save them from harm. From the Smithsonian Insider:

New research from Virginia Tech, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, the National Museum of Rio de Janeiro and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences helps explain how the birds manage these high-speed dives.

“We were interested in what happens when objects plunge into water, so we looked for examples in nature; the gannets are incredible,” said Sunny Jung, an associate professor of biomedical engineering and mechanics in the College of Engineering and an expert in fluid biomechanics; he has also studied dogs’ unusual drinking technique and how shrimp use microscopic bubbles to hunt.

Continue reading

Public Art Pulling More Than Its Own Weight

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Thanks to Anthropocene:

Art That Delivers Clean Water & Power

An international competition challenges designers to show that clean energy production and dazzling public art can be one and the same

Since 2010, the Land Art Generator Initiative (LAGI) has sponsored site-specific design competitions, soliciting ideas for public art that generates clean power. Its 2016 contest was the most ambitious yet. It called on designers to conceive of art installations that generate both clean power and water for the city of Santa Monica, California. Continue reading

Before the Flood


Leonardo DiCaprio in a scene from the global-warming documentary “Before the Flood.” Credit National Geographic

Have you seen it? Let us know if the reviewer got it right:

Review: In ‘Before the Flood,’ Leonardo DiCaprio Sounds the Climate-Change Alarm

Even if you subscribe to the view that a problem isn’t a problem until a Hollywood celebrity tells you it is, “Before the Flood” feels out of phase. It’s a documentary in which Leonardo DiCaprio sounds the alarm about global warming, something that could not possibly have escaped anyone’s attention in recent years and is at this point probably beyond discussion: Either you think climate change is real or you don’t, and the battle lines aren’t likely to be shifted by an earnest movie star. Continue reading

Birding from VdF: Todos Santos

Oasis Playa Las Palmas de San Pedro, near Todos Santos

Oasis Playa Las Palmas de San Pedro, near Todos Santos

Check out my last post for an introduction to this series and to read about the Sierra de la Laguna.

At three hours away from Villa del Faro, the town of Todos Santos is a bit of a stretch for a day trip, but could be accomplished by a determined driver or could be an addition to a stay here on the East Cape. Todos Santos is a very pleasant town on the Pacific coast of the southern Baja Peninsula, and two spots in particular are relatively well-visited by birders in the region: a little wetland area right by the beach at the southern edge of town called La Poza de Todos Santos (poza meaning “pool” or “puddle”) and a hotel associated with the spot called Hotel Posada la Poza (posada meaning “inn” or “lodge”).

Continue reading

Fiber Fashion

PiñatexTM production will bring new income opportunities for pineapple harvest farmers in developing countries, with the initial development stage taking place in the Philippines

We’re not insensitive to the frequent commentary on both news and social media by animal rights activists against viewing animals as commodities. With those feelings in mind, this discovery of Ananas Anam, a not for profit organization that is developing leather-like textiles using natural fibers that are the by-product of the pineapple harvest, is an exciting one.

I’ll definitely be on the look out for Pinatex products and hope our readers will as well!

ananas- anam – new materials for a new world


Ananas Anam supports pineapple-farming communities in the Philippines. We are developing a new industry that will enhance the social network in rural areas as farmers will be able to sell fibres as a commercial and viable proposition.

Furthermore, the farming communities will benefit from the potential output of natural fertilizer/biogas which is the by-product of fibre extraction.

Other pineapple-growing developing countries will join the Philippines in the production of Piñatex, which will support local economies and strengthen their exports. Continue reading