Europe's Plastic Bag Agreement Contested by Industry As lawmakers reached agreement this week to limit the use of plastic bags across Europe, industry voices warned that such rules will have a negative impact on trade in Europe's internal market. The ban could also lead to different standards in legislation in member states and ultimately, to a ban on other types of packaging, according to PlasticsEurope, the association of plastics manufacturers. The European Parliament and the Council agreed on Friday (21 November) on EU-wide legislation obliging member states to reduce the use of plastic bags. The law will apply only to bags with a thickness below 0.05mm, because they are less reusable, and turn into waste more quickly.
How the environment can trigger disease Using a new imaging technique, National Institutes of Health researchers have found that the biological machinery that builds DNA can insert molecules into the DNA strand that are damaged as a result of environmental exposures. These damaged molecules trigger cell death that produces some human diseases, according to the researchers. The work provides a possible explanation for how one type of DNA damage may lead to cancer, diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular and lung disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Establishing marine protected areas to fight illegal fishing Do you know how that tuna sashimi got to your dinner plate? Probably not—and chances are, the restaurant that served it to you doesn’t know, either. A new policy paper argues that illicit fishing practices are flying under the radar all around the world, and global society must combat them in order to keep seafood on the menu. According to the paper, published in Science, fishing practices that are illegal, unreported and unregulated (collectively referred to as IUU) are ubiquitous. They range from bottom trawlers scouring the seafloor—sometimes catching more illegal species than legal ones—to small boats simply not reporting their catch.
Climate change, species extinctions and tipping points Researchers from North Carolina State University have created a model that mimics how differently adapted populations may respond to rapid climate change. Their findings demonstrate that depending on a population's adaptive strategy, even tiny changes in climate variability can create a "tipping point" that sends the population into extinction.Carlos Botero, postdoctoral fellow with the Initiative on Biological Complexity and the Southeast Climate Science Center at NC State and assistant professor of biology at Washington State University, wanted to find out how diverse populations of organisms might cope with quickly changing, less predictable climate variations.
Hope for the Monarch Butterfly When millions of monarch butterflies take to the sky and fly thousands of kilometres from the United States and southern Canada to Mexico, the view is breathtaking. But over the last few decades, their numbers have plummeted, and last year hit an all-time low. Illegal logging in Mexican forests, where the monarchs hibernate during winter, has traditionally been to blame. But large-scale logging by companies appears to have been halted. And now small-scale logging by local people for firewood and timber — a “growing concern in 2013” — has also stopped, according to a study published last month (27 October) in Biological Conservation.
World Bank warns effects of warming climate now unavoidable As the planet continues to warm, heat-waves and other extreme weather events that today occur once in hundreds of years, if ever, will become the “new climate normal,” creating a world of increased risks and instability, a new World Bank study warns. The consequences for development would be severe as crop yields decline, water resources shift, sea-levels rise, and the livelihoods of millions of people are put at risk, according to a new scientific report released today by the World Bank Group.
Good News for the Black-Footed Ferret When you hear about an animal becoming extinct, most assume that the species is gone for good, never to be seen again. That’s not the case for North America’s rarest mammal, the black-footed ferret. 35 years after being declared extinct, the adorable critter is re-emerging in the western U.S. and Canadian prairie land.
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