Another short compendium today, though not for lack of searching. We begin with this from the Ecologist:
California burning points to more intense wildfires
As the forest fires burn on in the western US, writes Kieran Cooke, a new report predicts that climate-led temperature rise will lead to millions more acres across the world being burned to the ground, especially in southern Europe and Australia.
Smoke from fires burning at present in northern California has been detected as far north as Canada.
Thousands of firefighters are battling to contain blazes that together cover nearly 300,000 acres of forest and shrub wood. And it looks like things are going to get worse.
And now a new report by the US-based Cost of Carbon Pollution project forecasts that such fires are going to become ever more intense in the years ahead – not just in the western US, but elsewhere round the world, and particularly in areas of southern Europe and in Australia.
Next, an overdose from the Atlantic Monthly:
The FDA Says Farmers Are Giving Animals Too Many Antibiotics
Overuse of the drugs has increased over the past few years. That’s not good for human health.
A piece of bad news from the Food and Drug Administration: In the war against antibiotic overuse, the antibiotics are winning.
The amount of antibiotics given to farm animals in the United States increased by 16 percent between 2009 and 2012, the agency announced in a new report, and nearly 70 percent of those used are considered “medically important” for humans. That’s trouble for us as much as it is for our four-legged friends, who consume the majority of antibiotics in the U.S.—as much as 80 percent are given to the chickens, pigs, and cows bound for our grocery-store shelves, both to spur more rapid growth and to proactively protect them from disease.
Such widespread use of antibiotics has led to bugs that are getting tougher and tougher to treat. Worldwide, strains of drug-resistant tuberculosis and gonorrhea are on the rise. In the U.S., antibiotic resistance caused more than two million illnesses in 2013, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and an estimated 23,000 deaths, adding up to more than $20 million in healthcare costs.
From the Guardian, beguiled by the long green?:
WWF International accused of ‘selling its soul’ to corporations
- Pandaleaks writer says conservation group has forged links with business which is using it to ‘greenwash’ their operations
WWF International, the world’s largest conservation group, has been accused of “selling its soul” by forging alliances with powerful businesses which destroy nature and use the WWF brand to “greenwash” their operations.
The allegations are made in an explosive book previously barred from Britain. The Silence of the Pandas became a German bestseller in 2012 but, following a series of injunctions and court cases, it has not been published until now in English. Revised and renamed Pandaleaks, it will be out next week.
Its author, Wilfried Huismann, says the Geneva-based WWF International has received millions of dollars from its links with governments and business. Global corporations such as Coca-Cola, Shell, Monsanto, HSBC, Cargill, BP, Alcoa and Marine Harvest have all benefited from the group’s green image only to carry on their businesses as usual.
The Independent sounds a death knell:
Elephants and rhinos ‘could be extinct within two decades’ because of ivory poaching
Elephants and rhinos could be extinct within the next two decades, conservation campaigners are warning.
Wildlife campaigners say an estimated 35,000 elephants and 1,000 rhinos are killed each year as demand for ivory and rhino horn drives increasing poaching rates.
This demand means both species could potentially be wiped out within the next 20 years.
From the Jakarta Globe, capital critter conservation:
US Reduces Indonesian Debt in Exchange for Wildlife Protection
The United States has struck a deal to reduce Indonesia’s debts in exchange for Jakarta pledging about $12 million for programs to protect endangered species and their habitats on Sumatra island, conservationists said Friday.
The move adds to a similar agreement in 2009, under which the Indonesian government pledged $30 million for increased protection of Sumatra’s forests, said NGO Conservation International, which helped broker the deal.
The agreement, which was inked this week, will provide additional funds for environmental groups to improve programmes aimed at protecting the Sumatran low-land rainforests as well as efforts to increase populations of threatened animals.
The New York Times looks at the C-word in Brazil:
Clashing Visions of Conservation Shake Brazil’s Presidential Vote
From the podium at the United Nations to declarations on the campaign trail, President Dilma Rousseff is celebrating Brazil’s protection of the Amazon. But satellite data released last month shows that Brazil’s annual deforestation rate in the Amazon has climbed again after years of declines, rising 29 percent, leaving her vulnerable to attacks in this nation’s acrimonious presidential race. The vote is on Sunday.
“The mantra in Brasília is that they have deforestation under control, but the evidence on the ground shows this is not true,” said Philip M. Fearnside, a prominent researcher at the National Institute for Amazon Research in Manaus, the Amazon’s largest city.
Beyond alarming scientists, who note the importance of the vast rain forest to the world’s climate and biodiversity, the sparring over the Amazon symbolizes clashing visions of Brazil’s future. Both Ms. Rousseff and her top rival, Marina Silva, an environmental leader, say they want forest conservation, but the president’s model seeks economic growth by tapping into the Amazon’s natural resources, including huge mining projects and dams.
And our final item, via the Mainichi, mutating munchies:
Food safety commission recognizes snack food compound can cause gene mutations
The Cabinet Office’s Food Safety Commission called acrylamides, a chemical compound found in snack foods like potato chips, a carcinogen that can cause gene mutations, in a draft it released on Oct. 3.
The draft marks the first official evaluation of acrylamides’ alleged carcinogenic properties by Japanese authorities. In other countries, these properties have been recognized since the early 2000s based on various research studies, and those countries have been warning consumers about them. The Japanese food safety commission team has been independently looking into the substance’s properties since December 2011.
Based on animal experiments in Japan and in other countries, the team determined that acrylamides are carcinogens that can mutate genes and chromosomes and therefore even have effects on the subsequent generation.