Archive | April 2020

Making the Fed’s Money Printer Go Brrrr for the Planet

warm future illo

We have to save the biosphere from catastrophic heating. We also have a market that won’t invest enough in this project. So governments need to do it, by way of creating new money specifically targeted to pay for rapid decarbonization.

“These Lobsters Can Breakdown Microplastics – And That’s Bad News”

A Norway lobster, also known as a Dublin Bay Prawn, is considered to be the most important commercial crustacean in Europe.

As the microplastic pieces swallowed by the lobster make it through the gastric mill, the pieces are ground into even smaller particles that can go through the lobster’s digestive tract. Presumably, these tiny plastic particles are eventually released back into the seawater with the lobster’s other undigested excrement.

Unfortunately, in producing even tinier plastic pieces, these lobsters are releasing microplastics that smaller animals may confuse for food. In other words, the lobster’s grinding of plastic may expand the number of ocean animals at risk of accidentally eating plastic.

“An extraordinary feat pulled off by a lizard could suggest the species is going through a rare evolutionary transition”

Three-toed skink, Saiphos equalis, Craven, New South Wales, Australia (Photo by: Auscape/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Recently, a three-toed skink (Saiphos equalis) pulled off an extraordinary feat: It laid three eggs and delivered another baby through live birth in the same pregnancy. That suggests that the lizard species is in a rare transitional form between egg-laying and live-bearing animals, according to a study published in Molecular Ecology last month.

“Nobody Knows How to Wean Manatees Off Coal Plants”

A tale of unnatural symbiosis.

Manatees are the chubby vegan hippies of the sea. Neither predator nor prey, the world’s three remaining species are all considered vulnerable, including the West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus), of which the Florida manatee is a subspecies. Manatees seem to have evolved almost immune to Darwinian struggle. They’re small-brained, radically farsighted, almost deaf, and barely able to smell—effectively floating digestion machines propelled by paddle-like tails. They survive mostly on seagrass, 100 to 200 pounds of which is working through a manatee’s intestinal system at a given moment. Their lungs stretch the entire length of their trunk, helping them maintain optimal buoyancy so they can munch like Jersey cows grazing a field of clover. Yet though manatees are sitting targets, even sharks leave them alone, uninterested in an animal that, despite its corpulence, lacks a tasty, insulating layer of blubber. So unflappable are manatees that a wild one will roll over and let its only true predator—us—rub its tender underside.