One of world’s two remaining live specimens — female Fatu who lives with her mother Najin on Kenya’s 90,000-acre Ol Pejeta wildlife conservancy — provided the eggs for the project, while the sperm used was from two different deceased males. https://www.dianomi.com/smartads.epl?id=3533
Scientific consortium Biorescue described in a press release late Thursday how the eggs were collected from Fatu in early July before being airlifted to a lab in Italy for fertilisation, development and preservation.
Neither Fatu nor Najin is capable of carrying a calf to term, so surrogate mothers for the embryos will be selected from a population of southern white rhinos.
Ol Pejeta director Richard Vigne told AFP on Friday that he believed in the project’s chances of success, while emphasising the high stakes.
“No one is going to pretend that this is going to be easy,” he said.
“We are doing things which are cutting-edge from a scientific perspective and we a dealing with genetics, with the two last northen white rhinos left on the planet,” said Vigne.
“There are many, many things that could go wrong,” he said. “I think everybody understand the challenges that remain.”
Since 2019 Biorescue has collected 80 eggs from Najin and Fatu, but the 12 viable embryos all hail from the younger rhino.
The project is a multi-national effort with scientists from the German Leibniz Institute backing the Kenya Wildlife Service and Ol Pejeta, and the Italian Avantea laboratory providing fertilisation support.
Kenyan Tourism Minister Najib Balala welcomed the news.
“It is very encouraging to note that the project has continued to make good progress in its ambitious attempts to save an iconic species from extinction,” he said in the press release.
Rhinoceroses have very few natural predators but their numbers have been decimated by poaching since the 1970s.
Modern rhinos have roamed the planet for 26 million years and it is estimated that more than a million still lived in the wild in the middle of the 19th century.
Global warming is accelerating, bringing the world close to the edge of the precipice. Heat waves, floods and deaths are major news, and asTruthouthasreported, “this summer’s record-breaking temperatures caused by a climate catastrophe that, until recently, even the most pessimistic climatologists thought was still two or three decades out.” Yet, as Noam Chomsky points out in the interview below, corporate media devotedalmost as much coveragein one day to a space cowboy than it did the entire year of 2020 to the biggest crisis facing humanity.
Chaos erupted at Bill West’s business in Page, Arizona, last week when he was forced to tell dozens of paid clients their summer vacations were either canceled or on hold – effective immediately.
West, the owner of a houseboat timeshare company, was scrambling after record-low water levels at Lake Powell – one of the most popular motorized boating destinations in the US – disrupted recreational and tourism activities throughout the region.
West sat in traffic for more than an hour last Friday trying to corral 30 of his houseboat timeshares from the 180-mile-long reservoir before the final deadline. Dozens of vehicles stretched for at least a mile waiting for their turn on a concrete ramp that no longer reached the water. Even four-wheel-drive trucks were getting stuck in the mud as the Lake Powell shoreline retreated faster than federal water managers expected.
During what should have been prime houseboat vacation season, West says he’s forced to cancel timeshare reservations for more than 200 trips this summer. With his business slamming to a halt, he says he may have to lay off as many as 40 employees.
“This is a crisis for our community that is just as bad as Covid,” West said of Page, which has a population of 7,500 and is the main service hub for Lake Powell. “It is peak season and the whole town is being hit hard – the restaurants, the grocery stores, the bars, we are all feeling it.”
While climate change has exacerbated wildfires, heatwaves and flash floods this summer, it is also taking a heavy toll on the tourism industry that’s dependent on Lake Powell. Last week the water line reached a historic low of 3,554ft, a level that has not been seen since 1969, when the reservoir was first filled. The giant reservoir is currently three-quarters empty and will keep dropping at least through next spring due to record low snowpack levels in the Colorado River basin.
If this trend continues, the Park Service is advising boating-based businesses like West’s to make unpredictability part of their business model.
“We sent out plenty of advisories to stakeholders about the possibility of very low lake levels this year and no one took it seriously,” said Billy Shott, superintendent of the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, which manages Lake Powell. He compares the park’s regular drought notices to routine avalanche alerts in the mountains. “Well, now the avalanche has actually happened. Climate change has become real at Lake Powell.”
Out of seven public boat launch ramps at Lake Powell, only Bullfrog in southern Utah – a five-hour drive from Wahweap – remains reliably functional due to a series of recent ramp extensions. But that too may soon become inaccessible. The Bureau of Reclamation predicts there is a 79% chance Lake Powell will drop another 29ft from the current historic low “sometime next year”.
According to a National Park Service report, Glen Canyon had 4.4 million visitors in 2019, making it one of the most visited parks in the country. The visitors spent $427m in Page and the surrounding area and supported 5,243 jobs, including providing a vital source of employment for the nearby Navajo Nation.
Brent Dooley says it’s been an annual family tradition since 2004 to spend a week house-boating on Lake Powell. A total of 12 family members were planning to be on the trip this year until they were forced to make an abrupt change.Advertisement
“We are devastated that our vacation was cancelled,” said Dooley. “We had a really tough year with deaths in the family and all of us being together was going to be our saving grace. But then the lake level dropped and, boom, our vacation is gone.”
Beyond impacts to recreation, climate change is creating other big problems for Lake Powell and its sister reservoirs in the Colorado River storage system that provides water to 40 million people in the western United States. The entire system is depleted from extreme drought conditions and Lake Mead, the country’s largest reservoir, is expected to reach a record low in August that will trigger the first ever mandatory water cutbacks to Arizona and Nevada.
As water managers and the Park Service scramble to adapt an infrastructure that was designed to function optimally when Lake Powell was full – which last happened in 1999 – some environmentalists are fighting to protect the nearly 100,000 acres of land that has emerged from beneath the high water mark.
Before it was buried by Lake Powell, the sprawling region of slickrock canyons called Glen Canyon was described by environmentalist and author Ed Abbey as the “living heart” of the Colorado River. And now that environmental groups, scientists, and cartographers have access to document the restored ecology in hundreds of side canyons, they say it’s time for the park officials to no longer focus solely on maintaining water-based recreation at Lake Powell.
“We are not anti houseboat, we are just pro-Glen Canyon,” says Eric Balken, executive director of the not for profit Glen Canyon Institute based in Salt Lake City. “We want the ecological values of Glen Canyon to be part of the discussion about how to move forward during climate change.”
Balken says there is huge potential for other recreational opportunities in the side canyons that emerge out of Lake Powell. And the Page boating industry agrees that the newly accessible scenic areas in Glen Canyon are a big draw for tourists. “My customers say they have never seen so many beautiful places to park a houseboat,” says West. “The lower the lake gets the better it becomes for camping.”
A COVID-19 particle is pictured in this image provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. – CDC/TNS/TNS
The U.S. has reported the highest number of new COVID-19 cases in the world over the last seven days, according to the World Health Organization. The U.S. saw 500,332 new cases (a 131% increase) the week ending July 25 compared with the previous week, the WHO said. The world at large saw 3.8 million new cases (an 8% increase) over the same time period. More troublingly, the number of deaths related to COVID-19 (more than 69,000) represented a 21% jump. “An average of around 540 000 cases were reported each day over the past week as compared to 490 000 cases reported daily the week before.
Yet those numbers, horrific as they are, do not tell the full story of the devastation caused by this summer’s record-breaking temperatures caused by a climate catastrophe that, until recently, even the most pessimistic climatologists thought was still two or three decades out. Indeed, the mortality data show that recent deaths were not simply a result of just one extreme “heat event.” There have already been a series of “heat domes” — a phenomenon in which extreme heat generated by warm ocean air is trapped under a high-pressure cap — parked over the western part of the continent this summer, with more on the way.
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Awful as the recent numbers coming out of the western U.S. are, those preliminary numbers do not tell the full story of excess mortality — a story that takes time to fully investigate. Moreover, they do not tell the more intimate story of who is getting sick and dying, and of the disparate impact — too often ignored in the broader political conversation — of these increasingly devastating environmental cataclysms on poorer communities of color.
“When it comes to heat waves and the violence they produce, we have this will not to know that makes it very difficult to act,” explains Eric Klinenberg, a New York University professor of sociology and author of the 2002 book Heat Wave, about a lethal weather event in Chicago in the summer of 1995 that resulted in hundreds of isolated, mainly elderly residents dying. “There’s something existentially challenging about absorbing the reality of climate change, what it means for how we live, how we settle, how we organize our lives. The health risks of heat are hard for people to understand — because they’re not like fires or hurricanes or earthquakes where everyone can recognize the threat. Heat doesn’t feel scary to most Americans, because we’re one of the most air-conditioned, artificially cooled nations on Earth — so it’s hard to generate political will to protect poor people in heat waves.”
In the coming years, Klinenberg fears, the U.S. is uniquely ill-positioned to deal with the consequences of an escalating global warming crisis. “We have a climate emergency, a racial justice emergency, an inequality emergency and a social infrastructure emergency,” he argues. “We have to deal with the fact that there is grotesque poverty in the United States, and that cities are heat ovens. That combination of poverty and urban heat leaves our vulnerability to climate events extreme. We still have a chance to avert the worst possibilities with climate change, but we still have centuries of warming baked in because of greenhouse gas emissions we’ve already put out into the atmosphere. So we have no choice but to adapt.”
The lifestyles of around three average Americans will create enough planet-heating emissions to kill one person, and the emissions from a single coal-fired power plant are likely to result in more than 900 deaths, according to thefirst analysisto calculate the mortal cost of carbon emissions.
The new research builds upon what is known as the “social cost of carbon”, a monetary figure placed upon the damage caused by each ton of carbon dioxide emissions, by assigning an expected death toll from the emissions that cause the climate crisis.
Minister of Agriculture Lana Popham provides an update about fish farms in the province during a press conference at the legislature in Victoria on June 20, 2018. File photo by The Canadian Press/Chad HipolitoListen to article
British Columbia has placed a moratorium on newminkfarms and capped existing farms at their current numbers after two more of the animals tested positive for the virus that causesCOVID-19.
The Agriculture Ministry says each farm is required to report the total number of mink to the provincial health officer and the medical health officer in their regional health authority.
The new provincial health order comes after two mink tested positive for the virus on a farm that’s been under quarantine and samples from five more of the animals…
Known as ‘forever’ chemicals due to the fact they do not break down in the environment, poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are used in a wide range of products and processes from fire proofing to stain resistant surfaces.
The Lancaster University study has found them in the surface seawater close to melting Arctic ice floes at concentrations of up to two times higher than levels observed in the North Sea, even though the region of the Barents Sea under investigation was thousands of kilometers from populated parts of Europe.
The research has shown these chemicals have traveled not by sea, but through the atmosphere, where they accumulate in Arctic sea ice. Because Arctic ice is melting more quickly than before, these harmful chemicals are efficiently released into surrounding seawater resulting in some very high concentrations.
Lancaster’s Dr. Jack Garnett and Professor Crispin Halsall along with colleagues from HZG, Germany, have been investigating the long range transport and deposition of PFAS to the Arctic as part of EISPAC—a project jointly funded by UK’s NERC and Germany’s BMBF as part of the Changing Arctic Ocean program.
PFAS comprise of a very large number of chemicals that have myriad uses, including processing aids in the manufacture of fluoropolymers like Teflon, stain and water repellents in food packaging, textiles and clothing, as well as use in firefighting foams.
One particular group of these chemicals—the perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs) – are extremely stable and do not degrade in the environment but can bioaccumulate and are known to be toxic to humans and wildlife.
PFAAs can enter the food chain due to their mobility in the environment and protein-binding characteristics. The longer carbon chain compounds of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) are generally associated with liver damage in mammals, with developmental exposure to PFOA adversely affecting fetal growth in humans and other mammals alike.
Dr. Jack Garnett discovered an unusual phenomenon whereby PFAAs present in the atmosphere are deposited with snowfall onto the surface of ice floes where they can eventually accumulate within the sea ice. Jack made this observation while taking ice and water samples as part of a scientific expedition under the Norwegian Nansen Legacy project (arvenetternansen.com/).
Undertaking both salinity and stable isotope analysis of snow, ice and seawater, he was able to determine what contribution of the water locked in snow and ice came from the atmosphere and what contribution arose from seawater. This way it was possible to assess the role that atmospheric transport from far away regions had on the presence of these chemicals in the ice.
The PFAA present in the atmospheric component was much higher than the seawater component, confirming that long range transport and deposition from the atmosphere is the main source of these chemicals to the remote Arctic rather than ‘recycling’ of older stocks of these pollutants present in ocean waters.
Furthermore, the team’s studies conducted in a sea ice facility at the University of East Anglia, found that the presence of brine (highly saline water) in young ice serves to enrich contaminants like PFAS in different layers within the sea ice. PFAS like other organic pollutants, generally reside in the brine rather than the solid ice matrix itself. As the ice ages the brine becomes more concentrated resulting in an enrichment of these pollutants into focused areas within the ice pack.
Prolonged periods of thaw, particularly when the ice floes are still covered in snow, results in the re-mobilization of the ice brine and also the interaction of snow meltwater with the brine. This can result in marked release of PFAAs into the underlying seawater.
Brine channels on the underside of ice serve as unique habitats for organisms at the base of the marine foodweb, and, as a consequence, they will be exposed to high levels of PFAAs released with brine drainage and meltwater from the thawing ice pack.
Prof Halsall a co-author of the recent Arctic Monitoring Assessment Program (AMAP) report on “POPs and Chemicals of Emerging Arctic Concern: The Influence of Climate Change,” says that we have an unfortunate situation where the Arctic Ocean is now dominated by one-year ice at the expense of multi-year ice due to global warming. Meaning that the majority of the ice in the Arctic has formed the previous winter, rather than over many years.
This one-year ice contains a lot of mobile brine that interacts with the overlying snowpack and can serve to concentrate pollutants like PFAS which are usually found at very low levels.
Unfortunately, with earlier and more erratic thaw events, this can lead to the rapid release of the stored chemicals resulting in high concentrations in the waters surrounding the ice floes.
It is only through this type of investigative science that we can understand the dynamics of pollutant behavior and identify key hazards, particularly those related to climate change.
In turn this can drive international legislation so that chemicals that exhibit this type of behavior are banned.