Clean and abundant water is the most essential need for all human societies and the supply of it is threatened by increasing populations and volatile climate patterns. The quality of water is threatened by a host of contaminants, most of our own making.
A group of more than 200 scientists and medical professionals has issued a consensus statement in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives urging that antimicrobial chemicals like triclosan and triclocarban should not be used in consumer products. The experts say that these substances offer no health benefits and are actually causing health and environmental harm.
A South African court recently overturned a national ban on the trade of rhinoceros horns – a decision that was celebrated by the country’s commercial rhino breeders but slammed by animal preservation groups. A moratorium on rhino horn trade had been in effect in South Africa since 2009.
There are many environmental problems associated with ruminant livestock and these problems continue to grow as the demand for meat-rich diets increases around the world. One of the biggest problems is that cows emit methane through eructation (or belching) as they chew their cud. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, some 25 times more potent at trapping heat than carbon dioxide. More than a quarter of all human-originated methane going into the atmosphere comes from raising livestock.
DNA analysis has become commonplace and inexpensive. Millions of people have their DNA tested to learn about their origins and family connections. And the technology has spread to biological research in the form of Environmental DNA or eDNA, which is such a powerful tool that it is transforming the field of wildlife biology.
The United Nations declared 2016 to be the International Year of Pulses. Pulses, which are also known as grain legumes, are a group of 12 crops that includes dry beans, dry peas, chickpeas and lentils. They are high in protein as well as fiber and various vitamins. Pulse crops are highly sustainable and require much less water than many other food crops. So there is a real effort underway to promote their production as part of improving food security around the world.