The Art of Sustainable Living

My grandmother passed away a few years ago. She had few possessions: only one suitcase full of clothes and a cabinet of dishes.

I thought about how many possessions I had and came to the shocking realization that all my stuff would fill at least five large suitcases. That is when I thought: How many things do I actually use on a daily basis from all the stuff I have? I struggled to think of more than ten items, yet my home is filled to the brim with all kinds of paraphernalia. I felt rather disturbed and guilty when I realized I’ve been hoarding so much stuff for all these years without actually using it.

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Ship Noise Makes Young Eels Stressed and Vulnerable to Predation

Noise pollution in the ocean isn’t just a nuisance; it has grave consequences for the survival of some marine organisms. A recent study reveals that ship noises make young eels stressed and when confronted with predators, they are less likely to fend off attacks due to impaired escape behaviors, known as antipredator responses. 

During exposure to harbor ship noise, young eels were less responsive when faced with a looming predator and showed slower escape behaviors than eels exposed to sounds of the harbor only. And when pursued in a simulated predator chase, they were caught faster than eels exposed to harbor-only sounds.

While humans have explored the oceans for centuries, ship traffic now is greater than ever before, largely because of international trade. Commercial shipping activity—transporting the myriad of consumer goods we have become increasingly reliant on—pervades the oceans. Many of the goods transported by ships may make our lives easier, but these unfamiliar man-made noises can pose a threat to marine organisms. In some cases, the effects could mean the difference between life and death.

Two cargo ships in San Francisco Image: Line0534 by NOAA - California Publication of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), USA

Two cargo ships in San Francisco
Image: Line0534 by NOAA – California Publication of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), USA via Wikipedia

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Rising Ocean Acidity Weakens Hunting Ability in Sharks

Sharks, the ocean’s top predators, renowned for their impressive hunting abilities, rely extensively on their keen sense of smell to hunt prey located miles away—earning themselves the label “swimming noses.” But a new study reveals that high levels of seawater acidity expected due to climate change can diminish their ability to track prey through sensing of odors.

The smooth dogfish, a shark whose range includes the Atlantic Ocean off the eastern United States, could lose their ability to sense the smell of food if climate change if ocean acidification continues its current pace.  Credit: Danielle Dixson/Georgia Tech

The smooth dogfish, a shark whose range includes the Atlantic Ocean off the eastern United States, could lose their ability to sense the smell of food due to ocean acidification if climate change continues at its current pace.
Credit: Danielle Dixson/Georgia Tech

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Bacteria Can Colonize New Hosts by Modifying Their Environment

Some of the bacterial diseases that plague us come from animals—Anthrax, Salmonella, and Lyme disease are just a few examples. Known as zoonotic diseases, their transmission is driven by the ability of bacteria, which are constantly evolving, to adapt to and colonize new hosts.

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Developing Countries to Become Major Climate Change Contributors by 2030—Later Than Previous Estimates

Developed nations have dominated global surface temperature change historically, and according to a new study, they will continue to do so until 2030, when developing nations, particularly the two population giants—China and India—will overtake them. 

“This is significant,” said lead author Daniel Ward, a postdoctoral researcher from Cornell University, because most human-induced “climate change will come from developed countries until about the year 2030, whereas previous estimates put this ‘crossover’ year at 2020 or earlier.” 

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Only a Fraction of Cauliflower Coral Larvae May Tolerate Ocean Conditions in 2100

Coral reefs are undoubtedly the treasures of our oceans. Every month during the new moon, cauliflower corals found thriving in the shallow waters of the Indian and Pacific oceans, release larvae that migrate through currents and swim to faraway locations for settlement. Swimming requires large amounts of energy reflected in high metabolic rates among larvae. But few survive this journey fraught with danger; they are at risk of predation and vulnerable to dynamic ocean environments. Adding to their woes, climate change may render our oceans warmer and more acidic by the of the century. How will cauliflower coral larvae respond to these environmental changes? A study suggests that only a fraction may possess the ability to adapt and persist.

Pocillopora sp. Photo credit: wildsingapore via photopin cc

Pocillopora sp.
Photo credit: wildsingapore via photopin cc

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Increased Water Intake Improves Sleep/Wake Cycle and Mood

Most of us probably hardly pay any attention to how much water we drink per day. And while you may have heard that drinking more water is good for your health, little is known about how water intake affects us, especially our mood? A study by French researchers that explored the effects of changes in water intake on mood state found that increasing water intake can improve one’s overall mood whereas reducing water intake has the opposite effect.

Image: Free Digital Photos

Image: Free Digital Photos

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