Archive for June, 2013

Nature Ramble

Cambodia is not a country we hear much of, unless it is about land grabs and deforestation, so to have a nature story is rare.

Cambodian tailorbird: A new species seen in Phnom Penh

Studies to differentiate the new species from other tailorbirds included analyses of their songs

A species of bird that is completely new to science has been discovered – hiding in plain sight in Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh.

The Cambodian tailorbird (Orthotomus chaktomuk), as it has been named, was first spotted in 2009 during routine checks for avian flu.

More specimens have since been found in regions around the city and discerned from similar tailorbird species.

The discovery is outlined in the Oriental Bird Club journal, Forktail.

Tailorbirds are in the warbler family, and get their name from the meticulous preparation of their nests, weaving leaves together.

A detailed set of tests – from the birds’ plumage to their songs and their genes – has now shown that O. chaktomuk is in fact a separate, new species.

It is exceptionally uncommon for undiscovered bird species to be found in urban contexts, but Oriental Bird Club council member Richard Thomas said that earlier in the year, he “went and saw this remarkable new tailorbird myself – in the middle of a road construction site”.

The authors of the paper suggest that O. chaktomuk inhabits a small area, made up largely of dense scrubland in the floodplain of the Mekong river – at the edge of which Phnom Penh lies.

Birdwatchers do not tend to target this kind of ecosystem because most of the species it supports are abundant and widespread elsewhere in Southeast Asia.

“The modern discovery of an un-described bird species within the limits of a large populous city – not to mention 30 minutes from my home – is extraordinary,” said study co-author Simon Mahood of the Wildlife Conservation Society.

“The discovery indicates that new species of birds may still be found in familiar and unexpected locations.”

Because of the small and shrinking nature of the birds’ habitat, the team has recommended that the bird be listed as “Near Threatened” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List.


Satireday on Eco-Crap


Make you Fink on Friday

RUNNERSThey say exercise is good for you, but is it good for the planet?

Think for a moment, just about the feet; your running shoes, have you ever wondered how green they are?

Apparently, not very.


Running shoes leave large carbon footprint, study shows

A typical pair of synthetic trainers generates 30lbs of emissions, equivalent to leaving a 100-watt bulb burning for a week

Researchers found that Asics gel Kayanos generated 30lbs of carbon emisisons. were Photograph: Asics

Runners tread more heavily on the earth than they may have ever imagined, especially it seems if they are wearing a pair of Chinese-made men’s size nine Asics gel Kayanos, according to a team of MIT scientists.

A new pair of synthetic running shoes typically generates 30lbs of carbon dioxide emissions, the researchers found.

That’s an unusually high carbon footprint for a product that does not use electricity, or require sophisticated components. The researchers said it was equivalent to leaving a 100-watt bulb burning for an entire week.

Sports apparel companies have been leaders in trying to reduce their environmental impact. But as the findings suggest, it’s an especially complicated problem.

Shoes account for a big share of the emissions produced in clothing manufacture. More than 25bn pairs of shoes are manufactured every year, most of them in developing countries.

More than two-thirds (68%) of the greenhouse gas emissions generated by the shoes tested by the MIT researchers came during the manufacturing process – not in sourcing the materials or in their actual use.

That was an unusual breakdown, said Randolph Kirchain, one of the co-authors. “Folks tend to find that manufacturing is relevant to the carbon footprint in hi-tech or specialised products, such as integrated circuits or that kind of thing,” he said.

The researchers tracked the emissions associated with the manufacture of the shoe from extracting the raw materials, manufacturing and assembling the product, and use of detergent to clean it by its eventual owner.

The particular shoe studied by the MIT team was made from 26 different materials, and required 360 different steps to manufacture and assemble. Many of those units, where the shoes were produced on small machines, were powered by coal.

“It’s the many small parts – the making it, the manufacturing – cutting out the pieces, injection-molding the rubber, sewing it together. Everything happens in Asia, and that means the shoe has a relatively high burden compared to the extraction of raw materials,” said Elsa Olivetti, another co-author.

But the researchers credited apparel makers such as Asics, with trying to account for the emissions generated in the lifecycle of their products.

The study said footwear manufacturers now faced the challenge of trying to streamline processes – and reduce the number of steps in manufacture – without compromising design.



Think about that when you are out buying your next set of runners. You may be keeping fit, but at what long-term cost to the environment?


Rewriting Fairy Tales


Change the World Wednesday – 26th Jun

It doesn't look like much, but when the kids get hold of it...

It doesn’t look like much, but when the kids get hold of it…

This week it wasn’t my neighbour’s dog that littered the praça, but the local kids. One of the neighbours had put out the polystyrene packaging from a new fridge in the kerbside rubbish. The kids found it and broke it into a zillion pieces, it looked like it had been snowing in the praça.

I spent an hour and cleaned up the area in front of my place, about a quarter of the praça, the hardest hit part. It nearly killed me, but when one neighbour showed his appreciation, a bottle of beer, the near death experience was worth it.

Click on the banner for the full post

This week’s CTWW, is one that I have already taken in hand, mostly.

This week, find at least one way to reduce energy use in your home. Need some ideas? If you have an incandescent light bulb, replace it with a LED or CFL. If your computer, modem and accessories are always on, try turning them off for a time. Try using table top appliances like a crock pot, toaster oven or steamer instead of your oven. If you use air conditioning or heat, try adjusting it by a couple of degrees. Unplug cell phone chargers, coffee makers or electronic docking stations. The goal is to take one step more to reduce energy use.

Ghostly white light

I have long resisted energy efficient light bulbs in favour of the incandescent ones, on two grounds. Firstly, the ghastly white light, secondly the environmental cost of disposal or breakage.

I did try one about eight years ago, but found that it didn’t last any longer than a regular bulb, about three months. Considering the cost, it just wasn’t worth it and gave up the idea, resisting it ever since.

Recently, I have had to replace my regular bulb three times in as many months. In frustration, I got a CFL type. At first the horrid white light was annoying, but I have got used to it.

When the next bulb blew in the living room, I replaced that with a CFL too. Once again, it took some getting used to the glare while watching TV, but now I don’t notice it…. so much.

I will continue the replacement programme as other bulbs blow.

My one appliance that has a standby feature is the TV. I don’t use it, I manually switch the set off instead of using the remote control ‘Off’. My TV spends more time Off, than On, there’s not a lot that interests me on Brazilian TV, except the news.

Basically, my home is devoid of electrical appliances. The kitchen has a fridge and a blender (the stove is gas); the living room  has the TV and a 12″ fan; the bedroom/office a 15″ fan and a PC which is 24/7, but I manually switch off the screen at night or when I am out of the house. My battery rechargers are disconnected when not in use (I have one for the cell phone, and one USB for the camera). There are only six light bulbs in the house, so my energy usage is pretty minimal.

So that’s it, challenge met.




Simple Green Ideas

Still on the theme of bottles this week.


Some more ideas on Funky Junk Interiors

Monday Moaning

We have to stop the madness before these hit the supermarket shelves!


Because the day isn’t far off!

Nature Ramble

Last week, sharks, this week spiders.

A new Brazilian tarantula, in fact.

Tarantula type spiders generally instil fear in most people because of their size. They appear closer to movie horrors than household spiders.

The Typhochlaena costae is no different, except that in the words of a Brazilian spider scientist, “sheer beauty” and “it’s drop dead gorgeous!”

The ‘spectacular’ colouration of Typhochlaena costae. Photograph: Rogério Bertani

The species is from the northern Brazilian states of Tocantins, Maranhão and Piauí. Almost nothing is known of its natural history.

Read more

Read more


Satireday on Eco-Crap


Make you Fink on Friday

GM even safer than conventional food, says environment secretary

While there have been several field trials, only two GM crops have been approved for commercial growing in the EU

GM crops are probably [my emphasis] safer than conventional plants, according to the Environment Secretary.

Making the strongest call yet for the adoption of the technology, Mr Paterson told the BBC that that GM has significant benefits for farmers, consumers and the environment.

He said the next generation of GM crops offers the “most wonderful opportunities to improve human health.”

But green groups say this new push is dangerous and misguided.

The environment secretary has never made a secret of his support for GM technology. Speaking to the BBC ahead of a major speech in favour of GM, Mr Paterson said it was being adopted by the rest of the world and the UK and Europe risked being left behind.

He dismissed criticisms that GM could pose problems to human health.

“The use of more precise technology and the greater regulatory scrutiny probably make GMOs even safer than than conventional plants and food,” he said.

Read more

Read more


Mr Paterson is full of shit!

“Probably” is enough reason not to go ahead. Until it can be categorically stated “are safer” then the Environment Secretary is a fool.

While “Questions remain over their effects on human health and the environment, it warns.” – Daily Mail, the world should be looking sideways at GM crops.

“Soil Association policy director Peter Melchett said that GM would make it harder, not easier, to feed the world.”BBC News People like this are not saying these things for fun.

For idiots like Paterson, one seriously has to wonder who is paying him, and how much, to make these statements that fly in the face of so many researchers who have grave doubts. This twerp is a village idiot politician, he is NOT a scientist; he is reiterating rhetoric from sources that support HIS ideals, and ignoring what could possibly be the truth.


Over 800 world scientists agree: GM crops are nothing short of a bio-war on our food

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand why genetically modified foods are dangerous, but if you look closely, you may just find the name of one listed among the names of more than 800 scientists from around the globe who have joined forces in an open letter to all world governments, outlining their detailed concerns over the alarming potential threat of biotech’s unauthorized, worldwide GM foods experiment.”A Blogger who gives this link:

Open Letter from World Scientists to All Governments Concerning Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)

  • The scientists are extremely concerned about the hazards of GMOs to biodiversity, food safety, human and animal health, and demand a moratorium on environmental releases in accordance with the precautionary principle.
  • They are opposed to GM crops that will intensify corporate monopoly, exacerbate inequality and prevent the essential shift to sustainable agriculture that can provide food security and health around the world.
  • They call for a ban on patents of life-forms and living processes which threaten food security, sanction biopiracy of indigenous knowledge and genetic resources and violate basic human rights and dignity.
  • They want more support on research and development of non-corporate, sustainable agriculture that can benefit family farmers all over the world.

Signed by 828 scientists

These guys aren’t fools, neither are they paid by GM enthusiasts…


I know who I’d rather trust, a scientist or a village idiot, no contest.

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