U.S. Biofuel Policy Should Change To Avoid Food Crisis, U.N. Says

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By Catherine Hornby

ROME, Aug 10 (Reuters) – The U.N.’s food agency stepped up the pressure on the United States on Friday to change its biofuel policies because of the danger of a world food crisis, 南京夜网桑拿龙凤419

arguing the importance of growing crops for food over their use for fuel.

Global alarm over the potential for a food crisis of the kind seen in 2007/08 has escalated as drought in the U.S. midwest has sent grain prices to record highs, fuelling a 6 percent surge in the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation’s July food price index.

The FAO’s Director-General Jose Graziano Da Silva wrote in the Financial Times on Friday that competition for a U.S. corn crop that has been ravaged by the worst drought in 56 years was only going to intensify.

“Much of the reduced crop will be claimed by biofuel production in line with U.S. federal mandates, leaving even less for food and feed markets,” he wrote in an editorial.

“An immediate, temporary suspension of that mandate would give some respite to the market and allow more of the crop to be channelled towards food and feed uses,” he said in the high profile yet indirect message to Washington.

Under the five-year-old Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS), U.S. fuel companies are required to ensure that 9 percent of their gasoline pools are made up of ethanol this year, which means converting some 40 percent of the corn crop into the biofuel.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Friday slashed its estimates for the size of the corn crop by more than expected, sending corn futures prices, already up 60 percent since June, to a fresh all-time high.

A mix of high oil prices, growing use of biofuels, speculation on commodity markets and export restrictions pushed up prices of food in 2007/08, sparking violent protests in countries including Egypt, Cameroon and Haiti.

David Hallam, director of the FAO’s trade and markets division, told Reuters that biofuels policies needed to become more flexible to help prevent new food crises developing.

“One idea is you have some kind of price trigger so that as maize prices rise then the mandates adjust,” he said, adding that the FAO wanted to reopen debate on biofuels policies.


The FAO has joined a growing and diverse chorus calling for an unprecedented waiver or suspension of the RFS. This week, 25 U.S. Senators urged the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to adjust the mandate, while the chief executive of grains giant Cargill said the free market should dictate biofuels use.

Livestock producers, which are forced to bid against ethanol producers to secure costlier grain for feed, were first to ask for relief. However, the EPA has yet to receive an official petition for a waiver, which can only come from a fuel blender or a state governor, according to the legislation.

FAO officials have warned of the potential for a food crisis to develop if countries resort to the kind of export restraints and panic buying that aggravated price surges in 2007/08.

“It is vitally important that any unilateral policy reactions from countries, whether importers or exporters, do not further destabilise the situation,” Graziano Da Silva wrote in the newspaper.

Charity Oxfam has warned that rising food prices could drag millions of people around the world into conditions of hunger and malnourishment, in addition to nearly one billion who are already too poor to feed themselves.

While the RFS program faces growing criticism, it also has strong support from Farm Belt politicians in an election year and has been a core part of President Obama’s energy plan. Some say suspending it would do little to relax demand.

Waiving the mandate could have several unintended effects, such as dampening investment in cellulosic and other advanced biofuels that could cut dependence on food crops for making fuel, or damage the market for dried distillers’ grains, an ethanol byproduct sold as a livestock feed.

In 2008, Texas Governor Rick Perry petitioned the EPA to cut the mandate in half for that year. The EPA refused, but in doing so it made clear that future petitions would have to prove that the RFS itself was causing severe economic harm.



Dinosaur Pictures Show Prehistoric Predators Chowing Down (ILLUSTRATIONS)

Ever wondered what it would look like to see a seven-ton Tyrannosaurus rex chomp down on his dinner (and hold the prey animal’s bloody head aloft for its young ones to see)? How about a 60-foot mega-shark, Carcharodon megalodon, pursuing its prey through the ocean?

Alas, there were no photographers around to record the gruesome events. Fortunately for us, there are some highly skilled paleoartists who can provide a realistic look at dinosaur predation–and fossils suggest the interactions between dinosaur predator and dinosaur prey could be pretty ferocious.

“With one possible exception, there can be no more dynamic interaction between two organisms than that of predator and prey,” Steve White, editor of Dinosaur Art: The World’s Greatest Paleoart, told The Huffington Post in an email. “And when you’re dealing with creatures as magnificent as T-rex or a sabre-toothed cat, it’s little wonder that paleoartists–those who specialise in illustrating these ancient creatures–often choose such dynamic subject matter.”

Check out the slideshow below to take a step back in南京桑拿网

time and see the most epic prehistoric predators.


Dinos Dining: Prehistoric Predators

Climate Change Denial & Conspiracy Theories: New Research Provokes Even More Irrationality

By: Stephanie Pappas, LiveScience Senior Writer
Published: 09/07/2012 04:05 PM EDT on LiveScience

A study suggesting climate change deniers also tend to hold general beliefs in conspiracy theories has sparked accusations of a conspiracy on climate change-denial blogs.

The research, which will be published in an upcoming issue of the journal Psychological Science, surveyed more than 1,000 readers of science blogs regarding their beliefs regarding global warming. The results revealed that people who tend to believe in a wide array of conspiracy theories are more likely to reject the scientific consensus that the Earth is heating up.

University of Western Australia psychologist Stephan Lewandowsky based the findings on responses from an 南京夜网论坛

online survey posted on eight science blogs. According to the paper, Lewandowsky approached five climate-skeptic blogs and asked them to post the survey link, but none did.

Now, climate-skeptic bloggers are striking back with a new conspiracy theory: that the researchers deliberately failed to contact "real skeptics" for the study and then lied about it.

"[F]or some reason, Dr. Lewandowsky refuses to divulge which skeptical blogs he contacted," wrote Anthony Watts, who blogs on the popular climate skepticism website Watts Up With That?

Climate change conspiracy

Though about 97 percent of working scientists agree that the evidence shows a warming trend caused by humans, public understanding of climate change falls along political lines. Democrats are more likely to "believe in" global warming than Republicans, according to a 2011 report by the University of New Hampshire’s Carsey Institute. In fact, deniers and skeptics who felt more confident in their climate-change knowledge were the strongest disbelievers. [10 Climate Change Myths Busted]

Believing that climate change isn’t happening or that it’s not human-caused requires a belief that thousands of climate scientists around the world are lying outright, Lewandowsky and his colleagues wrote in their new paper. Conspiracy theory beliefs are known to come in clusters — someone who thinks NASA faked the moon landing is more likely to accept the theory that 9/11 was an inside job, for example. So Lewandowsky and his colleagues created an online survey and asked eight mostly南京夜网娱乐场所信息

pro-science blogs and five climate-skeptic blogs to post a link to the survey for their readers. The respondents were self-selecting, but highly motivated to care about climate science, the researchers noted.

The responses came only from the eight pro-science blogs, the researchers reported. Of 1,145 usable survey responses, the researchers found that support for free-market, laissez-faire economics was linked to a rejection of climate change. A tendency to believe other conspiracy theories was also linked to denial of climate change. Finally, climate-change deniers were more likely than others to say that other environmental problems have been solved, indicating a dismissive attitude toward "green" causes. [Top 10 Conspiracy Theories]

Climate psych controversy

Unsurprisingly, the results did not please climate-skeptic bloggers, some of whom responded by accusing Lewandowsky of not attempting to contact them at all. In an email to Lucia Liljegren, who blogs at The Blackboard, Lewandowsky declined to name the bloggers he emailed, citing privacy concerns.

In response, Liljegren wrote, "I think who Lewandowsky contacted will reveal whether he really even tried to conduct a balanced survey," urging other bloggers to publically give permission for Lewandowsky to reveal their names. The researcher told DeSmogBlog that he has contacted his university’s ethics committee to find out if he is allowed to do so.

In the meantime, Simon James, who blogs at Australian Climate Madness, has submitted a Freedom of Information request to the University of Western Australia in an effort to force the release of emails related to the study, and prominent climate-change skeptic Steve McIntyre has urged readers to email the university with academic misconduct complaints.  

McIntyre later reported that an email search turned up a request from one of Lewandowsky’s collaborators.

"[T]o our knowledge, our results are the first to provide empirical evidence for the correlation between a general construct of conspiracist ideation and the general tendency to reject well-founded science," Lewandowsky and his colleagues concluded. Psychological research has found that conspiracy beliefs are hard to dislodge, they wrote, but efforts to debunk multiple lines of conspiratorial reasoning at once may help.

Follow Stephanie Pappas on Twitter @sipappas or LiveScience @livescience. We’re also on Facebook & Google+

Copyright 2012 LiveScience, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Bear Survives 34-Foot Fall From Utility Pole After Being Tranquilized, Electrically Shocked (VIDEO)

Bears in New Mexico have been making news lately, with several high-profile sightings reported in the last few weeks, and a controversial new bear “harvest” limit announced in July.

In light of recent events, HuffPost Green presents this amazing story of survival, which打造最权威的江苏夜生活文化

aired on Animal Planet’s “Unchained and Uncut” several years ago. Filmed in Albuquerque, the footage also serves as a reminder of the danger that can arise from habitat loss and bear dependence on urban food sources.

Separated from her cub, a mother bear climbed up a utility pole to evade capture.

Concerned the bear posed a threat to the neighborhood, authorities ordered the bear tranquilized, despite her precarious location. Once hit with a dart, the sedative took more than an hour to take effect. As the bear struggled to hold onto the pole, her foot touched a live wire; she was shocked and fell.

Miraculously, she suffered no broken bones in the 34-foot fall. And although the bear sustained serious burns to her hind legs, the current was deflected by her thick fur.

The bear was taken to a local zoo, treated and eventually reunited with her cub, which had been recovered earlier by authorities.

American black bears are found throughout North America and are not considered an endangered species in the United States and Canada. However, like many wild animals, they face danger from habitat destruction.

Incidents of bears wandering into human-populated areas can be seen as a symptom of habitat destruction. Bears will come in search of easy meals from unsecured garbage cans. In New Mexico, there have been several recent sightings of bears in urban areas.

On Labor Day, a black bear was spotted near a church in downtown Santa Fe, captured and then later released in the mountains of northwest New Mexico. On Monday, a large black bear was seen in Sa南京论坛规模大

nta Ana Pueblo, north of Albuquerque.

Correction: A previous version of this article stated that the bear was electrocuted. Electrocution is death caused by electric shock. The bear in this story survived an electric shock.

Coral Reef Conservation & Climate Change: 'We Have The Environment Facilitating Humanity,' Scientist Says

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Imagine if the reefs of the world, once coated by colorful corals, suddenly became bare. What would it mean for humanity?

I reached out to Dr. Stuart Sandin of the Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation at UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography to learn more about coral reefs. These complex ecosystems are threatened by human activities like overfishing, pollution, and climate change.

In an interesting twist, we can learn a lot about the paleoclimate by studying corals. Ironically, the very organisms that can teach us about climate science are being threatened by climate change.

Learn more about coral reef conservation by clicking the link below and watching the video above. And join the discussion in the comments section below. Come on, talk nerdy to me!



STUART SANDIN: You have seaweed that shares space with corals. You have fish that are using all the spaces inside the corals. That entire framework is filled with organisms, it’s breathing with organisms–crabs inside of it, you have worms, shrimps, octopus, squid. Everybody’s living in this one ecosystem.

CARA SANTA MARIA: Hi everyone. Cara Santa Maria here. And that’s Dr. Stuart Sandin from UC San Diego’s Scripps Institute. He told me why coral reefs are important, and what losing them would mean for humanity. See, all that biodiversity is in danger, and sadly, we are the primary source of that danger, from overfishing to pollution, and of course, climate change.

SS: So climate change changes the basic environment in which these organisms live and it turns out corals are fairly sensitive organisms and if you stress them environmentally and then you add some added nutrients and then you remove all of the organisms that could have accounted for some of those pitfalls, the fish, it’s a recipe for disaster. And because of these cumulative and interacting impacts on coral reefs we’re watching a lot of them change, change in ways we don’t want them to change, and that’s what we’re calling the death of coral reefs.

CSM: In order to understand how coral reefs can die, we first must appreciate how they live. And their physiology is fascinating.

SS: Algae inside the coral take sunlight and allow an animal to act like a plant, to take that sunlight and turn it into productivity. Well that symbiosis–one of the most important symbiosis on a coral reef–is very thermally sensitive. That means if the temperature gets too high the coral either kicks out the alga or the alga abandons ship. That much we know. It’s a process called coral bleaching, it’s bleaching because once that alga is gone, the coral now looks white.

CSM: And if corals bleach, not only do they die, but their reefs can no longer support life the way they did when they were vibrant, colorful, and healthy. And what happens江苏夜网

when this is widespread? What would it mean to live in a world without coral reefs? And how can we make sure that doesn’t happen?

SS: Coral reefs are an ecosystem that provide a lot of benefits to a lot of people. They provide food for a lot of people, they provide shoreline protection, they provide species that are providing us with new drugs. You know, every year a new species are found that provide new drugs for people. They provide income for communities that have dive tourism nearby. There are a lot of people that get a lot of benefits out of them. The goal that I see for finding new management, finding ways that we can keep coral reefs anywhere near their assemblance as they are today, is really to keep these services around–to keep people fed, to keep us finding new species, to keep people using coral reefs. So the goal in no way is to omit people from the equation, but instead to find a future where we have the environment facilitating humanity rather than standing in opposition to humanity.

CSM: What do you think we can do to save the coral reefs? Sound off on Twitter, Facebook, or leave a comment right here on The Huffington Post. Come on, talk nerdy to me!

See all Talk Nerdy to Me posts.
Like Cara Santa Maria on Facebook.
Follow Cara Santa Maria on Twitter.

Sea Lions' Deep Dives: Marine Mammals Collapse Lungs To Descend, Study Shows

by Brian Switek

California sea lions are champion deep-divers, withstanding descents more than 300 meters deep. N南京桑拿

ow, a female California sea lion fitted with a data logger (pictured) has yielded the sea lions’ secret, scientists report online today in Biology Letters. For decades, zoologists had suspected that marine mammals such as seals and sea lions collapse their lungs to withstand water pressures and endure deep dives. So scientists used the data logger to keep track of the partial pressure of oxygen in the sea lion’s arterial bloodstream—a proxy to detect lung collapse—throughout her dives. During 48 dives in August 2011, each lasting an average of 6 minutes and reaching more than 300 meters deep, the sea lion’s lungs collapsed at about 225 meters down—and then re-expanded at the same depth during the mammal’s ascent. This technique not only staved off decompression sickness, by keeping nitrogen out of the bloodstream, but also reduced the amount of oxygen delivered from her lungs to her bloodstream—preserving the oxygen within the sea lion’s upper airways. When she headed back to the surface, the preserved ox江苏城市论坛

ygen re-expanded into the lungs and prevented the sea lion from blacking out in the shallows. A trained, similarly outfitted California sea lion could help scientists gather even more data about this peculiar mechanism, the researchers suggest; we’ll have to hold our breath for that.

See more ScienceShots.

ScienceNOW, the daily online news service of the journal Science

Anti-Allergy Milk? Cow Genetically Engineered To Produce Milk With Less BLG Protein

LONDON (Reuters) – Researchers in New Zealand h南京夜网验交流的综合平台

ave genetically engineered a cow to produce milk with very little of a protein that causes an allergic reaction in some children.

They hope the technique, which uses a process called RNA interference that reduces the activity of certain genes without eliminating it completely, can be used to control other traits in livestock.

With mothers breastfeeding less, cows’ milk is an increasing source of protein for babies, but the different composition of cows’ milk can cause an allergic reaction.

“In developed countries, 2-3 percent of infants are allergic to cows’ milk proteins in the first year of life,” the researchers said in a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Anower Jabed and colleagues at the New Zealand government南京夜生活

-run AgResearch company said their genetically modified cow produced milk with a 96 percent reduction in the protein beta-lactoglobulin (BLG), a component known to cause allergic reactions.

While there are dairy industry processes that can reduce the allergenic potential of normal milk, they are expensive and can result in a bitter taste.

Another gene manipulation technique using a process called homologous recombination could theoretically knock out, rather than suppress, the gene that produces BLG but the researchers said that, so far, this has not worked.

Bruce Whitelaw, professor of animal biotechnology at the University of Edinburgh, said the New Zealand research “offers a good example of how these technologies can be used to provide alternative strategies to current manufacturing process”.

He said that although RNA interference has been shown to work in manipulating plants and worms, “it has not worked in livestock before”.

Whitelaw told Reuters that aside from accentuating or reducing genetically determined characteristics in farm animals, such as growth rate, the technique could be used to improve defence against infection.

“Time will tell how widely applicable RNA interference will be in GM livestock. But this is certainly a milestone study in this field,” he said.

(Reporting by Chris Wickham; Editing by Dan Lalor)

Meatless Monday: Looking Dinner in the Eye

Amazing — I beat Mark Zuckerberg at something. In 2011, the billionaire Facebook creator made a one-year pledge to consume meat only from animals he had killed or slaughtered himself. He posted his kills on his Facebook page, of course. But then he caved on his promis南京夜网

e after only a few months. I’m sure Zuckerberg made his pledge in good faith. Turns out writing code and raking in millions is easy for him. Killing dinner is hard. I suspect it’d be hard for most of us.

I made Zuckerberg’s pledge only to eat meat from animals I kill or slaughter. I made it years ago, have kept it and will keep it for the rest of my life. Somehow, I doubt this will garner me the admiration and attention it earned him. Maybe it’s because I’m not a famous billionaire. Maybe it’s because I’m vegan. I don’t kill animals, I don’t eat them.

Look, I’ve never hunted animals, I never wanted to, and there’s no way I condone what Zuckerberg attempted. But he was willing to take a hard loo南京夜网

k at the food choices he makes.

We’d rather not think about the hard work, the mess, both physical and ethical, that goes into putting meat on our plate. Our food system is glad to help out. It sanitizes the process and the product. Meat is cleaned up, cut up and packaged, so by the time it reaches us, we have no sense of the living, breathing animal it once was. In the food industry, it’s called protein (as in, “You want any protein on that salad?”).

Call it what you want, but the fact is your McNugget started out as a chick, as one of the ten billion farm animals killed for food in this country each year. Our food system makes it easy to avoid looking our dinner in the eye, but as the Vedic text the “Manusmriti” or the “Laws of Manu,” written sometimes around 200 CE, reminds us, “You can never get meat without violence to creatures with the breath of life.”

Shooting your meat versus never eating it again are two hard choices most people are unlikely to make. Confronting where your meat comes from feels hard enough as it is. No one’s holding a gun to your head (and posting about it), no one’s forcing you to eat it. Choosing a meatless meal is easy. I doubt I’ll ever be as rich as Mark Zuckerberg. I can live with that. That pledge I made to be vegan? I can live with that, too. Somehow, I feel like I’ve come out ahead.

Meditteranean Eggplant (No Eggs) and Chickpea (No Chicks) Casserole

Protein doesn’t have to mean animal. Beans provide plenty of plant-based protein, and fiber, too. You acquire it by nonviolent means. This super-easy summer-into-fall Mediterranean casserole layers chickpeas, peppers and tomatoes with slices of egpplant for a meaty (but meatless) oomph.

Serve with a whole grain like bulgar or quinoa to soak up the excellent sauce and a salad of leafy greens.

1 eggplant, sliced thin
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 sweet red pepper, chopped
1 mildly hot pepper, such as poblano or hatch (or go crazy and use a jalapeno)
1 28-ounce can chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cups cooked chickpeas or 1 15-ounce can, drained
1 large handful parsley, chopped
sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 400.

In a large bowl, combine chopped onion, garlic, peppers, parsley, tomatoes and tomato paste. Stir to combine. Pour in drained chickpeas and chopped parsley. Stir and season to taste.

Drizzle 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in the bottom of a large oven-proof casserole. Line bottom with overlapping slices of eggplant, using up about half.

Spoon half of the vegetable-tomato sauce on top.

Place the rest of the eggplant slices on top and cover with remaining sauce.

Drizzle remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil over on top. Bake for 40 minutes, until casserole is bubbling and top begins to form a gorgeous crust.

Serves 6.