It is voting time again

17 08 2010

That’s right, I am crawling back to blog about important happenings this week in Australia.

It’s National Science Week.

It seems I’ve missed out on alerting you to vote for your favourite Aussie scientist for the Eureka prize (I would have been supporting Evans and Smith for proving the intellectual and communicative exploits of chickens).

But it is not too late to start voting for your favourite new Aussie species discovered this past year. Given that this year’s theme is biodiversity it’s a pretty appropriate poll.

Place your vote here.

Nominees are:

  • Opera House Barnacle (Calantica darwinii)
  • Kimberly Froglet (Crinia fimbriata)
  • Sea Spider (Paranymphon bifilarium)
  • Steve Irwin’s Tree Snail (Crikey stevirwini – I kid not!)
  • Spinifex Ant (Camponotus triodiae)
  • Pink Handfish (Brachiopsilus dianthus)
  • Cape York Amber Fly (fossilized) (Chaetogonopteron bethnorrisae)
  • Bacchus Marsh Wattle (Acacia rostriformis)
  • The Bandalup Buttercup (Hibbertia abyssa)
  • Truffle-like Mushroom (Cribbea turbinispora)

More new species and biodiversity stuff at the bushblitz website including a free teacher booklet (just in case your school somehow missed out, or your from another country).


Taking the buzz out of life

28 07 2010

Nature has an interesting article exploring the ramifications of a world without mosquitoes.

Overall the benefits appear to outweigh the negatives – but they are still given their credence. Mosquitoes, and their larvae, may be physicaly miniscule, but they are big players in the scheme of things. Their removal would have effects on food chains containing birds and fish, plus wider ecological effects – such as plants losing pollinators and changes to deer migration, and also possibly cause over-population in already stretched human communities.

Image: mosquito by tanakawho (CC by A from Flickr)

Clean Graffiti? Where’s the crime?

29 06 2010

via EpicWinFTW

The authorities don’t seem to impressed by this eco-graffiti artist, even though he isn’t committing any vandalism.

There are 6.8 billion reasons why holistic organic tofu farming won’t take off

4 08 2009

You may remember I offhandedly posted a link to a new hard-hitting piece of environmnetal investigative journalism “Food Inc” back ago. You can read a bit more about it at ERV (Her non-judgemental words: “a new movie bitching about GMOs and food production in the US”).

Unsurprisingly the US meat/livestock/poultry industries have put together a debunking website: which includes an enlightening myths & facts section.

Naylor’s Law – You’re just like Big Tobacco

24 05 2009

I’m naming this after the lead in Thank You For Smoking. I couldn’t find reference to this particular phenomenom anywhere.

I saw it twice in one day.

Here. An ad for the hippie doco Food Inc. in reference to the processed foods/factory farming industry.

And Here. A passing reference to anti-alcohol campaigns on a Radio National show.

I also here it plenty of times from the anti-vax crowd.

The law is:

As a discussion on the health effects of a product for human consumption progresses, the probability that one side will bring up a comparison to the tobacco industry approaches 100%.

Should this be grounds for forfeture of the debate?

I can definitely see myself comparing the alcohol lobby to the cigarette lobby. A “cool”, addictive, mind-altering substance associated with a myriad of ill-health effects – hell, they even have the same occasional claims of health benefit (red wine for heart disease). I suppose the main difference is there isn’t such a thing as passive drinking (is there?)

Pine in the lungs

2 05 2009

Creepiest story ever over at i09.

Some commenters over there havepointed out the original source for the story is an unreliable Russian tabloid, but still, inhaling a branch of a pine tree is a pretty big effort. And that’s a good 8 inches of lungs they seem to have cut out.

It’s just more proof that if we don’t kill those trees, they will kill us.

Laws of denialism: The facts-to-rage ratio

7 03 2009

An interesting analysis on denialism from the latest Annals of Improbable Research (Mini-AIR):

2009-03-05 Global Warming Nutshell Sheet, and the F/R Ratio

Investigator Grover Winthrop composed a handy “in-a-nutshell study sheet” for scientists who are confused by the great debate about global warming.

Winthrop writes: “People tell me there’s a debate about global warming. Yet these days I don’t meet any any competent scientists who see it as a debate. So here – for my colleagues – is a guide to what people mean when they tell us there is a debate:

  1. Global warming is not happening
  2. It causes no problems
  3. It’s not caused by human engineering
  4. Whatever problems it causes are easily solved by engineering.

“What we are seeing here,” enthuses Winthrop, “is the birth ofsome new kind of logic. It’s fascinating.”

Investigator Daniele Ramos, too, has been fascinated by reports that there is a debate. She alerts us to a simple tool she uses to analyze the debaters’ arguments. Ramos writes: “The arguments I’ve heard and read (saying there’s no global warming problem) nearly always have a very low F/R ratio. The F/R ratio – the ‘Facts-to-Rage ratio’ – was invented (I think) by the journalist Josh Marshall. As soon as I find myself in a discussion with someone whose argument has a very low F/R ratio,I relax and simply enjoy the spectacle. It does wonders for my stress level.”

Does this mean global warming deniers are spouting “hot air”.