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SOUTH AMERICA ENVIRONMENT, SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY,                                      AND HEALTH NEWSLETTER205 t h issue, A...
SCIENCE: Genome-Wide Association Study Indicates Two Novel Resistance Loci forLisa FriedmanCLIMATE CHANGE: World Bank Unve...
SCIENCE: The Unprecedented Phoenix Galaxy Cluster: How Many Stars Does it Form? By Mike Wall                              ...
ENERGY: Can an Ancient Recipe From the Past Help to Create the Biofuel of the Future?*A million years-old formula appears ...
PERU: Pantanos de Villa Received A Blue Wetland Globe AwardThis year, parties to the Ramsar Convention met in Bucharest, R...
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Newsletter 205


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Newsletter 205

  1. 1. SOUTH AMERICA ENVIRONMENT, SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, AND HEALTH NEWSLETTER205 t h issue, August 22, 2012 The Ocean Health Index Gives the World’s Ocean a “60” out of “100” In this issue: Researchers hope that the Ocean Health Index builds awareness of the state of the world’s ocean, and works as a catalyst and guide for business and government decision-makers to develop effective policies promoting ocean health.  Oceans: The Ocean Health Index Gives the World’s Ocean a Human life depends on the seas in countless ways—food, jobs, biodiversity, carbon storage, protection of shores. But until now, “60” out of “100”. we had no methodology to calculate the trade-offs between these needs; policy-makers had no way to get a comprehensive  Science: Genome-Wide picture of their country’s marine activities. For the first time ever, the Index identifies ten vital needs, tracks the impact of Association Study Indicates human activities on these needs, and creates a baseline of data that can be used to measure progress or decline. Every country Two Novel Resistance Loci for with a coastline can adapt it to analyze their marine use and help to focus on priorities. Severe Malaria.  Environment: The Cardboard The Ocean Health Index defines a healthy ocean as one that sustainably delivers a range of benefits to people both now and in Bike, The Latest in Green the future. A healthy ocean is one that can maintain or increase benefits (food and services) in the long term, without Transportation. jeopardizing the health or function of the web of life that underlies the ocean.  Science: The Unprecedented Phoenix Galaxy Cluster: How The ocean is our most valuable asset. It holds more than 98% of the space where life exists, 97% of the planet’s water, produce Many Stars Does it Form? more than half of the oxygen in the atmosphere, and regulate the earth’s climate. As of today, more than one billion people  Energy: May an Ancient depend on fish for their basic protein. By 2050, the ocean may need to produce 70% more to be able to meet the growing food Recipe Help to Create a Biofuel? demands of 9 billion people.  Climate Change: How Climate An Unusual Degree of Collaboration. More comprehensive and ambitious than any single previous marine survey, building the Change Got Caught in the Culture Wars Index was a complicated task involving over 60 experts working in different parts of the world. All were driven by the urgent need to know in quantitative terms where we stand with one of earth’s most precious resources.  PERU: Pantanos de Villa Received A Blue Wetland Globe Award. Researchers ranged widely over existing marine data, measuring everything from the percentage of live coral covering tropical coral reefs to the percentage of coastal people served by adequate sanitary facilities and the kilograms of shrimp grown on aquaculture farms. They crunched over 200 sets of marine data, and measured each country’s score against reference points Next events: that set standards of maximum sustainable use. A goal score of 100 would mean that the evaluated system reached its defined target, sustainably delivering all of the benefits that it can in the present and likely near future. A low goal score means that the maximum benefit is not being obtained and/or is not being obtained in a sustainable way. October 15, 2012 Global Handwashing Day The lead scientific partners of the Ocean Health Index are the University of Santa Barbara’s National Center for Ecological October 31-November3, 2012, Synthesis and Analysis in collaboration with the University of British Columbia’s Sea Around Us. The founding partners are Maryland-U.S. Conservation International, New England Aquarium, and National Geographic Society. Pacific Life Foundation is the Founding Summit on the Science of Presenting Sponsor. Darden Foundation was a founding donor. Eliminating Health Disparities, U.S.A. How the Ocean Health Index Will Be Used. The Index can be used globally, regionally or for an individual bay. It allows for October, 2012 direct comparison across different aspects of ocean health and different locations in a way that is not possible with current COBER assessment tools. A goal score of 100 would mean that the evaluated system reached its defined target, sustainably delivering November 12-15, 2012, Israel all of the benefits that it can in the present and likely near future. A low goal Fourth International Conference on score means that the maximum benefit is not being obtained and/or is not Drylands, Deserts and being obtained in a sustainable way. Desertification: Implementing Rio+20 for Drylands and Desertification Conservation International has been working around the world to help countries improve their marine health—whether supporting communities in November 12-16, 2012, establishing marine protected areas in Indonesia, creating a cross-border Switzerland sanctuary for baby turtles around Turtle Islands in the Philippines and Malaysia, Meeting of the Parties to the or collaborating with governments to protect large, inter-connected swaths of Montreal Protocol on Substances ocean called seascapes. With the arrival of the Ocean Health Index, scientists that Deplete the Ozone Layer and communities will have a baseline of data to measure progress or trends (MOP 24) away from sustainable use. new_site/en/ historical_meetings.php?in... Photo by Paulo Brandao (flickr user). Under Read more at: Creative Commons License. ocean_health_index/pages/ocean_health_index.aspx The information contained herein was gathered from news sources from across the region, and the views expressed below do not necessarily reflect those of the Regional Environmental HUB Office or of our constituent posts. Addressees interested in sharing any ESTH-related events of USG interest are welcome to do so. For questions or comments, please contact us at * Free translation prepared by REO staff.
  2. 2. SCIENCE: Genome-Wide Association Study Indicates Two Novel Resistance Loci forLisa FriedmanCLIMATE CHANGE: World Bank Unveils 10-Year Environmental Strategy By SevereMalaria Malaria causes approximately one million fatalities per year all over the world. Although highlighted by the strong protective effect of the sickle-cell trait, the full impact of hu- man genetics on resistance to the disease remains largely unexplored. Genome-wide association (GWA) studies are designed to unravel relevant genetic variants comprehen- sively; however, in malaria, as in other infectious diseases, these studies have been only partly successful. Here we identify two previously unknown loci associated with severe falciparum malaria in patients and controls from Ghana, West Africa. We applied the GWA approach to the diverse clinical syndromes of severe falciparum malaria, thereby targeting human geneticCALLAO, Peru (Jan. 17, 2012) Lt. Kimberly Edgel, left, variants influencing any step in the complex pathogenesis of the disease. One of the lociand Christian Baldeviano examine a positive malaria was identified on chromosome 1q32 within the ATP2B4 gene, which encodes the mainblood smear at U.S. Naval Medical Research Unit calcium pump of erythrocytes, the host cells of the pathogenic stage of malaria parasites.(NAMRU) 6. NAMRU-6 is studying the interplaybetween malaria and the human immune system to The second was indicated by an intergenic single nucleotide polymorphism on chromo-identify new malaria vaccine targets. A U.S. NavyPhoto. some 16q22.2, possibly linked to a neighbouring gene encoding the tight-junction pro- tein MARVELD3. The protein is expressed on endothelial cells and might therefore have arole in microvascular damage caused by endothelial adherence of parasitized erythrocytes. We also confirmed previous reports onprotective effects of the sickle-cell trait and blood group O. Our findings underline the potential of the GWA approach to providecandidates for the development of control measures against infectious diseases in humans.Read full article at: The Cardboard Bike, The Latest in Green TransportationIzhar Gafni, an entrepreneur Israel has built a sturdy cardboard bike it hopes will revolutionizethe field of the green transport par excellence, with production costs around 10 dollars. Cheapaddition, the bike is light, strong, waterproof and moisture impervious to rust and can withstandup to 140 kilos. Its chassis is made entirely of cardboard covered with waterproof material withbrown and white, so get the finish that looks like a plastic car.“This is a city bike, the simplest imaginable, but strong enough to become a good means oftransportation, “Gafni told Efe. Living in the moshav (cooperative rural Israel) Emek Hefer, innorthern Israel, this self-taught mechanic was inspired by another invention: a canoe made ofcardboard with water resistant materials.“When I worked in California I learned of the canoe. several months I’ve been mulling over theissue until I returned to Israel and said to myself, why not?, no cardboard bike “she says. Photo by Marco Gomes (Flicker). Under Creative Commons License .Perhaps the fact that you have decided to go for the bike is not accidental, and is that Gafni wasborn and raised in Kibbutz Bror Jail (south), within a Brazilian family emigrated to Israel. Bicycles are the most common means of trans-port between the members of these Israelis and centuries-old rural communities, although he is simply defined as the bike enthusiast.Dubbed BV6, the invention has taken four years of construction and six prototypes, then spent the early years to experience the limits andpossibilities of cardboard, a material which hardly existed a corrupt background. “I consulted with several engineers and initially built asmall bike that looked like a box on wheels,” he says before acknowledging that “the most was hard to develop the technology to achieveanything resembling a bicycle. “In his research applied the principles of Japanese origami and was able to increase up to three times the capacity of resistance of the ma-terial simply by folding and superimposing several times. The device can be doubly green as can be made also with cardboard recycling.Another advantage is that it does not require pre-assembly, but is a piece, including wheels, so it will not experience the dreaded punc-tures, becoming a medium that requires little maintenance.Read full article at:
  3. 3. SCIENCE: The Unprecedented Phoenix Galaxy Cluster: How Many Stars Does it Form? By Mike Wall The faraway Phoenix galaxy cluster may be the biggest and brightest such structure ever discovered, and its forming stars at an unprecedented rate, scientists announced Heres a by-the-numbers look at the Phoenix cluster — for- mally known as SPT-CLJ2344-4243 — which researchers say could yield key insights into how galaxies and colossal clus- ters evolve: 2.5 quadrillion: How many times more massive the Phoenix cluster is than our own sun. This may be an all-time record for galaxy clusters — the most massive structures in the universe, composed of hundreds or thousands of individual galaxies bound together by gravity — researchers said.Galaxy at Center of Phoenix ClusterCredit: NASA/CXC/M.WeissArtist's "I would say its in a dead heat for the most massive galaxyimpression of the galaxy at the center of the Phoenix Cluster, which is forming about cluster," Michael McDonald of MIT, lead author of the study740 new stars per year. Image released August 15, 2012. describing Phoenixs remarkable properties, told contributor Charles Choi. "The record-holder, El Gordo, isslightly more massive, but the uncertainty in this estimate is high — it could turn out that with more careful measurements, Phoe-nix is more massive."3 trillion: The number of stars that reside in the Phoenix clusters central galaxy, compared to 200 billion or so in our own MilkyWay.10 billion: The low-end estimate of the mass of the huge black hole at the heart of Phoenixs central galaxy, in solar masses. Thatsabout as massive as the biggest black hole ever discovered. For comparison, the Milky Ways central black hole weighs in at about 4million solar masses.5.7 billion: The approximate distance of Phoenix from Earth, in light-years. The cluster is found in the Phoenix constellation, partlyexplaining its informal name.However, researchers also chose the moniker as a nod to the mythological bird that rises from its own ashes, since Phoenixs cen-tral galaxy has seemingly come back to life with a huge burst of star formation.2010: The year in which astronomers discovered Phoenix, using the U.S. National Science Foundation-funded South Pole Telescope.But it took the team a little while to learn just what they had found."We really didnt realize how remarkable it was until late lastyear and early this year, when we got follow-up X-ray and optical and ultraviolet and infrared measurements that constrained thestar-formation rate," McDonald told reporters today.740: The approximate number of stars generated per year by thegalaxy in Phoenixs center, a new high for the middle of a cluster."This extreme rate of star formation was really unexpected," McDon-ald said. "Its nearly five times higher than the next most star-formingcentral-cluster galaxy, in Abell 1835. So its really crushing the re-cord."Our own Milky Way galaxy produces just one to two new stars everyyear on average, McDonald added.Read more: The South Pole Telescope (SPT) was used to study the Phoenix Cluster.Photo Credit: Daniel Luong-Van, National Science Foundation.
  4. 4. ENERGY: Can an Ancient Recipe From the Past Help to Create the Biofuel of the Future?*A million years-old formula appears to offer the opportunity to generate ecological fuels by lignindecomposition.The carboniferous period that lasted approximately 60 million years left huge amounts of thisagent in sedimentary rocks, due to organic material decomposition from prehistoric forests. Car-bon is made up of a carbon molecule called lignin, which is a basic structural component of vege-table tissues. Few microorganisms are able to decompose it.One theory asserts that coastal swamp ecosystems and anoxic conditions (without oxygen)throughout that period favored organic vegetal material fossilization into carbon. Yet, it might notbe the only reason. A study published in “Science” points out to an old ingredient that, interest-ingly enough, could help us produce more biofuels in the future. Photo by EMSL (flickr). Under Creative Commons License.Researchers compared genomes from 31 different species of fungi capable of decomposing theirown vegetal matter. Among these are several from the kind known as “white rot”, which are theonly ones capable of decomposing lignin.According to researchers, the development of these “white rot” fungi could have contributed –or might have even been fundamental – toend the Carboniferous, as it was the starting point, after which dead plants started to get fully decomposed.The article, published by Brazilian newspaper “Estadão de Brasil”, states that the relationship between the fungi research and biofuels isthe following: bioethanol (fuel alcohol) is produced by sugar fermentation from sugarcane juice. The sugarcane bagasse by-product is alsosugar rich and can also be fermented and turned into fuel.The problem is that, in order to obtain these sugars, lignin molecules inside this bagasse need to decompose; and this is not yet an eco-nomically viable alternative.Many people in Brazil and the rest of the world have been looking for decades for a way to decompose the molecules without much suc-cess. “White rot” fungi now offer a promising alternative to develop second-generation bioethanol from sugarcane bagasse.This genetic recipe from millions of years ago could have helped to finish the formation of fossil fuels in the past, and now, it can help toreduce the use of fossil fuels in the future.Read more: CHANGE: How Climate Change Got Caught in the Culture Wars By John McQuaidClimate change is arguably the biggest challenge the nation and the world face right now. There’s a solid scientific consensus that anthro-pogenic global warming is underway. But in America – to put it gently – there’s a range of beliefs about it, and what if anything to doabout it. This lack of social consensus has paralyzed the political system. Nothing much is happening, or likely to happen for a while.Why? What in other circumstances would be a question of scientific policy (which is difficult enough) has become wrapped up in thebroader, unsettled cultural struggle that divides our politics today, University of Michigan professor Andrew J. Hoffman argues in thispiece in Stanford Social Innovation Review: Climate change has become enmeshed in the so-called culture wars. Acceptance of the scientific consensus is now seen as an alignment with liberal views consistent with other “cultural” issues that divide the country (abortion, gun control, health care, and evolution). This partisan divide on climate change was not the case in the 1990s. It is a recent phenomenon, fol- lowing in the wake of the 1997 Kyoto Treaty that threatened the material interests of powerful economic and political in- terests, particularly members of the fossil fuel industry. 3 The great danger of a protracted partisan divide is that the debate will take the form of what I call a “logic schism,” a breakdown in debate in which opposing sides are talking about com- pletely different cultural issues.There are several features of climate change that help create this divide. The first is the difficulty in seeing carbon dioxide as a threat. Thetraditional view of “pollution” is noxious stuff that shouldn’t be there. But CO2 falls into a different category: it is a natural part of theatmosphere and integral to the processes of life. The problem is not the presence of CO2 but the fact that there’s too much of it beingproduced by man-made processes.Read more at:
  5. 5. PERU: Pantanos de Villa Received A Blue Wetland Globe AwardThis year, parties to the Ramsar Convention met in Bucharest, Rumania, from July 6 to 13. One ofthe purposes was to assess progress achieved by the Convention in rational use of wetlands, aswell as to award Wetland Globes. Blue Wetland Globes recognise best practices in wetland man-agement; Grey Globes highlight wetlands that are being actively degraded, neglected or are un-der threat. Wetland Globes aim to show that without national protection, short term economicgain and pollution seriously degrade many wetland sites. In celebrating good restoration andmanagement Wetland Globes also demonstrate that with the right incentives, it is possible toslow biodiversity and habitat loss, by encouraging private sector interests to work with naturerather than against it. Wetland Globes give a voice to small non-governmental organisations(NGOs) working on conservation. They are non-remunerative awards given to wetlands them-selves. This year there were some 2,000 votes from grass-roots NGOs for 270 wetlands aroundthe world.Peruvian wetland administration of “Pantanos de Villa” received one of the six BLUE Globes Peruvian “Pantanos de Villa”awarded this year. The others were awarded to wetlands in Madagascar, Japan, Bulgaria, the was awarded a Blue Globe in recognition to the best practiceUnited States, and New Zealand. GREY awards went to wetlands in Australia, Colombia, Croatia / in wetland management.Danube, South Korea and Benin, West Africa.“Pantanos de Villa” is a highly biodiverse wetland fed by the main river system of Lima. It was recognized as a RamsarSite in 1997. It benefits directly more than 10,000 local people and indirectly about 8 million Lima citizens through itsrecreational activities and environmental education programmes. There are many different species of resident and mi-gratory birds including gulls, terns, ibis, osprey and egret.There were specific potential threats to the wetlands from urban activities. Through creating partnerships and taskgroups with public organisations; companies, factories, local people and other interested parties, the Municipal Au-thority has managed to dramatically improve the management of this fragile ecosystem. The resulting involvement oflocal people in the management of the wetland has led to an increase in environmental awareness and faster responseto illegal threats. Future plans include the investment of $1.5m for tourism and to improve facilities and education for the 35,000 annual visitors to the area. “Pantanos de Villa” Director Daniel Valle stated that, thanks to the commitment of the Municipality of Lima and the National Service for Protected Natural Areas (SERNANP), they have successfully established a shared man- agement program. At present, Pantanos de Villa is the only protected natural area being managed by a municipality, which demon- strates that this shared-management experi- ence can provide good results. v=p5OUE9sMXnM& premian-a-pantanos-de-villa-en-cumbre-mundial-de-The Ramsar Convention refers to wetlands of international importance as habitats of species such humedales.htmlas aquatic and migratory birds. This Convention was signed in Ramsar, Iran, on February 2, 1971.Peru subscribed to this convention in 1975.Pantanos de Villa was recognized as a “Wetland of International Importance or Ramsar Site”, onFebruary 20, 1997. Photo by Christian Quispe. Courtesy of Wust Ediciones.!/RamsarConventionOnWetlands