Newsletter 221


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Newsletter 221

  1. 1. SOUTH AMERICA ENVIRONMENT, SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, AND HEALTH NEWSLETTER221 t h issue, February 28, 2013 Conservation: Nearly 200 Illegal Loggers Arrested in Massive Sting In this issue: Across 12 Countries By Jeremy Hance Conservation: Nearly 200 One-hundred-and-ninety-seven illegal loggers across a dozen Central and South American countries Illegal Loggers Arrested in have been arrested during INTERPOLs first strike against widespread forestry crime. INTERPOL, or The Massive Sting Across 12 International Criminal Police Organization, worked with local police forces to take a first crack at illegal Countries. logging. In all the effort, known as Operation Lead, resulted in the seizure of 50,000 cubic meters of Science: Bioengineers wood worth around $8 million. "Operation Lead marks the beginning of INTERPOL’s effort to assist its Print Ears That Look And member countries to combat illegal logging and forestry crime, which affects not only the health, Act Like The Real Thing. security and quality of life of local forest-dependent communities, but also causes significant costs to Science: Common governments in terms of lost economic revenue," David Higgins, Programme Manager of the Mosquito Repellent No Environmental Crime Programme at INTERPOL said. Longer Repels Certain Mosquitoes. The global illegal logging trade has been estimated to be worth $30-$100 billion each year and is Science: Bees Use “Electrical Six Sense” To thought to account for 15-30 percent of all deforestation in the tropics. The destruction of forests Nail Nectar-Stuffed threatens global biodiversity, watersheds, and releases greenhouse gases; in addition it often robs local Flowers. communities and indigenous peoples of the forests they depend on. Illegal logging kingpins are also Health: Flu Vaccine often involved in other crimes, such as human trafficking, weapons sales, drugs, and political corruption. Barely Worked in People 65 and Older. "This is a major development in the fight against illegal logging, which is a much bigger global problem Climate Change: than most of us realize," said Billy Kyte with Global Witness, an NGO that looks at the link between Conversations With environmental and human rights abuses. "Local people often get the blame, but they are usually not the Mother Earth. real problem. Much more damage is done by big companies connected to business, political and criminal elites, who systematically skirt laws and regulations in order to destroy forests at an industrial scale." Next events: Illegal loggers were arrested in Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, March 22, 2013 Guatemala, Honduras, Paraguay, Peru, and Venezuela. World Water Day March 23, 2013 Laws are toughening against illegal logging around the world. Both the U.S. and Australia have recently Earth Hour implemented laws banning the importation of materials April17-19, 2013 made from illegally logged wood. In the U.S., the law International Fair of resulted in a high-profile case against Gibson Guitars, Technologies Energy, Santiago, Chile which ended in the music company paying a $350,000 fine and forfeiting $250,000 worth of items. Similar April 22, 2013 Earth Day legislation is expected to go into effect for the EU this June 5, 2013 year as well. If law enforcement efforts scale up, many World Environment Day illegal loggers may find that the black-market trade is July 10-12, 2013 no longer worth the risk. Eolica, Buenos Aires, Argentina Read more: interpol-logging.html Photo by Harley Kingston (flickr user). Under Creative Commons License. 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. S C I E N C E : Bioengineers Print Ears That Look And Act Like The Real ThingCornell bioengineers and physicians have created an artificial ear that looks and acts like a natural ear, giving new hope to thou-sands of children born with a congenital deformity called microtia.In a study published online Feb. 20 in PLOS One, Cornell biomedical engineers and Weill Cornell Medical College physicians de-scribed how 3-D printing and injectable gels made of living cells can fashion ears that are practically identical to a human ear. Overa three-month period, these flexible ears grew cartilage to replace the collagen that was used to mold them. "This is such a win-winfor both medicine and basic science, demonstrating what we can achieve when we work together," said co-lead author LawrenceBonassar, associate professor of biomedical engineering.The novel ear may be the solution reconstructive surgeons have long wished for to help children born with ear deformity, said co-lead author Dr. Jason Spector, director of the Laboratory for Bioregenerative Medicine and Surgery and associate professor of plas-tic surgery at Weill Cornell. "A bioengineered ear replacement like this would also help individuals who have lost part or all of theirexternal ear in an accident or from cancer," Spector said. Replacement ears are usually constructed with materials that have a Sty- rofoam-like consistency, or sometimes, surgeons build ears from a pa- tients harvested rib. This option is challenging and painful for children, and the ears rarely look completely natural or perform well, Spector said. To make the ears, Bonassar and colleagues started with a digitized 3-D image of a human subjects ear and converted the image into a digitized "solid" ear using a 3-D printer to assemble a mold. They injected the mold with collagen derived from rat tails, and then added 250 million cartilage cells from the ears of cows. This Cornell-developed, high-density gel is similar to the consistency of Jell-O when the mold is removed. The colla- gen served as a scaffold upon which cartilage could grow. Read more at: by Creative Tools (flickr user). Under Creative Commons License.SCIENCE: Common Mosquito Repellent No Longer Repels Certain MosquitoesMosquitoes can develop a resistance to substances used to repel them. This has been shown for the first time in laboratory tests atthe Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) and associates in the UK.It is the yellow fever mosquito that has developed a resistance to the mosquito repellent DEET, a substance used in mosquito re-pellents all over the world. In Sweden it is found in the products MyggA and Djungelolja (Jungle Oil). The capacity of mosquitoes todevelop resistance has been shown to be hereditary."Through testing, we have found that yellow fever mosquitoes no long sense the smell of DEET and are thereby not repelled by it.This is because a certain type of sensory cell on the mosquitos antenna is no longer active" says Rickard Ignell, a researcher at theDivision for Chemical Ecology at SLU in Alnarp.Rickard Ignell performed the research in collaboration with Rothamstead Research in the UK. The findings were recently publishedin the scientific journal Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).The scientists have thus seen that the sensory cell on the mosquitos antenna has stoppedreacting to DEET. This have many explanations, such as the protein that binds in to DEET hav-ing mutated."More research is needed to find out what the mechanism is," says Rickard Ignell.The researchers are now urging restrictiveness in the use of DEET and other mosquito repel-lents on a large scale in a limited area, in order not to make other mosquito species resistant.Read full article at: Photo by Gravitywave (flickr user). Under Creative Commons License.
  3. 3. SCIENCE: Bees Use Electrical SIXTH SENSE to Nail Nectar-Stuffed FlowersTheres electricity in the air when bees meet flowers: according to a new study, the blooms and ap-proaching insects uses electrical signals to find out whether there is nectar and pollen to spare.As they fly through the air, bumblebees acquire a positive electric charge, while flowers, which aregrounded, have a negative charge. When the two meet, the bee somehow senses the difference, andits that information - along with bright colours, patterns and enticing fragrance - that attracts polli-nators to blooms.Bio-boffins at the University of Bristol, which conducted the study, found that when a bee visits aflower and picks up its pollen, some of the positive charge on the insect may transfer to the plant andalter its electric charge. After several visits, this change in charge appears to be detected by otherincoming bees who swerve away in search of a plant that hasnt been plundered. Photo by Karen Roe (flickr user). Under CreativeBut both the bee and the plant have a bit of control over their charge, were told, and some plants Commons License.may lie about their nectar supply. “The last thing a flower wants is to attract a bee and then fail toprovide nectar: a lesson in honest advertising since bees are good learners and would soon lose interest in such an unrewardingflower," lead author Daniel Robert said. "The co-evolution between flowers and bees has a long and beneficial history, so perhapsits not entirely surprising that we are still discovering today how remarkably sophisticated their communication is."The researchers tested the electric chat by placing electrodes in the stems of petunias and observing that, when a bumblebee(Bombus terrestris) lands, the flowers potential changes and stays that way for a few minutes. They also found that the bees areable to detect and distinguish between different flowers electric fields.What they dont yet know is how the bees detect the fields with this sixth sense, although its possible that bumblebee hairs bristleup under the electrostatic force.The full study, Detection and Learning of Floral Electric Fields by Bumblebees, was published in Science Express.Read full article at: Flu Vaccine Barely Worked in People 65 and Older By Elizabeth Weise This seasons flu vaccine was almost completely ineffective in people 65 and older, which could explain why rates of hospitalization and death have been some of the highest ever recorded for that age group, according to early estimates released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For people under 65, getting vaccinated this season reduced the need to go to the doctor for the flu by one-half to two-thirds. For those 65 and older, though, it helped in just 9% of cases, a num- ber too low to be statistically significant, according to a report in the CDCs Weekly Morbidity andPhoto by Thompson Rivers University (flickr user). Under Creative Mortality Report released Thursday. The study was based on a survey of 2,697 children and adultsCommons License. by the U.S. Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness Network from Dec. 3, 2012, through Jan. 19, 2013.This seasons flu hospitalization rates in those 65-plus is the highest since CDC began its current surveillance system in 2007, said MichaelJhung, a CDC epidemiologist. In the last week of January, the rate of people in that age group who were hospitalized with a laboratory-confirmed case of influenza was 116 per 100,000. Previously, the highest rate was 73.7 per 100,000, he said.When broken into age groups, the vaccines overall effectiveness against H3N2 flu was: 6 months to 17 years, 58%. 18 to 49 years, 46%. 50 to 64 years, 50%. 65 and older, 9%.As people age, the immune system becomes less able to battle sickness. This doesnt mean people 65 and older shouldnt get vaccinated,Bresee said. "What we know about people over 65 is that theyre at extremely high risk of getting hospitalized or even dying of flu," he said,and even moderate protection is helpful. Bresee said people who live and work around people 65 and older need to get vaccinated to makeit less likely that they pass the illness along.Read more at:
  4. 4. CLIMATE CHANGE: "Conversations with Mother Earth"* This amazing multimedia exhibition by French photographer Nicolas Villaume captures the effects of climate change in more than 30 native communities all over the world. It will run until May 15, 2013, at the Metropolitan Museum of Lima. In 2009, Nicolas Villaume and the organi- zations LandisLife and InsightShare be- gan to work on this exhibition, designed to show and magnify the voices of na- tives who face climate change. During the multimedia tour, the visitorsPhoto by Nicolas Villaume. will be able to hear testimonies of na- tives from more than 30 communities allover the world, who are suffering the effects of climate change.Thus, this exhibition presents the Zanskaris, inhabitants of the high mountains of Himalaya, who work hardeveryday to access water, the Gwich’ins from Alaska, who face melting ice, and the Massaï people in Kenya,who see how their cattle die due to long droughts affecting their lands.By means of different multimedia effects, photography essays, videos, and interviews in original languages,the visitor can explore people’s concerns about climate change and how they use ancestral knowledge toconfront its ravages.Those who visit this exhibition will find interviews, videos, photos, from communities in Ecuador, the Arctic,Papua New Guinea, Russia, India, Ethiopia,Brazil, and Canada. A recent story re-corded in Huaraz, Peru, will be presented,as well.“Conversations with Mother Earth” hasbeen translated into seven languages andpresented at the United Nations in NewYork, the Smithsonian National Museum ofthe American Indian, in Washington D.C.,among other prestigious cultural venues.Read more at: ttp : / / p eru . com/ en treten im ien to/ g u ia - ovej a- n eg ra /conversaciones-madre-tierra-voces-indigenas-sobre-cambio-climatico-noticia-119637 Photo by Nicolas Villaume.