Discovered: Many of our mammal brethren will not survive climate change, high fructose corn syrup keeps getting better, finally a plastic bag solution that works for the environment, and America will get a lot warmer over the next sixty years.
- Many mammals will not survive climate change. In an attempt to avoid melting, mammals will migrate to less melty pastures. That journey will kill at least one tenth of those pioneers. "Our figures are a fairly conservative -- even optimistic -- view of what could happen because our approach assumes that animals always go in the direction needed to avoid climate change and at the maximum rate possible for them," explains researcher Joshua Lawler. It's not that these animals are ill-equipped to migrate. No. Rather, humanity imposed structures will get in their way. "I think it's important to point out that in the past when climates have changed -- between glacial and interglacial periods when species ranges contracted and expanded -- the landscape wasn't covered with agricultural fields, four-lane highways and parking lots, so species could move much more freely across the landscape," he continues. This one hits particular close to home because these are our brethren -- this is our species class. [University of Washington]
High fructose corn syrup is making us stupid, too. The manufactured corn stuff just keep getting better. Beyond fattening us up, it is also dumbing us down. "Eating a high-fructose diet over the long term alters your brain's ability to learn and remember information," explains researcher Fernando Gomez-Pinilla. Yay, America! To figure this out, the scientists looked at two groups of rats. One that ate a lot of HFCS and another that instead ate Omega 3 fatty acids in the form of docosahexaenoic acid, which the study calls DHA. "The DHA-deprived animals were slower, and their brains showed a decline in synaptic activity. Their brain cells had trouble signaling each other, disrupting the rats' ability to think clearly and recall the route they'd learned six weeks earlier," he continues. So, for those who have already eaten themselves stupid, it goes like this: Omega 3 good, high fructose corn syrup bad. [UCLA]
Finally, a plastic bag solution that works for the environment. The most wasteful totes on the planet now have a place in our ecosystem. A group of researchers has found an organism that eats plastic. "Several active organisms were identified, including two distinct isolates of Pestalotiopsis microspora with the ability to efficiently degrade and utilize PUR as the sole carbon source when grown anaerobically, a unique observation among reported PUR biodegradation activities," explains the research report. PUR meaning the common plastic polyurethane. Though it's nice to keep those bags around for garbage, who doesn't have a pile it wishes some fungi woud eat? [Applied and Environmental Microbiology]
North America will get hotter. Science has put together a bunch of different maps, estimating how much warmer our continent will get with climate change. Overall, North America is expected to increase 2.5 degrees by 2070, with Canada experiencing the biggest change. Our Northern neighbors will see a temperature rise of about 6 degrees over that same period, which at first sounds quite lovely, as it's brr up there. But, just think of all the mammals that will die as they migrate to cooler places! Head here to check out all the maps, which zoom in on particular regions and seasons. It's kind of fun, until you realize all the scary effects of climate change. [Ohio State]