Friday, January 17, 2014

Friday Means...Link-straveganza!

There's bad news coming, and it's called the TPP or Trans-Pacific Partnership. It's another of these Free Trade corporate rights deals being made behind our backs. In Canada, there's a total of three people allowed to see the full text of the deal and they are not allowed to tell Canadians what's in the damned thing until after it has been signed. The TPP would include Japan, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Malaysia, Chile, Singapore, Peru, Vietnam, New Zealand, Brunei, and possibly China. Over at Grist, Heather Smith takes on the recent leak of the draft text and points out just how bad for the planet this deal is going to be.

via University of Colorado
 In somewhat related news, there's been a drought of MSM (main stream media) coverage of global climate change. Grist is once again on the story:
The University of Colorado’s Center for Science & Technology Research monitors mentions of “global warming” and “climate change” in five major U.S. newspapers: The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and USA Today. Check out the [...] sad graph [above] showing its latest findings

Cacao tree via Luisovalles at Wikipedia
Science Daily is reporting on the use of genetic testing to identify various cultivars of cacao beans;
 The ability to authenticate premium and rare varieties would encourage growers to maintain cacao biodiversity rather than depend on the most abundant and easiest to grow trees. Researchers have found ways to verify through genetic testing the authenticity of many other crops, including cereals, fruits, olives, tea and coffee, but those methods aren't suitable for cacao beans. Zhang's team wanted to address this challenge.
Applying the most recent developments in cacao genomics, they were able to identify a small set of DNA markers called SNPs (pronounced "snips") that make up unique fingerprints of different cacao species. The technique works on single cacao beans and can be scaled up to handle large samples quickly. "To our knowledge, this is the first authentication study in cacao using molecular markers," the researchers state.

Science Daily is also reporting two linked stories. First, that the effects of livestock on climate change are underestimated:
 While climate change negotiators struggle to agree on ways to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, they have paid inadequate attention to other greenhouse gases associated with livestock, according to an analysis by an international research team.
A reduction in non-CO2 greenhouse gases will be required to abate climate change, the researchers said. Cutting releases of methane and nitrous oxide, two gases that pound-for-pound trap more heat than does CO2, should be considered alongside the challenge of reducing fossil fuel use.
The researchers’ analysis, “Ruminants, Climate Change, and Climate Policy,” is being published today as an opinion commentary in Nature Climate Change, a professional journal.
And second, that there may be a chance of lowering the emission of greenhouse gases from cattle:
A new research project looks into the possibilities of adapting every aspect of cattle husbandry and selection processes to lower their greenhouse gas emissions.
The key to the project, Garnsworthy says, is that cattle vary by a factor of two or three in the amount of methane their stomachs produce. It is therefore possible to imagine a dairy herd producing the same volume of milk for lower greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, different diets mean that cows can produce the same amount of milk with lower emissions. "It is possible to imagine cutting emissions from cattle by a fifth, using a combination approach in which you would breed from lower-emitting cattle as well as changing their diets," Garnsworthy said.

Katy Salter, writing for The Guardian, points out the rise in expensive slices of toast as the Next Big Thing:
Toast is trendy. Yes, you read that right: toast. Obviously we're not talking marge on Mighty White, but rather the artisanal slices served with hand-churned butter and homemade jams that have been popping up on "toast menus" around San Francisco and now New York. And if that all sounds too yuppy and insufferable for words, brace yourself: there's more. Some of those slices are selling for $4 a pop. That's about £2.43 a slice at the current exchange rate.

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