Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Farmed fish at increased risk of disease due to global warming

This is nonsense.  Fish species are most abundant in tropical waters.  Overall, warmth is GOOD for fish

Farmed fish are at increasing risk of disease due to global warming, a study has found for the first time.

Researchers discovered that as oceans and freshwater sources heat up, conditions become more favourable for bacteria, leading fish farmers to use increasing amounts of antimicrobial drugs to fight disease in their stock.

But large quantities of antimicrobial agents in fish farms has led to an increase in drug-resistant bacteria.

“Resistant bacteria in aquaculture can either spread or transmit their resistance genes to non-resistant bacteria that infect humans, thus causing diseases that are difficult to treat in both animals and humans,” Samira Sarter, a microbiologist who was part of the study, told Science Daily.

The report, published last week in Nature Communications, was conducted by researchers from the Institute of Evolution Sciences at the University of Montpellier, France.

The researchers analysed more than 400 scientific articles on over 11,000 bacteria found in aquacultures from 40 countries to come up with a multi-antibiotic resistance index. It revealed that low and middle-income countries had high antimicrobial resistance​ (AMR) levels.

The study also found that "infected aquatic animals present higher mortalities at warmer temperatures. Countries most vulnerable to climate change will probably face the highest AMR risks, impacting human health beyond the aquaculture sector, highlighting the need for urgent action. Sustainable solutions to minimise antibiotic use and increase system resilience are therefore needed".

When micro-organisms such as bacteria, fungi, viruses and parasites become resistant to antimicrobial drugs - a range of treatments which include antibiotics and antifungals - they are often referred to as “superbugs”, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The resistant infections have huge implications for the aquaculture industry, where farmers rear fish and shellfish.

The aquaculture industry provides half of the fish and seafood consumed worldwide and is a vital source of protein for a growing number of people around the world, particularly in the developing world. The global population is expected to increase by 2bn people by 2050. Food security is a looming challenge in countries facing more droughts, floods and wildfires due to climate change.

In 2016, 37 countries were producing more farmed than wild-caught fish, according to the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization. In 2014, a report by the World Bank predicted that by 2030, 62% of the seafood consumed globally will be farm-raised.

An estimated 700,000 deaths around the world each year could be attributed to antimicrobial resistance, according to WHO, and this is predicted to increase to 10m deaths annually in the next 35 years.

The health risk does not only apply to fish farming but also to farming on land. According to the CDC, an estimated 6 in 10 known infectious diseases in people can be spread from animals.

The researchers said alternatives for antibiotics are needed urgently on fish farms. One solution could be using certain plant varieties which help boost disease immunity in fish.

The study also recommended better land management to prevent run-off from crops, animal farming and sewage entering water sources.


Electric car boom could result in resource shortages and toxic waste - report

Consequences of EV production aren't so green.  The debate about the green credentials of electric cars has been reignited.

With new research claiming a rise in electric vehicles could create a shortage in natural resources and further damage to the planet unless we find more sustainable ways to source the metals required to construct battery packs and wiring.

The new study, conducted by a coalition of Canadian researchers, says the transition away from fossil fuels is increasing demand for base metals, with shortages in nickel, cobalt and copper predicted to emerge as early as 2025.

The solution, it says, could lie in the deep sea mining of certain underwater rock concretions that can provide the materials used in electric car battery production without any of the toxic waste.

The study was commissioned by deep sea mining company DeepGreen, which has a vested interest in the proposed method.

According to the research, an electric car with a 75KWh battery and NMC 811 (nickel-manganese-cobalt) chemistry needs 56kg of nickel, 7kg of manganese, 7kg of cobalt and 85 kg of copper for electric wiring.

The problem is, the study claims, these land ores have limited yield and conventional land mining processes produce billions of tonnes of waste while leaking deadly toxins into soil and water.

"The good news is, metals are recyclable and over time, as we build up enough metal stock-in-use to cover our needs, we should be able to cycle and recycle the same stock through the system," the study says.

However, in the meantime, researchers point to a shortfall in metal stock as a potential problem.

The solution, researchers say, is an alternate source of metals known as 'polymetallic nodules' taken deep from the seafloor of the Pacific Ocean.

Also called 'ocean nodules', these rock masses contain high concentrations of nickel, cobalt and manganese and have been described as "effectively an EV battery in a rock".

Unlike their land-ore counterparts, ocean nodules contain no toxic levels of harmful elements and mining them has the potential to generate almost zero solid waste.

Compared with mining the land, ocean nodules deliver 70 per cent smaller carbon footprint, a 100 per cent reduction in solid waste, 94 per cent less land use and 93 per cent less wildlife at risk.

Additionally, they offer lower unit costs compared with land ores, which are more expensive due to smaller supplies and the energy- and personnel-intensive mining requirements they demand.

However, researchers acknowledge the ocean-sourced metals will provide fewer jobs than the traditional land-ore mining industry, but contend these jobs will be "safer and higher-quality".

DeepGreen's research isn't the first of its kind to point to deep sea mining as a way to ensure electric cars remain a viable environmental solution.

According to the BBC, a 2019 European investigation found that meeting the UK's targets for electric cars by 2050 "would require nearly twice the world's current output of cobalt".

"It's readily available on the seafloor, it's almost like potato harvesting only 5km deep in the ocean," EU project head Laurens de Jonge told the BBC.

Behyad Jafari, CEO of Australia's Electric Vehicle Council, says concerns around electric vehicles' impact on resources and the environment have been raised before and work is already being done to circumvent future issues.

"The development of batteries is where EVs have, in the past, been shot in the arm – a few environmental and ethical issues have been raised," Mr Jafari told Drive.

"When it comes to the supply chain of metals there have been questions before about who's digging them up and how, but now that large OEMs and reputable businesses have been put into this domain they've made sure they are reputable sources and are working to provide transparency in that market."

Mr Jafari says studies investigating resource shortages often only account for present-day supply of these metals, which he says does not predict supply in the future. In fact, he says, supplies are likely to increase rather than decline.

"If we look at the pipeline of investment going into making more of those metals, that's actually been scaled back due to concerns of over-supply, not of under-supply," he explained.


Ban on GM crops set to go in South Australia

The South Australian parliament is set to pass legislation to lift a ban on genetically-modified crops on the state's mainland

Legislation to lift the ban on genetically modified crops on the South Australian mainland is set to pass state parliament after negotiations between the Liberal government and the Labor opposition.

Primary Industries Minister Tim Whetstone says under proposed amendments local councils will have six months to apply to remain GM-free, though a final decision will still rest with the minister.

Kangaroo Island will also remain GM-free.

"This agreement is a great outcome for South Australian farmers who will have the opportunity to reap the benefits of growing GM where that is best for their business," Mr Whetstone said.


Mandatory climate change classes plan for Scottish leaders

Scotland is very Leftist

MSPs, business leaders and newly enrolled university students may be asked to take mandatory climate change studies if plans currently under consideration are adopted.

The studies would help arm them with facts and knowledge to make urgent changes to society as it emerges from COVID-19 lockdown. The Scottish Government has already committed to enrolling at least 100 senior officials to the Climate Solutions course.

The news comes just days before Tuesday’s one-year anniversary of Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon declaring a climate emergency.

The course was devised by experts at the Perth-based Royal Scottish Geographical Society in partnership with the Institute of Directors, Stirling University’s Business School and the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Carbon Innovation.

Among the main areas the course looks at are issues around transport, energy use, supply chains, social behaviours, mitigation and planning for the future.

Former UN executive secretary on climate change Christiana Figueres who brokered the Paris Agreement, former Bank of England Governor Mark Carney who is now UN special envoy on climate action and finance and ex Irish President Mary Robinson who set up a climate justice foundation, are among heavyweight names lending their support.


The man behind the idea, RSGS chief executive Mike Robinson, said a number of business leaders have already committed to undertake the course along with the Scottish Government, with further discussions to ensure new university students and MSPs can take part well-underway.

The studies are aimed at filling the gaps in knowledge, on a scientific and factual basis, with a focus on developing a structured plan. Online modules are live now, with the first planned workshop to be held in June.

He insists business leaders – and the farming community in particular – will play a key role in deciding future outcomes.

Mr Robinson, said: “What we’re really hoping is we can make it universal.

“The conversations I’ve had are with six universities is about making it mandatory for students as a matriculation course. Stirling and Edinburgh universities are already further down the line on that than others.

“I’m also talking to others about making it as mandatory as we can in all other sectors - including business - because we need everybody to wake up a bit to their responsibilities.

“The Scottish Government are already committed through their programme of government to put through 100 senior staff on it.”

Scotland has some of the most ambitious climate targets in the world, setting a legally binding pledge to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045 at the latest – five years ahead of the date set for the UK as a whole.

The nation’s emissions cuts in March stood at around 50 per cent since 1990 baseline levels, but achieving 100 per cent is expected to take a lot more work across every sector of the community.

Speaking during Climate Solutions Week, Mr Robinson added: Targets, particularly on climate change, relate to the whole of our society and not just government, and you need businesses, you need local authorities, you need individual actors to pick up the baton and play their role.

“Until you all have the same thing you are working too, then the danger is you are actually pulling apart instead of pulling in the same direction and that’s actually the single biggest risk.

“There is a willingness, but not necessarily clarity.

“So, here’s a way that’s credible, reliable, makes sense to business and helps them implement stuff - because if you don’t know this stuff how are you going to run a business in ten years time.”

Anticipating hundreds of people to enrol in the first year, he hopes the course can help reduce the impact of the pause.

He said: “It’s very solutions focussed, its imbued with optimism which I think is essential from a mental health point of view. I’m not into scaring people witless about this, we want to enable them.

“What we’re trying to do is make it easy as possible for people to work out the answers quickly, and the need to take action quickly.

“Even if you can’t necessary impact a solution directly by introducing it in your business or in your own life then what you can do is recognise the need for that change and allow it to happen.”



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