Tag: University of Minnesota

Dramatic new scientific discovery!

Conclusive evidence that mankind is part of nature!

Subtext = There are times when our arrogance and mindlessness beggars belief.

Sorry, if you pick up on a degree of emotion in today’s post.  It’s impossible to hide!

Here’s what has fed that.

A few days ago, I came across some stunning images of bees, over on the Flickr website.  Particularly, I was here and offer below a small sample of what was seen:

Chrysidid Wasp, U, Side, UT, Utah Co_2013-08-07-17.51.41 ZS PMax
Chrysidid Wasp, U, Side, UT, Utah Co_2013-08-07-17.51.41 ZS PMax


Lasioglossum quebecense, F, Back, MD, PG County_2013-07-24-15.43.07 ZS PMax
Lasioglossum quebecense, F, Back, MD, PG County_2013-07-24-15.43.07 ZS PMax

Much more may be learned about bees by going to the USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab (BIML).  The BIML website is here.

Then coincidentally (seems to be happening much of this week!) Jean and I watched the latest TED Talk by Marla Spivak.  It was called: Why bees are disappearing.

Marla’s talk is just 15-minutes long, and I beg of you to watch it because the ramifications for all of warm-blooded life on this planet are frightening if we don’t amend our ways – and amend them pretty damn soon!

Honeybees have thrived for 50 million years, each colony 40 to 50,000 individuals coordinated in amazing harmony. So why, seven years ago, did colonies start dying en masse? Marla Spivak reveals four reasons which are interacting with tragic consequences. This is not simply a problem because bees pollinate a third of the world’s crops. Could this incredible species be holding up a mirror for us?

Marla Spivak researches bees’ behavior and biology in an effort to preserve this threatened, but ecologically essential, insect. Full bio »

You may also want to go across to the University of Minnesota‘s Bee Lab website, where there is much more from Marla about our bees.

What next?  Well may you ask!

I came across an article in the San Francisco Chronicle about a “Report links antibiotics at farms to human deaths“.  Here’s a taste of that article:

Washington — The Centers for Disease Control on Monday confirmed a link between routine use of antibiotics in livestock and growing bacterial resistance that is killing at least 23,000 people a year.

The report is the first by the government to estimate how many people die annually of infections that no longer respond to antibiotics because of overuse in people and animals.

CDC Director Thomas Frieden called for urgent steps to scale back and monitor use, or risk reverting to an era when common bacterial infections of the urinary tract, bloodstream, respiratory system and skin routinely killed and maimed.

“We will soon be in a post-antibiotic era if we’re not careful,” Frieden said. “For some patients and some microbes, we are already there.”

The SFC report later goes on to say:

At least 70 percent of all antibiotics in the United States are used to speed growth of farm animals or to prevent diseases among animals raised in feedlots. Routine low doses administered to large numbers of animals provide ideal conditions for microbes to develop resistance.

“Widespread use of antibiotics in agriculture has resulted in increased resistance in infections in humans,” Frieden said.

It concludes, thus:

Legislation goes nowhere

Organic certification prohibits antibiotic use, but raising such animals is costly, he said.

Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Los Angeles, first introduced legislation in 1980 to restrict antibiotic use in livestock. For the past decade, Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., has introduced similar bills, joined in recent years by Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., but the measures have gone nowhere.

“We constantly hear from the pharmaceutical and livestock industry that antibiotic use in livestock is not a problem and we should focus on human use,” said Avinash Kar, a staff attorney at the San Francisco office of the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group that has sued the FDA to force it to ban using antibiotics to promote growth in livestock. The case is now pending before the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Carolyn Lochhead is the San Francisco Chronicle‘s Washington correspondent.clochhead@sfchronicle.com

See what I mean about mankind’s collective madness!

But I’m still not finished!

Because over at Alternet.org was this piece:

Americans Are 110 Times More Likely to Die from Contaminated Food Than Terrorism

September 17, 2013 – This article first appeared on  Truth-Out.org

One of the most important revelations from the international drama over Edward Snowden’s NSA leaks in May is the exposure of a nearly lunatic disproportion in threat assessment and spending by the US government. This disproportion has been spawned by a fear-based politics of terror that mandates unlimited money and media attention for even the most tendentious terrorism threats, while lethal domestic risks such as contaminated food from our industrialized agribusiness system are all but ignored. A comparison of federal spending on food safety intelligence versus antiterrorism intelligence brings the irrationality of the threat assessment process into stark relief.

In 2011, the year of Osama bin Laden’s death, the  State Department reported that 17 Americans were killed in all terrorist incidents worldwide. The same year, a single outbreak of listeriosis from  tainted cantaloupe killed 33 people in the United States. Foodborne pathogens also sickened 48.7 million, hospitalized 127,839 and caused a total of  3,037 deaths. This is a typical year, not an aberration.

See what I mean about our mindlessness!  That article continues:

We have more to fear from contaminated cantaloupe than from al-Qaeda, yet the United States spends $75 billion per year spread across  15 intelligence agencies in a scattershot attempt to prevent terrorism, illegally spying on its own citizens in the process. By comparison, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is  struggling to secure $1.1 billion in the 2014 federal budget for its food inspection program, while tougher food processing and inspection regulations passed in 2011  are held up by agribusiness lobbying in Congress. The situation is so dire that Jensen Farms, the company that produced the toxic cantaloupe that killed 33 people in 2011,  had never been inspected by the FDA.

I can’t stomach any more (whoops, pardon the pun!) so if you want to read to the end, it’s here.

OK, sufficient for today!  Need to find a dog to curl up with.

Damn, Jean’s beaten me to it!

One wonders how Dhalia copes! ;-)
One wonders how Dhalia copes! 😉

Happy Christmas to you!


The following video was sent to me a week ago by Cynthia S.

The Carlson School of Management received a surprise visit from a saxophonist…and nearly 300 of his friends from the University of Minnesota’s School of Music this November.

“Deck the Halls” arr. Francisco J. Núñez and Jim Papoulis from “Coolside of Yuletide”

Special Thanks To: Greg Wrenn (saxophone), Campus Singers Maroon, Gold, and Mosaic; Men’s Chorus, Women’s Chorus, University Singers, Kathy S. Romey (coordinator), Judy Sagen and Kelley Sundin (choreography), Phillip O’Toole (audio), Boosey & Hawkes, Northern Lights Video, Michael Teachout, Bryan Koop (director of photography), Steve Rudolph (producer)

And my second contribution for this Christmas day was sent to me by local roofing contractor here in Payson, Bill Shreeve (greatly recommended, by the way!).  Here’s what Bill sent,

The Amazing Grace Christmas House. Designed and programmed by Richard Holdman in Pleasant Grove, Utah.

The display uses about $130 of electricity per season.
It has raised over $40,000 for the Make-a-wish foundation.
There are about 60,000 lights and located in Pleasant Grove, Utah.
Traffic at one time was backed up over a mile for people waiting to see it.
It takes about 4 people to manage the traffic.
Music is transmitted over the radio while people view it.

Wherever you are in the world, have a wonderful, loving and peaceful day.

Chernobly, Fukushima and change.

From out of darkness has to come the dawn

One side effect of the earthquake and tsunami that hit Northern Japan on the 11th March causing an explosion at the Fukushima nuclear power station is that the anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster is much more a news item than I suspect it might have been.

The nuclear accident at Chernobyl in Russia occurred on the 26th April, 1986, twenty-five years ago today.  One major difference between the two disasters was, of course, how they were reported.

Here’s a small extract from a fuller article in The Financial Times published on the 19th April written by Tony Barber who was in Russia those 25 years ago.

Twenty-five years after the explosion at the Ukrainian facility, I vividly recall every detail of those terrible days of April 1986. I was a 26-year-old foreign correspondent working in Moscow for Reuters news agency. On Friday, April 25, I flew to Kiev to spend a couple of days with Rhona, an ebullient Scottish friend who was teaching at the city’s university under a British Council programme. I was the only western journalist in Kiev that weekend.

While we caroused the night away, extraordinary events were unfolding 130km to the north. Technicians were conducting experiments that involved the disabling of automatic shutdown mechanisms at the plant’s fourth reactor. After a tremendous power surge, the reactor blew up at 1.23am on Saturday, April 26.

Except for high-ranking Communist party officials, the KGB and a number of scientists, doctors and fire-fighters, no one in the Soviet Union, let alone the wider world, knew anything about this. Soviet habits of secrecy and deception kept millions of people in the dark even as radiation spread across Ukraine, Belarus, Russia and beyond.

Certainly the disaster in Japan was widely broadcast across the world without any delays or restraints.  But the thrust of this Post today is to point out what, in the end, will have to be understood by the majority of the world’s peoples and their representatives in power.  That is that our dependence, our love affair, with cheap carbon-based energy has to come to an end, and soon.

On the 26th March, The Economist published a briefing on nuclear power entitled, When the steam clears.  As with so many of this newspaper’s essays, it was very well written [I am a subscriber to The Economist; have been for years.]  Here’s a taste of the article,

When last year a volcano closed the skies over Europe and a blown-out oil-rig turned the Gulf of Mexico black, there was no widespread enthusiasm for giving up oil or air travel. But nuclear power is much less fundamental to the workings of the world than petrol or aeroplanes. Nuclear reactors generate only 14% of the world’s electricity, and with a median age of about 27 years (see chart) and a typical design life of 40 a lot are nearing retirement. Although the world is eager to fly and thirsts for oil, it has had little appetite for new nuclear power for the past quarter of a century.

And towards the end of the article, this,

Distressing though it is, the crisis at Fukushima Dai-ichi is not in itself a reason for the world to change energy policy. The public-health effects seem likely, in the long run, to be small. Coal, with its emissions of sulphur, mercury and soot, will continue to kill far more people per kilowatt hour than nuclear does. But as an opportunity to reflect it may be welcome.  [my italics]

Power of hope

We need a continued growing awareness of the craziness of using coal and oil as primary sources of energy, and from that awareness a growing political pressure for change.  Change that recognises that mankind’s present energy strategies of continuing to pump carbon-based gases into the atmosphere are insane; pure and simple.

We need more of these examples:

Science Daily

University of Minnesota researchers are a key step closer to making renewable petroleum fuels using bacteria, sunlight and carbon dioxide.

Scientific American magazine

As the world continues to grapple with energy-related pollution and poverty, can innovation help?

The clock is ticking, as I wrote here a few days ago.