What the World (and Some Celebrities) Are Doing About the Disaster in the Gulf
As the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico enters its third month, a variety of efforts to stop the flow of oil have come and gone, all inspiring governments around the globe to review their own energy policies, particularly with regard to off-shore drilling. While global trends showed a shift towards loosening regulation, all that could be about to change. Especially considering some of the people involved in the cleanup.
In perhaps the oddest byproduct of this environmental catastrophe, the media has turned its eye to a number of companies developing cleaning technologies for just this kind of spill. It might have been a fairly dry topic of conversation had it not somehow involved a number of celebrities not normally associated with any aspect of the disaster in the Gulf. One of the more prominent cleaning solutions considered so far has been a centrifugal cleaning system financed by actor Kevin Costner, whose brother is the scientist behind the technology. Already deployed by BP, it’s the just the first cleaning solution financed by mainstream celebrities.
Former NFL quarterbacks Troy Aikman and Drew Bledsoe have also helped to develop Ecosphere, another cleaning technology they are currently pitching to officials in the Gulf. Does it say something about the likelihood of this kind of disaster that celebrities may have foreseen it? At any rate, the eyes of the world have certainly taken note of the events.
Around the time the Deepwater Horizon was first reported, Canadian officials were already flexing their regulatory muscle when it came to off-shore drilling. This was particularly the case with Chevron, a driller in the Gulf who has been looking to tap off-shore oil in eastern Canada. As part of the deal, Chevron is now required to meet with regulators on a weekly basis in installing their rig. This after Canadian officials had actually began relaxing regulatory oversight of the oil industry. Having seen the events in the Gulf, Canada has now begun examining its financial cap placed on oil companies in the event of an off-shore spill, following President Obama's recent lead in the United States. With an upcoming audit of drilling taking place in the Arctic, Canada certainly seems to be paying attention to the Gulf.
In most of the world, however, regulation is generally left to the industry itself. While most countries set general standards for safety regarding the oil industry, they don't appear to enforce these regulations all that strictly. As in Canada, that leniency appears to be a more-recent trend for the industry, a trend that could halt in light of recent events in the Gulf. So while the United States may not be alone in how it governs the oil industry, the rest of the world is certainly taking a hint from the BP disaster. At the very least, they’ll have some celebrities prepared to help with the clean-up.
Explore how alcohol affects your brain, from the first sip at the bar to life-long drinking habits.
- Alcohol is the world's most popular drug and has been a part of human culture for at least 9,000 years.
- Alcohol's effects on the brain range from temporarily limiting mental activity to sustained brain damage, depending on levels consumed and frequency of use.
- Understanding how alcohol affects your brain can help you determine what drinking habits are best for you.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx a team of DNA sequencers has figured that out.
- A team at UMass Amherst recently sequenced the genome of the Canadian lynx.
- It's part of a project intending to sequence the genome of every vertebrate in the world.
- Conservationists interested in the Canadian lynx have a new tool to work with.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx, I can now—as of this month—point you directly to the DNA of a Canadian lynx, and say, "That's what makes a lynx a lynx." The genome was sequenced by a team at UMass Amherst, and it's one of 15 animals whose genomes have been sequenced by the Vertebrate Genomes Project, whose stated goal is to sequence the genome of all 66,000 vertebrate species in the world.
Sequencing the genome of a particular species of an animal is important in terms of preserving genetic diversity. Future generations don't necessarily have to worry about our memory of the Canadian Lynx warping the way hearsay warped perception a long time ago.
Artwork: Guillaume le Clerc / Wikimedia Commons
13th-century fantastical depiction of an elephant.
It is easy to see how one can look at 66,000 genomic sequences stored away as being the analogous equivalent of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. It is a potential tool for future conservationists.
But what are the practicalities of sequencing the genome of a lynx beyond engaging with broad bioethical questions? As the animal's habitat shrinks and Earth warms, the Canadian lynx is demonstrating less genetic diversity. Cross-breeding with bobcats in some portions of the lynx's habitat also represents a challenge to the lynx's genetic makeup. The two themselves are also linked: warming climates could drive Canadian lynxes to cross-breed with bobcats.
John Organ, chief of the U.S. Geological Survey's Cooperative Fish and Wildlife units, said to MassLive that the results of the sequencing "can help us look at land conservation strategies to help maintain lynx on the landscape."
What does DNA have to do with land conservation strategies? Consider the fact that the food found in a landscape, the toxins found in a landscape, or the exposure to drugs can have an impact on genetic activity. That potential change can be transmitted down the generative line. If you know exactly how a lynx's DNA is impacted by something, then the environment they occupy can be fine-tuned to meet the needs of the lynx and any other creature that happens to inhabit that particular portion of the earth.
Given that the Trump administration is considering withdrawing protection for the Canadian lynx, a move that caught scientists by surprise, it is worth having as much information on hand as possible for those who have an interest in preserving the health of this creature—all the way down to the building blocks of a lynx's life.
The exploding popularity of the keto diet puts a less used veggie into the spotlight.
- The cauliflower is a vegetable of choice if you're on the keto diet.
- The plant is low in carbs and can replace potatoes, rice and pasta.
- It can be eaten both raw and cooked for different benefits.
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