August 2009 printable subscriber newsletter
31st July, 2009
In this month's newsletter, we profile one woman standing against coal-mining in the US, show how hospitals, schools and councils could source local food, delve into the science of mobile phones and health, and learn lessons from the first ever climate change evacuation. Scroll to the bottom of the page to download the newsletter
In Steven Spielberg’s 1993 film ‘Jurassic Park’, one of visiting scientists asks the gamekeeper of the dinosaur-filled island whether the resurrected creatures exhibit signs of intelligence. The gamekeeper replies:
‘They show extreme intelligence, even problem solving... testing the fences for weaknesses. Systematically. They remembered.’
The moral of the film - within the confines of Hollywood - is of course that nature, once roused, is not just powerful but highly unpredictable, filled with embedded systems that can, to an observer, appear as human-like intelligence.
It’s just the kind of behaviour we’re starting to see from the climate system, judging by some of the latest reports from scientists.
At the end of June, scientists at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, released research showing that increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could have the chilling side-effect of turning staple crops like cassava and sorghum poisonous – by stimulating the plant into creating higher levels of naturally-present chemicals known as cyanogenic glycosides that break down to release cyanide.
Although the cyanide only...
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