A worrying thought indeed that any of our great apes should be facing extinction yet a paper recently published in Oryx reveals the latest figures for orang-utans in the wild ...and it doesn't make for comfortable reading.
Yes, it is happening already! Greywater, which is non-industrial wastewater generated from domestic processes such as dish washing, laundry and bathing, comprises more than 50% of residential wastewater. It gets its name from its cloudy appearance and from its status as being neither fresh (white/clear potable water), nor heavily polluted (blackwaters). Hence it has the potential for and has been considered as a solution for water scarcity for a while now. It can be used either as it is, for irrigation for example, or it can be cleaned up somewhat and then re-used for various purposes inside the home. In fact, many people have used greywater before to irrigate their garden at least, when there’s been a hose pipe ban. It might be seen as a disgusting thing to do, to reuse spent water inside the home though, but as a water scientist, I find it can be perfectly ok. Read on to see why.
Looking at the medal table as the Beijing Olympics enter Day 12, it is clear that while the Olympics include more countries than the United Nations, a relatively small number still dominate the medals. While 76 countries have 'medalled' at the time of writing, only 16 of those are into double figures, and the two leading nations (the USA and China) each have nearly twice as many as any other country. What is behind the dominance of the leading nations?
More than 125,000 western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) have been discovered deep in the isolated forests of the Republic of Congo. This new find is a huge boost to their population, at least doubling estimates to between 175,000 and 225,000.
The gorillas were found during the first wildlife census of the area carried out by the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society and the Government of Republic of Congo. Across an area covering 18,000 square miles, researchers tracked the animals by counting their nests, which nomadic gorillas build each evening to sleep in before rising the next morning in search of browse and a new overnight campsite.
Western lowland gorillas are one of four gorilla sub-species, which also include mountain gorillas, eastern lowland gorillas, and cross river gorillas. All are labelled endangered or critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, with numbers of western lowland gorillas previously believed to be around 50,000 due to deforestation, warfare, poachers and the Ebola virus.
One of the implications of all this energy we waste to swap coffee and wheat
is that we're giving climate change a helping hand. The contribution made by
today's food production systems to climate change globally will have tremendous
impacts on the food it produces in the future. So this week, in a document much
less concise that Peter Baker's BBC article, the FAO released 'Climate
change - Implications for Food Safety.'
We have often encountered the first law of thermodynamics in this blog, or at least
as it applies to obesity. This week the Second Law - the law that governs
entropy and the movement of heat -has taken centre stage for a change. CABI's
own Peter Baker has dealt with the subject eloquently this week in an article he
wrote for BBC News's online forum, GreenRoom.
With Michael Phelps well on his way to a record haul of gold medals in the Olympic pool, and much discussion in the media about the 12,000 calorie diet he eats in training (don't try it at home, is the message from most writers), a timely addition to the Cab Abstracts database this week looks at the effects of supplements on swimming performance. The paper by Lindh et al. (2008) in the International Journal of Sports Medicine examines the effects of sodium bicarbonate supplementation on 200 m freestyle swimming performance in elite male competitors. The research finds that sodium bicarbonate increases post-200 m blood lactate concentrations, and suggests that use as a supplement can improve 200 m freestyle performance time in elite male competitors, most likely by increasing buffering capacity. In another recent paper, Pruscino et al. (2008) investigated the effects of combining sodium bicarbonate with caffeine on repeated 200-m freestyle performance. Results suggest that the benefit of taking caffeine alone for repeated swimming performance are limited, but that when combined with sodium bicarbonate its negative impact on repeated maximal exercise performance is reversed.
A number of papers on the database look at physiological factors associated with performance in elite swimmers, and factors in technique and training that affect performance. Heart rate variability is studied by Ataoui et al. (2007), and the effects of altitude training by Roels et al. (2006) and Schmitt et al. (2006). Technique and coordination for Michael Phelp's favourite strokes are discussed by Seifert et al. (2005) for front crawl and Chollet et al. (2006) for butterfly.
Training in the right conditions and environment, and attention to diet and supplements, are vital to all elite athletes in these days when nothing in competition is left to chance. Sadly though, they are unlikely to turn the rest of us into a Michael Phelps.
1. Heart rate variability, training variation and performance in elite swimmers. Atlaoui, D., Pichot, V., Lacoste, L., Barale, F., Lacour, J. R., Chatard, J. C. / International Journal of Sports Medicine, 2007, Vol. 28, No. 5, pp. 394-400
2. Arm to leg coordination in elite butterfly swimmers. Chollet, D., Seifert, L., Boulesteix, L., Carter, M. / International Journal of Sports Medicine, 2006, Vol. 27, No. 4, pp. 322-329
3. Sodium bicarbonate improves swimming performance. Lindh, A. M., Peyrebrune, M. C., Ingham, S. A., Bailey, D. M., Folland, J. P. / International Journal of Sports Medicine, 2008, Vol. 29, No. 6, pp. 519-523
4. Effects of sodium bicarbonate, caffeine, and their combination on repeated 200-m freestyle performance. Pruscino, C. L., Ross, M. L. R., Gregory, J. R., Savage, B., Flanagan, T. R. / International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 2008, Vol. 18, No. 2, pp. 116-130, 33 ref.
5. Is it more effective for highly trained swimmers to live and train at 1200 m than at 1850 m in terms of performance and haematological benefits? Roels, B., Hellard, P., Schmitt, L., Robach, P., Richalet, J. P., Millet, G. P. / British Journal of Sports Medicine, 2006, Vol. 40, No. 2, pp. e4, 32 ref.
6. Heart rate variability and performance at two different altitudes in well-trained swimmers. Schmitt, L., Hellard, P., Millet, G. P., Roels, B., Richalet, J. P., Fouillot, J. P. / International Journal of Sports Medicine, 2006, Vol. 27, No. 3, pp. 226-231
7. The spatial-temporal and coordinative structures in elite male 100-m front crawl swimmers. Seifert, L., Boulesteix, L., Carter, M., Chollet, D. / International Journal of Sports Medicine, 2005, Vol. 26, No. 4, pp. 286-293
It may look like a large, odd-shaped mud hut but this is actually the Beacon building at the Zaragoza 08 Expo, the water and sustainable development expo running until 14 September in Spain. In July this became the first construction project in the world to be certified to the PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification schemes) standard as all the structural timber elements of the building were sourced from PEFC-certified forests. It is constructed entirely of sustainable construction materials, mud, straw and certified timber, is sustainable, energy efficient and recyclable and provides a practical demonstration of one of the main themes of the Expo – environmental sustainability.
The Beacon provides another step towards increasing awareness of the design possibilities for eco-buildings, the advantages of using sustainable construction materials and the responsibility to use certified timber which contributes to sustainable forest management practices and a reduced impact on the environment.
Well it has been a veritable delight of televisual output from the BBC in recent weeks with “Lost Land of the Jaguar” and “Britain from Above”. If you have missed any of these and are lucky enough to have access to the iPlayer I would recommend a catch-up, otherwise clips have been placed on YouTube and are available from the programmes pages on the BBC website.
(Screenshots taken from BBC website all rights remain with BBC)