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Planet Earth

Bodies of Deep Sea Creatures Found to Contain Radioactive Carbon From Atomic Bombs

The Cold War is done and dusted (well, kind of) but its legacy still lives on, even in the bodies of creatures living in the world’s deepest underwater trench.

At the bottom of the West Pacific, in its darkest depths – the deepest point on Earth, in fact, the Mariana Trench – scientists have discovered the presence of unstable carbon isotopes in the bodies of shrimp-like beasties. By tracing the unique “fingerprint” of the isotopes, they were able to trace it back to the nasty leftovers of nuclear warheads detonated during the Cold War.

Reporting in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, scientists led by the Chinese Academy of Sciences documented how atmosphere explosions from nuclear warheads above the Pacific ended up in the guts of tiny crustaceans at depths of up to 11,000 meters (36,000 feet).

The team of scientists started by collecting small crustaceans, known as amphipods, from the Mariana Trench, Mussau Trench, and New Britain Trench in the spring of 2017. Analysis of their muscle tissue and gut contents found strangely elevated levels of the unstable carbon isotope carbon-14 (14C), a sure sign of thermonuclear denotations.

The world’s small handful of nuclear power nations – mainly the US and the former USSR – have conducted more than 2,000 nuclear test explosions since 1945, nearly 400 of which were denotated in the atmosphere between 1945 to 1963. As a result of this wreckless atomic activity, the amount of 14C in the atmosphere doubled during the 1950s and 1960s alone.

It appears that this 14C “drifted” its way down to the ocean’s surface water below. Here, it was eaten by surface-dwelling creatures, where it made its way deep into the food chain of Pacific marine life. As scavengers, amphipods will also happily eat the rotting flesh of marine creatures that have floated down to the seabed after they die, thereby serving as a super-fast route through the atmospheric 14C to end up in the belly of deep-sea shrimps.

Interestingly, the levels of 14C also suggested that these deep sea inhabitants have a relatively long lifespan of over 10 years, much higher than their shallow-water cousins.

“This ‘bomb 14C’ mixed quickly into the surface ocean and terrestrial carbon pools, enabling 14C to be traced within the carbon cycle on a short time scale, from years to decades,” the study authors write.

“The penetration of bomb 14C into the deepest fauna has not been reported until now.”

Radioactivity isn’t the only relic of human activity that can be found in these trenches. Scientists have found plastic bags on the floor of the Mariana Trench. Even more worrying, a recent study published earlier this year discovered the presence of microplastics in animals living in the Mariana Trench. In fact, nearly 75 percent of the shrimp tested here contained at least one plastic microparticle, showing that human influence has spread to even the most remote places on Earth.

{END OF ARTICLE}

Now just imagine what’s happening to sea life because of Fukushima, and what those who eat sea animals could be potentially ingesting.

Tom Hale
IFL

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Planet Earth

North America may split in half: giant cracks formed in the ground

On September 15, the inhabitants of Mexico, who live on the outskirts of the Chihuahua Desert, posted on the Web very terrible changes in the surface of the earth: deep cracks formed in the territory for unknown reasons. The dips were about three meters wide and one and a half meters deep.

The cracks stretched for several kilometers. Geologists are now diligently studying the incident. According to their data, the crack begins 500 kilometers from the southern edge of the well-known San Andreas fault. 

Perhaps the situation is somehow related to the processes occurring in the fault. It is not known where the rift actually goes. It was studied mainly at the epicenters of earthquakes; none of the scientists looked into the bowels of the lithosphere.

Maybe the rift is indeed connected to the Chihuahua Desert. If so, it means that soon San Andreas will show itself, the earth will tremble.

According to another theory, swarms of earthquakes in the Atlantic could have caused the cracks. The last seismic event with a magnitude of 7 was recorded there on September 19.

The Atlantic is located farther from the San Andreas Fault, but it can speak of a global process taking place. So, for example, after the first incident in the Atlantic Ocean, the bottom of the Indian Ocean shuddered, then the Pacific. You can observe a certain circle along which events take place. Maybe soon mysterious faults will appear in the most unexpected places.

Scientists are more inclined to the option that tectonic shifts are taking place under Mexico. So, this summer after a strong earthquake, part of Mexico moved 45 centimeters. The awakening of a powerful volcano is not excluded. Some experts believe that North America could eventually split in half.

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Planet Earth

Climate change kicked off a new Great Migration

If you think that the effects of climate change will not come soon, you will be disappointed. Numerous scientific studies show that global warming will lead to devastating consequences, including the movement of people around the planet on an unprecedented, destabilizing scale. Thus, droughts, floods, bankruptcy and famine are already forcing people to leave their homes. 

The situation is such that environmental hazards affect populations across the planet and – under certain conditions – can stimulate migration. The most important factors are temperature changes, variability in precipitation, and rapid-onset natural disasters such as tropical storms, according to a study by researchers at the Postdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK).

The findings allow researchers to identify geographic regions that may be particularly susceptible to future migration movements. Has the Great Nations Migration really begun?

Migration of peoples

The history of mankind is approximately 2.4 million years old. However, according to a 2015 study, a bone fragment found in Ethiopia in 2013 suggests that humanity is several hundred thousand years older. As the authors of the work, published in the journal Science, write, the genus of primates of the hominid family existed on Earth 2.8 million years ago.

It is important to understand that over the entire period of its existence, human populations have regularly migrated. So, the first to leave Africa and populate Eurasia was Homo erectus (Homo erectus), whose migrations began about 2 million years ago. It was followed by the expansion of Homo sapiens and its close relatives: Neanderthals and Denisovans. A modern man came to the Middle East about 80 thousand years ago.

Today, migration is called any territorial movement of the population associated with the crossing of both external and internal borders in order to change their permanent residence or temporary stay in the territory for study or work, regardless of the factors that contribute to resettlement.

The relentless impact of drought, floods, bankruptcy and famine are forcing people to leave their homes.


Ecological migration is most pronounced in middle-income countries, as well as in countries with developed agriculture. “Environmental factors can stimulate migration, but the magnitude of the impact depends on the specific economic and socio-political conditions in the countries,” writes the lead author of the new study, Roman Hoffmann.

In both low- and high-income countries, the environmental impact on migration is weaker. Presumably because either people are too poor to leave, or in rich countries people have enough financial resources to cope with the consequences. It is in the regions with average incomes and dependence on agriculture that strong waves of population migration are observed.

A large-scale meta-analysis, the results of which are published in the journal Nature Climate Change, revealed a number of interesting patterns. It turned out that the impact on migration depends on the types of environmental hazards and that different hazards can mutually reinforce each other. While temperature changes in the region have the greatest impact on migration, fast-onset natural disasters, changing precipitation variability and anomalies can also play a role.

Brave new world

As the authors of the meta-analysis emphasize, ecological migration always depends on a number of economic and socio-political factors. The story of climate refugees heading for Europe or the US can be oversimplified. For example, researchers have found strong evidence that environmental change in vulnerable countries mainly leads to internal migration or migration to other low- and middle-income countries, rather than cross-border migration to high-income countries. Affected populations often migrate to locations in their own region and eventually return to their homes within a relatively short period of time.

Burgundy marks the regions in which the largest increase in migration is observed; Regions of international population migration are marked in red; Regions of traditional growth of migrants are marked in yellow. 

The results of the study also point to regions that are highly vulnerable to climate change, in which ecological migration may be especially widespread. The authors of the work note that the population of Latin America and the Caribbean, several countries in sub-Saharan Africa, especially in the Sahel region and East Africa, and Western, South and Southeast Asia are particularly at risk.

Given the expected increase in global average temperature, researchers believe that the topic of environmental migration will begin to attract more attention in the future. The best way to protect those affected is to stabilize the global climate, namely to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels. While migration can be an effective adaptation strategy for households, it can be involuntary and accompanied by human suffering. However, the most important conclusion of this meta-analysis, in my opinion, is the fact that forced climatic migrations of large population groups can be avoided.

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Planet Earth

In the Netherlands, people began to be buried in mushroom coffins

This accelerates the decomposition of the body several times.

In the Netherlands, you can continue to help the ecosystem after death by choosing a living mushroom coffin that accelerates the decay of your body. The coffin transforms corpses into compost, which enriches the soil thanks to mycelium.

The idea was coined by Bob Hendrix of the Delft University of Technology. According to him, such a “living cocoon” was the first in the world. 

“This is the world’s first ‘living’ coffin, and last Saturday a deceased person in the Netherlands was composted for the first time and brought back into the cycle of life”

Bob Hendrix

The coffin was the resting place of an 82-year-old woman whose body would decompose within two to three years. The decomposition process in a traditional coffin with lacquered wood and metal handles usually takes over ten years. 

The mushroom coffin itself decomposes within 30-45 days. According to Hendrix, mycelium is the most suitable material for environmentally friendly burial. 

The technology for the production of the coffin includes the collection of moss, the extraction of mycelium from the mushrooms and the addition of wood chips.

The resulting solution hardens in seven days, and then becomes activated again when moisture gets on it. According to Hendrix, this material is a complete organism. 

The bottom of the coffin is covered with moss, which has been added with various soil creatures. This further accelerates the decomposition of the body. 

Hendrix’s startup was named Loop. The scientist has already signed a contract with one of the funeral homes and expects that his work will be a great success. 

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