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May 18 2018

14:59

E. coli tailored to convert plants into renewable chemicals

Jet fuel, pantyhose and plastic soda bottles: all three could be made from bioengineered bacteria.
14:27

Matabele ants: Travelling faster with detours

Ants do not always take the shortest route when they are in a hurry. Their navigational system occasionally makes them take detours to speed up their journey.
14:27

Giraffes surprise biologists yet again

New research has highlighted how little we know about giraffe behavior and ecology.
12:19

Ammunition with risks and side effects

Hunting with lead shot is highly restricted or entirely banned in many countries due to the danger of poisoning birds and environment. However, alternative ammunition is not without its own risks, as was discovered in a recent study.
12:09

If we all line up on the coast, count to 3, and jump in the ocean yelling "CANNONBALL" I think we could splash out enough water to counter sea-level rise*

Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks on possible causes of sea level rise:

"What about erosion?...Every time you have that soil or rock, whatever it is, that is deposited into the seas, that forces the sea levels to rise because now you've got less space in those oceans because the bottom is moving up."

Anyone still question the need for more science education in our schools?

*Flashback to my childhood...Dad, almost daily: "Leave some damn water in the pool!"

May 17 2018

20:33

What bacteria can teach us about combating atrazine contamination

Researchers are interested in harnessing the bacterial ability to degrade atrazine in order to remediate atrazine-polluted environments. They now describe previously unknown proteins involved in atrazine degradation.
18:39

As Vice President Biden would say, "This is a BFD"

FB18-032
FISHERY BULLETIN ISSUE D
ATE: May 17, 2018
CONTACT: Frank.Helies@noaa.gov, Sustainable Fisheries, 727-824-5305

  Request for Comments: Limited Opening of Recreational and Commercial Red Snapper Fishery in South Atlantic Federal Waters

 

KEY MESSAGE:

NOAA Fisheries requests comments on a proposed rule for Amendment 43 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region (Amendment 43).  The proposed actions would specify recreational and commercial annual catch limits for red snapper beginning in 2018.

  • Red snapper recreational and commercial seasons would open in South Atlantic federal waters for limited harvest beginning in 2018.  
  • The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council approved Amendment 43 after recent scientific information indicated an increase in the red snapper population since 2014.
  • NOAA Fisheries determined the proposed limited harvest beginning in 2018 is neither expected to result in overfishing, nor prevent continued rebuilding of the population.

*The comment period on the proposed rule begins on May 17, 2018, and comments are due by June 18, 2018.*

Source: http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/fishery_bulletins/2018/032/index.html

18:36

Shocking study shows one third of world's protected areas degraded by human activities

A shocking study confirms that one third of the world's protected areas -- an astonishing 2.3 million square miles or twice the size of the state of Alaska - are now under intense human pressure including road building, grazing, and urbanization.
18:36

Limiting warming to 1.5 degree C would save majority of global species from climate change

New research finds that limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees C would save the majority of the world's plant and animal species from climate change. Species across the globe would benefit -- particularly those in Southern Africa, the Amazon, Europe and Australia. Examples of animals to benefit include the critically endangered black rhinoceros. Reducing the risk to insects is important because they are vital for 'ecosystem services' such as pollinating crops and being part of the food chain.
18:36

Limiting warming to 1.5 degree C would save majority of global species from climate change

New research finds that limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees C would save the majority of the world's plant and animal species from climate change. Species across the globe would benefit -- particularly those in Southern Africa, the Amazon, Europe and Australia. Examples of animals to benefit include the critically endangered black rhinoceros. Reducing the risk to insects is important because they are vital for 'ecosystem services' such as pollinating crops and being part of the food chain.
18:27

Daily Demand and Supply: Government prevents entire island population from getting crabs*

From NBC.com:

This community voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump. But now his immigration changes are killing its livelihood — legendary crabs that are a mainstay of the local economy and a regional delicacy.

For decades, Hoopers Island, known for its crabbing industry, has relied on a federal seasonal work program — known as H-2B visas — to keep its businesses humming. This has allowed employers to hire foreigners, mostly Mexican women, to come temporarily to pick crab meat.

But this year, the cap on H-2B visas — and a shift from the first-come, first-served based model to a lottery system that has disadvantaged Hoopers Island seasonal workers — has left the island without 40 percent of the visas they have needed in the past.
The economics here are pretty straight forward.  The number of workers supplied at any particular wage is equal to the number of domestic workers willing to work at that wage, plus the number of H2B (foreign) workers willing to work at that wage.  For example, if the crab-picking wage is $10 per hour, and the number of domestic workers willing to pick crabs at $10 per hour is 100, and the number of H2B workers willing to pick crabs for $10 per hour is 200, then the total number of workers supplied at a wage of $10 per hour is $300.  If the number of H2B visas are cut by 40%, then the number of H2B crab pickers willing to work at $10 per hour becomes 120, and the total number of workers supplied at $10 per hour is now 220.  In other words, restricting the number of foreign workers results in a decrease in the supply of labor to the crab-picking industry.   So what are the effects of a decrease in the supply of labor in teh crab-picking industry?
 
  • Wages for crab-picking will increase.  A decrease in supply of crab-pickers will cause the equilibrium price of crab-pickers to increase.  Those crab-pickers who are hired will get higher wages.
  • The number of domestic crab-pickers will increase.  At higher wages, the number of domestic crab-pickers willing to work will increase.  Since the supply of foreign crab-pickers has been reduced, a part of the shortage of workers will be filled by drawing new domestic crab-pickers into the crab-picking jobs.
  • The total number of crab-pickers will decrease.  As with any decrease in supply, the equilibrium quantity of workers in the crab-picking market will decrease as the supply of workers decreases.  The gain in domestic workers is more than offset by the loss of H2B workers.  

So in the market for crab-picker we will have higher wages for more domestic workers, with fewer H2B workers in the market, and lower total employment among all crab-pickers.  SO if you are a protectionist, this doesn't sound all bad.  We have more domestic workers employed at higher wages.  Right?

Well, sort of.  We also have to think about what else happens.

Right now we have full employment.  With full employment, those domestic crab-pickers have to come from somewhere. The only place from where they can come are other, similar, jobs.  SO another effect is:

  • A decrease in supply of H2B workers in the crab-picking industry will decrease the supply of domestic workers in other industries--driving up those wages as well.

But workers getting paid more is a good thing, right?

Sort of, but we have to remember that workers are an input into the production of outputs.  When the price of an input increase, the supply of the output decreases.  This means:

  • A decrease in the supply of any output for which wages have gone up will see higher prices and lower quantities produced/consumed.  The decrease in the supply of labor will cause higher crab (and other food goods) prices.

For reference, here's the current price of crabs at a Baltimore area restaurant: 

Males by the Dozen

  • Small (5″-5 ¾″) $30
  • Medium (5 ¾″-6 ¼″) $48
  • Large (6 ¼″-6 ¾″) $68
  • XLarge (6 ¾″-7 ¼″) $101
  • Jumbo (7 ¼″-8″) $124

Males by the Bushel

  • Small $249
  • Medium $309
  • Large $379
  • Lights (picking crabs) $120
Yikes.
 
*I know that's a cheap joke, but I bet John laughed.
 
15:38

New Zealand has its own population of blue whales

A group of blue whales that frequent the South Taranaki Bight (STB) between the North and South islands of New Zealand appears to be part of a local population that is genetically distinct from other blue whales in the Pacific Ocean and Southern Ocean, a new study has found.
15:38

Can we get 100 percent of our energy from renewable sources?

Some researchers doubted the feasibility of many of the recent scenarios for high shares of renewable energy. Now scientists have hit back with their response to the points raised. They demonstrate that there are no roadblocks on the way to a 100 percent renewable future.
15:33

Continental shelf shape leads to long-lasting tsunami edge waves during Mexican earthquake

The shape of the continental shelf off the southern Mexican coast played a role in the formation of long-lasting tsunami edge waves that appeared after last September's magnitude 8.2 earthquake.
14:23

After 60 years, Isle Royale continues world's longest predator-prey study

The 2018 report is out: two wolves, almost 1,500 moose and an ecosystem in transition. In its 60th year, the research conducted at Isle Royale National Park is the longest running predator-prey study of its kind.
14:22

Breakthrough in understanding rare lightning-triggered gamma-rays

The Telescope Array detected 10 bursts of downward terrestrial gamma-ray flashes (TGFs) between 2014 and 2016, more events than have been observed in rest of the world combined. They are the first to detect downward TGFs at the beginning of cloud-to-ground lightning, and to show where they originated inside thunderstorms. The array is by far the only facility capable of documenting the full TGF 'footprint' on the ground.
14:22

The survival of sea birds affected by ocean cycles

In a general context of climate change, researchers have revealed the impact of ocean cycles, such as the Pacific decadal oscillation and El Niño, on the survival of the Nazca booby. Their research shows for the first time that long cycles directly affect the survival of adult populations.
14:22

The survival of sea birds affected by ocean cycles

In a general context of climate change, researchers have revealed the impact of ocean cycles, such as the Pacific decadal oscillation and El Niño, on the survival of the Nazca booby. Their research shows for the first time that long cycles directly affect the survival of adult populations.
12:18

Functional films made of environmentally friendly clay minerals and dyes

Researchers have created a transparent hybrid film that combines natural clay minerals and dyes into a material that changes color in response to environmental humidity. The color change does not involve breaking chemical bonds; the team uncovered a novel mechanism that makes the process easily reversible, for long-lasting functionality using environmentally friendly materials. Applications include environmental sensors, and state-of-the-art light amplification in displays.
12:18

Marine animals have been following their preferred climate for millions of years

Current global warming has far-reaching ecological consequences, also for the Earth's oceans. Many marine organisms are reacting by migrating towards the poles. Researchers have now discovered that marine animals have been migrating for millions of years when the temperature on Earth increases or decreases.
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