DAILY DOSE: Scientists try to resurrect an extinct species of fish; Saving seeds in the 21st Century.


After being knee-capped for four years during the Trump Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is tying to rectify the damage done. According to the Associated Press, “The Environmental Protection Agency is taking a series of enforcement actions to address air pollution, unsafe drinking water and other problems afflicting minority communities in three Gulf Coast states, following a ‘Journey to Justice’ tour by Administrator Michael Regan last fall. The agency will conduct unannounced inspections of chemical plants, refineries and other industrial sites suspected of polluting air and water and causing health problems to nearby residents, Regan said. And it will install air monitoring equipment in Louisiana’s “chemical corridor” to enhance enforcement at chemical and plastics plants between New Orleans and Baton Rouge. The region contains several hotspots where cancer risks are far above national levels.” https://bit.ly/3u0panP


Seed banks play an important role in preserving plant lines that otherwise would have gone extinct. That said, they are remnants of centuries past and are in need of modernizing. An article in The Scientist examines how seed collecting can be brought into the 21st Century. “So where should they, and all of us, begin anew when it comes to ensuring a future in which diverse crops—and diverse farmers—flourish? One place to start is in rethinking the master narrative of inevitable extinction. Rather than warning of irreversible loss, we can focus on those farmers who still experiment with their seeds and thereby sustain the evolution and adaptation of crop species. Or, we can support public breeders in restoring diversity from seed banks to field crops, work that remains woefully underfunded. And instead of only highlighting imminent destruction, we can emphasize the resilient crops and communities that survive despite decades of political and economic interventions aimed at their erasure—and invest our energy and resources in their regeneration and growth.” https://bit.ly/3H8fqeY


The most expensive telescope ever created has flown to its destination successfully. Per Nature, “NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has just reached its final destination — around a gravitationally special spot in space known as the second Lagrange point, or L2. The US$10-billion observatory could spend 20 or more years there, gathering unprecedented insights about the Universe as it stares into deep space… On 24 January, it fired a set of thrusters and nudged itself into orbit around the point, which it will circle once every six months or so. L2 is on the opposite side of Earth from the Sun, about 1.5 million kilometres away, or four times the distance to the Moon. There, the combined gravitational pull of the Sun and Earth balance the centripetal force that tugs Webb in the opposite direction.” https://go.nature.com/3ICGOSG


Can animals held in captivity be used to re-populate an area after the wild ones have gone extinct? An article in Mother Jones tells the story about scientists’ attempt to re-introduce the tequila fish to its natural habitat. Interesting article that immediately brings to mind the question: is it our place to try and fix everything we deem “wrong” in nature? https://bit.ly/3Gg8wmR

Thanks for reading. Let’s be careful out there.

IMAGE CREDIT: Loury Cédric

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