DAILY DOSE: Contaminated Fukushima plant water continues to be a headache for Japan; India set to send rover to the moon.

The UN’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), recently approved Japan’s plan to release treated radioactive water from the Fukushima plant, drawing mixed reactions. The head of the IAEA, Rafael Grossi, acknowledged some experts may have had concerns but maintained the report is scientifically sound. Among the critics is China, which fears the move could pose risks to marine life and human health. However, Grossi emphasized the IAEA’s report was not an endorsement but an assessment of Japan’s plan’s compliance with international standards. The Japanese government has proposed to filter the water to remove most radioactive elements before its release, a process expected to take up to 40 years. Both international and domestic opposition persist, including potential economic repercussions from China and South Korea, significant importers of Japanese seafood, and local fishing communities fearful for their livelihood. (Reuters)

Global warming is becoming increasingly apparent and dangerous, according to scientists. Indicators beyond increasing heat include dying coral reefs, intense Nor’easters, and widespread wildfire smoke. Human-induced pollutants are responsible for the rise in average planetary temperature. Moreover, oceans, which cover most of the planet and have absorbed 90% of recent warming, experienced record temperatures in April due to greenhouse gas emissions and early El Nino formation. Wildfire smoke from Canada severely affected air quality across North America, a situation expected to worsen with climate change. The current El Nino, forming earlier than usual, could intensify global temperatures further. Meanwhile, Antarctic sea ice is shrinking rapidly, with coverage on June 27 about 1 million square miles less than the average for that date from 1981-2010, equivalent to four times the size of Texas. Urgent action is needed to mitigate these developments, say experts. (Associated Press)

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India is set to launch its $73-million Chandrayaan-3 mission to the Moon on July 14, aiming to become the fourth country to achieve a controlled lunar landing. The mission, led by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), includes a lander and a rover that will be launched from Sriharikota spaceport to a site near the Moon’s south pole. This would be the first mission to land near the south pole, which is of particular interest due to the potential presence of Moon ice and clues to the early Solar System. The mission also signals India’s growing geopolitical ambitions. Chandrayaan-3 follows the successful lunar orbiter Chandrayaan-1, launched in 2008, and the partially successful Chandrayaan-2, in 2019. ISRO engineers have modified the software and hardware for Chandrayaan-3 to prevent the landing issues experienced by Chandrayaan-2. (Nature)

An international team of researchers has found that male migrant orangutans learn about unfamiliar foods in their new habitats by observing and imitating local orangutans, a behaviour termed ‘peering’. The research, which analyzed 30 years of observations of 152 male migrant orangutans in Sumatra and Borneo, showed that peering was most often seen when locals ate foods that were rare or hard to process. Males migrate to new areas after becoming independent, likely coming across varied habitats and food types, while females tend to stay close to their birthplace. The authors believe the ability to adapt quickly to new environments through social learning is likely an ancestral trait in our hominin lineage, offering individuals a survival advantage. This discovery provides insights into how these primates adapt to new environments, crucial in understanding their survival strategies and conservation. (Frontiers In)

Biochemical studies on Anomalocaris canadensis (A. canadensis), a prehistoric marine predator, suggest that its front appendages were weaker than previously assumed, meaning the creature probably hunted soft prey in open water rather than hard-shelled organisms on the ocean floor. The research, published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, used 3D reconstruction of A. canadensis fossils, comparison with modern whip scorpions and spiders, and modeling techniques to examine the creature’s grasping behaviour. The study’s co-author, Russell Bicknell, noted that the strength of trilobites’ exoskeletons and doubts about A. canadensis’s ability to process hard food made the previously held belief that A. canadensis fed on trilobites less likely. The new findings suggest the Cambrian Period, when A. canadensis lived, likely had a more complex food web than previously thought. (Popular Science)

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

WORDS: The Biology Guy. (@thebiologyguy)


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