Butterflies dying in Fukushima


This video from China is about a pale grass blue butterfly.

From BioMed Central:

Are butterflies still fluttering in Fukushima?

September 23, 2014 at 9:00 am

In this guest blog, Joji M. Otaki discusses the impact feasting on radioactively contaminated leaves has on the surrounding blue butterfly population.

The collapse of the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant in March 2011 is the second largest nuclear accident, next to Chernobyl, in the history of mankind. Many theoreticians and politicians have claimed, without any field-based or experimental evidence, that there are no harmful biological effects caused by the released artificial radionuclides.

Even worse, some biologists have claimed that there are no biological impacts in the polluted area, based solely on fragmentary data from a short survey or a non-informative experiment (or based on irrelevant data) that have no power to resolve the issue. These claims were often relatively well advertised.

However, this situation has changed in recent years. For example, it has already been reported that some animals, especially butterflies, decreased in number in the polluted areas in Fukushima, based on field surveys conducted by Prof. Timothy Mousseau and his colleagues. We have been working on the pale grass blue butterfly, Zizeeria maha, to evaluate the biological impacts of the accident … . We are sure that this species of butterfly was considerably affected by the accident, based on several field surveys, rearing experiments in our laboratory, external exposure experiments, and internal exposure experiments, some of which have already been published. The internal exposure experiments were performed in the previously published papers by feeding Okinawa larvae (least affected in Japan) leaves contaminated at high levels.

Now in the paper just published in BMC Evolutionary Biology, we tested if leaves contaminated at relatively low (or very low) levels from places where many people live could be harmful to this butterfly from Okinawa. As expected, leaves contaminated at very low levels (e.g., Okinawa, 0.2 Bq/kg; Atami, 2.5 Bq/kg) did not show any significant effect. However, to our surprise, leaves contaminated at relatively low levels, approximately 100 Bq/kg (e.g., Koriyama, 117 Bq/kg), resulted in a mortality rate of more than 50%. This result differs from the previous one which was based on leaves contaminated at relatively high levels (e.g., Fukushima, 7,860 Bq/kg; Iitate-flatland, 10,170 Bq/kg) see). Because the breeding lines used in these two experiments were different, the difference indicates sensitivity variation within this single species.

Indeed, in our experiments, a mortality rate never reached 100%, even in feeding leaves contaminated at extremely high levels. In other words, some are completely fine at least morphologically, but others are heavily ill or dead. Sensitivity to radiation varies very much among individuals.

The ingestional impacts appear to be transgenerational, as the body size (more precisely, the forewing size) of this butterfly decreased in the offspring generation. Moreover, the sensitivity of the offspring generation increased, resulting in very high mortality rates. Interestingly, feeding the offspring larvae non-contaminated leaves resulted in low mortality rates.

Of course, we do not know how much of our experimental results from the pale grass blue butterfly are applicable to humans. However, it is widely believed among modern biologists that insights obtained from one biological system are largely applicable to other systems. This is why biologists study model organisms such as the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster. Studies on this insect have greatly contributed to our understanding of humans.

To my knowledge, there have been no cases of human health effects of the Fukushima accident reported in scientific literature thus far, although anecdotal evidence has been around. To be sure, human-based studies are slow, descriptive, less conclusive, and more often a target of political pressure, compared with insect studies, but of course human studies are necessary. I believe that at least some studies on human health will appear sooner or later in scientific literature.

‘Remember Fukushima’: Thousands rally against nuclear restart in Japan — Common Dreams: here.

Tepco struggling to win approval of fishermen over water-discharge plan — The Asahi Shimbun; The Japan Times: here.

Tritium up tenfold in Fukushima groundwater after Typhoon Phanfone — The Japan Times; Fukushima plant prepares for typhoon Vongfong — IANS, Yahoo! News: here.

About a third of the 180 monitoring cameras installed at the experimental Monju fast-breeder reactor were found broken during a safety inspection last month, a source familiar with the matter said, renewing concerns about safety management at the Japan Atomic Energy Agency, which runs it: here.

More than 25,000 people will never go home because of Fukushima contamination — Rob Edwards, Sunday Herald: here.

Less wetlands, worse flooding in India


This video says about itself:

Wildlife and adventure sports in India! Watch Sarus Cranes at sunrise in an Uttar Pradesh wetland (soon to be ruined by an airport!), elephants in a chaur grassland at Corbett National Park, Gir lions or Asiatic lions in Gujarat, White-eyed Buzzard Eagle with nictitating membrane over eye, hard ground barasingha sparring in Kanha National Park during the mating season, Short-toed eagle doing the samba while stationary mid-air, Python molurus at Bharatpur or Keoladeo ghana Sanctuary in Rajasthan, helicopter skiing in Himachal Pradesh, jumaring over a crevasse in Himachal, Axis deer or Chital in Corbett or the erstwhile Hailey National Park, leopard or panther, para sailing at Billing and Solang Nala / nullah, white water river rafting on the ganga / Ganges, tip top ice climbing on an ice wall in the Himalaya with ice axes and crampons, elephants fighting in a grassland during the mating season, fox crossing the Zanskar river in Jammu and Kashmir state of India, ice bridge in Padum / Padam, Zanskar, Paradise Flycatcher feeding young chicks at nest on a kathal or jackfruit tree, Clouded Leopard (Neofelis nebulosa) in Arunachal Pradesh’s thick rain forest, Jungle Cat at Ramganga river, Uttarakhand, water skiing on Dal Lake in Kashmir, India, with house boats in the background, Rhino chasing other rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis, in Kaziranga National Parj, Assam, tiger cub coming to mother at Kanha National Park, Madhya Pradesh, peacock displaying, Indian peafowl, Pavo cristatus, Himalayan Pied Woodpecker expelling wood chips from its recently excavated nesthole, Black shouldered / winged Kite at Panna National Park, climbers with Bhagirathi peaks in background on the Gangotri glacier national park, Uttarakhand, India.

Less wetlands, worse hurricane and flooding disasters in New Orleans, USA.

And from Wildlife Extra:

Bombay Natural History Society blames poor land management for extent of Kashmir floods

Following the recent flooding disaster in the Kashmir region of India, Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) have gone on the record saying that the loss of wetlands in the Kashmir valley has directly impacted the catastrophe, making conditions worse than they otherwise would be.

They state that in the past 30 years, nearly 50 per cent of the wetlands in the Kashmir Valley have been severely damaged, and highlight the reduced areas of Dal Lake and Wular Lake as having a detrimental effect on important drainage for the valley. Dal Lake currently covers half the area of its earlier spread, while Wular Lake and marshes now cover just 2,400, after previously spanning a total of 20,200 hectares. They cite that the encroachment upon the shallow portions of the wetland by the Forest Department for plantation of willow trees has significantly reduced the size of Wular Lake over the years.

In addition, the organisation blames commercial activities on the severe loss of wetland habitat. These wetlands, they argue, acted as a sponge when they were well preserved, but have since been neglected in recent years. As such, BNHS stress the need for a Wetland Conservation Act.

Commenting on the recent flooding, Dr Asad Rahmani, Director at BNHS, says: “The disastrous damage caused to life and property could have been minimised if the large number of wetlands that once existed in the Valley, had been preserved. Wetlands act as a sponge that retains excess water. Wular Lake is a classical example”.

Again, hundreds of refugees from wars drown in Mediterranean


This video says about itself:

Syrian refugees left to die at sea

23 October 2013

Footage has emerged of the rescue of hundreds of Syrian refugees who say they were left to drown in the Mediterranean off the coast of Malta. Survivors said they were rescued off the Maltese coast after their boat was shot and sunk by Libya traffickers after an argument about payment earlier this month. Al Jazeera’s Jonah Hull has more.

From the Daily Telegraph in Britain:

Up to 700 migrants drown in Mediterranean as people smugglers accused of deliberately capsizing boat

More than 650 migrants are feared to have drowned in the Mediterranean in two separate incidents, with humanitarian organisations calling for “legal avenues” to be opened up to enable refugees to reach Europe safely

Dutch NOS TV, quoting Libyan authorities, says 800 people dead.

By Nick Squires, Rome

4:46PM BST 15 Sep 2014

Up to 500 migrants were feared to have drowned in the Mediterranean after people smugglers deliberately rammed their boat, it was announced on Monday, as a second disaster claimed as many as 160 lives off the coast of Libya.

In the first tragedy, survivors of the sinking told officials from the International Organisation for Migration that around 500 people had been on a boat sailing from the coast of Egypt towards Malta last week and that most had drowned at sea.

The horrific story, which if confirmed would rank as the worst disaster in the Mediterranean for years, was recounted by two Palestinians who spent more than a day floating in the water before being picked up by a Panama-flagged merchant vessel about 300 miles off Malta.

They were brought to the port of Pozzallo in Sicily at the weekend, where they told their story to IoM officials.

Nine other survivors were rescued by Greek and Maltese rescue vessels.

The two Palestinians, believed to be fleeing Gaza, said the boat, packed with refugees and migrants from Syria, the Palestinian territories, Sudan and Egypt, set sail from the Egyptian coast on Sept 6.

The large group included small children and unaccompanied minors.

When the people traffickers in charge of the crossing ordered their human cargo to transfer to another, smaller boat in the middle of the sea, they refused.

A furious argument broke out and the traffickers in the smaller vessel allegedly rammed the migrants’ boat, forcing it to capsize.

“If this story, which the police are investigating, is confirmed, it would be the worst shipwreck in recent years. It is particularly grave, in that it seems to have been not an accident but mass murder, perpetrated by criminals without scruples or any respect for human life,” IOM said in a statement.

Among the hundreds of migrants who drowned was a young Egyptian boy who had hoped to earn enough money in Europe to pay for his father’s heart operation, the Palestinians said.

He clung to a life buoy along with one of the Palestinians but, suffering from exposure and hypothermia, was unable to hold on and slipped beneath the water.

In the second tragedy, more than 160 African migrants were feared dead on Monday after an overloaded boat heading for Italy capsized off the coast of Libya.

Libyan officials recovered dozens of bodies, including those of women and children, from the sea off the coast of Tajoura, to the east of the capital, Tripoli.

Just 36 people had been rescued, officials said, although the search effort was continuing.

The boat was believed to have been packed with more than 200 migrants who had paid people traffickers thousands of pounds to take them to Italy.

The two shipwrecks were the latest in a series of similar tragedies in the Mediterranean.

The wars in Iraq and Syria, poverty and unrest in the Horn of Africa and West Africa, and chaos in Libya since the overthrow of Muammar Gadaffi has spurred a massive exodus of refugees towards Europe.

Since 1988, more than 20,000 adults and children have lost their lives trying to reach Europe by sea, according to Fortress Europe, a website that tracks the fatalities.

Enticed by the prospect of making tens of thousands of pounds from each crossing, people smugglers were putting migrants in increasingly “decrepit and overcrowded boats, causing directly or indirectly the death of thousands of people,” the IOM said.

The organisation called on the international community to identify, catch and punish the traffickers, while at the same time depriving them of their livelihood by opening up “legal avenues” for people fleeing war and persecution to enter Europe.

The actress Angelina Jolie, who is a special envoy for the United Nations’ refugee agency, also urged the international community to “wake up to the scale of the crisis.”

“There is a direct link between the conflicts in Syria and elsewhere and the rise in deaths at sea in the Mediterranean,” she said.

“We have to understand what drives people to take the fearful step of risking their children’s lives on crowded, unsafe vessels. It is the overwhelming desire to find refuge,” she said.

Mediterranean shipwrecks leave over 700 refugees dead, many fleeing Mideast wars: here.

100 children among migrants ‘deliberately drowned’ in Mediterranean: here.