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Sluggish approach to an Ocean Treaty?

As the first round of UN negotiations towards a historic UN Ocean Treaty draws to a close, Dr Sandra Schoettner of Greenpeace’s global ocean sanctuaries campaign, has criticised the 'sluggish' response of key countries.

Our oceans are our life support system.  The ocean ecosystem produces half the oxygen we breathe.  The oceans absorb carbon dioxide and play a vital role in containing global warming.  We need to protect our oceans.  This is why a new international treaty is needed.



But not all countries are coming on board with the vigour required.
Oceans belong to us all Greenpeace says oceans beyond national boundaries "belong to us all" and need urgent international protection.

For the first time in history, this shared responsibility could be enshrined in law with a Global Ocean Treaty.
Over the past two weeks of UN negotiations, many countries from Africa, Pacific and Caribbean islands, Latin America and Europe have eagerly set about  drafting the text of the tre…
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Lack of green space affects our cognitive development

Children living in urban greener neighborhoods may have better spatial working memory, according to a British Journal of Educational Psychology study. Spatial working memory is responsible for recording information about one's environment and spatial orientation, and it is strongly inter-related with attentional control.

Although I grew up in the 1950-60s in a council housing estate in London, it was at that time beautifully maintained, and we were fortunate as children to be surrounded by green space.

We walked in the local park and not far away was Wimbledon Common.  We were, in that sense at least, rich.   Does lack of green space affect cognitive ability? Biologists often say that we humans are hunter-gatherers living in a concrete jungle.  But how does this jungle affect our cognitive development, and our awareness of it?

A new study of 4758 11-year-olds in England, shows that living in urban areas with limited green space is related to poorer spacial working memory.  This is …

Frog brain development inhibited by low dose pesticide

New research published in Environmental Toxicology & Chemistry reveals that low doses of a commonly used pesticide potentially harm the Northern Leopard frog by inhibiting their brain development. Case against chlorpyrifos stacks up The pesticide,  chlorpyrifos, which has been used since 1965 in both agricultural and non-agricultural areas, had clear effects on Northern Leopard tadpoles’ neurodevelopment, even in situations where the pesticide did not cause a decline in the amphibians’ food source.


Developmental exposure to chlorpyrifos The leopard frog (Lithobates pipiens) tadpoles were reared through metamorphosis in artificial ponds containing either 0 or 1 µg/L chlorpyrifos and either chlorpyrifos‐resistant or chlorpyrifos‐sensitive Daphnia pulexzooplankton. 
Developmental exposure to chlorpyrifos resulted in metamorphs with a relatively wider optic tectum, medulla, and diencephalon compared with controls, and this result was found regardless of the zooplankton population of th…

Britain needs bolder action on petrol and diesel

Last year, the UK government committed to ending the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2040. That just is not good enough to meet climate change commitments. Environmental experts now believe we are close to a tipping point in global warming. If we are to meet national and global targets on global warming emissions, we need urgent and effective action. This means governments must make robust and realistic decisions.
Transport largest emissions source Transport is the UK’s largest source of direct carbon emissions. The continued sale of petrol and diesel cars for a further twenty years would mean continuing with increased levels of emissions and pollution far into the future - not just for the next twenty years, but for at least a decade beyond, as people go on using older cars for longer.

If the governments are serious about taking action, then an earlier exit from petrol and diesel is needed.
WWF assessment A study commissioned by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) calculates that a 2030…

Compulsive alcohol consumption wired differently in the brain

Is compulsive alcohol consumption wired differently in the brain?  Social drinking can be defined by the level of choice and the nature of the choice to drink alcohol.    Social drinkers drink with others.  It involves parts of the brain that underpin habits, but allow us to make free choices.

But what about compulsive drinking?  Are different areas of the brain activated in compulsive drinkers?  The answer it seems is yes.

Visual alcohol cues for heavy drinkers activate an area of the brain called the dorsal striatum.  In social drinkers it is the ventral striatum that is activated.  This suggests different brain circuits are at work in heavy, compulsive alcohol drinkers.

Heavy alcohol drinkers attempt to acquire alcohol despite the threat of a negative consequence more so than light drinkers, a study published in the journal Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging has found, and this behaviour is associated with unique activation of brain circuitry in heavy d…

Clear blue lakes turning murky in USA

New research reveals that many lakes in the continental United States are becoming murkier, with potentially negative consequences for water quality and aquatic life. These are the findings of a study published in Limnology and Oceanography.

From blue, clear lakes to greenish brown In the 5 years between 2007 and 2012, the dominant lake type in the United States shifted from clear, blue lakes to greenish-brown, murky lakes. Blue lakes declined by 18% while murky lakes increased by 12%. 



Overall, “blue” lakes decreased by ~ 18% (46% of lakes in 2007 to 28% in 2012) while “murky” lakes increased by almost 12% (24% of lakes in 2007 to 35.4% in 2012).  So, the majority of lakes are now murky.

Regionally, murky lakes significantly increased in the Northern Appalachian, Southern Plains, and Xeric ecoregions.

In the Northern Appalachians, blue lakes decreased by 41.4%, brown lakes increased by 17.8%, and murky lakes increased by 26.8%. In the Northern Plains, green lakes significantly increas…

Maternal depression can impact child mental and physical health

Maternal depression has been repeatedly linked with negative childhood outcomes, including increased psychopathology.  Now, a new study shows that depression in mothers may impact on their children's stress levels,  as well as their physical and mental well-being throughout life.

In the study, published in the journal  Depression & Anxiety,  the researchers followed 125 children from birth to 10 years.

At 10 years old, the mothers’ and children’s cortisol (CT) and secretory immunoglobulin (s-IgA)—markers of stress and the immune system (see below)—were measured, and mother-child interaction were observed.
Psychiatric assessment  The mothers and children also had psychiatric diagnoses, and the children's externalising and internalising symptoms were reported.



Internalising disorders include depression, withdrawal, anxiety, and loneliness. They are often how we 'feel inside', such as  anger, pain, fear or hurt, but may not show it.  In contrast, externalising symptom…