Endangered animals in Panama

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A Portrait of the Plains: Documenting A Changing Landscape

Beautiful: Absolutely Fabulous: 2015-09-10-1441917814-3519004-dsc_8907.jpg

Fourchette Creek
by Robin Walter

Morning light spills
through grass thick
with dew,
small whorls of dust
rise
from hooves
stamping their lives
into this ground.
Listen,

I rise
to the clatter
of birds:
small,
fierce,
and brown.

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Emilio Cogliani

Fourchette Creek
by Robin Walter

Morning light spills
through grass thick
with dew,
small whorls of dust
rise
from hooves
stamping their lives
into this ground.
Listen,

I rise
to the clatter
of birds:
small,
fierce,
and brown.

2015-09-10-1441917814-3519004-dsc_8907.jpg

2015-09-10-1441917893-7041547-dsc_0652.jpg

2015-09-10-1441917952-4493945-DSC_2318.jpg

2015-09-10-1441918074-4607900-DSC_2953.jpg

2015-09-10-1441918194-3820192-DSC_4306.jpg

2015-09-10-1441919184-3628301-dsc_9614.jpg

2015-09-10-1441919399-5494386-img_9201.jpg

2015-09-10-1441921638-6126796-dsc_0124.jpg

2015-09-10-1441921035-6407617-img_9469.jpg

This blog is part of an ongoing series following the Rediscover the Prairie expedition, a horseback journey across the Great Plains. To learn more please visit http://ift.tt/1B02Abg
All photos © Robin Walter or Sebastian Tsocanos. All rights reserved.

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.


from Green – The Huffington Post http://ift.tt/1QDVvXP

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High Rates of Lead Poisoning / Asthma can be Life-Threatening in many Communities Worldwide

High Rates of Lead Poisoning / Asthma a deadly consequence of residing near industrialized neighborhoods.  Pollution resulting from our Built Environment have resulted in  extensive health disparities worldwide:
About 25% of the USA’a housing —some 24 million homes— contains significant lead-based paint hazards, i.e. deteriorating lead paint or lead contaminated dust. (HUD, 2009).

Benxi steel mills blowing smoke over residential buildings. Benxi was for long considered one of the most polluted city in China. Over the past decade thousands of workers have been made redundant as the city steel mills and power plants were closing down or reducing their output.

Benxi steel mills blowing smoke over residential buildings. Benxi was for long considered one of the most polluted city in China. Over the past decade thousands of workers have been made redundant as the city steel mills and power plants were closing down or reducing their output. Via Bing

The majority of resources and statistics concerning community correlations with respect to health disparities in the U.S. point to a direct correlation between industrialized, lower income communities and rates of Lead Poisoning / Asthma associated with living in a those particular communities. Over 4 million children in the U.S. had an asthma attack last year. (National Safety Council, 2015).
Better neighborhoods, generally associated with a higher income, had newer and higher housing standards, and were more financially able to comply with government regulations of lead content and smoke inhalation guidelines. Residents of privileged neighborhoods felt safer than families living in lower income neighborhoods. Poorer, disadvantaged neighborhoods where tenants are dependent on a landlord’s approval to address safety issues, may face a lengthy process if they wish to upgrade and make their living situation safer, or may not be able to afford a particular safety upgrade. This adds to feelings of perceived loss of personal control over ones own living situation resulting in an increased fear factor as well as elevated stress levels, which can have detrimental health effects.
When you’re a little more worried every day, you’re always a little more vigilant, looking around at things, checking people, places and things out a little more carefully. If you think about doing that day after day, year after year, it can be exhausting after a while. Constant worrying about stress and about how and when one is going to pay all the bills that are piling up adds an incredible amount of stress to life. Chronic stress wears on the body system resulting in lowered immunity and increased risk of disease and illness. (Lee, 2015).

Practitioner reports of disabled and impaired motor skills in children are more prevalent in older neighborhoods where lower income, minorities reside. Children in disadvantaged neighborhoods to be less likely to venture outside to exercise and inhale fresh breath fearing the consequences of doing so in a high crime neighborhood.

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Mexico Beach House via JZ Photography

Other physical features that can have a negative effect on health outcomes:
1. Ground Soil Pollution: Lead manufacturing that has resulted in damages to the ground and environment having had profound affects on safe housing for families worldwide. Children from poorer families are the hardest hit by this type of pollution because parents don’t always have the additional resources to relocate their families to safer communities. Children have growing organs that are easily affected by toxic chemicals, and most kids participate in playtime that may include touching the ground on a regular basis exposing them to dangerous toxins.

2. Air Pollution: Asthma and other bronchial related problems resulting from Lead Poisons being emitted into the air as industrial factories release their by products in the form of poisonous gasses as a part of their manufacturing process. Children can be affected for decades after a plants closure. Lead findings as high as 70 times the USDA recommended Lead levels have had devastating effects on public health reports and statistics in towns where communities have been built close to lead and mercury producing facilities. (National Safety Council, 2009). Another similar source of pollution that would have residual effects for years to come was Regular gasoline that included a lead additive which was not known to be harmful till it was finally discontinued in the early 1980’s due to a government regulated Lead ban.

How affordable quality, and safe housing conditions promote health:

By educating practitioners, schools and parents, regarding the government resources available for improving all buildings and homes in an effort to get them up to code with acceptable levels of toxic lead and fume inhalation guidelines. All communities should be declared safe according to government standards, regardless of wealth or relative neighborhood status. We can minimize current health care problems and prevent future health issues by educating all individuals of their rights to safe housing, thus allowing all children to reach their full potential. Equal rights translate to equality of life expectancies throughout the U.S. for all residents. Our founding fathers created the U.S. Constitutional principles upon this premise. (Lee, 2012). Written by: JZ
References:

National Safety Council. (2009) Lead Poisoning. Retrieved from
http://www.nsc.org/NSCDocuments_Advocacy/Fact%20Sheets/Lead-Poisoning- Fact- Sheet.pdf.

City of Roseburg. (2015). Public works projects. Retrieved from
http://www.cityofroseburg.org/departments/public-works/projects/.

Lee, E. (Producer & Director). (2008). Living in disadvantaged neighborhoods is bad for
your health [Video excerpt]. In L. Adelman (Executive producer), Unnatural causes:
Episode 5—Place matters. Arlington, VA: Public Broadcasting Service. Retrieved from
http://www.unnaturalcauses.org/video_clips_detail.php?res_id=217.

 

Coral damage from BP’s Gulf of Mexico spill ‘extensive’

A plane drops chemicals to help disperse oil from a leaking pipeline that resulted from last week's explosion and collapse of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico near the coast of Louisiana Tuesday, April 27, 2010. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Courtesy of: chibuisiikwuagwu.com

A New study reveals that damage to coral resulting from the massive 2010 BP oil spill in the US Gulf of Mexico is worse than previously thought, according to reports.
The study, which will be published in the oceanography journal Deep-Sea Research, found sick and dying corals in the Pinnacles, an outcropping on the Continental Shelf that is home to a rich, deep-water environment about 70 miles (113 kilometres) off the coasts of Alabama and Mississippi.

Researchers from Florida State University and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration explored the Pinnacles using remotely operated submarines to locate more than 400 colonies of injured coral in 2011,according to wire service Associated Press

The coral was covered in a “scum” of dead tissue and oily residue, while some showed signs of more severe damage, such as bare skeletons and missing branches.

The damage from the spill could be even greater, AP reported.

“The area we have looked at so far is only the tip of the iceberg,” the wire service quoted one of the researchers as saying.

The colonies in the study are about 35 miles to 68 miles (56 kilometres to 109 kilometres) north of BP’s blown-out Macondo well, which spewed more than 3 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

Previous discoveries of coral damage were found south of the well and in much deeper water. The coral in the Pinnacles live about 200 feet under the water surface, AP reported.

The researchers believe the damage began when oil floating over the Pinnacles was sprayed with chemical dispersants, causing the oil to sink and contaminate the reef. The study also hypothesises that a tropical storm that passed over the Pinnacles in the summer of 2010 could have caused the oil to contaminate the coral.

Source: Upstream  Related: Clean up Products could cause greater damage

A plane drops chemicals to help disperse oil from a leaking pipeline that resulted from last week’s explosion and collapse of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico near the coast of Louisiana Tuesday, April 27, 2010. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

In the wake of the 2010 BP oil spill, cleanup crews dumped some 1.8 million gallons of chemical dispersants into the Gulf of Mexico.

The substances were supposed to assist natural oil-eating bacteria in cleaning up the largest marine oil spill in history by breaking the oil into droplets the microbes could more easily consume.

But the approach backfired, suggests a study published this month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“The dispersants did a great job in that they got the oil off the surface,” University of Georgia marine scientist Samantha Joye, a co-author of the study, told the Associated Press. “What you see is the dispersants didn’t ramp up biodegradation.”

What’s bothersome, Joye told The Atlantic, is that 24 to 55 percent of the oil spilled from the Deepwater Horizon rig off the Louisiana coast is unaccounted for. She suspects much of it is on the seafloor.
For the study, Joye and her team simulated the Gulf’s conditions in a laboratory. They found that “dispersants can exert a negative effect on microbial hydrocarbon degradation rates.”

Oil with no dispersant actually “degraded a heckuva lot faster than the oil with dispersants,” she told the AP.

Dispersants work a lot like dish detergent, breaking up oil slicks into lots of small droplets. Gulf responders turned to these chemicals, namely Corexit — which studies have since shown can be harmful to various types of marine life — to address the roughly 200 million gallons of oil that spilled from the Deepwater Horizon rig.

The microbes the dispersants were meant to help were the “last (and only) defense” against the ongoing spill, Scientific American noted about a month after the spill.
The major question moving forward: Should dispersants be used to fight future spills?

Doug Helton, coordinator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of Response and Restoration Incident Operations, addressed the BP cleanup process on the agency’s website this year.

“Once oil is spilled there are no good outcomes and every response technology involves trade-offs,” he wrote. For example, he noted, using dispersants to decrease the amount of floating oil puts some organisms and environments at risk, but reduces risk potential for others.

“Until we stop using, storing and transporting oil, we have the risk of spills,” he wrote. “The decision to use dispersants or not use dispersants will never be clear cut. Nor will it be done without a lot of discussion of the trade-offs. The many real and heart-felt concerns about potential consequences aren’t dismissed lightly by the responders who have to make tough choices during a spill.”

In 2013, despite scientists’ claims that dispersants are toxic to marine life, BP CEO Bob Dudley defended their use in the cleanup efforts the company funded.

“In hindsight no one believes that that was the wrong thing and it would have been much worse without the use of it,” he said. “I do not believe anybody — anybody with almost common sense — would say waves of black oil washing into the marshes and beaches would have been a better thing, under any circumstances.”

Joye, however, said a person could argue that in the case of Deepwater Horizon, it would have been better to have left the organisms alone.

“Nobody wants to see oiled birds, turtles and dolphins, but the bottom line is that if you disperse that oil, it’s still in the water,” she told The Atlantic. “You feel better, but is it improving the situation? My gut instinct is that I would put my faith in the microbial communities to do their job.”

Last week, the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative announced that it will award nearly $38 million to individuals and teams studying the effects of oil, as well as dispursants, on the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem and public health.
Source: The Huffington Post

Chibuisi Ikwuagwu's Blog

A new study reveals that damage to coral resulting from the massive 2010 BP oil spill in the US Gulf of Mexico is worse than previously thought, according to reports.
The study, which will be published in the oceanography journal Deep-Sea Research, found sick and dying corals in the Pinnacles, an outcropping on the Continental Shelf that is home to a rich, deep-water environment about 70 miles (113 kilometres) off the coasts of Alabama and Mississippi.

Researchers from Florida State University and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration explored the Pinnacles using remotely operated submarines to locate more than 400 colonies of injured coral in 2011,according to wire service Associated Press

The coral was covered in a “scum” of dead tissue and oily residue, while some showed signs of more severe damage, such as bare skeletons and missing branches.

The damage from the spill could be even greater, AP reported.

View original post 150 more words

The “Driest place on Earth” is covered in pink flowers after rain

The Atacama Desert in Chile, known as the driest place on Earth, is awash with color after a year’s worth of extreme rainfall.

In an average year, this desert is a very dry place. Arica, Chile, in the northern Atacama holds the world record for the longest dry streak, having gone 173 months without a drop of rain in the early 20th century. In another Atacama neighbor to the south of Arica, the average annual rainfall in the city of Antofagasta is just 0.07 inches.

But strong El Niño years can be a rainy boom for the region, located just to the east of the warmest ocean water on the globe. In March, heavy thunderstorms brought 0.96 inches of rain in one day to parts of the Atacama Desert. This doesn’t seem like that much, but it was a huge rainfall event for the desert — over 14 years of rain in one day. The torrent caused the typically dry Copiapo River to swell far beyond its banks. Flooding killed at least nine people that day.

As El Niño strengthens, so does the rainfall increases across South America. As areas of low pressure swing east into the Andes Mountains, the usually warm waters off the coast provide more than enough water vapor to fuel extreme rainfall events.

The malva (or mallow) flowers on the floor of the Atacama desert bloom every five to seven years, usually coinciding with El Nino. But they have been taking advantage of this year’s particularly rainy conditions, leading to the “most spectacular blossoming of the past 18 years.”

Interestingly, Death Valley has also been overflowing this month. The official weather station at Death Valley National Park recorded 0.55 inches of rain on Oct. 5. That might not seem like a lot, but it’s a bucket-load for the world’s hottest location — enough to tie the wettest 24-hour period on record in the month of October.

“A series of unusual storms in October caused large amounts of damage throughout Death Valley National Park,” park officials wrote on Facebook. “Flash floods destroyed significant portions of multiple roads and heavily damaged several historic structures at Scotty’s Castle and deposited debris in Devils Hole.”

The Death Valley National Historic Association has set up a fund to help restore some of these damaged historic locations.
via: The Washington Post.

Source: The ‘driest place on Earth’ is covered in pink flowers after rain

Happy Sloth Day via Tico Times

Buttercup @ Sloth Sanctuary, Costa Rica

Jo Jo @ Sloth Sanctuary, Costa Rica

Becky Cliffe @ Sloth Sanctuary, Costa Rica

Featured image

Happy International Sloth Day!!!! A wonderful day to celebrate my favorite animal!!!! So proud of all the hard work Becky Naomi Cliffe @ Sloth Sanctuary, Costa Rica has done to research how to reintroduce orphaned, hand raised sloths.

See More: http://beckycliffe.com/sloth-science-2015/

Related: My battle with Leishmaniasis: a flesh-eating parasite By: Becky Radcliffe

In my second year at the University of Manchester I studied parasitology, and the terrifying images of dramatic lesions and extreme elephantiasis are burnt vividly into my memory. Of course, I never considered that one day I would become one of those horror stories. In July I was diagnosed with a tropical flesh-eating parasite called Leishmaniasis, and for the past 10 weeks I have been battling to regain my health. We never fully appreciate how lucky we are to be healthy, and unfortunately I learnt this lesson the hard way.

What is Leishmaniasis?

Leishmaniasis is a disease caused by the protozoan parasite Leishmania. There are actually 21 different species of leishmania, and they are found throughout Asia, Africa, South/Central America and Southern Europe. The parasite can be found in many different mammals, but the only way for it to be transmitted to a human is through the bite of an infected sandfly. When an infected sandfly bites a human, the parasite is transmitted into the body and replicates within the human macrophage cells. I was diagnosed with a type of infection called cutaneous leishmaniasis, which basically means that the disease appears as a lesion on the skin at the site of the original sandfly bite. This wound then continues to grow, and can spread to other areas of the body. Often, it will infect the mucosal lining of the mouth, nose and ears causing serious disfigurement. In minor cases, the infection heals itself within a year, however in most cases (including mine) treatment is needed.

The Leishmania parasite life cycle

Leishmaniasis and sloths 

Unfortunately, sloths are often thought of as being dirty, lazy animals that transmit diseases and parasites. One of the many diseases that people blame sloths for is leishmaniasis. Many local people are terrified of sloths for this reason, and sadly they pass this fear down through generations. I have lost count of the number of people that have asked me if a sloth can give them leishmaniasis. The simple answer is no. This misconception stems from a few scientific studies that have found sloths to test positive for the leishmania parasite. They are, in scientific terms, a ‘reservoir’ for leishmania, but so are many mammals – including dogs! There is no way a sloth can transmit leishmaniasis to a human – this only happens through the bite of an infected sandfly. It is just one of the many negative myths that the sloths are burdened with!

My journey

I remember the sandfly that bit me. I was walking my new puppy on the beach at dusk and was annoyed by the itchy bump that later appeared on my arm. I forgot about it and only really noticed something unusual when the bite was still there two weeks later. Nobody seemed particularly concerned by the little scab on my arm, and I probably left it far longer than I should before seeking a diagnosis. We watched the little hole in my arm slowly grow for 4 weeks before deciding to have it tested. Within 24 hours, the doctor had called and told me that I had tested positive for leishmaniasis and should begin treatment immediately. I didn’t know it at the time, but that was just the tip of the iceberg.

As it turned out, there are no nice treatment options. The Costa Rican method involves up to 60 injections of glucantime – a toxic chemical that kills the parasite but also comes with a high risk of liver and heart damage. That didn’t sound like much fun, so I decided to seek treatment in the UK since I had been due to return during August anyway. When I finally arrived at my doctors office and presented him with a flesh-eating parasite, he looked at me like I had two heads. I was advised to go to the emergency room at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine to find more specialised help. I don’t think that many people turn up at the hospital claiming to have leishmaniasis, since doctors of all shapes and sizes turned up to see the girl with the flesh-eating parasite. It’s safe to say that many people looked at me like I had two heads that day.

I was finally introduced to the wonderful Dr Tim O’Dempsey. He took a biopsy of my arm (much to my horror) and told me the bad news: the UK treatment options aren’t much better than the toxic Costa Rican injections. Furthermore, I had to wait 5 days for the biopsy results before I could do anything at all – we had to just sit and watch the hole continue to grow in my arm. It was an overwhelmingly creepy feeling knowing that something was munching through the flesh on my arm and I couldn’t do anything to stop it! Depending on the species of leishmania I was infected with, I now had two treatment choices:

1) I could be admitted to hospital for three weeks of intravenous medication (chemotherapy), which basically involves the same toxic chemicals as the Costa Rican injections (think heart problems and liver failure). Famously, TV presenter Ben Fogle endured this treatment after contracting leishmaniasis in Peru, and he ended up bed-bound with pneumonia – no thank you!

2) OR I could trial a new oral medication from Germany called Miltefosine. This horrifically expensive drug comes with a bunch of awful side effects, including sickness so severe that many people simply can not finish the treatment. This option wasn’t guaranteed to work either, and had never before been used to treat leishmaniasis from Costa Rica. Furthermore, this medication is only effective against one subspecies of the parasite – the most dangerous subspecies.

As it turned out, fate made the decision for me. I was diagnosed as having the dangerous subspecies (one that is prone to infecting the mouth and nose causing disfigurement) and so I was prescribed 4 weeks worth of Miltefosine pills. I began treatment immediately and initially, things looked promising. The hole in my arm stopped growing, and the pills weren’t making me too nauseous. Unfortunately, I didn’t realise it at the time but this medication takes a huge toll on the immune system. My arm was healing but I was becoming weaker every day. Within three weeks, strange painless lumps had started to appear all over my arm and my lymph nodes were inflamed. By this point I had returned to Costa Rica and was looking forward to getting back to normal – but normal was a long way off.

The lumps grew, and one in particular became very sore. It turns out that these were abscesses growing under my skin as a result of a staphylococcus infection. Within a few days I was feverish, my heart rate was up and my blood pressure dropped – all very bad signs of a systemic infection. I was rushed to a local doctor who prescribed antibiotic injections and bed rest. The rest was a roller-coaster. The injections (that were unfortunately in my bum cheek) left me with a second infection, which quickly developed into a large abscess leaving me unable to walk or sit down. I was forced to waddle everywhere. After one of the most uncomfortable weeks of my life, the doctor surgically drained 10 ml of pus from the abscess, and prescribed stronger antibiotics. I then developed further infections in my eye and mouth, all requiring treatment. And then to top everything off, a final infection in my left arm that also had to be surgically drained and my arm stitched up.

My arm after surgery

So today I am writing this, finally feeling like my roller-coaster ride is coming to an end. The leishmaniasis on my arm is healing, and the infections are finally going away. I still have stitches in my left arm and I have a few days of antibiotics left – but I have gone almost a week now without any new symptoms developing, and I am finally beginning to regain my energy (and most importantly, I don’t need to waddle anymore)! It has been a horrific journey, but I will never again be taking my good health for granted.

Now, I am finally ready to put my snake boots on and get back out in the jungle! It’s been a while since I have been able to follow up on the  Sloth Backpack Project, so it’s time for me to get productive. http://www.slothsanctuary.com/blog/

More Information: World Health Organization Disease Management info: Lleishmaniasis

 POST-KALA-AZAR DERMAL LEISHMANIASIS: A MANUAL FOR CASE MANAGEME

Chile’s Thunderstorm

CHILE’S THUNDERSTORM IS THE MESMERIZING RESULT OF VOLCANIC CHAOS

The video below, filmed by Chilean cinematographer Christian Muñoz-Donoso reveals the super-charged volcanic ash cloud appeared during an eruption at Volcán Calbuco, one of Chile’s most dangerous volcanos, earlier this year.

According to BBC Earth, dirty thunderstorms, also known as volcanic lightning, are rare phenomena that occur during large eruptions when lightning is sparked within clouds of volcanic ash.

Although very little is known about volcanic lightning, scientists believe the electric charges are generated when ash, rock fragments and ice particles collide within the volcanic plume, according to National Geographic.

“In a normal thunderstorm, ice crystals collide and generate electric charges,” volcano filmmaker Marc Szeglat,  who was not involved in filming the below clip, told BBC Earth earlier this year. “In an eruption cloud, ash particles collide instead of ice crystals.”

When Muñoz-Donoso filmed Calbuco’s volcanic lightning in April, it was the first time the volcano had erupted in 42 years, forcing thousands to evacuate and leaving the surrounding areas covered in thick ash. Fortunately, no deaths or injuries were reported.

Watch Chile’s hypnotizing and powerful “dirty thunderstorm” in full video below.

Super-charged volcanic ash cloud sparked with lightning in Pat…Be amazed by a super-charged volcanic ash cloud sparked by lightning.#PATAGONIA  Courtesy of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed courtesy of: emiliocogliani.wordpress.com