Monthly Archive: April 2012


RuSource: Economic evidence for investing in the environment

See on Scoop.it – AnnBot There are many examples where green infrastructure offers much better value for public investment than the alternative, for example natural water filtration and natural flood defence. Alan Spedding over at RuSource had identified and summarized an important report with the less-than-exciting title “Natural England Research Report NERR033 ‘Microeconomic Evidence for the Benefits of Investment in the Environment – review’. Natural climate control is much cheaper than the air-conditioning (or heating) it replaces. Natural air filtering is likely to be efficient compared to technical alternatives, particularly as trees provide so many other benefits. Access to greenspace...

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People and the planet – A report from the Royal Society

There are two important pieces of ‘grey literature’ today: the first, from the Royal Society, is a report on how global population and consumption are linked, and the implications for a finite planet. There was also a useful interview on the UK radio programme “Today” about 6.45 am; since the programme is still running I can’t post a link to “listen again”, but it may be at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01ghc41. The second report is about the economic case for investing in the environment. The global report from the RS committee, led by Sir John Sulston, emphasizes the problem of unsustainable consumption in industrialized...

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On our Scoop It between April 13th and April 26th

These are links from our Scoop It page between April 13th and April 26th: Tomatoes: GM, Aroma And Tradition When we carry out traditions, we are under the illusion that we are repeating acts dating back to the dawn of our culture. But a few years later, as an adolescent, a plaque at Montreal’s Botanical Gardens made me aware that tomatoes are not indigenous to the Old World, let alone Italy. Pasta can be traced to the Roman Empire, but it was eaten without tomato sauce. via Rodomiro Ortiz See it on Scoop.it Can we count animal extinctions? Twenty years...

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People and the planet report | Royal Society

See on Scoop.it – AnnBot There are two important pieces of ‘grey literature’ today: the first, from the Royal Society, is a report on how global population and consumption are linked, and the implications for a finite planet.   The report, lead by Sir John Sulston, emphasizes the problem of unsustainable consumption in industrialized countries and unsustainable population growth in developing countries, with many obvious cross-overs as the poor increase their consumption (not least of meat), and consumption converts to environmental degradation in the developed world.   With very clear writing and message, as would be expected from the Royal...

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Puppy and Wine

Dogs, blossom and wine

The life led by the ancients was rude and illiterate; still, as will be readily seen, the observations they made were not less remarkable for ingenuity than are the theories of the present day. Pliny the Elder Kamoun Lab have reminded me via their Scoop It page that today is the day of the Robigalia, a Roman festival to protect the corn crop. Actually reminded is the wrong word. Told is better as I really can’t remember anything about the Robigalia. This is a bit embarrassing as my PhD was partly about astronomy and ancient festivals, and the Robigalia has this...

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Wall plantings on an office along the South Bank, Paris

Plant walls, art and improving our environment

I’ve seen a new approach to use of ornamental plants several occasions recently: walls of plants covering outdoor and indoor sites. At the indoor site, in Heathrow Airport, I was even more happy to see that Patrick Blanc, credited with conceiving the ‘indoor living wall’ in the legend next to the plantings, is described as a ‘botanist’. The walls, whether indoors or outdoors, give a different aspect to what otherwise would be very unremarkable surfaces. The three uses I have photographed are contrasting sites: indoors, on a temporary hoarding covering a construction site, and on an office building. The Heathrow wall run by Jet...

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Free Paper — The evolution of pollen germination timing in flowering plants: Austrobaileya scandens (Austrobaileyaceae)

Austrobaileya has long served as a model for ancient angiosperm pollen structure. Its pollen germination is relatively rapid and requires < 10 % of the progamic phase. Extensive evidence discussed in this paper suggests pollen germination underwent acceleration early in angiosperm history.

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On our Scoop It between April 4th and April 13th

These are links from our Scoop It page between April 4th and April 13th: The Importance and Challenge of rapid multiplication of Vegetative Crops in Africa | Africaseed.net Realizing the potential of Africa’s vegetative crops requires new tools for rapid multiplication of healthy and improved planting material. Bananas, plantains, cassava, potato and sweet-potato, as well as other indigenous African root vegetables are key in solving Africa’s food and income security challenges. The total production of these crops almost doubles that of maize, rice and wheat in Africa. These vegetatively propagated crops are an excellent source of cheap energy and are a key...

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Image: Wikimedia Commons

The answer is blowin’ in the wind…

How does a rooted-to-the-spot plant escape the attentions of would-be herbivores? Well, according to Kazuo Yamazaki in his review straightforwardly entitled ‘Gone with the wind: trembling leaves may deter herbivory’, they move, and rather rapidly, too! No, they don’t run away, but by employing rapid – though passive – movements, such as the wind-induced trembling of leaves, they may keep invertebrate invaders at bay. Those movements may dislodge herbivores or parasites or dissuade gravid females from laying their eggs on the ‘movable feast’. The leafy jinglings and janglings may also serve to uncover animals previously hidden by the foliage, subjecting...

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Free Paper — Modelling leaf photosynthetic and transpiration temperature-dependent responses in Vitis vinifera cv. Semillon grapevines growing in hot, irrigated vineyard conditions

Grapevines growing in Australiasuffer from high temperatures which have major effects on photosynthesis and transpiration. To learn more, gas exchange was measured in this study over several seasons and then modelled across temperatures from 20 to 45oC and validated with independent data.

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In praise of Urtica dioica

In the bad old days before Mr Sainsbury and Mr Tesco worked their airmiles magic on the planet, this time of year was known as the “hungry gap” – the time between using up last year’s harvest and starting to eat this year’s crops. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and over dinner this evening we discussed who was the first person to get stuck into a meal containing a toxic cocktail including acetylcholine, histamine, moroidin, leukotrienes, and possibly formic acid (ref). A pretty hungry one, I’d bet. Fortunately, careful picking (!) and a little cooking renders this toxic feast...

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Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Tongue-tied? Let the flowers do the talking!

Traditionally, 14th February – Saint Valentine’s Day – is the day when lovers bear their souls and declare their love for one another, often accompanied by gifts (‘inducements’, bribes…?) of flowers, chocolates, maybe even jewellery. However, such is the power of plants, oftentimes you can probably ‘get away’ with just flowers (after all, rose is an anagram of Eros…). Or so one might like to think (I suspect that the purveyors of cut flowers are probably keen to promote that idea at least…). Nevertheless, such assumptions need to be tested to determine any veracity, which is what psychologist Nicolas Guéguen has...

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Roots to the Future

Root Research comes to the UK

2012 is a big year for roots researchers. The International Society of Root Research is holding its big event in the UK for the first time. The event, in Dundee, will be held at the end of June and has keynote speakers from around the world. Jun Abe of the University of Tokyo has said why he thinks root research is so important. “The root is the interface between plant and the soil. This means that the root is the organ that is directly affected by human managements (e.g., tillage and fertilization). The formation of well-developed root system is important...

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