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China Earth Science

China Third Country To Be Hit By 'Brown Tide' 129

Posted by timothy
from the can-we-find-a-way-to-make-it-edible dept.
ananyo writes "The species of alga that causes 'brown tides' in the United States and South Africa is also to blame for massive blooms along China's east coast on the Bohai Sea, researchers have found. The finding could be the first step to tackling the problem. It is the fourth consecutive year the country has been hit by the bloom (Slashdot's story on the 2010 bloom), with the situation worsening each time the bloom returns."
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China Third Country To Be Hit By 'Brown Tide'

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  • by G3ckoG33k (647276) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @09:43AM (#40673685)

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/3007228.stm [bbc.co.uk]

    'Half of the fish species in the Baltic are at levels below the critical biological level, while pregnant Swedish women are being warned not to eat herring - a staple diet - because of dioxins. There is little dispute that St Petersburg - Russia's second-biggest city - is the Baltic's single biggest polluter, and behind many of the problems.'

    http://www.euronews.com/2010/02/10/baltic-nations-take-action-on-sea-pollution/ [euronews.com]

    'Northern European nations have been discussing pollution in the Baltic Sea at a conference in Finland. The Baltic is considered one of the most polluted waterways in the world. [...] “Today some of the richest and most environmentally-conscious countries on earth live on the shore of one of the world’s most polluted seas. What a tragedy. It is clear that something has to be done and quickly.” [...] “Today we are also facing a historic international challenge, which I would like to point to as as the issue of chemical and conventional weapons dumped into the Baltic Sea.” [...] Almost enclosed, very shallow, and fed by numerous rivers, the Baltic is a vulnerable sea. 90 million people live around its shores, many of them depending on the sea in some way or other for their livelihoods, but waste from industry, agriculture and daily life ends up in the sea. One of the biggest resulting dangers is too much algae. Excess growth of it robs the water of oxygen suffocating other species.'

    etc.

    Maybe the Chinese still can change this tide, err, that brown tide.

  • by OldSport (2677879) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @09:56AM (#40673813)
    Already have it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asian_Dust [wikipedia.org]
  • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @09:57AM (#40673815) Homepage

    It's nature healing itself.

    PH levels in the sea are rising. This a result of it. Let this bloom grow and it will eventually come in contact with a different PH level current or sea or ocean and disperse and die - the end result is a normal ph level.

    No, the pH (note the way it's typed - stands for 'negative log of the Hydrogen ion concentration') is DROPPING (becoming more acid - look it up).

    "Nature" doesn't 'heal itself'. It goes along working against entropy. Whether or not that happens to help humans is another issue.

    And while you're hanging out on Wikipedia learning about acid - base reactions and buffers, check on the articles about ocean circulations and gyres.

  • by gstoddart (321705) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @10:18AM (#40674103) Homepage

    Unfortunately as usual the greenpeace and anti-GM rent-a-mod luddites are against it because ... well I've no idea really

    Because nobody has any idea about the long term implications of using GMOs, or what might be going wrong. They make them, decree they're safe, and then say unless there's evidence to the contrary, they must be.

    GMO crops can affect biodiversity, and in the case of Monsanto pollute other people's fields even when they aren't using it, and when it's sent for food aid the recipients are told they can't keep seed to plant next year because they're not "licensed" to grow corn.

    It's the law of unintended consequences, really. Except that people take the default position of "what could possibly go wrong?", until something does.

    If you think people are against GMO food because they're luddites, then you're an idiot.

    People are against it because there's no evidence it's safe either, and there's a lot that can go wrong with it. In fact, there's loads of examples where it has.

    Genetically modified pigs have ended up in the food supply [mindfully.org] and contaminated crops [guardian.co.uk].

    It's like pharmaceuticals. The company who makes it has a vested interest in selling it, so if they take a few shortcuts, or leave out the evidence they don't like, or outright fabricate their evidence -- well, then we don't really know what we're getting, do we?

    I'm far from a luddite, but I see an awful lot to suggest that people are doing this, doing a piss poor job of actually keeping tabs on it, and not always being up front about it when it goes wrong. With some things (say, thalidomide) you only discover the disastrous consequences after literally years.

    Feel free to exercise your choice to eat those things. Me, I'd prefer to avoid it. There's just too many accidents and questions that I'm not convinced there are good enough answers yet.

  • by Entropius (188861) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @10:25AM (#40674205)

    There's a fascinating story with Greenpeace and GM corn. The folks making the GM corn did a study where they got both their GM corn and conventional corn that was as similar as possible, and then fed both to lab rats. They weighed the rats every week, then took the rats apart after a while and assayed ... everything. Organ sizes, weights, chemistries, etc. They concluded that there were no significant differences.

    Greenpeace sued to get the raw data, something I think they have a right to (since that study was used as the basis for approval). They got some folks (grad students in Germany, I think) to do their own statistics, which concluded that GM corn caused a statistically significant increase in growth rate for male rats and a statistically significant decrease for female rats. I looked at what they did, and it turns out they made a sophomoric statistics error that I teach, well, sophomore undergrads not to make.

    What they did, essentially, was to neglect the fact that limited-sample-size uncertainties in "weight of rat at 6 weeks" and "weight of rat at 7 weeks" are correlated when they tested for statistical significance. Of course they're correlated -- they're the same damned rats! (In technical language, they calculated chi-squared based on the naive standard-errors-of-the-mean, rather than on the full covariance matrix which is required for [strongly] correlated data.)

    If Greenpeace can't even get undergrad stats right in one of the cases where they *have* shown their work (and it's wrong) then I see no reason to give them any credibility unless someone who's better at this than they are checks their work.

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