Thursday, February 16, 2017

Heavy Winter precipitation in the Western United States is apparently meaningless

Is the California drought finally over ??? Incessant rainfall and snowfall leads to terrific flooding in the Golden State as thousands of homes are evacuated 
Image from The Daily Mail
But officials also warned that though the rain has eased conditions, the drought isn't completely over

The average person falls for the big Media bluff that all is well when weather conditions take an apparent turn about from the long hard drought. Especially when it's an extreme turn of events like the massive snowfalls and rain flooding events presently hitting California and other western regions. In the back of people's minds they are telling themselves things are back to the good ol'days. But now after Californian's have been praying for rain for five years, now they are praying for a break in the rainfall. Perhaps they may believe what the UC Merced Hydrologist Roger C. Bales theorized was correct after all. Get rid of all those greedy water sucking trees and streamflows will rise. Less trees gulping water means fuller streams. Not so fast. Most of that so-called science about removal and thinning of Sierra Nevada Forest trees was more of a public relations stunt funded and backed by the giant Timber Industry and down stream Industrial Agriculture business interests which has a love affair with massive flood irrigation methodology. The imaginary myth was theorized that less forest trees gulping down water would translate more water in streams and rivers filling up reservoirs. While I looked for research on any type of documentation of millions of dead trees actually proving this reverse phenomena to be true a couple years ago, I hadn't found any until now. Apparently the research had been there a little over a year ago, but got very little success in attracting Media attention. Not as sexy as Roger Bales and Michael Goulden's theories I guess.
Recent tree die-offs have had little effect on streamflow in contrast to expected increases from hydrological studies
Images from

Clockwise from top left the photos are Spain, Colorado, New Mexico and Argentina.

We've all read the stories and seen all the horrific  photographs of what Mountain pine beetles have done to the western forests over the past decade due to hotter temperatures and drier summers. These bark beetles have infested and killed  thousands of acres of not only western pine forests, but other forests around the globe are now also in trouble as well. Researchers like Roger C. Bales (UC Merced) and Michael L. Merced (UC Irvine) have previously predicted that as trees died or were mechanically removed by logging and thinning, streamflows would increase because fewer trees would be greedily gulping up water through their roots and transpiring it up into the atmosphere. In the imaginations of the Hydrology boys, less trees equate more water runoff for agriculture down in California's Central & San Joaquin Valleys. Back in December 2015, a study by  the University of Utah geology and geophysics professor Paul Brooks and his colleagues in Arizona, Colorado and Idaho, found that if too many trees die, then compensatory processes would kick in and might actually reduce water availability. This is the exact opposite of what Bales and Goulden speculated would happen. But what Brooks and others discovered is that when large areas of trees dieoff, the forest floor becomes sunnier, warmer and windier, which causes winter snow and summer rain to evaporate rather than slowly recharging groundwater. In fact in describing what happens with the snow which usually melts and slowly percolates into the ground, what actually happened was a phenomena called "sublimation." This process of sublimation is where snow and ice change into water vapor in the air without first melting into water. The opposite of sublimation would be "deposition", where water vapor changes directly into ice (such a snowflakes and frost). So what happens with much of that heavy snow we've seen in recent photos does not all melt and infiltrate into the subsoil layers, but rather a good percentage of the snow evaporates up into the drier warmer atmosphere. What is interesting is that the regions studied were much of the high elevation headwaters areas for the Colorado River which fill down stream reservoirs like Lake Powell and Lake Mead which have been experiencing rapidly falling water levels. This effects water potential for Arizona and Southern California.
"Recent bark beetle epidemics have caused regional-scale tree mortality in many snowmelt-dominated headwater catchments of western North America. Initial expectations of increased streamflow have not been supported by observations, and the basin-scale response of annual streamflow is largely unknown. Here we quantified annual streamflow responses during the decade following tree die-off in eight infested catchments in the Colorado River headwaters and one nearby control catchment. We employed three alternative empirical methods: (i) double-mass comparison between impacted and control catchments, (ii) runoff ratio comparison before and after die-off, and (iii) time-trend analysis using climate-driven linear models. In contrast to streamflow increases predicted by historical paired catchment studies and recent modeling, we did not detect streamflow changes in most basins following die-off, while one basin consistently showed decreased streamflow. The three analysis methods produced generally consistent results, with time-trend analysis showing precipitation was the strongest predictor of streamflow variability (R2 = 74–96%). Time-trend analysis revealed post-die-off streamflow decreased in three catchments by 11–29%, with no change in the other five catchments. Although counter to initial expectations, these results are consistent with increased transpiration by surviving vegetation and the growing body of literature documenting increased snow sublimation and evaporation from the subcanopy following die-off in water-limited, snow-dominated forests. The observations presented here challenge the widespread expectation that streamflow will increase following beetle-induced forest die-off and highlight the need to better understand the processes driving hydrologic response to forest disturbance."
Tree mortality is increasing worldwide which also includes Canada
Image - Natural Resources Canada
Tree mortality is increasing worldwide including Canada
"Tree mortality will likely increase in areas where extreme weather events become more frequent. Climate change projections indicate that in some parts of Canada, droughts and other extreme events are expected to become more frequent in the future. These changes could trigger increases in tree mortality and episodes of forest decline in affected areas, posing challenges for forest management and the long-term supply of forest resources and services, including carbon balance."
So just how well are all these forests regenerating on their own without mankind's help and interference ??? Despite Environmental Activist insistence that this is the only way Nature can heal, in almost all cases the natural world is failing!
Image - University of Colorado Boulder

Researcher Monica Rother at the site of the 2000 Walker Ranch fire in Boulder County.
Eighty percent of plots surveyed there contained no new trees.
The studies and observations by the researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder exposes the bleak reality. It makes sense though. Trees under extremely high stress from drought, pine beetle attacks and catastrophic wildfire events will dump most of what's left of their energy resources into defensesive strategies (Survival) and very little towards offensive strategies (seed production). Here are a few excerpts from the report:
“It is alarming, but we were not surprised by the results given what you see when you hike through these areas,” said Rother, who earned her doctorate from CU Boulder in 2015 and works as a fire ecologist at Tall Timbers Research Station in Tallahassee, Florida. 
Among the most barren sites were those of the 2000 Walker Ranch fire in Boulder County and the 2000 Bobcat Gulch fire in Larimer County, where approximately 80 percent of plots surveyed contained no new young trees.  
“This should be a wake-up call, that under the warming trends associated with human-caused climate change, significant shifts in forest extent and vegetation types are already occurring,” said Veblen. “We are seeing the initiation of a retreat of forests to higher elevations.”  
Previous research has suggested that hotter, more severe fires make it harder for the forest to bounce back by killing mature trees and reducing seed stock. But the study found that even after lower-intensity fires, presumed to have had less effect on mature trees and seed stock, seedlings were still scarce. Hotter, drier areas at lower elevations or on south-facing slopes had the fewest seedlings.  
“Fire severity is definitely relevant, but climate appeared to play the greatest role,” in limiting forest recovery, said Rother.  
“I don’t want to present this as being entirely negative,” said Veblen. “For me, the negative aspect is what it indicates about the future.”
So the main thrust of the message from this report is that it now seems that Nature is no longer able to restore itself in many areas. Humans have done so much extensive damage that it is also necessary for them to actually intervene and mechanical help Nature. The protesting and politically motivated wilderness designation or Nation Park status will never work. Unfortunately most people (& this includes Scientists) do not have the full understanding of how the natural world functions and operates. Much of our understanding and progress has been held back and stuck in neutral because of of silly ideologically driven worldview as mandated by this world's Scientific Orthodoxy which controls the prevailing scientific thought which has infected all Academia. Way too much time and energy has been spent by Academia and environmental organizations on religious concepts such as (Argument from Poor Design) to battle against what they call religious fundies. The argument basically trashes numerous components of our planet's natural world as being flawed, imperfect and badly designed. The argument then promotes the lame idea that this is proof there is no creator because an intelligent designer would never have created or engineered things in such & such a way. Hence, instead of creating technological innovations which apply biomimicry or biomimetics (replicating natural designs when it comes to technological innovation by observing designs found in Nature), our world's intellectuals have instead pursued innovation based on flawed human reasoning and understanding. This is what has brought us much of the genetic engineering in agriculture and a plethora of dangerous toxic synthetic chemicals to deal with the imbalance in pest invasion that humans ultimately caused in the first place. Nature have never worked that way and nature has kept balance for countless 1000s of years without human interference. Suddenly now there are some Biomimicry organizations who are on board with replicating natural designs, but they have to first undo deprogram all the people who have been fed the prevailing secular koolaid and then re-educate people as to how nature really works. This is not so much a slam against the worldview obsessed as it is a wake up or shake up call for people everywhere, irrespective of your belief system, that nature no matter how one believes if origined, has never been flawed, imperfect or badly designed. This is where flawed thinking brought California the inept theory of tree removal bringing us more water. Do you see how this has now backfired ??? Here is another example of how Forest ecosystem failure and collapse needs human intervention from India:
In order to restore tropical rainforests, it is not enough to simply set up protected areas and leave them to their own devices. In particular, tree species with large fruit and seeds distributed by birds will have to be actively planted. This is one of the conclusions of a large-scale study by scientists from ETH Zurich in the Western Ghats, the mountain range running along the western coast of India. 
“For rainforest restoration projects to be successful, you have to give special attention to these trees,” says Kettle. “If you want to encourage them to spread, the only option is to collect their seeds, set up tree nurseries and then actively plant out the saplings at a later stage.”

Nature is becoming less resilient and no longer able to sustain itself as it has done for countless 1000s of years. One disappointing thing about the study of dead trees not increasing stream flows was the silence on the phenomena known as "hydrological descent" in which living trees (also shrubs), even when dormant, which pump excess surface water during the rainy season down into deeper layers of the subsoil layers helping to recharge the water table aquafirs. That should have been included in this study and it wasn't. Can you imagine what low percentage of this California rainy season's (2016-2017) precipitation has actually percolated into the California landscape and how much has blown out back into the Pacific Ocean through massive flooding runoff ? After years of drought a lot of bare ground will almost fossilize to where the soils pores will close up tightly and the phenomena of capiliraary action needs time to heal properly. The state of California has no infrastructure in place to funnel massive amounts of this excess freshwater back towards the interior desert riparian habitats. Think of aquatic environments like Mono Lake, Owens Lake and further south the Salton Sea which already has a major ecological water problem. Or how about any of the other maze of dry lake beds throughout the Mojave Desert. Could such filling of these large natural basins have a moderating effect on the state's regional, if not statewide climate and weather ? Not to mention benefits to wildlife ? According to all of the above studies we just briefly touched on, humans are going to have to actually intervene now and make the necessary corrections. Instead of dumping money and manpower into ineffective angry protest and destructive civil disobedience, people need to go beyomd clicking "LIKE" on a Facebook page article about environment and physically get out doors and start restoring ecosystems based on natural design which was never ever flawed. However, how well historically has that been working out for us ??? 
Can collective groups among mankind  really work together to reverse these trends we've just read about ???

We all know how well it turned out for Humpty Dumpty. All the King's horses and all the King's men were unqualified and ill equipped to fix anything back together again. Governments, Business Leaders, Scientists & Religious leaders likewise do not have the answers nor the management skills we need for a real world viable solution either. The common people around the world are taking to the streets in a last desperate resort in protest and they too are likewise ill equipped to put anything back together again. The people protesting are often not exactly sure of what they are protesting about when interviewed by some in the media. It doesn't matter what they are protesting, or what message is on their signs because they are usually are nothing more than hollow slogans. And this is taking place most everywhere globally. Fixing and correcting things takes real cooperation and working peacefully together. That's not how this world we're all forced to live in works presently. Even today's angry environmental movements seem to have no answers other than protesting something or someone they hate. They never really offer any viable alternatives other than kicking other people off a piece of some sacred real estate and saying, "Nature will just find a way" to heal itself. In the studies above that will not happen. Each and every day, Salman Rushdie's word in that CNN interview ring true:

"Classically, we have defined ourselves by the things we love. By the place which is our home, by our family, by our friends. But in this age we're asked to define ourselves by hate. That what defines you is what pisses you off. And if nothing pisses you off, who are you?" 
Salman Rushdie
There really are some decent organizations out there that actually go beyond hate motivated protesting. They also demonstrate how energy is better spent educating the public in following natural design and in participating in hands on habitat restoration work. One of the main organizations that comes to my mind is the group, (Back to Natives Restoration) who actually provide a valuable service to local urban communities and in education work to the public. Same can be said for other native plant nurseries like (Las Pilitas Native Plant Nursery) and (Tree of Life Native Plant Nursery) who offer not only healthy viable native plants, but also extensive educational programs to help enlighten their customers and general public as to how nature really works and replicating installation and care with less water and no industrially manufactured science-based synthetic (fertilizers & pesticides) chemicals. All these organizations are strictly founded and identify themselves based on something they truly love, not something they hate or what pisses them off.
In Conclussion
At the very least we know where things really stand concerning our Earth's environment when the media attempts to paint a rosy picture of things not being all that bad as we first thought. It's worse folks. We also now know for a certainty that all those Politically motivated and Industrial Business interest funded hydrological studies conducted at several California Universities were dead wrong from the start. In fact their flawed schemes were never close to the truth, but many of us already knew that.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Plants use a chemical 911 & know specifically which Emergency Service to contact

This is not a general message, "Calling all Predators." But rather more specific chemical signals being sent out to specialized predators depending on who or what herbivore is munching on the plant
image -

We all understand what the 911 Emergency Protocol is. When we call 911, we are usually specific about which particular emergency we are experiencing. We may need the Police, Fire Department or an  Ambulence and with the right communication the correct help is on the way. Recently, the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig did a study about what happens when plants are attacked by herbivores (insect, animals, etc). Apparently most plants call in emergency reinforcements. They proceed by emitting specific chemical aerosol signals. These aerosol signals attract the right specific predatory wasp that parasitizes a specific host insect pest which is attacking the plant. The wasps lay their eggs into the caterpillars, thereby killing them. This means fewer butterflies and hungry caterpillars in the next generation. An international research team tested the effects of twelve types of herbivores on a field mustard (Brassica rapa). The researchers found that the plants consistently adapt the odours they emit upon attack to the characteristics of the respective herbivore. This helped the plant to specifically attract a certain specific natural enemy that feed on the herbivores eating them. Among the twelve different herbivores that they tested, there were caterpillars, aphids and a slug. The herbivore selection included specialist and generalist, sucking and chewing, as well as exotic and native species.
Plants smell different when they are eaten by exotic herbivores
Photo - Nicole Van Dam
Professor Nicole Van Dam sees the results as "spectacular proof" of how specifically plants respond to their environment. 
"The plants may not have a nervous system, eyes, ears, or mouths, but they are capable of determining who is attacking them. Based on this, they can transmit reliable information to specialized parasitic wasps that can learn the odours to find their preferred host. What I find truly amazing is that they're even capable of distinguishing between a native and an exotic herbivore."
Department Molecular Interaction Ecology at the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) and Professor for Molecular Interaction Ecology at the Friedrich Schiller University Jena (FSU)
Trees recognize roe deer by their saliva: Smart defence mechanisms against browsing
Image: Town Mouse & Country Mouse Blog
Mule Deer browsing foliage of native 
California Coffeeberry

Photo - Bettina Ohse
Animals also can be foliage damaging herbivores to plants. The photo above is of a California Mule Deer browsing the foliage of a native chaparral plant called California Coffeeberry. While we are told fables of Native Americans setting fires to improve grasslands for grazers like deer, what they really like is browsing shrub and tree foliage. As I've previously asked on this subject is, what is it that gardeners most generally complain about when it comes to Deer ??? Is it that they graze their lawns or rather damage flower beds, shrubs and trees ??? Another question would be, Are plants also programmed with a similar chemical signalling defense mechanisms to thwart animal browsing and if so, how does this defense work ??? This was another study done along the same lines as the insect herbivory study above. Notice the photo at right here where a central leader of a Maple was cut with metal shears, but a deer's saliva was applied to the damaged area which sent a signal message to produce more chemical components like tannins which make the foliage taste bitter to the deer. Also triggered were growth hormones to encourage the plant to make up for the lost growth. The plant also can apparently tell the difference between deer browsing and wind storm damage of a branch. Very kool stuff. Here are a couple of paragraphs:
In order to protect themselves against roe deer browsing, trees purposely put up a fight. By studying young beeches (Fagus sylvatica) and maples (Acer pseudoplatanus), biologists from the Leipzig University and the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) have now found out that trees are able to recognise precisely whether a branch or bud has been purposefully nibbled off by a roe deer – or just randomly torn off by a storm or other mechanical disturbance. The saliva of the animals gives them the signal. If a deer feeds on a tree and leaves its saliva behind, the tree will increase its production of salicylic acid. This hormone, in turn, signals to the plant to increase the production of specific tannins. It is known for some of these substances that they influence the feeding behaviour of roe deer, with the result that the deer lose their appetite for the shoots and buds. In addition, the saplings increase their concentrations of other plant hormones, growth hormones in particular. These hormones enhance the growth of the remaining buds to compensate for the lost ones.   
“On the other hand, if a leaf or a bud snaps off without a roe deer being involved, the tree stimulates neither its production of the salicylic acid signal hormone nor the tannic substances. Instead, it predominantly produces wound hormones,” explains Bettina Ohse, lead author of the study. The scientists reached their conclusions by outsmarting the saplings: They simulated a roe deer feeding on them by cutting off buds or leaves and trickling real roe deer saliva on the cut surface from a pipette. Shortly after, they recorded the concentrations of the hormones and tannins in the saplings.

Previously, other studies have shown that plants detect predation from pests like the same cabbage caterpillar through vibrational waves from their chewing. Perhaps plants detect things in a combination of sensory ways. Clearly chemical defenses are depensed in a variety of messaging, either by being sending chemical text messages through their the root systems and continuing into the fungal network grid to warn other plants through their root systems to manufacture more bitter tannins. Or as this study revealed by means of released message specific aerosols to signal just the right predator to deal with a specific pest. We now know that plants are capable of communicating with each other via extensive and complex networks, and can warn each other of the presence of pests. In response, these plants are able to mount natural defenses against various types of infestations. This interconnectedness between soil, microbes, plants, pests, is a fascinating area of study. Unfortunately Industrial Science has lost much of what used to be common-sense farming and gardening knowledge which was based on simple observation. This was the very thing science was supposed to be about. The industrial Scientists are now forced to look back at what they once made fun of as far as age-old wisdom which reveals that nature is apparently far smarter than they were in the past willing to give it credit for. This is where biomimetics can become an important part of gardening, urban landscaping and sustainable agriculture. Science doesn't need to combat pests by inventing more and more synthetic chemical warfare. That's not the type of chemical biomimicry needed. As mentioned before, science has been influenced by irresponsible philosophical dogma brought to us by such things as  Arguments from Poor Design which has done more to hold science back from understanding how our natural world actually works more than anything else. Instead of spitting on Fundies with time wasting lame arguments, they should have been busy creating sustainable ways for optimal growing conditions so that plants could have responded with their own built in programmed defenses. Instead, we've been given this ill conceived "Green Revolution" which was anything but green and there are still large corporate entities who  want to keep this status quo. It's really unfortunate that this type of scientific discovery referenced in the above links are still not the science that rules our world. Many are catching on now, but are they too late to make a difference ???
Article written about attracting predators
California Coffeeberry: Biodiverse Insect Magnet for Pollinators & Predators (Think Hedgerows)

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Landscape Safe: Smart choices when choosing plants

Fours bears dead after eating red berries from English Yew plant
Photo provided by Pennsylvania Game Commission

CBS News
This mother bear and her three cubs were found dead earlier this month near a church parking lot in West Wyoming, Pennsylvania. On first thought, the Conservation officers considered the deaths suspicious, but after examining two of the bears, the game commission came to the conclusion that they died from eating berries from the European yew plants. The shrubs are commonly used in landscaping as a beautiful evergreen ornamental shrub or tree. The officials explained that there is a compound in yew, called taxine, which is highly toxic to humans and animals if ingested. This is something many people never think of when choosing a landscape plant when their decision making is based purely on it's beautiful outward appearance. While some people may be aware of this plant's toxicity to humans, who would have thought there would be any consequences to the local wildlife ? The same could be said of many other plant choices from the retail Nursery. Here below is a link to the recent article:
Family of bears likely killed from eating poisonous plant
 Remember that cool lunch debate scene in the film Jurassic Park, where the argument was about whether certain scientific choices are right or wrong ? There was one specific reference from the Paleobotanist character, Ellie Sattler, who stated the obvious when it comes to humans decision making when it comes to plant choices in the landscape:
"Well, the question is, how can you know anything about an extinct ecosystem and how could you assume you could ever control it ? You have plants here in this building that are poisonous, you pick them because they look good. But these are aggressive living things that have no idea what century country (think European Yew) they are living in and they will defend themselves, violently if necessary."
You can find this statement below in this YouTube clip and time mark 2:36 >>>

Over here in Sweden, the landscapers use this Yew plant everywhere. What appalls me is their choice to incorporate it within family housing complexes where there are large numbers of children, often unsupervised. The plant is also chosen for it's ornamental value in Christmas decorations such are wreaths which are hung on a door in the house. The deep evergreen foliage in contrast with the bright red berries are adittedly very attractive, but they are dangerous to children, especially young toddlers who will put anything in their mouths. English Holly is another one of these attractive ornamentals used at Christmas time, but their berries are also toxic. The white berries of Mistletoe is yet another toxic plant used on this holiday. Poinsettia is another. The scary thing is the red berry is sweet to the taste, but it's the seed that is toxic. I'll provide some reference examples below at the bottom of this post.

Image - Beto Frota - Oct 2007
Here's an example of a common Tew many grow as an ornamental in their urban landscapes. Many housing complexs and city parks with also plant them as they admittedly are a very handsome evergreen shrub or tree with contrasting red berries. But the seed or more commonly called, berry, can be deadly poison within one to two hours after ingesting them. In actual fact, the fruit is not really a berry at all. As you can see from the way it has a hole in the end like the picture at the right here. The outer covering (called aril) as it matures shrinks back exposing the seed which is the true fruit. The red outer part is technically is called an aril. A well known aril is the spice mace, which is the outer covering of a nutmeg. Pomagranites also fall into this description. Interestingly, the red flesh of this Yew berry is quite sweet, but again it's the seed inside is deadly poisonous. This doesn't matter to birds, because their quick digestive system passes the seed through unchanged, and like most berries, this is how the Yew distributes its seeds. Not that the Yew is capable of knowing that of course. But the more thorough digestive system of an animal would attack the seed's coating and poison the animal like it did to those four bears in the article above. Below is a plant profile of the Yew.
University of Maryland - Extension
Plant Profile: Toxic Yew
Try safer Natives from local area Native Plant Nurseries Heteromeles arbutifolia
Image - Bert Wilson - Las Pilitas Nursery

Tehachapi Conservation Resource District
This plant is a large evergreen shrub or small tree with leathery deep green leaves which produces small white flower clusters followed by showy clusters of red berries. In the urban landscape, it will only require deep watering once a month in summer when established. In most of it's native area probably not necessary to water this plant if roots are deep enough. This deeper root infrastructure can be obtained if the gardener or landscaper is smart and patient enough to train the plant by starting out with a one gallon year old specimen. They can grow from 8' to15' feet tall and 8' feet wide. The berries are edible and not dangerous like the other ornamentals I've discussed here. If a child did happen to eat one, there is not much flavour and not really sweet at all. More importantly, they will attracts birds and other wildlife who will use them as a food source. The bottomline here is you need to use your head and think about what plants you choose as appropriate to the safety of your landscape, not only for wilslife, but especially young children.
Real life trageties from Yew berry ingestion
BBC: Ben Hines died after ingesting yew tree poison
New York Post - October 2016: This city park’s deadly berries nearly killed a 2 year-old-girl
Google is your friend. Seriously, there are pages of this stuff

Friday, December 16, 2016

Is the new gene-editing tool, CRISPR/Cas9 Mankind's Saviour ???

"The scientific community is buzzing with the promise that CRISPR offers for human gene-editing, opening the door to use gene-therapy to treat diseases like cystic fibrosis and leukemia."

Unfortunately, while the quote in the above paragraph from the medical research article in Canada's, Western University's, Media Relations Department, certainly sounds promising, there are also some major concerns for which they never dealt with. CRISPR is being touted like a magic wand which only a scientific wizard with proper training can use. It also is being promoted as being able to problem solve anything that negatively impacts mankind's physical health. But as I've posted previously, there are often unknown and unintended consequences when it is assumed to be fool proof. Take the recent disaster that happened with Alnylam Pharmaceuticals. The reality is, CRISPR, while providing us with some amazing insights and possibilities, is also prone to error. This is because much of what they are messing with (informational content of DNA) is still not fully understood despite the public media faith affirmations to the contrary. The main problem I see here with this celebratory PomPoms bit of news on curing genetic diseases, cancers etc, is that in order for this to work effectively and permanently, they need to shut down DNA's error correction repair mechanisms so that the evil gene they believe is causing the problem which they edit out, won't return through the DNA Repair correction mechamism reinstalling the defective software. This newer version of the CRISPR gene-editing tool removes cells' natural undo button, so that the evil gene doesn't return. What does a cell DNA Repair mechanism do ? Basically keeps the genome's informational integrity intact. For example our DNA is constantly under attack, though we may be unware this. From what's been researched, apparently ultraviolet light is one of the major sources of damage to DNA and is apparently the most thoroughly studied form of DNA damage in terms of repair mechanisms. Hence, its importance is illustrated by the fact that exposure to our Sun's solar UV irradiation is one of the biggest causes of almost all skin cancer in humans. Make sense ? We here about this all the time. Here below is one explanation of the DNA Repair:
What is DNA Repair?
"DNA, like any other molecule, can undergo a variety of chemical reactions. Because DNA uniquely serves as a permanent copy of the cell genome, however, changes in its structure are of much greater consequence than are alterations in other cell components, such as RNAs or proteins. Mutations can result from the incorporation of incorrect bases during DNA replication. In addition, various chemical changes occur in DNA either spontaneously or as a result of exposure to chemicals or radiation. Such damage to DNA can block replication or transcription, and can result in a high frequency of mutations—consequences that are unacceptable from the standpoint of cell reproduction. To maintain the integrity of their genomes, cells have therefore had to evolve mechanisms to repair damaged DNA. These mechanisms of DNA repair can be divided into two general classes: (1) direct reversal of the chemical reaction responsible for DNA damage, and (2) removal of the damaged bases followed by their replacement with newly synthesized DNA. Where DNA repair fails, additional mechanisms have evolved been constructed to enable cells to cope with the damage." 
(Irrespective of how one believes these mechanisms got here, they never the less exist. Evolution is incapable of any forethought or planning. This is not just my opinion, remember, the Scientific Orthodoxy mandates it)

Most damage to DNA is repaired by removing the damaged bases followed by resynthesis of the damaged area which is then cut out or removed from the damaged region along the DNA strand. With this CRISPR gene editing tool, which they use to cut out and remove the cancer causing gene or other disease abnormaility, they do not want the DNA repair mechanism to replace the bad gene again. So they've invented an enzyme which prevents this. Sounds like a good thing right ? No not necessarily. It shuts down an important process which prevents any negative mutational defect from screwing up the genetic code for any and all living organisms. It keeps order within the genome from becoming a basket case of disorder which ultimately would kill most all lifeforms. How can one translate or illustrate this repair mechanism's importance to people who view such otherwise boring subject matter from a shallow surface level with it's cool sounding journalistic fluff that offers the reader nothing more than a blind faith in believing Scientists must somehow know what they are doing without questioning anything ? 

At the very least, most people today are fairly computer literate. We understand the terms hardware and software. Security update patches, etc. We are aware that the scary worldwide web has lots of malware roaming around ready to infect your software if given an opportunity and other forms of cyber enemies which wish to hijack your  computer's software. Periodically we understand that Microsoft updates are regularly uploaded as a virus protection patch created by a large software coding team who are continually counteracting malicious codes which could crash our entire computer. Your DNA is automatically doing this continual basis and at faster than supercomputer speeds. So perhaps you can understand the dangers of shutting down such a major health component that we have only scratched the surface in our understanding of it's importance. So here again from that article is their solution to the problem of preventing the reoccurence of the problem:

“The problem with CRISPR is that it will cut DNA, but then DNA-repair will take that cut and stick it back together,” said the study’s principal investigator, David Edgell, associate professor at Western’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry. “That means it is regenerating the site that the CRISPR is trying to target, creating a futile cycle. The novelty of our addition, is that it stops that regeneration from happening.”  
The Western researchers have demonstrated that the creation of a new enzyme called TevCas9, which cuts the DNA in two places instead of one, makes it much more difficult for the DNA-repair to regenerate the site of the cut. The researchers created TevCas9 by adding an enzyme called I-Tevl onto the nuclease, Cas9, which is the typical enzyme used to cut DNA in CRISPR.
So there it is in a nutshell. But did anyone take note of this sentence here. “The novelty of our addition, is that it stops that regeneration from happening.” I have one question that was also brought up by someone else in the comments section of another site on this same subject. Is this a permanent solution or is it merely a temporary one ? They inform the reader that their research also showed that the addition of Tev shows promise at being much more specific in targeting genes and less likely to cause off-target effects in the genome, which is a significant problem for any potential therapeutic application. But on that problem of off-target effects, they go on to say, “This remains to be tested, but this is the hope and the expectation.” It's difficult to picture exactly how this therapy will be implimented. Clearly, you cannot gene edit trillions of cells in one person, perhaps this is an embryo manipulation. Still, there is a lot more research to do, but if a patient goes to see a doctor on down the road after this has been approved, how would he explain this process of what we just read  to them ? Maybe it world go something like:
"Well the good news Mr Jones is that  we can cure your cancer and there will be no danger of a relapse. However several months down the road we're still not sure if it'll hold up to all the UV irradiation you'll experience when you venture outdoors into the sunlight. So it's not exactly the miracle we hoped it would be. But it'll postpone the inevitable"
 Cell Death Switch also activates as the DNA Repair Switch
image - DailyTech
Another related subject is that of cell kill switches. I remember reading about an early experiment several years back which told of scientists who removed bits of DNA from a Protozoa (I think), then sat back and watch it repair itself. In each new test, more and then more bits of DNA were removed and the cell repaired itself. Apparently there is always a shadow of itself somewhere in some unknown archive mechanism, much the way epigenetic gene expression has the original pattern archived, so too the original genome of any single cell. But the repair mechanism had limits. Eventually they observed the cell self-destruct by the kill switch which is also the repair mechansim switch when too much DNA was removed. This too is a safety outlet so as to not pass on any defective information material onto future generations which would be ultimately detrimental to those lifeforms down the road. Cell death is another fascinating component in keeping any and all living organisms healthy and alive. Our own body is made up of trillions of microscopic cells. Practically all of them must die and/or be replaced. Each type of cell has a different life span. Some are replaced every few weeks, and others every few years. Our body’s system of programmed cell death has to be highly controlled to maintain the delicate balance between cell death and cell formation. BTW, here is a video of error correction mechanisms at work. A bacterial flagellum is removed and the gene encoded with the blueprints for it's construction removed, but over the weekend this flagellum is back. They attempt again to insert the word evolution, but it's not evolution. No one is arguing there is no change, but the change was not the result of evolutionary forces. This was all programming and mechanisms. How such mechanisms came about again is anyone's love of debate about.
Bacteria evolved repaired it's DNA over the weekend

There are studies that have indicated that when cells fail to die as they should, rheumatoid arthritis or cancer may result. On the other hand, when cells die before they should, it could cause Parkinsons or Alzheimers. The article on this new CRISPR gene editing tool mentioned other things besides cancer, like cystic fibrosis, HIV, etc that could be cured. But if this CRISPR miracle really shuts down the repair mechanism switch, then what will it do to the kill switch component ? They never even mentioned that. Yet recently in September 2016, the online journal Gen News reported how this same mechanism is both repair and death switch.
"To repair or not to repair, that is the question the cell must answer after suffering a genomic injury known as the double-strand break. This sort of damage may be caused by radiation, and it may lead to cancer if it is not set right. If the damage is beyond repair, the cell may choose to activate a suicide program, an alternative means of preserving the body’s integrity—but exactly how the cell decides between repair and self-slaughter has been unclear."
(Read the rest of the article from the link at the bottom in references)
One thing that is clear is that cells are programmed, not just with a seemingly amazing infinite storage capacity, but they also seem to have inculcated within them the knowledge and wisdom with how this information is to be used. And yet, a single cell is not some sentient being in of itself. These are just living organic biological organisms that are simply responding to environmental cues. I mainly write about whole plant ecosystems here on this blog, but even they taken alone or collectively as a mutually cooperating ecosystem are not sentient beings. Still, there is a continual epigenetic response going on keeping the entire system in perfect balance. I'm facinated by how the plant's external digestive system colonized by benefical bacteria & fungi like the ones in the photo below, are opposite to our own internal digestive system which are colonized by various forms of gut bacterial. Yet both serve the same fully functional immune system benefit purpose for their respective hosts. Both systems help both plants and us processs food nutrients and trigger epigenetic immunsystem responses by switching on or off various gene expression within our cells. One does wonder though how any of this just spontaneously insta-poofed through "Stuff Happens Law" ?

 Courtesy of Larry Petersen, University of Guelph

Arbuscukar Mycorrhizaal in symbiosis with plant cells

These observations and more just question beg as to how things got this way from life's earliest start. It's apparent that such mechanisms were all present somehow at the very beginning. But such conclusions have also had unfortunate consequences as to just how today's intellectual elites want us to define this word, "Information." Definition shell games are the favoured tactic of the ideologically obsessed. One has to ask, just how much real science has been held back and how many beneficial discoveries or medical cures have been lost or postponed for decades ? Take a close look at this video comparing various forms of information as we understand it. Unfortunately there are a plethora of lame attempts these days to redefine our traditional understanding of the word/term, "Information" is. This was posted on Youtube May 2016:

So the modern take today is that information is not really information as we've been taught to understand it when we went to school ? Living consciousness and free will are also said to be simply illusions. Frankly, like the video stated, "If information is not real, then neither are we." The absurd asinine religious ideologies now being promoted if true, certainly explain the world that presently exists courtesy of human intellectual elites who are now in control. Maybe one day soon the scientists will help medical doctors to edit out of their human patient's those detrimental "selfish genes."
And the Newer CRISPR disease cure conclusion is ???
“This remains to be tested, but this is the hope and the expectation.”
Okay, so basically this was mainly a public relations marketing ploy for the biotech industry looking for investors by claiming another settled science. But in the mean time, what can people who may already have various diseases or cancers do ? What about people who are healthy, but who may be at high risk do now ? Here's an idea, change your lifestyle choices. In my work as a market researcher for the pharmaceutical industry here in Europe, my main interviews are the GP Docs & Specialist Field Docs & Scientific researchers from the United Kingdom and Ireland. Time and again these medical people tell me that it is impossible to get the majority of patients to change their irresponsible behavioural decision making. Most tell the doctor they shouldn't have to change and that the Doc should provide a science-based drug to fix the problem. Smokers want to smoke, they just don't want lung cancer and emphyzema. Party Animals want to get drunk to the point of passing out, but they just don't want Sclerosis of the Liver, car accidents, etc. Gluttonous people enjoy eating themselves into a coma, they just don't want obessity and/or diabetes. Many today pursue a degenerate sexual promiscuous lifestyle, but they just don't want the HIV/AIDS, Syphilis, Gonorrhea, Herpes, Chlamydia, etc that follows the one night stand choices they make. People demand that Scientists fix these issues. Climate change is yet another example, but no one wishes to give up an accustomed lifestyle, this includes many people in the environmental movement who are from Industrial Nations. Point out to folks the flaws in their behaviour these days and you are accused of being judgemental or some type of "Whateverphobe." There are many things that mankind does not need Science to fix for them, especially when it's already within the power of their hand to easily change for themselves.
References used:
Western University: Scientists use ‘molecular-Lego’ to take CRISPR gene-editing tool to the next level
Genetic Engineering News: Death Switch in the Cell Is Also a DNA Repair Switch

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Industrial Agriculture: A Runaway Domino Effect Freight Train of Unintended Ecological Consequences

Don't worry, Science will invent another chemical to kill those nasty Mites. Dare to criticize us and we'll expose you as an Anti-Science Luddite!

Image - IPM Innovation Labs

Ever see those cute little neat looking bright red mites out in the field somewhere when hiking ? They look so harmless and they normally are under the right ecological conditions when other beneficial critters working within any ecosystem to keep that "Goldielocks Principle" intact. But leave it to industrial science to provide a nasty twist in our natural world's ecological mutualism mechanisms. Remember the alarming news reports of the Emerald Ash Borer wreaking havoc on the North American Ash Trees ? In 2005 Asian Long Horn Beetles & these Emerald Ash Bores were found in the landscape of  New York city's Central Park and therefore as per the conventional training, the Park Landscape employees begain spraying insecticdes known as Neonicotinoids on 10s of 1000s of trees. The result of course was that the science-based synthetic chemicals killed lots of Asian Long Horn Beetles & Emerald Ash Borers. Hooray! But wait a minute, back up the Union Pacific chemical tank car train for a moment. It appears that there were unintended consequences. They apparently obliterated many non-target beneficial predatory insects (not exactly a surprise here), created an increase in Spider Mite populations and made the plants they wanted to save become tastier and more paletable to pest insects. So what happened ?
Neonicotinoid Insecticides Alter Induced Defenses and Increase Susceptibility to Spider Mites in Distantly Related Crop Plants  (
Chemical suppression of arthropod herbivores is the most common approach to plant protection. Insecticides, however, can cause unintended, adverse consequences for non-target organisms. Previous studies focused on the effects of pesticides on target and non-target pests, predatory arthropods, and concomitant ecological disruptions. Little research, however, has focused on the direct effects of insecticides on plants. Here we demonstrate that applications of neonicotinoid insecticides, one of the most important insecticide classes worldwide, suppress expression of important plant defense genes, alter levels of phytohormones involved in plant defense, and decrease plant resistance to unsusceptible herbivores, spider mites Tetranychus urticae (Acari: Tetranychidae), in multiple, distantly related crop plants.
Our findings are important because applications of neonicotinoid insecticides have been associated with outbreaks of spider mites in several unrelated plant species. More importantly, this is the first study to document insecticide-mediated disruption of plant defenses and link it to increased population growth of a non-target herbivore. This study adds to growing evidence that bioactive agrochemicals can have unanticipated ecological effects and suggests that the direct effects of insecticides on plant defenses should be considered when the ecological costs of insecticides are evaluated. 
This serious ecological disaster in the making has been studied and researched by Texas A&M University agricultural entomologist Adrianna Szczepaniec who was part of that study quoted above. She was curious as to why the neonicotinoid pesticides such as clothianidin and imidacloprid, which can kill a wide range of insects in general, would turn out to be boom in the spider mite populations. As the studied & link I posted above here showed, these elm trees treated with the neonicotinoids to kill target pest insects, are also host to populations of smaller beneficial critters that attack spider mites and keep them in balance. But the other important finding was that these Mites that fed on treated elm leaves had 40 percent more offspring than those that fed on regular Elm trees with untreated leaves. That would suggest that this insecticide was having an epigenetic effect on the trees immune system response which was shut down, which allows the trees leaves to be more palatable to the mites. Take this animated picture below.

Anyone remember many of the recent articles which have been published on the ability of plants to talk and communicate with each other ? Of course plants do not think, reason and articulate speech as we do, yet clearly there is some type of sophistcated communication which goes on which is beyond the comprehension of sceptical human scientists. But many are coming around. Frankly they are forced to acknowledge there is something more going on because the dangerous unhealthy state of our planet demands they dump old failed industrial dogmatic worldviews and accept a more ecological practical application approach to things. Epigenetics is one of the most beautiful discoveries about the natural biological world. The reality is that epigenetics is the same thing as the general term genetics. It's just that we are gaining further understanding and deeper insight into how genetics work and a name or label has been added to describe this incredible phenomena. It provides us with a visual of the actual mechanisms for change as opposed to the religious dogma of random mutation copying errors and blind dumb luck natural selection. Ignorance of just how the mechansisms of DNA and Cell biology work and function are killing we humans and the natural world around us. Remember David Suzuki's plant documentary "Smarty Plants" ?

Link Below from the BBC

Plants Talk to each other using a Fungus Internet

This Spider Mite problem is bigger and much scarier than people think. Adrianna Szczepaniec also found that these irresponsible pesticides used within today's Industrial Agriculture, also created the same indentical epigenetic problems with Cotton, Corn & Tomatoes which has led to increased Spider Mite population booms. The short sighted profit driven solution response from the Agro-Chemical companies was to invent more chemicals to spray on crops to kill Spider Mites. The researchers found that the neonic insecticide, "Imidacloprid," actually alters the activity of more than 600 genes involved in the production of cell walls and defense against pests. The immune system response of many of these genes was greatly reduced if not completely shut down. They evidently suspect that this  reduced activity leads to more palatable leaves and lower levels of hormones involved in pest resistance. This could explain why these spider mite populations thrive in the presence of these neonicotinoid pesticides. I've also previously written about how many species of mycorrhizal fungi trigger immune system responses to their hosts where they kickstart host plant immune systems into overdrive  which is good for the Mycorrhizal Fungi as well from a survival standpoint. But unfortunately, it gets even worse folks. So as not to bog down in too many examples, here is a list of further references on this subject:
Credible Research References:
Fecundity in twospotted spider mite (Acari: Tetranychidae) is increased by direct and systemic exposure to imidacloprid.
Michigan State University: Molecular and Biochemical Basis of Plant-Insect Interactions
Journal of Applied Ecology: Neonicotinoid insecticide travels through a soil food chain, disrupting biological control of non-target pests and decreasing soya bean yield
And Unfortunately, other mites like the Varroa destructor Mites which are responsible for killing Honey Bee Hives, also are increasing as a result of Neonics

Image . The Wildlife News

 Photo by S. Bauer, ARS/USDA
We've often heard about how these Neonicotinoid pesticides are detrimental to honey bee colonies. After all, Neonics are an insecticide and honey bees are insects. It's clear that target insects directly sprayed with the Neonics are killed by the lethal doses of this pesticide, but Honey Bees who come in later contact with sprayed flowers are effected by sub-lethal doses by the residual presence of these Neonics. It's effect on the honey bee is to make it sickly and lethargic with no energy to groom itself of Mites or for that matter feed itself. This causes the bee to rapidly die. But while these Spider Mites and Varroa Destructor Mites are also insects, they appear to be uneffected in a negative way by the Neonics. In fact, oddly enough they appear to have more successful in egg hatchings and young Mite survival rates. Of course a big part of that is that predatory beneficial insects who normally control the mite populations are now gone. But the other odd anomaly is that the mites find the plant juices much tastier as a result of the Neonic pesticide's ability to influence epigenetic switches in immune system genes by turning them off. Normally this properly functional immune system in plants would manufacture chemical compounds which make the plant unpaletable or bitter to pest insect, but that's been shut down here. Big Science's answer to the mite problem is to invent new Miticides to eliminate to correct the problem. But we don't need more chemicals which may also cause other unknown consequences. This is just becoming more and more insane. Rather than type any further, below here are some excellent links addressing the effects of Neonics on Honey Bee population decline:
Are there any real world viable solutions ? Well sorta - It's Called ThermoTherapy

credit: Heather Grab

Andrena nasonii bees
Unfortunately, this new technological innovation above only deals with the symptoms of the ecosystem disfunction. While commendable and certainly a necessary product which would avoid  using more chemicals like Miticides, it is not the complete answer for the permanent solution to removing the cause. Industrial Agriculture is taking a massive toll on biodiversity in multiple ways. Monoculture not only provides a poor unhealthy diet for humans, but also for the beneficial insects assoicated along the margins of agricultural fields which are mostly sterile in the biodiverse flower pollen sense. This creates nutritional deficiencies on both the pollinator and predator diet which is causing smaller versions of offspring in these insects as the photo here of healthy ground bee versus unhealthy specimen. (Read the findings from Cornell University)  Industrial Agriculture deliberately turns a blind eye to these ecological findings by creating their own opposing research papers from bought and paid for corporate scientists which attempt to refute and smokescreen the evidence against their destructive business model. The religious affirmation we often hear chanted from the hallowed halls of science that it is self-correcting are nothing more than a farce. Science is only good at self-correcting if the caliber of moral character and bioethics are present in the human beings employed by the system. How well has that been working out for us ? I've previously written about some of the good research work being done with Chaparral hedges incorporated within the agricultural infrastructure as a means of biological pest management at UC Berkeley. There are also a plethora of such good viable research work done worldwide, but sadly, this type of research does not really see the public light of day because they do not have the power, influence and funding behind it to make any difference.

“Nature is not competitive. It is ruthlessly collaborative” - Spencer Smith
California Coffeeberry: Biodiverse Insect Magnet for Pollinators & Predators (Think Hedgerows)
Update: November 24, 2016 Reuters:
Canada may ban farm pesticide imidacloprid because it harms midges, mayflies
Don't count on any forthcoming solutions any time soon
Los Angeles Times (November 22, 2016)
"Court's rejection of a lawsuit over pesticides in seed coatings is a setback to beekeepers"
Oddly enough, this court position totally ignores what the EPA itself stated about the ineffectiveness of seed treatments with Neonicotaqinoids:
"EPA concludes that these seed treatments provide little or no overall benefits to soybean production in most situations. Published data indicate that in most cases there is no difference in soybean yield when soybean seed was treated with neonicotinoids versus not receiving any insect control treatment."
EPA: Benefits of Neonicotinoid Seed Treatments to Soybean Production
Unintended Consequences on the Human body
National Pesticide Information Center - Imidacloprid - General Fact Sheet
Eco-Activism thus far has been a major disappointment in the self-correction goal
There seems to be very little hope in counting on many of these modern day militant EcoActivist groups to influence any type of bioethical self-correction within science. Many within their own leadership ranks are deathly affraid to criticize the Biotechs & other industrial entities because they cloak themselves with the cleric robe of the Scientific Orthodoxy's consensus. To do so would be considered by their leadership a sort of religious sacrilege or heresy. Instead of educating the public on how nature really works and providing the common man, woman and child with practical viable applications which work, the public is treated to their incessant ongoing public vitriol of an acerbic tongue, foul language, insults, lawsuits, and violent protests that destroy private property (not that of their enemy, but of their own people). How can such behaviour truthfully be a reflection of Nature if the ultimate goal is to education and instill deep appreciation within the hearts of their fellow man ? It's not. It's a repugnant turn off. In nature, beauty and mutual cooperation are the rule, not the exception. Their behaviour does not mirror anything about Nature.

Now we hear word from the Dakota Pipeline protest front that all is not well within the "We shall overcome" movement. The party animal house atmosphere has clouded the real reasons for being there according to this CBC News Reporter:
(please read: Reporter's notebook: Standing Rock is not the new Woodstock)                

Apparently the Non-Indigenous peoples (mostly white folk from the big cities) have turned the protester camps into a sort of new Woodstock or decadant Burning Man Festival on steroids with loud hip hop and rock music. This has offended the Indigenous Native Americans who were actually very serious about this Standing Rock pipeline cause. There appears to be now a cultural divide. The Native Americans want an atmosphere of comtemplative reflection and prayer ceremonies about the seriousness of their reasons for being there in the first place, while the non-indigenous white Eco-Activists have long since lost any admiration, appreciation or respect for anything of a spiritual nature in decades. Gus Speth's words are more illustrative than ever before as to how far down in the cesspit mankind's leadership has brought down our planet health with no real hope for any viable solution. At least many of the Native Americans still understand what is really missing. But will anyone listen ?