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Coral Reefs Need Big Fish Pee – August 19, 2016

New research shows overfishing of large, predatory fish can deplete reefs of key nutrients

Fish pee. OK, I suppose I kind of knew that, but somehow the thought fish they pee right where they swim never crossed my mind. Now I’m learning that the waters around thriving coral colonies are liberally laced with fish urine. I’m glad I didn’t give this subject much thought back when when I was diving quite a bit among coral reefs 

 Nassau Grouper Photo by Craig Layman The Nassau grouper, pictured center with stripes, is one of the larger fish that lives around coral reefs.

Ick-factor aside, it appears that fish urine plays an important role in coral… more

by: Maureen Nandini Mitra

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One Man’s Legal Quest to Change How We View Animals – July 22, 2016

In Review: Unlocking the Cage

Given that I’ve written in great detail about Steven Wise and the Nonhuman Rights Project’s efforts to get some animals recognized as “persons,” the basic premise and much of the convoluted legal gymnastics showcased in Unlocking the Cage were not new to me. Nevertheless, even for someone well informed on the subject matter and plotline, the documentary is a compelling watch.

Steven Wise and the NhRP teamPhoto courtesy of Pennebaker Heeds Films/HBOSteven Wise (second from left) and his team at the Nonhuman Rights Project wants to to punch a legal hole through the wall that separates animals from us.

The 91-minute film… more

by: Maureen Nandini Mitra

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High Levels of Toxins Found in Bodies of People Living Near Fracking Sites – June 24, 2016

Study first to show that harmful chemicals from natural gas operations are contaminating bodies of Pavillion, Wyoming residents

Many of the toxic chemicals escaping from fracking and natural gas processing sites and storage facilities may be present in much higher concentrations in the bodies of people living or working near such sites, new research has shown.

two women wearing gas masks in front of a natural gas operationPhoto by courtesy of Coming CleanThe study found traces of volatile organic compounds such as benzene and toluene are linked to chronic diseases like cancer and reproductive and developmental disorders.

In a first-of-its-kind study combining air-monitoring methods with new biomonitoring techniques, researchers detected volatile organic compounds (VOCs) released from natural gas operations in Pavillion, Wyoming… more

by: Maureen Nandini Mitra

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2015 Was Deadliest Year for Grassroots Environmental Defenders – June 21, 2016

185 killings, 40 percent of those murdered were from indigenous groups, says Global Witness report

I recently received an email alert that the life of Indigenous environmental and human rights defender Gloria Ushigua was at risk. The report outlined the “escalating intimidation of and harassment against” Ushigua, the coordinator of the Sápara women’s organization, Ashiñwaka, who has been defending her community’s land against against private and state-owned companies seeking to exploit oil deposits in Sápara territory in the Ecuadorian Amazon.

Gloria UshiguaPhoto courtesy of Associacion LupunaAn outspoken opposer of oil drilling in the Ecuadorian Amazon, Indigenous Sápara activist Gloria Ushigua's life is under extreme threat.

“On 31 May 2016, five men sat outside Gloria Ushigua's home throughout the night,… more

by: Maureen Nandini Mitra

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Air Pollution May Affect Children’s Mental Health – June 10, 2016

Study finds increased psychiatric disorders among kids living in areas with higher vehicle emissions

Add one more to the long list of harms caused by air pollution — mental health problems in children.

A new study by researchers from Umeå University in Sweden warns that prolonged exposure to polluted air, especially air containing particulates from vehicle emissions, may affect brain and cognitive development in children and adolescents.

young boys playing on the streetPhoto by Jaume Escofet Researchers found that the risk of psychiatric disorders increased in areas where the ambient air had even a slightly higher concentration of nitrogen dioxide.

The study, based on a survey of medical prescriptions given to… more

by: Maureen Nandini Mitra

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