People would leave more to charities in wills if ‘nudged’ to do so

first_img Tagged with: behavioural insight legacies Research / statistics People would leave more to charities in wills if ‘nudged’ to do so Remember a Charity’s director Rob Cope believes the increase is due to the fact that significant numbers of people are supportive of the idea of leaving a gift to charity but far fewer remember to do so when it comes to actually writing their wills.“We are a very charitable nation, and the idea of leaving a gift to charity appeals to many people,” he said. “Our latest consumer research shows that nearly half of people have thought about leaving money to charity in their wills, but only around 7% of people currently leave a gift.“The trial shows that if solicitors simply ask people to consider leaving a gift then this gap closes significantly. It is clearly a suggestion that people are warm to and many more include a gift to charity as a direct result.”Photo: dominoes nudged by Mazzzur on Shutterstock.com AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to EmailEmailShare to WhatsAppWhatsAppShare to MessengerMessengerShare to MoreAddThis About Howard Lake Howard Lake is a digital fundraising entrepreneur. Publisher of UK Fundraising, the world’s first web resource for professional fundraisers, since 1994. Trainer and consultant in digital fundraising. Founder of Fundraising Camp and co-founder of GoodJobs.org.uk. Researching massive growth in giving.center_img Howard Lake | 28 May 2013 | News  64 total views,  1 views today AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to EmailEmailShare to WhatsAppWhatsAppShare to MessengerMessengerShare to MoreAddThis Three times more Britons would leave a gift to charity in their wills if they were ‘nudged’ to do so by their solicitor, according to results of a trial.The legacy giving trial by the Cabinet Office Behavioural Insights Team showed that when solicitors or will writers simply mentioned to people that leaving a gift to charity was an option, the percentage of people who did so rose from just 5% to 10%. They rose again to 15% when people were also asked if there were any charities that they were passionate about. An additional £1m of gifts was left to charities in wills as a result of the trial.The trial looked at over 1,000 new wills over six months, was conducted by the Behavioural Insights Team in partnership with Remember a Charity and The Co-operative Legal Services. Advertisementlast_img read more

Morgan Stanley chooses Great Ormond Street Hospital for two-year partnership

first_img Morgan Stanley has chosen Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity as its charity partner for the next two years. The decision follows a week-long poll by staff who had to choose from four charities.Employees will now work to raise £750,000, which will be matched by the Morgan Stanley International Foundation, to raise a total of £1.5 million.The funds raised will enable the creation of Morgan Stanley House, a new parent accommodation unit close to Great Ormond Street Hospital for the parents of children in intensive care, and in other wards across the hospital.Colm Kelleher, President of Institutional Securities and CEO of Morgan Stanley International, said:“Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity has a special place in our hearts, having been a charity partner of the firm previously when we helped fund the Morgan Stanley Clinical Building, which opened in 2012, and we are very excited to continue our support of this great organisation.” Morgan Stanley chooses Great Ormond Street Hospital for two-year partnership Photo: Bastian Kienitz / Shutterstock.com Howard Lake | 10 February 2015 | News AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to EmailEmailShare to WhatsAppWhatsAppShare to MessengerMessengerShare to MoreAddThis  25 total views,  1 views today AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to EmailEmailShare to WhatsAppWhatsAppShare to MessengerMessengerShare to MoreAddThis [message_box title=”About The Morgan Stanley International Foundation” color=”blue”]The Morgan Stanley International Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Morgan Stanley in Europe, the Middle East and Africa and was founded in 1994.It makes grants to charitable and non-profit organisations where Morgan Stanley has a presence, focused on children’s health and education. In particular it supports young people and strives to ensure that more children have access to quality healthcare and educational programmes, enabling them to have a more meaningful life.[/message_box] Tagged with: charity of the year corporate matched giving About Howard Lake Howard Lake is a digital fundraising entrepreneur. Publisher of UK Fundraising, the world’s first web resource for professional fundraisers, since 1994. Trainer and consultant in digital fundraising. Founder of Fundraising Camp and co-founder of GoodJobs.org.uk. Researching massive growth in giving.last_img read more

Ed Trimmer Legislative report: March 2013

first_imgEd TrimmerThe following is the legislative report for Ed Trimmer, who is the state representative of the 79th District that encompasses the east end of Sumner County:by Ed Trimmer —  The Governor and his supporters in the legislature hope you are not paying attention:During the last campaign, the Governor and many conservative candidates were claiming that the Administration in Topeka had cut government spending more than any previous administration. It was recently noted that the figures they used had a $2 billion mistake and that spending had actually increased, although not for education or many programs for the elderly, veterans, and the poor.  Now that ultra-conservatives have control of both legislative chambers in Topeka, I believe they are following the Governor’s lead and using some very misleading and inconsistent rhetoric, hoping the public will not notice.They are also advancing legislation with clever titles hoping that the public will pay more attention to the name of the bill than the content. Gun Control In the area of gun control a bill was advanced in the Kansas House called the “Personal and Family Protection Act.”  The bill allows people to carry firearms on college campuses, in public schools (with permission of the school board), state-run mental institutions and nursing facilities, court houses, and sports arenas owned by postsecondary institutions.That is, unless expensive scanning equipment is placed at each entrance to each building, which public entities do not have the funds to provide.   I have heard from ultra conservatives and libertarians for years that the best government is the one closest to the people and that most issues should be decided at the local level.  I decided to go with that theory and I voted “No”.  This bill is a mandate from the state to local governments.I voted to allow conceal/carry in 2006, but I believe that where it is allowed, specifically in what buildings, should be a local issue.  I find it interesting that the very people who supported this bill are very much opposed to federal mandates for the states, but are very willing to have state mandates for local governments.Continuing on the topic of federal control, a bill was passed in the House that would require state law enforcement officers to arrest federal officers and charge them with a felony, if they tried to regulate firearms made, assembled, sold and possessed exclusively within the State.  The bill was titled “The Second Amendment Protection Act.”  I support the Second Amendment and agree that firearms made, assembled, sold and possessed exclusively within the state are not interstate commerce.I also believe that requiring state officials to charge federal officials with a felony would have a potentially disastrous unintended consequence.  Even Derek Schmidt, the Kansas Attorney General commented that this portion of the bill was not a good idea.  I supported an amendment, which would change the enforcement to a legal action undertaken by the Attorney General that would be settled through the court system without requiring the arrest of individual officers.That amendment failed on a 60 to 59 vote.  I voted “No” on the original bill, because as one legislator who is a former ABC agent pointed out, federal and state law enforcement officials frequently conduct joint law enforcement operations.  If domestic guns were confiscated, it would mean state officials would have to arrest the cooperating federal officials and charge them with a felony.This could very well be the end of federal cooperation with officials from Kansas in any kind of criminal investigation, including murder, drugs and terrorism.  I believe voting against this bill means I am willing to look beyond the title of the bill to the potential consequences.  I am not against the Second Amendment, but I try to be a thoughtful, pragmatic legislator. Jobs During last fall’s campaign, Kansans were told that the election was all about jobs, but to this point, we haven’t seen one piece of legislation related to jobs.  The administration has asserted that the tax plan will grow the economy, but rarely mentions that it will take 425,000 new jobs in the next 15 months to offset the loss of revenue.  The Department of Commerce did announce that about 15,000 new businesses filed applications for business status in 2012, but even between 2008 and 2011, there were always about 13,000 applications or more per year.These applications frequently do not result in an established business or employment beyond a sole proprietor.  The real question is, what is the net number of new jobs that have been created and do they pay as well as jobs previously lost?  That information doesn’t seem as readily available in Topeka. EducationIn education several bills have been advanced that proponents claim are all about children and providing a better education for them.  Ironically, most of these same individuals support a statewide tax policy that favors the wealthy and big business at the expense of early childhood programs, pre-school programs, and funding for public education.  Two of these initiatives were defeated in committee.The first would have allowed students who were a part of the special education program to go to private schools and be given a scholarship equal to public school funding.  The problem with the bill was that if the private school did not provide special education services, which most do not, the local public school would still have to provide the services, but the money for that student would remain with the private school.  I voted against this measure.The second initiative would have allowed city commissions, county commissions, postsecondary institutions and other entities to approve charter schools, which would not be under the governance of the local school board.  Currently we have charter schools in Kansas, but they are governed by the local board of education.  These new charter schools would not have had to follow State Board of Education guidelines, would not have had to hire certified teachers, and could have made their own assessments.  They would have been able to receive the same state funding as a public school.While proponents argued it was for the good of the children, no evidence was given that these charter schools provide for a better education.  In fact, one proponent, the Kansas Policy Institute, used a Stanford Study to support their claim that charter schools are better than public schools when the study actually concluded that charter schools created in the same way the bill did, performed at much lower levels than their neighboring public schools.The bill would also have allowed many already established private schools to become charter schools, which could cost the state an additional $300 million or reduce funding for public schools by that amount.  I voted against this bill because the net result would have been less money for public education and less accountability to taxpayers.A bill did pass that was titled “The Coalition of Innovative School Districts”.  The bill will allow ten school districts to apply to be a part of a coalition and will exempt them from any state regulation except for finance rules.  They will not have to follow State Board of Education guidelines, hire certified staff, use state assessments, provide due process for teachers, or allow for collective bargaining.  I voted against this bill, not because I am against innovation, but because we were never given any evidence that this coalition would in any way make these schools better.While members of the House Education Committee, of which I am the Ranking Minority Member, had to listen to much speculation that all of these new initiatives would greatly improve education and that they would be much better for children, no evidence was ever presented to document those claims.  It is my belief that all of the unsupported rhetoric is intended to take the public’s mind off of the reality that ultra-conservative members of the Legislature plan to cut funding for public education and would like to divert some of the existing public school funds to private schools. BudgetBecause of the Administration’s “race to zero” tax plan, which will create more than a $781 million deficit by 2018, it looks like the House and Senate budgets will be making significant cuts to transportation programs, programs for seniors, programs for veterans, programs for children, education programs and more.  These budget cuts are also evidence that the Governor’s tax cuts, which he promised would grow the economy, have not done what he promised they would do.I guess as long as we title the budget bill “The Happy, Sunny Kansas Act,” everything will be OK, that is…, unless Kansans are really paying attention.center_img Corporate Farms The Administration is promoting the idea that Kansas should allow investor owned corporate farms because they would be good for the economy.  On other occasions the Governor has stated that family farms are the backbone of rural communities.  I plan to go with the Administration’s second position and protect family farms. Kansas Turnpike AuthorityRecently the House passed a bill that would put the Kansas Turnpike Authority, which is a private corporation, under the control of the Kansas Department of Transportation.  We constantly hear from ultra-conservatives that privatizing government services is far better than having the government administer them.Yet, they could not seem to wait to do the opposite with this bill.  While proponents claimed this was an efficiency move, there was no evidence to prove that.  Proponents also said that the issue was not about diverting KTA money to the general fund to cover a projected deficit, but later indicated that they believe $85 million could be transferred from the KTA to the general fund.  I voted “No”, because I believe the Turnpike Authority is working well now and we should not raid its budget. Close Forgot password? Please put in your email: Send me my password! Close message Login This blog post All blog posts Subscribe to this blog post’s comments through… RSS Feed Subscribe via email Subscribe Subscribe to this blog’s comments through… RSS Feed Subscribe via email Subscribe Follow the discussion Comment (1) Logging you in… Close Login to IntenseDebate Or create an account Username or Email: Password: Forgot login? Cancel Login Close WordPress.com Username or Email: Password: Lost your password? Cancel Login Dashboard | Edit profile | Logout Logged in as Admin Options Disable comments for this page Save Settings Sort by: Date Rating Last Activity Loading comments… You are about to flag this comment as being inappropriate. Please explain why you are flagging this comment in the text box below and submit your report. The blog admin will be notified. Thank you for your input. 0 Vote up Vote down Taxpayer · 386 weeks ago Looks like the Demorat party has become the “Party of No”. Report Reply 0 replies · active 386 weeks ago Post a new comment Enter text right here! Comment as a Guest, or login: Login to IntenseDebate Login to WordPress.com Login to Twitter Go back Tweet this comment Connected as (Logout) Email (optional) Not displayed publicly. Name Email Website (optional) Displayed next to your comments. Not displayed publicly. If you have a website, link to it here. Posting anonymously. Tweet this comment Submit Comment Subscribe to None Replies All new comments Comments by IntenseDebate Enter text right here! Reply as a Guest, or login: Login to IntenseDebate Login to WordPress.com Login to Twitter Go back Tweet this comment Connected as (Logout) Email (optional) Not displayed publicly. Name Email Website (optional) Displayed next to your comments. Not displayed publicly. If you have a website, link to it here. Posting anonymously. Tweet this comment Cancel Submit Comment Subscribe to None Replies All new commentslast_img read more

Agroforestry boosts rice and biodiversity in India

first_imgAgroforestry is an ancient agricultural method covering 1 billion hectares globally; it combines trees and woody shrubs with crops to increase food security, mitigate the effects of climate change, and boost biodiversity.India has set a goal to increase its tree cover from the present 24 percent to 33 percent of its total area, primarily by promoting agroforestry in croplands.In West Bengal, the adoption of useful trees into paddy fields has boosted crop yields and crop diversity, and has also sparked a movement that champions organic cultivation methods.Agroforestry has been hailed as one of the top solutions to climate change because it sequesters much carbon dioxide above and below the soil surface. WEST BENGAL, India — For the tough, weather-beaten farmers in the rural heartland of West Bengal, agroforestry is an age-old tradition that even finds mention in their folklore.In the remote village of Bhattadighi, a group of women farmers observes a unique ritual, known as Paakh Pakhali or “welcoming birds,” in which they fill an earthen urn with water and top it with mango leaves and green coconut. Placed under a freshly planted neem tree sapling, it symbolizes the goddess of farming, Bhumi Lakshmi, whose mythical mount is a barn owl. The holy site is adorned with facsimiles of owls, painted storks, herons, egrets and other birds, all painted on white terracotta plates.Villagers adorn a sacred site with terra cotta birds beneath a freshly planted neem tree, beckoning them to the fields. Photo by Sudipto Mukherjee.“Our paddy plants are set to bloom within the next few days. We pray to the Goddess not just for a bountiful harvest, but also to send many owls and birds [to] our fields, to eat away the insects and rats,” says Malati Burman.The neem tree (Azadirachta indica) is also revered by the farmers during the festival for its strong pest-repellant properties. “The bitter leaves of the plant are added to our locally prepared insecticide and its branches are perfect for birds,” Burman says.For the farmers of this village within the Raiganj block of North Dinajpur district, paddy cultivation is not about modern industrialized monoculture farming, but developing multi-crop diversity. Here, miles of tender rice plant seedlings stretch out amid a maze of sprawling trees, shrubs and vines that conjure the appearance of a forest: Dhaan Bagan, or paddy garden, as locals call it.But the trees aren’t there just as scenic dressing. “With forest covers dwindling and giving way to agricultural lands, such landscapes can largely compensate for environmental loss and mitigate climate change impacts,” says Om Prakash Chaturvedi, director of the Central Agroforestry Research Institute. Trees also help retain moisture in the soil and put a check on erosion from storms and gales, he says.Paddy ponds surrounded by trees in Ramchandrapur village of South Dinajpur. Photo by Moushumi Basu for Mongabay.India has set a high target for increasing its tree cover from the present 24 percent to 33 percent of its total area, primarily by promoting agroforestry in croplands, says Chaturvedi. Some 174,500 square kilometers (67,375 square miles) of land in India is cultivated through agroforestry, according to the latest remote sensing data from the Central Agroforestry Research Institute. In West Bengal alone, agroforestry is practiced across 1,800 square kilometers (695 square miles) of the state, according to Pratap Kumar Dhara of the Bidhan Chandra Agricultural University.The benefits of agroforestry are widely acknowledged, including by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). In its manual “Agroforestry in rice-production landscapes in Southeast Asia” (pdf) it states: “Integrating trees into rice-production landscapes [helps] reduce temperatures and improve infiltration of water into the soil, store more carbon and diversify farm production, which lowers both climate and market risks. This adds up to greater adaptability and resilience not only for individual farmers and communities but also their environments.”Boon for biodiversityBiodiversity also flourishes in these diverse croplands. In West Bengal in October, golden yellow butterflies could be seen, while a fork-tailed black drongo bird (Dicrurus macrocercus) made its presence felt with raucous calls from atop miniature scaffolds supporting gourd vines. Nearby, egrets strutted around the watery fields, occasionally popping their heads in and out of the paddy seedlings, the young rice plants that haven’t sprouted grain yet, as a group of black-and-white myna birds hopped merrily on Sesbania pea plants.Edging the fields were trees like papaya, mango and banana, which provide nesting sites for migratory avian guests from the nearby Kulik Bird Sanctuary — Asian openbill storks (Anastomus oscitans), cormorants, herons and egrets, which also forage in the ponds.Black drongo perched on dried Sesbania pea plant above paddy. Photo courtesy of Chinmoy Das.“Birds, insects and butterflies seem to love our fields as there is no trace of chemical fertilizers or pesticides in them. Our paddy is of indigenous, folk variety,” says Chinmoy Das, a farmer from Hatia village in North Dinajpur. The trees and shrubs planted in and around the fields form an essential ecosystem developed with the right mix of multi-utility plants that also provide excellent perches for predatory birds, Das says.“Our paddy ecosystem harbors varied birds such as kingfishers, storks, little green bee-eaters [Merops orientalis] and insects [such] as spiders, dragonfly and damselfly, which control grain-eating pests and aphids,” says Shourin Chatterjee, from Abhirampur village in Bardhaman district.Ancient rice varietiesLike Das, more than 1,000 farmers from across 11 districts of West Bengal have taken to organic cultivation of folk rice varieties (FRVs), spread over more than 1,180 square kilometers (456 square miles) of land, says Anupam Paul, director of the Agricultural Training Centre (ATC) at the West Bengal Agriculture Department. Unlike modern, high-yielding varieties of rice, FRVs can to a great extent withstand weather aberrations due to climate change, while also cutting down on costs. Paul has helped revive more than 420 indigenous varieties of rice from the brink of extinction, with nearly 300 varieties of FRVs now grown by farmers across the state. These include 40 strains of aromatic and red rice each, 25 kinds of fine paddy, 10 high-yielding indigenous types, and 12 deep-water paddy varieties, among others.“The success story of folk rice cultivation is, however, incomplete without our agroforestry practices,” says Das, noting the importance of having a tiered system of planting with trees that block winds while letting sunshine through to the paddy seedlings.Banana forms a windbreak for vegetables and paddy. Photo courtesy of Chinmoy Das.On his 5.7 hectares (14 acres) of land in Hatia village, Das displayed his four-tiered “paddy forests.” The first level includes pulses (peas, beans or lentils), carrots, potatoes, various kinds of spinach, tomatoes, onions and garlic, all of which grow to a maximum height of 60 centimeters (2 feet). The second tier includes bay leaf, turmeric, ginger, eggplant, mustard and vining vegetables that reach a maximum height of 1.5 meters (5 feet). The next step has taller plants growing above 1.8 meters (6 feet), such as Sesbania peas, maize, bamboo, bananas, papayas and sugarcane.Towering timber trees like mahogany and teak grow beside older mango, jackfruit, neem, drumstick (Moringa oleifera) and full-grown bamboo, making up the fourth tier. Das says such plantings are ideally grown on the western and northern side of croplands because hot and dry afternoon winds from the west reduce soil moisture and increase the rate of evapotranspiration from the plants. “Our plantings, while obstructing such winds, enable the paddy to enjoy ample sunshine for its growth,” he says.Other plants are interspersed among the paddy seedlings, says Gaurav Mandal, a farmer from Bamongola village in Malda district. Shrubs and vegetable-bearing vines on his 1.5 hectares (3.6 acres) are perched on mini scaffolds between rows of paddy. These scaffolds, initially erected with dry bamboo, are gradually replaced with grafts of such multi-utility trees as agati (Sesbania grandiflora) and betel nut (Areca catechu). This way, vegetable vines are then supported on the growing trees’ trunks.Fertilizers au naturelTo achieve a sustainable rice yield, local farmers make their own organic fertilizers. Madanmohan Aich, from Dewanhat village in Cooch Behar district, recounts the recipe for his liquid organic manure: soil, preferably from his agroforest; leaves from at least five pest-repellant plants he grows, such as custard apple (Annona reticulata) and neem; plus cow manure and more. Leguminous plants as Sesbania peas, pulses and azolla are thrown in to maintain the natural health of the soil.Madanmohan Aich displays maize amid climbing vegetables in his agroforestry plot. Photo courtesy of Rajat Chatterjee.Sesbania seedlings are planted at a regular distance of 60 to 90 centimeters (2 to 3 feet) from each other across the field, and 30 to 45 centimeters (1 to 1.5 feet) away from paddy seedlings. They can withstand waterlogged soil, growing rapidly, and their leaves form an excellent green compost that enriches the soil. They also serve as a “catch crop” whose bright yellow flowers attract insect pests away from the paddy plants.Quick stick (Gliricidia sepium) is another effective nitrogen-fixing tree grown here. Pest-repellant trees such as Chinese chastetree (Vitex negundo) and neem are also a part of Aich’s paddy forest. Banana trees, meanwhile, help enrich the soil with their succulent stem parts and fruit peels.A treasure trove of usesThese multi-layered agroforests are storehouses of many varieties of fruit and vegetable that can be sold. Chinmoy Das says he grows at least 36 types of brinjal eggplant along the edge of his paddy field, as well as eight types of okra and more than six varieties of pulses and even cherries. All of these provide food security and nutrition for his family, with the surplus sold at the market to supplement their income.Many of the trees grown in these agroforests provide firewood, livestock fodder and timber. Lumber from the rain tree (Albizia saman), for example, is used as a substitute for more expensive woods for building and household purposes.Betel nut forms mustard field boundary. Photo by Moushumi Basu for Mongabay.The bounty grown here also has medicinal benefits. The leaves of Sesbania, rubbed on a fresh wound, help clot blood, says Shantirani Burman, a farmer from Hatia village. Water clover (Marsilea quadrifolia), which abounds in the fields, is not only tasty and rich in beta-carotene, calcium, iron and phosphorus, but is also used to treat bone disorders, eye ailments, anemia and more, Burman says. Kadam (Neolamarckia cadamba) leaves provide snakebite anti-venom and are also useful for treating worms. Both of these latter ailments are common in the villages.In Pratappur village, Bardhaman district, the farmers also practice aquaculture in their paddy ponds, where they grow FRVs that require at least 1.8 meters (6 feet) of standing water. Enterprising farmers like Abhro Chakroborty make the most of the ponds to cultivate catfish. His 200 square meters of land, about 2,200 square feet, yields 60 kilograms (132 pounds) of paddy and almost as much catfish, he says.Edible crabs, mollusks and carp have also been introduced into these ponds, amid the floating edible water spinach (Ipomoea aquatica) and the useful and sturdy mat grass (Cyperus tegetum Roxb.).Another interesting diversification is led by tribal women from Gangarampur block in South Dinajpur district, who are now cultivating mushrooms on paddy and wheat straw.Many varieties of brinjal (eggplant) are grown. Photo courtesy of Apoorva Sarkar.The future is organicMotivated by such agroforestry success stories, nearly 100 women and men from at least 20 villages have established the Forum for Indigenous Agricultural Movement (FIAM). Aimed at spreading organic farming and promoting the conservation of indigenous paddy, fruits and vegetables, its membership is fast increasing with young people, too.“The Green Revolution of the 1960s that led to cultivation of modern high-yielding varieties of paddy [compelled] our farmers to go for mono-cropping,” says Partha Das, 22, an English honors graduate from Palaibari village in North Dinajpur.This required the extensive use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers, Das says, adding he was shocked by incidents of farmer suicide across the country as a result of debt from the rising cost of fertilizers, insecticides and seeds. At FIAM, he is joined by the likes of Anima Mandal, who, at 83, has also witnessed these changes and more, and now envisions an organic future.“Our forefathers practiced organic, low-cost, intensive and healthy farming,” agreed Bablu Barman from Bhattadighi village, another passionate organic farmer. “We believe this is sustainable and here to stay.” Healthy eating is the order of the day, he adds, and there is a growing demand for organically grown farm produce in the big cities.Given all of the environmental and social trends and challenges, agroforestry looks set to help deliver on that growing demand in this part of India.FIAM leader Anima Mandal (second from left) posing with members. Photo courtesy of Chinmoy Das.This article is from Mongabay’s series on global agroforestry, view all the features here.Banner image: Tipu Mandal (left) and Chinmoy Das (right) display diverse paddy varieties. Photo courtesy of Pintu Ghosh. Article published by Erik Hoffner Adaptation To Climate Change, Agriculture, Agroforestry, Archive, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Conservation Solutions, Featured, Natural Resources, Organic Farming, Soil Carbon center_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredlast_img read more

For Australia’s fire-starting falcons, pyromania serves up the prey

first_imgArticle published by Shreya Dasgupta Australia’s indigenous peoples have long spoken of birds of prey intentionally starting bushfires to flush out prey.In a new study, researchers have now compiled observations and anecdotes from scientific reports, firefighters and Aboriginal peoples to get a better understanding of how such bird-caused fires spread in Australia’s Northern Territory.Overall, most instances of fire-spreading by birds seem to be intentional, the authors say, but it is hard to say how common such fires are. Some birds in Australia use smoldering sticks to spread wildfires and flush out smaller birds, insects, frogs and other prey, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Ethnobiology.This fire-spreading behavior isn’t a new discovery, the authors of the study say. Australia’s indigenous peoples have long spoken of “firehawks” — a generic term for the black kite (Milvus migrans), whistling kite (Haliastur sphenurus) and brown falcon (Falco berigora) — intentionally spreading fires in the country’s tropical savannas. But much of the examples remain fragmented.So the researchers compiled observations and anecdotes from scientific reports, firefighters and Aboriginal peoples to get a better understanding of how such bird-caused fires spread in Australia’s Northern Territory. Some compelling examples came from the co-authors of the study.Co-author and former firefighter Dick Eussen, for instance, was fighting a blaze at the Ranger uranium mine near Kakadu, Northern Territory, in the 1980s when he was alerted to a new blaze on the unburned side of the road.“He drove over and put it out, noting a whistling kite flying about 20 meters [66 feet] in front of him with a smoking stick in its talons,” the authors write in the study. “It dropped the stick and smoke began to curl from the dry grass, starting a spot fire that had to be immediately extinguished. In all, he put out seven fires, all caused by the kites.”Whistling kites are common birds of prey in Australia. Photo by Athena Ferreira via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0). Animals, Biodiversity, Birds, Birds Of Prey, Conservation, Environment, Fires, Forest Fires, Green, Raptors, Research, Savannas, wildfires, Wildlife Hawks hunting in and around a controlled brushfire, Mount Etna Caves National Park, Central Queensland. The birds are a mixture of black kites and whistling kites. Photo by Mark Marathon via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0).Citation:Bonta, M. et al. (2018). Intentional Fire-Spreading by “Firehawk” Raptors in Northern Australia. Journal of Ethnobiology. 37(4):700-718.center_img Nathan Ferguson, also a co-author and officer-in-charge of a fire station in the Barkly Tablelands, initially discounted reports of fire-spreading by birds. But after years of experience he “has learned to incorporate the possibility of avian fire-spreading as a variable in bushfire management,” the authors write. In 2016, for example, Ferguson observed a few kites “successfully seizing burning sticks in their beaks, sometimes switching them to their talons, transporting them over 50 meters [164 feet], dropping them, and, thus, igniting unburned grass.”The study also quotes experiences and observations of several indigenous peoples. In one such account, in Douglas Lockwood’s 1963 autobiography I, the Aboriginal, the indigenous Australian Waipuldanya says: “Not only the hawks used the ruse of deliberate grass fires as an aid to hunting. We often did so ourselves, especially towards the end of the long dry season when food was scarce and ten-feet [3-meter] tall speargrass, which burnt readily, was a natural haven for game. It is possible that our forefathers learnt this trick from the birds.”Overall, most instances of fire-spreading by birds seem to be deliberate, the authors write, and some other experts agree. By spreading fires to unburned areas, the birds force more prey to flee and become easy targets for their next meal.“There’s a purpose,” Robert Gosford, a co-author of the study, told the Washington Post. “There’s an intent to say, okay, there are several hundred of us there, we can all get a meal.”Although it is hard to say how common such bird-caused fires are, scientific acceptance of such fire-spreading would help in better planning of fire management and conservation efforts, the authors write.“Though Aboriginal rangers and others who deal with bushfires take into account the risks posed by raptors that cause controlled burns to jump across firebreaks, official skepticism about the reality of avian fire-spreading hampers effective planning for landscape management and restoration,” they add. Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredlast_img read more

More than 40 percent of Madagascar’s freshwater life sliding toward extinction, IUCN finds

first_imgIn an assessment of 653 freshwater plant and animal species living on Madagascar and nearby islands, biologists found that 43 percent are threatened with extinction or there isn’t enough information to assess how well they’re doing.Nearly 80 percent of endemic plants examined in the study face extinction.The team lists unsustainable farming practices, deforestation, dam construction, mining and the overuse of natural resources, such as overfishing, as causes for the widespread declines. Madagascar is known as an ark for biodiversity that’s found nowhere else on the planet. Unfortunately, it’s also known for the bevy of threats that those distinctive species that live in its rainforests, woodlands and wetlands face. Now, the International Union for Conservation of Nature reports that many of the plants and animals living in the island’s freshwater habitats, as well as those of other southern Indian Ocean islands, are also being pushed closer to extinction.A team of biologists compared known data on 653 freshwater species, ranging from fish and crabs to dragonflies and aquatic plants, and they found that 43 percent were either threatened with extinction or else scientists didn’t have enough information to assess how well they were doing. That’s more than double the proportion of threatened freshwater species on the African continent, according to a 2011 IUCN biodiversity survey.A rice paddy in Madagascar. The authors of the report pointed to unsustainable agricultural practices as a primary driver of species declines. Photo by Mike Averill, courtesy of IUCN.More than 150 dragonfly species that the scientists looked at are endemic to Madagascar, meaning they’re found nowhere else in the world. Other endemics include a genus of freshwater snails that bear live young. Two of the species, Madagasikara madagascariensis and Madagasikara johnsoni, are classified as endangered.The authors identified unsustainable farming — which they write includes the traditional slash-and-burn technique used by subsistence farmers around the world — as the most serious threat, particularly when it involves the drainage of wetlands to increase the amount of arable land. Deforestation, dam construction and mining also play a part in fouling bodies of freshwater, which in turn puts pressure on the plants and animals that live in them.The authors said the overuse of natural resources, as in the case of overfishing, was a significant catalyst in driving down the numbers of some species. That finding is particularly concerning for the Malagasy people of Madagascar, said Laura Máiz-Tomé, an IUCN program officer and one of the report’s editors.A blue-faced featherleg damselfly (Proplatycnemis pseudalatipes), which scientists have found only in Madagascar. Photo © Allan Brandon, courtesy of IUCN.“Given the poverty levels in the country, the Malagasy people depend heavily on freshwater species for their livelihoods, through fisheries or the use of plants to make baskets for example,” Máiz-Tomé said in a statement. “To halt this dramatic decline, capacity building for conservation of these environmentally and economically valuable species should be made a priority.”The 23 percent of plant and animal species that fall into the “data deficient” category highlights an important void in our understanding of Madagascar’s biodiversity, said William Darwall, who leads IUCN’s freshwater biodiversity unit and who edited the report.“We urgently need more research to effectively conserve species in this hotspot for global biodiversity,”Darwall said in the statement.Freshwater crayfish (Astacoides granulimanus), endemic to Madagascar, for sale at a market. Photo © Christian Ranaivoson, courtesy of IUCN.The research revealed that aquatic plants found only in Madagascar are particularly threatened, said Sylvie Andriambololonera, a coordinator with one of the partners in the study, the Missouri Botanical Garden. Nearly 80 percent of endemic plants examined in the study are creeping toward extinction. But as with the animal species, the findings exposed how little we know about Madagascar’s freshwater plant life.“Many [plant] species had not been recorded in the 50 years preceding this study, highlighting a need for more continuous field assessments,” Andriambololonera said in the statement. “Up to date assessments reduce gaps in our knowledge and ensure we can prioritise species for conservation.”Banner image of a dragonfly in Madagascar by Rhett A. Butler/Mongabay.Follow John Cannon on Twitter: @johnccannonCITATIONMáiz-Tomé, L., Sayer, C. and Darwall, W. (eds) (2018). The status and distribution of freshwater biodiversity in Madagascar and the Indian Ocean islands hotspot. Gland, Switzerland: IUCN. viii+128pp.FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page. Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsored Article published by John Cannoncenter_img Amphibians, Animals, Biodiversity, Biodiversity Crisis, Birds, Conservation, Critically Endangered Species, Endangered Species, Environment, Extinction, Forestry, Forests, Freshwater Animals, Freshwater Ecosystems, Freshwater Fish, freshwater turtles, Insects, Iucn, Mangroves, Mass Extinction, Mining, Molluscs, Plants, Rainforest Animals, Rainforest Biodiversity, Rainforest Conservation, Rainforest Deforestation, Rainforest Destruction, Rainforest Ecological Services, Rainforest Mining, Rainforest People, Rainforests, Research, Saving Species From Extinction, Sixth Mass Extinction, Slash-and-burn, Sustainable Development, Threats To Rainforests, Trees, Tropical Forests, Wetlands, Wildlife, Wildlife Conservation last_img read more

Garda raid uncovers almost €80,000 worth of cannabis in house in West Donegal

first_imgA substantial amount of cannabis has been uncovered during a raid at a house in West Donegal earlier today.More than €76,000 worth of the drug was found when Gardai raided a house in Derrybeg.It is not believed that the drugs were part of a grow house which has been the case during many recent finds in Donegal. However, it is believed the drugs were packaged and were ready for sale or distribution across the county.The raid followed intelligence which led Gardai to the house in which the drugs were found.As well as members of the Garda National Drugs Unit, members of the Organised Crime Bureau and Customs officers took part in the operation.Gardai have not disclosed if anybody was arrested as part of the operation. Garda raid uncovers almost €80,000 worth of cannabis in house in West Donegal was last modified: March 22nd, 2019 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:cannabisdrugsWest Donegallast_img read more

Photos: The Loma Prieta earthquake’s devastation

first_imgClick here if you are unable to view this gallery on a mobile device.On Oct. 17, 1989, at 5:04 p.m., as people were heading home and Game 3 of the World Series between the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland A’s was about to start at Candlestick Park, the Loma Prieta earthquake, with a magnitude of 6.9, hit the San Francisco Bay Area. 63 people died, mainly in the collapsed double decked Nimitz Freeway cypress structure.Almost 4000 suffered injuries in the quake.last_img

Talk the Walk

first_imgUpright walking—that distinctive human form of locomotion—is more complex than putting one foot in front of the other. Let’s talk the walk.Why do we walk the way we walk? “Walk this way” is more than a classic comedian gag (YouTube). John E. A. Bertram seeks to explain how special human locomotion is in a Dispatch in Current Biology. Here’s the summary of his report:The way we walk determines the energetic investment needed. Humans spontaneously alter their walking style to exploit energetic opportunities. New research demonstrates the sensitivity and timing of this optimization and opens the door to discovering the underlying mechanisms.Over a decade ago, we reported on Daniel Lieberman’s remarkable analysis of human endurance running, a unique human trait requiring multiple specializations to the body (11/18/04). But walking upright is no less complex. Scientists are only beginning to understand the processes involved:Locomotion is initiated by the motor control centers of the brain, and is subsequently influenced by various ascending and descending features of the neuromuscular and mechanical systems of the body. However, our bodies move in a manner that cannot neglect the influence of the physical environment. This is a complex issue, doubtless with a variety of key inputs. How does the brain choose the best strategy to drive the motion and placement of the limbs? Even for constant speed locomotion, such as walking or running on a treadmill, this question currently remains open. Although an interesting and fundamental basic question, finding the answer to this will have many practical implications. Understanding how the brain integrates its control program with changes in the function or circumstances in which the body operates will influence our ability to predict the outcomes of various interventions, whether surgical, rehabilitative or prosthetic. The ever-growing field of enhanced function and performance provided by artificial bio-integrated ‘exoskeleton’ devices will depend on understanding how the body will react to such influence.Indeed, trying to design robots and exoskeletons has underscored the complexity of human walking. Bertram describes challenges to designing artificial knee joints and other parts that can stay upright and move without falling over, let alone optimize their actions for best energy utilization. It’s a challenge to explain, in evolutionary terms, a human’s fast, responsive method of optimizing walking for best metabolic efficiency.We observe that healthy humans generally walk in a similar manner [as experimental subjects]. Is this because of species-level evolutionary adaptation, because our coordination systems develop and learn in the same way or because we are all solving basically the same energetic problem? Certainly all these factors (and more) have their influence. The Selinger et al. study conclusively demonstrates that humans do solve at least part of the problem by coordinating their movements to optimize immediate metabolic energy expenditure. At this point, the mechanisms through which this is accomplished are not clear, but it is impossible to identify mechanisms unless their effects are recognized. This study adds a new dimension (and a novel technique) to our understanding of how humans move the way they do in walking.The paper referred to by Selinger et al. in Current Biology is titled, “Humans Can Continuously Optimize Energetic Cost during Walking.” It reports on experiments where subjects were outfitted with robotic exoskeletons that altered their normal walking styles. The researchers found that “people readily adapted gait patterns to minimize energy use” and were able, within minutes, to converge on new energetic optima, even for small cost savings. After the next change, they could re-converge on the optimum within seconds. “Our collective findings indicate that energetic cost is not just an outcome of movement, but also plays a central role in continuously shaping it.” The body of their paper says almost nothing about evolution, other than noting that “Much theorizing has focused on optima being established over evolutionary timescales, through changes to body shape, muscle action, and the hardwiring of neural circuitry.” They were apparently more interested in the empirical, measurable results from experiments on real people.Restoring the ArtEvolutionary theorizing about the unobservable past seems far less valuable than helping people in the here and now. Live Science reports on exciting developments that are allowing a 26-year-old man, paralyzed for five years, to walk again under his mind’s control. Doctors channeled his brain waves to a computer that interpreted the signals, and sent them to devices on his leg muscles. The man trained his mind to control an avatar in the computer, learning how to control it in the same way required for moving his legs. After practice moving his legs while suspended above ground, he has just been able to walk 12 feet under his own power, with a walker and harness for safety.“Even after years of paralysis, the brain can still generate robust brain waves that can be harnessed to enable basic walking,” study co-author Dr. An Do, an assistant professor of neurology at the University of California, Irvine, said in a statement. “We showed that you can restore intuitive, brain-controlled walking after a complete spinal cord injury.“This is a quantum leap over previous methods like electrically controlled exoskeletons that allowed a veteran to walk again (Science Daily), and even a paraplegic to make the first kick of the 2014 World Cup (Live Science).Growing into the Optimal WalkKids can seem like clumsy walkers and runners, Medical Xpress notes. That’s because they are not just miniature adults. Their body proportions are different. Jim Usherwood of the Royal Veterinary College (UK) decided to look into the reasons for the childhood waddle, with fresh experience from his two young daughters. He put reflective dots on their limbs and recorded the energetic costs as they walked and ran.Building a model that represented the moving people as a single piston that was the length of the individual’s leg, Usherwood calculated the amount of muscle required to produce the power necessary to propel the individuals along at the speeds that he and Hubel had measured. The new model successfully reproduced the youngsters’ and adults’ movements.So kids move the way that they do simply because they are smaller than adults and their short limbs do not have enough time to produce the high powers needed to lift them into the air when running, not because they are training to be as good as adults.Who doesn’t treasure videos of their baby’s first steps? Humans are born to walk. Toddlers may start out a little awkward, but with a little growth and practice, they can take after Mom and Dad at full speed when told, “Walk this way.”Read this piece in Evolution News & Views about Optimization as an intelligent design science. When you see your own body performing high-quality optimization rapidly, you have to conclude that good design went into the hardware and software. The more detail we learn, the more difficult it is to believe that a supposed evolutionary transition from ape knuckle-dragging to upright walking and endurance running reduced to random mutations (Stuff Happens Law).We are glad to see progress in robotic exoskeletons that are starting to let paralyzed persons enjoy the freedom of walking again, and hope this wonderful technology will become rapidly available to those who have been confined to wheelchairs for years.  We who can walk, in the meantime, should value this ability while we have it.Because walking is usually associated with purposeful activity, it is a frequent metaphor in the Bible for lifestyle choices. “Be careful how you walk,” Paul says in Ephesians 5, “making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” He also says in the same passage to “walk in love” and “walk as children of light.” Both in spiritual and physical senses, walking the talk and talking the walk require intelligent design.(Visited 15 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Afcon safety, security systems ‘in place’

first_img28 November 2012South Africa has put effective plans in place to ensure a safe and secure 2013 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) tournament, Deputy Police Minister Maggie Sotyu told reporters in Pretoria on Tuesday.“Everything is in place with regards to security; we started planning as early as May this year, [and] both national and international screening with regard to all participating 16 teams has been completed,” Sotyu said.“Security will be provided to all the participating teams including Bafana Bafana 24/7. We will strengthen security at all ports of our entry during this period, especially our borders, airports, seaports and land ports of entry.“All the teams will be escorted from the airport to their respective hotels; teams will also be escorted from their hotels to their training venues 24/7 to make sure that they are safe,” she said.Sotyu also said permanent police officers would be deployed to all the hotels where the national teams will be staying.She said Home Affairs was ready to handle the movement of both people and goods at the ports of entry.“We also have our own police officers that we’ve trained with regard to assistance at the ports of entry in case we need more man power,” she said.“Buses carrying players will be escorted by the police all the times; each and every movement of the buses carrying the teams will be provided with security by the police.”Dedicated investigators for criminal casesWith regard to criminal cases during the tournament, Sotyu said that unlike the 2010 Fifa World Cup there wouldn’t be special courts for criminal activities, but there would be dedicated investigators who will focus on the cases that happen during the tournament.While there would be the normal procedure of handling the cases, she said criminal cases committed during the tournament will always be prioritised in the courts of law.Police were going to make sure that they control the crowd in and outside the stadiums.Chairperson of the National Joint Intelligence Structure, Lieutenant-General Elias Mawela, said part of their security concept to effectively deal with any form of hooliganism in the stadiums was also in place.“Part of our security concept to deal with hooliganism in and around the stadiums includes ensuring that we put ‘spotters’ among the spectators to identity the so- called hooligans, remove them from the stadium and take them into police custody.“We will ensure that the intelligence community that we are working with in the region, through the Southern African Regional Police Chief Council Organisation (Sarpcco) and Interpol, will also assist us with the movement of the people who will be coming to our country for the tournament,” he said.Sarpcco is an official forum comprising all the police chiefs from southern Africa.“We are not going to drop the standards which we’ve created in dealing with all the major events that we host in our country,” he said.Should the security guards, who will be working at the stadiums, decide to embark on an illegal strike like they did during the 2010 Fifa World Cup, General Mawela said: “We have plan D and even plan E.”“We have a reserve group at a national level who can be moved around the country at any given time and we also have the contingency funds whereby we will ensure that people will be moved around head office to whatever affected stadium. We will never have any problem with regards to this issue.”South Africa will host the tournament from 19 January to 10 February 2013.Source: SANews.gov.zalast_img read more