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Apr 19th
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New Findings Demonstrate Diversity of Red Algae Blooms

blog_slug_algeIron-Thirsty Algae Thwart Counter-Global Warming Plans
Blooms of red algae, which typically occur in coastal waters, are associated with the poisoning of ocean water and the destruction of coastal ecosystems. A new study finds that blooms of this deadly organism can also flourish out in the open ocean and can wreak havoc if the ocean’s iron levels increase.

This finding, reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is relevant to scientists because it poses a severe ecological side effect to proposed plans to combat global warming. The authors of the paper, which include several UC Santa Cruz professors, warn that fertilizing the ocean with iron to combat the pressures of global warming, could irrevocably damage the ecosystems of the world’s oceans and disrupt the global food chain.

The microcosms that flourish in high-iron environments are diatoms belonging to the genus Pseudo-nitschia. When these organisms reproduce rapidly and create a bloom, significant amounts of a neurotoxin they release, domoic acid enters the food chain and poisons fish, birds, and aquatic mammals.

The discovery that Pseudo-nitschia thrive in iron-rich waters poses a significant setback to talks in the scientific community about potentially fertilizing ocean waters with iron to promote the growth of other algae that absorb carbon dioxide. However, as coauthor of the report and director of Moss Landing Marine Laboratories Kenneth Cole commented in the UCSC press release for the findings, “this work definitely reveals a wrinkle in those plans” because of the algae’s potential to destroy the ocean’s ecosystems and subsequently diminish the terrestrial food chain.

Mary Silver, the lead author of the study and professor of ocean sciences at UCSC, conducted research on the algae throughout the Pacific Ocean and adds, “to do iron enrichment on a large scale could be dangerous because, if it causes blooms of Pseudo-nitschia, the toxin might get into the food chain, as it does in the coastal zone.”

Though he thinks nitrogen fertilization of the oceans would be dangerous and unwise, Cole believes that all people, scientists and citizens alike should continue to combat global warming. “In light of these findings, we should redouble our efforts to reduce carbon emissions, the primary culprit for ocean ecosystem damage worldwide,” he said.

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As the Lyrid meteors, radiating from the star Vega in the Harp constellation, begin showering heaven and earth with light, Pluto, planet of transformation (or die) turns stationary retrograde (Thursday, April 16), 15 degrees Capricorn. Retrogrades have purpose, allowing humanity time to review, reassess, research and reinvent while returning to previous situations. Retrogrades are times of inner activity, seeds sown in bio-dynamically prepared soil. Pluto retrograde is the most serious and resolute of retrogrades—a pure tincture, or, as in homeopathy, a “constitutional” touching the essences of all that matters. Pluto offers deep insight into confusion or puzzlement and areas where transformation is still incomplete. It’s valuable to have one’s astrology chart to follow what area of life the major planets— especially Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto—are influencing. These outer planets have long-term and lasting effects on our psyche, inner/outer life events, how people see us and how we see and process our world. Pluto, retrograde for five months (until Sept. 24) offers deep earthquakes of change, awakens humanity to the task of building (Capricorn) the new culture and civilization, flailing our inner world about, deepening us until we transform and do things differently. Pluto is an unrelenting teacher. New moon (29 Aries) is Saturday, April 18. With the personality-building keynote, “Let form again be sought.” Mars anchors the new creative fires of Aries into our world. The New Group of World Servers participates together in the new moon festival, while also preparing for the Taurus Wesak, Buddha Full Moon Festival (May 3). Join us everyone.

 

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Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of April 17

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
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