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Cloudy, light plastic showers



The ground is showered with microplastic particles falling from the sky.

Diplomats from 175 countries gathered in Paris on Monday to negotiate a plastic deal may want to pack an umbrella, but not just because rain is a possibility.

According to the first-ever plastic-related weather forecast, the French capital will be bombarded with billions of microplastic particles falling from the sky during the five-day talks.

The predicted downpour will range from 40 to 48 kilograms (88 to 106 pounds) of free-floating plastic pieces covering Paris every 24 hours, scientists involved in the downpour told AFP.

If the weather brings heavy rain, the “plastic fall” is likely to increase up to ten times.

“This should sharpen the focus of negotiators,” said Markus Gover, head of plastics research at the Minderoo Foundation, based in Perth, Australia.

“Plastic particles break down into the environment, and this toxic cocktail enters our bodies, where it causes unimaginable harm to our health.”

Concerns about plastic’s impact on the environment and human well-being have risen in recent years, along with a boom in research confirming its omnipresence and permanence.

In nature, multicolored microplastics – by definition less than five millimeters (0.2 inches) in diameter – have been found in the ice near the North Pole and inside fish that swim in the deepest and darkest reaches of the ocean.

The UN Environment Program estimates that plastic litter kills more than a million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals every year, and filter-fed blue whales consume up to 10 million microplastic particles every day.

Pieces of plastic in frozen water near Vaasa, Finland

Pieces of plastic in frozen water near Vaasa, Finland.

“heads in the sand”

Every minute, as much plastic garbage is dumped into the ocean as the cost of a garbage truck.

In humans, microscopic plastic particles have been found in blood, breast milk and placenta.

Animal tests have linked chemicals in microplastics to an increased risk of cancer, reproductive problems and DNA mutations, but data on human exposure is still lacking.

“In our bodies, the plastic we should be most concerned about is probably in the range of 10 nanometers to one micrometer,” said pediatrician Christos Simeonides, a researcher at the Murdoch Children’s Research Hospital and the Minderoo Foundation.

“They are likely to cross our biological membranes into tissues, including the blood-brain barrier,” he told AFP.

“We’re only now getting our heads out of the sand when it comes to the health hazards of microplastics.”

The forecast for Paris next week is only for significantly larger particles, mostly synthetic fibers at least 50 microns in length.

For reference, a human hair is about 80 microns (or 80,000 nanometers) in diameter.

The method, developed by the Minderu Foundation researchers, does not measure the release of plastic into the atmosphere in real time.

Rather, it is based on studies conducted in Paris since 2015, during which samples were collected year-round from different locations and sifted in the laboratory.

Sources of microplastics in the oceans

Sources of microplastics in the oceans.

“virgin” plastic

This groundbreaking work by French scientists has shown that most of the plastic particles falling on the 2,500-square-kilometre (965 sq mi) Paris watershed are made up of nylon and polyester, likely from clothing.

Other pieces have been thrown off by the tires, which throw them off, especially when vehicles brake.

They estimate that up to 10 metric tons of microplastic fibers settle in the Paris area each year.

The density of “plastic fall” can increase by an order of magnitude during heavy rain.

Measurements by other teams have replicated these findings in half a dozen cities around the world.

Microplastics that have fallen on the ground can still be swallowed or inhaled if shaken, for example on a windy day.

Last year, 175 countries agreed to a legally binding treaty to combat plastic pollution, with the goal of completing negotiations by 2024.

No major breakthroughs are expected in technical talks starting Monday, but key policy measures being discussed will include a global ban on single-use plastics, a “polluter pays” scheme and a tax on new or “original” plastic production.

According to experts and green groups calling for a complete ban on plastic production, these policies – even if fully implemented – may not be enough to reduce consumption.

According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), on current trends, the annual production of fossil-fuel-based plastics will almost triple by 2060 to 1.2 billion tons, and the amount of waste will exceed one billion tons.

© 2023 AFP

quotes: Now for the weather: Cloudy with scattered plastic showers (May 25, 2023), retrieved May 25, 2023 from .

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Neurons that cause hunger



Maybe it starts off feeling low energy, or maybe you get a little cranky. You may have a headache or difficulty concentrating. Your brain is sending you a message: you are hungry. Find food.

Studies in mice have identified clusters of cells called AgRP neurons near the bottom of the brain that can cause this nasty feeling of hunger. even “hungry”, feeling. They are close to the blood supply to the brain, which gives them access to hormones from the stomach and adipose tissue that indicate energy levels. When energy is low, they act on many other areas of the brain to stimulate nutrition.

By eavesdropping on AgRP neurons in mice, scientists began to understand how these cells turn on and prompt animals to seek food when they lack nutrients, and how they feel it. entry of food into the intestines The researchers also found that the activity of AgRP neurons is impaired in mice with symptoms similar to those of anorexia, and that activation of these neurons can help restore normal eating patterns in these animals.

Understanding and manipulating AgRP neurons could lead to new treatments for both anorexia and binge eating. “If we could control this feeling of hunger, we could have better control over our diet,” says Amber Alhadeff, a neuroscientist at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia.

To eat or not to eat

AgRP neurons appear to play a key role in appetite: their deactivation in adult mice causes the animals to stop eating – they can even starvation. Conversely, when the researchers fire the neurons, the mice jump into the food bowls and overeat.

Experiments in several laboratories in 2015 helped illustrate what AgRP neurons do. The researchers found that when mice ran out of food, AgRP neurons shot more often. But the sight or smell of food alone—especially something savory like peanut butter or Hershey Kiss—was enough to Relax this activity, within a few seconds. From this, the scientists concluded that AgRP neurons make animals look for food. Once food is found, they stop shooting as hard.

One research team, led by neuroscientist Scott Sternson at the Genelia Research Campus in Ashburn, Virginia, also showed that the activity of AgRP neurons appears to make mice feel bad. To demonstrate this, the scientists designed mice so that AgRP neurons would fire when light hit the brain through an optical fiber (the fiber still allowed the mice to move freely). They placed these engineered mice in a box with two distinct areas: one painted black with a plastic slatted bottom, and the other white with a soft tissue paper floor. If the researchers activated the AgRP neurons whenever the mice entered one of the two areas, the mice began to avoid that area.

Sternson, now at UC San Diego, concluded that AgRP activation felt “slightly uncomfortable.” He says this makes sense in nature: every time a mouse leaves its nest, it is at risk from predators, but it must overcome that fear in order to forage and eat. “These AgRP neurons are kind of a push that in a dangerous environment you’re going to look for food to stay alive.”

A 2015 study by Sternson found that while the sight or smell of food quiets the AgRP neurons, it is temporary: activity resumes immediately if the mouse cannot make it to the end and eat the snack. With more experimentation, Alhadeff and colleagues found that something that turns off AgRP neurons is more reliable. Calories enter the intestines.

The sleeping mouse in this video was designed so that when blue light enters its brain, the AgRP neurons fire. The mouse is resting after a night in which she ate a lot. When the researchers turn on the blue light, the mouse wakes up and eats more, even if it’s full.

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By fighting the ozone hole, we helped curb climate change | The science



At the time of signing, the Montreal Protocol was considered a blessing to the planet. A new study shows that it was even better than anyone could have imagined.
Naeblys / Alamy Stock Photo

This article is from Hakai Magazine, an online publication about science and society in coastal ecosystems. Read more stories like this at

In 1985, the British Antarctic Survey warned the world that a giant hole was forming in the atmosphere high above the South Pole in the Earth’s protective ozone layer. World leaders quickly gathered to work out a solution. Two years later, the United Nations agreed to ban chemicals that erode the layer of the stratosphere that protects the Earth from solar ultraviolet radiation. Known as the Montreal Protocol Agreement, it is still one of the most widely ratified UN treaties.

The Montreal Protocol was a victory for diplomacy and the stratosphere. But the agreement, unknown to its signatories at the time, also came as an unexpected hedge against climate catastrophe. ace new study reveals that the aptly named ozone-depleting substances (ODSs) that created the hole over Antarctica are also responsible for the 30 percent temperature rise we observed worldwide from 1955 to 2005.

Michael Sigmond, a climate scientist at Environment and Climate Change Canada, is the lead author of a new study that calculates the ability of ODS to capture greenhouse gases. The contribution of substances to global warming, he says, is “greater than most people realize.”

The Montreal Protocol governs almost 100 ozone-eating chemicals. Many of these are related to chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), chemicals popularized in the 1930s for use in aerosol cans, foam plastics, and refrigerators. Compared to the many toxic and flammable alternatives they replaced, CFCs were considered miracle chemicals, and by the early 1970s the world was producing almost a million tons of them a year.

Graph showing low ozone levels

Since the signing of the Montreal Protocol in 1987, the world has stopped using almost 99 percent of ozone-depleting substances. The red graph shows hotspots of low ozone in 2019. Although the situation has greatly improved from the worst levels in the 1990s and 2000s, the United Nations says the ozone hole over Antarctica will not close until 2066.

NASA Earth Observatory

CFCs are inert and therefore do not react with other gases. Instead, they tend to accumulate in the atmosphere and drift where the wind takes them, hanging in the air for long periods of time. 85 years old or more. Once they reach the stratosphere, the second layer of the Earth’s multi-layered atmosphere, the CFCs begin to break down. They are “destroyed by photons,” explains Dennis Hartmann, a climate scientist at the University of Washington who was not involved in the study. This jet noise caused a hole in the ozone layer.

In the troposphere, the lowest level of the atmosphere where fewer photons reach, ODSs act as persistent greenhouse gases. Back in 1987, scientists knew that ODSs captured some solar radiation, but didn’t know how much. Only recently Scientists are gathering evidence that ODSs are, in fact, one of the most destructive warming agents of the past half century.

The effects of this warming are intensifying at the poles. The work of Zsigmond and colleagues shows that if ODS had never been mass-produced—if atmospheric concentrations had remained at 1955 levels—the Arctic today would be at least 55% colder and there would be 45% more sea ice. September.

ODS production stabilized in the 1990s. But because they are so long-lived, these gases are still circulating, and the warming they cause continues to increase. But it could have been much worse. By banning ODS, the Montreal Protocol inadvertently prevented 1°C warming by 2050.

With the Montreal Protocol, world leaders rallied around an urgent matter. In the process, we inadvertently abandoned the second largest factor in global warming. The windfall benefits for the global climate, says Suzanne Tegtmeier, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Saskatchewan who was not involved in the study, “could be considered a very welcome and very positive side effect.”

While it has taken a lot more negotiation and innovation to start displacing the main driver of climate change, carbon dioxide, the Montreal Protocol proves the power of collective action and shows how addressing environmental challenges can help us in ways we didn’t expect.

This article is from Hakai Magazine, an online publication about science and society in coastal ecosystems. Read more stories like this at

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Chris Packham wins defamation lawsuit against website



Chris Packham sues three men for libel in High Court

Naturalist Chris Packham won a libel suit against a website that claimed it was misleading people into donating to a tiger charity.

The presenter filed a lawsuit in the High Court over articles published on the Country Squire Magazine website.

The site’s editor Dominic Wightman, writer Nigel Bean, and proofreader Paul Reid defended the libel suit.

Mr. Justice Saini ruled in favor of Mr. Packham against Mr. Whiteman and Mr. Bean, but rejected the decision against Mr. Reid.

Mr Whiteman and Mr Bean were ordered to pay £90,000 in damages to the owner of the Springwatch.

“Mr Packham did not commit any fraudulent or dishonest act,” the judge said in his 58-page decision.

“Mr Packham did not lie, and every statement he made was made with sincere faith in its truth.

“There was no fraud on his part in compiling the fundraising applications.”

During the trial, Mr. Packham said he was targeted because of his “deeply held views” on blood sports.

The 61-year-old man and his partner Charlotte Corney are trustees of an Isle of Wight shelter called the Wildheart Trust.

Chris Packham and Charlotte Corney

Chris Packham was photographed with his partner Charlotte Corney outside the Crown Court during the case.

Mr Packham was accused of dishonestly raising money at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, knowing the charity was to receive a £500,000 benefit from its insurance.

But Mr. Justice Saini said Mr. Whiteman and Mr. Bean “didn’t even come close to establishing the essential truth.”

“Instead of approaching the task with an investigative mind, these defendants targeted Mr. Packham as the person they had plans against,” he said.

He added: “Any investigative journalism quickly gave way to … an increasingly exaggerated and vitriolic vilification of Mr. Packham with unsubstantiated allegations of dishonesty in relation to peat burning and trust insurance.”

Springwatch hosts Chris Packham, Mikaela Strachan, Yolo Williams and Gillian Burke

Chris Packham (pictured with his fellow Springwatch hosts) says he was targeted because of his “deeply rooted views” on blood sports.

Testifying during the trial, Mr Packham explained: “We didn’t expect to be immune from Covid-19 shutdowns.”

He said the insurance payouts “ultimately saved the shelter in a time of dire need.”

“But to be very clear, if we hadn’t started the fundraising appeal as quickly as we did, these payments might have come in too late to make a difference,” he said.

Host’s house in the New Forest became a victim of arson and had dead animals were repeatedly left outside.

He said the defendants’ allegations were “misleading, agitated and inflamed by vociferous and violent conspirators who are increasingly publishing threatening and nefarious material about me and my family.”

Chris Packham

Mr. Packham denied all accusations leveled against him by the editor of Country Squire Magazine.

Mr Packham added: “I go walking my dogs in the woods and I think, ‘Is today the day that a psychopath, fueled by all this hate, will come along and kill me?’

“I really don’t expect to live a long life without violence and intimidation anymore, because it only takes one wrong person to read Country Squire Magazine and everything goes horribly wrong.”

During the trial, Mr. Wightman and Mr. Bean’s attorney argued that the articles were true and in the public interest.

Mr. Reed’s lawyer called him “a mere proofreader” and was not responsible for the articles.

“Frank vitriol”

The judge agreed that Mr. Reid “shall not be editorially or similarly responsible for the impugned statements or the decision to publish them.”

But he said others “used the lawsuit as a way to present offensive material to vilify Mr. Packham.”

He added: “The tone sank to ominous threats and outright sarcasm, including offensive references to Mr. Packham’s neurodiversity and insults to (lawyers) Lee Day.

“This was not the result of any act of responsible journalism.”

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