Listing all species on earth ‘a possibility’: It could be possible to discover all of the species on Earth by the end of this century, a new study published in the journal Science claims.
We’ve already found more than a million species, but unearthing the rest was thought to be an impossible task.
But now it seems an army of amateur scientists have taken up the cause. A new study concludes that, thanks to them, we’re in a golden age of discovery, with 20,000 new finds charted each year.
There could also be far fewer plants and animals left for them to find. The researchers say rather than tens of millions of species living on Earth, there could be between two and eight million.
If the appetite for discovery continues to grow, they say a full ecological audit could be a possibility within the next 100 years.
The scientists also looked at the numbers of species going extinct, and said this had been overestimated.
Professor Mark Costello, from the University of Auckland, is the lead author of the study:
“Suddenly people say we’re in the middle of a mass extinction crisis well that’s a bit premature because when we look at the extinction rates that are actually happening they’re not as bad as people have been letting on.”
But the International Union for the Conservation of Nature disagreed with the team’s conclusion that the rate of new species found was higher than the numbers being lost.
The organisation’s deputy director said it was more important to save species than to count them.
Armstrong’s confession: Lance Armstrong, the former cycling champion, has admitted to using drugs to improve his performance for the first time. In an interview with Oprah Winfrey on her OWN Network, Armstrong said he had used drugs during all seven of his Tour de France wins, from 1999 to 2005.
The confession took a long time to come. Despite being stripped of his Tour de France titles last year following a doping investigation, Lance Armstrong always denied cheating.
But he had been lying. The 41-year-old American cyclist told Oprah Winfrey he used performance enhancing drugs in every Tour de France contest he won.
He took banned substances and used blood transfusions to boost his performance. Without them, he said, it wouldn’t have been possible to win.
Armstrong said he kept repeating “one big lie” and conceded that his admission would be “too late” for most people. “All the fault and all the blame lies with me,” Lance Armstrong said.
But he claimed his actions had not felt like cheating at the time and denied having pressurised other members of his team to dope.
Half of all food wasted: Up to half of the world’s food is wasted due to inefficient production in poorer countries and over-fussy consumers in the rich world, says a new report from the UK-based Institution of Mechanical Engineers.
But the engineers who wrote this report also recommend better use of scarce land and water around the whole world. They say that putting more land to agriculture will be difficult without damaging the environment, so improving the efficiency of farming is vital. The report says better irrigation is the key here, because water used in agriculture is often sourced badly: from aquifers which are poorly managed. In some cases, the engineers say, governments and aid agencies have exacerbated this problem by sinking boreholes in the wrong places.
The report also says that irrigating crops through spraying or flooding fields is wasteful because so much of the water evaporates. It says that drip or trickle methods of irrigation, while more expensive to install, can be as much as a third more efficient.
Australian cigarette packaging: Some Australian companies are giving away cardboard covers which hide photos of cancer-sufferers on plain cigarette packets.
The authorities are investigating whether this breaks the new law on cigarette packaging.
Tobacco companies and retailers that try to circumvent Australia’s plain-packaging laws could face prosecution, according to health authorities.
They’re investigating whether to take action against cardboard covers and stickers that hide graphic anti-smoking warnings.
One firm that produces labels says that sales have soared because consumers can’t stand the sight of the packets they buy.
Just over a month ago, Australia banned all tobacco company logos and colours from packaging, which now has disturbing colour pictures of smokers suffering from tongue and lung cancer.
The president of the Australian Medical Association, Steve Hambleton, is confident that those who attempt to skirt the legislation will be shut down.
President of the Australian Medical Association, Steve Hambleton:
If you’re trying to circumvent it, it’s not right, and I know that the government will actually either fix the problem by changing the law or enforcing the law. But the second thing I thought was, this is obviously working. If companies are going out of their way to hide the warnings and to hide the labels, they know it’s having an impact and that’s reassuring for us.
Tobacco companies had argued that Australia’s plain packaging measures would deprive them of copyright without proper compensation. But in August their case was dismissed by the High Courts
Italian car sales crash: Sales of high performance cars have fallen in Italy showing that even the rich are beginning to feel the effect of the recession..
Italians’ love for fast cars is legendary. But glamour is, it would seem, no defence against the current economic gloom.
New figures from the Italian motor dealers’ federation show that the country’s best known luxury sports cars, Ferrari and Maserati, have seen their sales in Italy plummet over the past year; Ferrari’s by more than 56%, Maserati’s by 72%.
The actual number of vehicles sold is, of course, tiny. Just 248 Italians forked out for a Ferrari last year, not surprising, perhaps, when each car costs the equivalent of up to $300,000.
The head of the motor traders’ federation blamed high taxes for the fall in sales.
However, while poorer Italians may register an uncharacteristic flicker of schadenfreude at the news that their richer compatriots are cutting back, they won’t have much time to gloat.
Official figures recently showed that almost a third of Italians are on the verge of poverty, while the average Italian family is bracing itself for an extra €585 of government taxes.
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