Discovered: Paul Ryan is right—sea levels aren't dropping; "hurry, eat oysters," say oyster conservationists; pediatricians offer organic advice; how will A123 Systems' bankruptcy affect electric cars?
Paul Ryan slips up, cites correct climate change research. Paul Ryan has been known to deny human involvement in climate change, but today he accidentally found himself saying something correct about global warming. As Ryan himself said today, sea levels aren't getting any lower. "The ocean hasn’t shrunk," Ryan quipped on CBS, attempting to send up Obama's "horses and bayonets" line from the debates. "You still have to have enough ships to have the footprint that you need ... to keep our strength abroad where it needs to be." He was trying to talk about military preparedness but, read a certain way, his comments say more about climate change. Because, as Vanity Fair's Juli Weiner points out, he's right! The oceans haven't sunk. They have risen drastically due to global warming, a fact that Ryan has usually chosen to side-step. [Vanity Fair]
To save the oysters, we must eat them. You wouldn't expect scientists trying to boost the oyster population in England to urge people to eat more oysters. But upping market demand for this seafood delicacy is the only way to bring the UK's native oyster beds back to sustainable levels, says Cambridge biologist Philine zu Ermgasse and her colleagues. Researchers estimate that oyster beds near London have diminished up to 99 percent since the Victorian era. "There are a suite of benefits that oyster beds bring," says zu Ermgassen. "From the USA we have good evidence that if you improve oyster beds, you see an increase in fish stocks." To reap those benefits, conservation efforts have to be paired with responsible yet widespread oyster consumption, she says. "Some people seem to be advocating that we shouldn't eat native oysters - we wouldn't agree with that at all because we need to have an economic rationale for the beds." [BBC News]
A123 bankruptcy sends shocks through electric car industry. Some of the most important research into green transportation isn't coming out of universities or government labs. Electric car companies like A123 Systems have been spearheading efforts to engineer the kind of batteries that will end our automotive reliance on petroleum. So how will the news that A123 went bankrupt last week affect the electric car industry? "This is a setback for the emerging EV industry, certainly," says LeMans racing driver Paul Drayson, who served as science and innovation minister under Tony Blair. "It shows how tough it is to survive and prosper in the cleantech industry right now and that's a major worry. We need companies like these to succeed if we are going to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels." Though the company was cheered on by environmentalists for its groundbreaking development of lithium iron phosphate batteries that provided 10 times more charge cycles than ordinary lithium batteries, not enough electric cars have been sold to make A123 profitable. [New Scientist]
Pediatric recommendations on organic food. What should parents feed their children, following that damning study from Stanford claiming organic food shows "little evidence of health benefits" over conventionally grown crops? The American Academy of Pediatrics released a paper making their recommendations clear: maybe you should eat organic, but also it might be fine not to. They recommend a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy. But any "meaningful nutritious benefits" touted by organic proponents haven't been verified by doctors yet. What, you expected a cut and dry final word on organic? You expect too much of science, which has a long way to go before coming to a firm conclusion about the health benefits of organic food. One thing remains clear even to the AAP, though. Organic growing procedures do mitigate the environmental impact of agriculture when compared with conventional farming. [Los Angeles Times]