Sep 25, 2009 | 7
Living whales may seem scarce in the world's vast oceans—and their carcasses even more rare. But to animals and bacteria that feed on these graveyards, they are a rich source of life. And to one doctoral researcher in Sweden, they proved to be a source of several new species.
In her dissertation for the University of Gothenburg, Helena Wiklund describes nine new species of polychaete worms found living in whale carcasses and other nutrient-rich areas off the coast of Sweden, Norway and California.
A whale carcass can bring as much nutrition to the seafloor as would otherwise take some 2,000 years to filter down. Wiklund and her coauthors note that although the worms seem to be especially adapted to live in environments such as whale falls, where they feed off the bacteria that cover the bones, they seem to also be thriving in bacteria-rich areas of waste resulting from human activity, such as below fish farms and even pulp mills.
Aug 27, 2009 | 18
The American age of oil began 150 years ago today. Or, if you prefer the phrasing of President George W. Bush, the U.S. addiction to oil can be traced back to the original pusher "Colonel" Edwin Drake who began producing oil from the first commercial well near Titusville, Pa., (about 100 miles north of Pittsburgh).
The rest is history—the automobile, plastics, modern agriculture and, of course, climate change. But it all started with the Colonel's 69-foot wooden well that ultimately yielded roughly 40 barrels a day. To put that in perspective, the world currently produces some 85 million barrels per day, which provide us with a full 40 percent of our energy.
The Titusville find kicked off the first oil boom (to be followed by similar booms in Texas, Saudi Arabia and, most recently, Brazil) and left us with the enduring legacy of Pennzoil as well as the corporate children of the oil monopolies created by capitalist titans like John D. Rockefeller.
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