The Daily Dose: Your Guide to the World Today – 5 August 09

Britain plans to “progressively replace” short-haul flights with high-speed trains. The demise of domestic air travel has been made a priority for the first time; a high-speed rail network will be built to shift 46 million air passengers per year by train instead.

Pollution is causing a range of cancers in animals, a new report claims. High concentrations of DDT, PCBs and PAHs have been found in various species, such as sea lions and Beluga whales, that are suffering tumours and other cancerous disease. Gee, could that be true of humans, too?

More reasons to save them: Taiwanese scientists claim a species of soft coral could provide a new treatment for pain from intractable nerve damage. Several important drugs have already been developed from chemicals found in coral reef organisms, including the antiviral AZT, a treatment for HIV, and treatments for cardiovascular diseases, ulcers, leukaemia and skin cancer.

The seven smallest island nations – Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Tuvalu, Cook Islands, Nauru, Niue, and Palau – have asked their larger neighbours in the Pacific Forum for help in building protective measures to keep rising seas from washing them away, and called for drastic emissions cuts to stem the tide.

A new expedition has set sail from San Francisco to continue the study and possible mitigation of the huge “plastic island” of debris in the North Pacific. Corralled by a vortex of currents known as the North Pacific Gyre, the collection of plastic waste is now bigger than the US state of Texas.

Fish in the wild are becoming more affected by infectious and parasitic disease as climate changes and diseases spread into new regions. Some species have suffered large losses as a result, with the potential to tip endangered species into extinction.

Amazonian fishermen are killing freshwater dolphins in the river for fear they are stealing their fish and damaging their fishing gear. The plight of the dolphins is not helped by the fact that culturally there are strong taboos that suggest the animals are bad luck.

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Written in August 2009

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  • Posted on Aug. 5, 2009. Listed in:

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