Top Psych/Neuroscience posts from ResearchBlogging.org

Here are my picks this week for the best psychology/neuroscience posts on ResearchBlogging.org.

Also, my column is up on SEEDMAGAZINE.COM. This week I'm discussing one environmental trade-off we may have to make to prevent global warming:

Each year in April and May as farmers in the central US fertilize their crops, nearly 450 thousand metric tons of nitrates and phosphates pour down the Mississippi River. When these chemicals reach the Gulf of Mexico, they cause a feeding frenzy as photosynthetic algae absorb the nutrients. It's a boom-and-bust cycle of epic proportions: The algae populations grow explosively, then die and decompose. This process depletes the water of oxygen on a vast scale, creating a suffocating "dead zone" the size of Massachusetts where few, if any, animals can survive.

[But] a 2007 law that requires the US to annually produce 36 billion gallons of biofuels by 2022. Barring major biofuel production breakthroughs from sources like algae or microbes, most of this fuel will come from crops grown in the central US; the fertilizers and other agricultural waste they produce will flow straight down the Mississippi and feed the dead zone. Hite says the study, led by Christine Costello, found that meeting this goal will make it impossible for the EPA to reach its target reduction in the size of the dead zone. Even if fertilizer-intensive corn is replaced with more eco-friendly crops like switchgrass, the vast increase in agricultural production will cause the dead zone to grow unless preventive measures are taken.

There is a potential solution: strategically increasing wetlands around -- but this offers its own set of problems. Read the whole article.

More like this

Last night at 8:00, I saw The Simpsons. Rewind four hours and I was sitting at my desk writing about the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico. Turns out they are very much related. Sort of. A little Marine Bio 101: Dead zones are areas of the ocean devoid of fish, shrimp, and marine life. They're…
It's easy to forget just how nasty kids can be. They might look cute, but they are such assholes. They prey on differences and disabilities, using taunts to generate solidarity. Middle school really is a terrible time. But I was pretty surprised to learn that American kids have a strong bias…
A study in the newest PNAS seeks to quantify the efficiency and resource utilization for various types of biofuels: The first comprehensive analysis of the full life cycles of soybean biodiesel and corn grain ethanol shows that biodiesel has much less of an impact on the environment and a much…
Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivoreâs Dilemma, writes in the latest New York Times Magazine about two stories that âmay point to an imminent breakdown in the way weâre growing food today.â The first is the rise of community-acquired MRSA (thatâs Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, a…

Cheers for the shout out, it's nice to see people manage to actually read the posts for something other than a cure for insomnia. Plus, I'm sure there is something I can whip up about auditory processing and the insula.

When you say: "...to prevent global warming"

Sorry, but it is way too late for that. The widely accepted language now is mitigation and adaptation. Because even if we turned into Adam and Eve tomorrow, the momentum of greenhouse gas warming would continue for many decades.

The science says that 2 degrees of warming are inevitable, with 4 degrees C possible and catastrophic warming is not at all impossible.

An excellent site is RealClimate.org - they have one or two postings per week... like
http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/04/hit-the-brakes-ha…