The bushfire cycle and more
Unlock the secrets of a sustainable and health-conscious lifestyle with our insightful articles. From navigating the complexities of deep-sea mining to understanding the impact of polyunsaturated fats, delve into a world where environmental consciousness meets individual well-being. Explore the latest findings on legumes and red meat, warm-bodied sharks challenging scientific norms and the bushfire cycle. Join us in decoding the intricate web of information that shapes our planet’s health and our own.
Legumes and red meat
Reducing consumption of red meat is extremely important in terms of minimising the environmental impact of our diet. The concern is whether that may have negative individual health effects. In a new six-week study, one group of men consumed the normal 760 grams of red and processed meat per week. A second group consumed products based on legumes, mainly peas and broad beans, as their protein sources, limiting meat consumption to 200 grams per week. This level of meat is the upper limit of the so-called Planetary Health Diet. Aside from these manipulations, the subjects maintained their usual diet. Amino acid and protein consumption was found to be at healthy levels for both groups, and bone metabolism was not negatively impacted in the legume group. On this basis at least, we can safely support the planet by reducing meat consumption without harming our own health.
Source: British Journal of Nutrition
We think of fish as cold-blooded, meaning that their body temperature usually matches the temperature of their environment. There are, however, exceptions to this rule known as “regional endotherms” such as great white sharks, mako sharks and tuna. These fish are apex predators, and the theory has been that the ability to keep warm supported their athletic lifestyle. Now a new finding has thrown that theory into question. Plankton-feeding basking sharks are the second-biggest fish in the world, and when researchers examined dead specimens they found that they had the same red muscle at the centre of their bodies as other regional endotherms. They also found that they had the same muscular hearts where most fish have spongy hearts. Tags placed on living basking sharks also revealed their muscle temperature consistently above water temperature. It shows many of our assumptions about the world may be wrong and the implications for conservation actions are significant.
Source: Endangered Species Research
The bushfire cycle
The wildfires/bushfires that have ravaged the northern hemisphere in the summer of 2023 are seen as a symptom of climate change, but they are also contributing to it. The previous understanding has been that plumes of bushfire smoke contain black carbon soot, which absorbs solar radiation, while lighter-coloured plumes contain organic carbon that scatters sunlight, which offsets the climate warming effects of the soot. However, new research has a found a new substance in organic carbon plumes that may be just as dangerous. The researchers found what they called “dark brown carbon” in the organic plumes that form similarly to soot in the leading edge of a bushfire. Dark brown carbon absorbs slightly less light than black carbon, but there is a lot more of it. The result is that bushfires contribute a lot more to climate warming than we previously recognised, and this needs to be taken into account in our climate modelling.
Source: Nature Geoscience