New advances in stem cell research are giving hope in the fight to save endangered species.
Scientists have created stem cells for two endangered African species–the northern white rhino and the drill monkey. They “reprogrammed” skin cells to make them revert to stem cells, an early stage of cell development in which a cell can develop into different types of specialized cells.
It’s hoped that one day these stem cells could be made into sperm and eggs, leading to test tube babies that could bolster dwindling populations of some species. This has already been achieved with laboratory mice.
The white rhino used to be a favorite of safari goers and, unfortunately, big game hunters. There are probably none left in the wild, and only seven in captivity. These rhinos are the poster children of how tourism can hurt the environment.
This stem cell breakthrough is good news. With Obama scrapping tighter smog regulations and China discovering just how much they’ve screwed up their environment, we can’t rely on our so-called leaders to get us out of this mess. While environmentalists say we all need to change our attitudes in order to save the planet, that’s unlikely to happen. In fact, science is the only part of society that regularly advances. Common sense, foresight, and wisdom sure don’t.
Here’s hoping the scientists can give us a world where our children don’t have to go to a zoo to see wildlife.
[Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons]
Environmentalists are complaining that the tour company Shearwater Adventures has violated national and international law by expanding their luxury resort into the rainforest near Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.
Shearwater has constructed a new restaurant, bar, kitchen, and information center next to the public entrance to the World Heritage Site. A lawyer for Shearwater insists the development is a legal replacement of earlier structures that had fallen into disrepair and that none of the new buildings go outside the area already reserved for facilities. Opponents to the construction contend that the buildings are on a much larger scale than the previous ones and are forbidden by a 2007 moratorium. This was put in place after UNESCO threaten to rescind Victoria Falls’ World Heritage status after a local businessman tried to build a hotel and golf course in the World Heritage zone.
Without being on the ground it’s hard to say if who’s telling the truth here. Last week The National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe ordered that no new construction take place. It is now running the site along with the National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, which used to have sole authority. The government is currently trying to decide which body will run the Falls.
As this shakeup is going on, conservationists say Shearwater is planning a giant $6 million development next to the VIP entrance to the Falls. This will include a complex of buildings close enough to the Falls to threaten its World Heritage status. There’s also worry about the development’s location only a few yards from the Zambezi River.
[Photo courtesy user colmdc via Gadling’s flickr pool]
If you’re planning to see some art in the United Kingdom this summer, you might have to walk through a picket line.
Environmental groups are protesting BP’s sponsorship of exhibitions and galleries across the UK, saying the oil giant is trying to clean up its image despite being responsible for the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history.
Protests have already taken place at the National Portrait Gallery in London, which receives large donations from BP. On Monday there will be protests at London’s Tate Britain as the museum hosts a special celebration of twenty years working with BP.
Other recipients of BP money read like a Who’s Who of prestigious museums, including the Tate Modern, Royal Opera House, and the British Museum, among others. With the disaster in the gulf showing no sign of abating, this summer is looking to be a hot one for some of the UK’s biggest museums.
Should museums be held accountable for the actions of their donors? Tell us what you think in the comments section.
Photos of oil-soaked pelicans courtesy International Bird Rescue research Center.