SETAC MultiBrief
Jan. 29, 2015

The war on brains
The Star
Maybe the muzzling of climate scientists did pay off for Harper and Tories who didn't want Canadians to spend too much time thinking about the climate: from 2007 to 2012, the volume of media coverage of climate change issues fell by 80 percent. When the Harper government held closed-door meetings to talk about ways to cut Environment Canada's budget by $60 million in the 2012 federal budget, Harper's team made sure communications specialists were in the room. Records labelled "secret advice to the minister" were part of 500 pages of briefing material prepared for a new deputy minister when she arrived at Environment Canada a few months after the meetings.More

It's impossible to appreciate how vast the universe is, but this video will help
Earlier in January, NASA released a gigantic, incredibly sharp photo of the Andromeda Galaxy, taken by the Hubble space telescope. The galaxy has more than 100 billion stars, spread over 40,000 light years. It's tough to convey these huge numbers in a way that makes sense. But YouTube user daveachuk made the astounding video above that helps put them into perspective. More

2-state Gulf Coast manatee-sighting network expanding west
The Washington Post
As manatees recover in Florida, their U.S. home base, more and more seem to be showing up farther west along the Gulf of Mexico. Seven stranded manatees had been reported along the Alabama coast before 2007, when a network to report them was created. Since then, "we've responded to dozens" of strandings, said Ruth Carmichael, head of the Dauphin Island Sea Lab's Manatee Sighting Network for Alabama and Mississippi.More

The food lover's guide to Salt Lake City
The Daily Meal
"Salt Lake City beckons with mountains, gorgeous scenery, and surprisingly tasty eats. I won't lie; I wasn't expecting to be blown away by this town. But boy, I totally was. Not only is the city beautiful, but its downtown is quaint, clean, and more than worth the trip. Use this guide to see the sights and enjoy some truly fantastic eats," writes Teresa Tobat. More

Using less fish to test chemicals safety
The JRC has released a new strategy on how to replace, reduce and refine the use of fish in testing of chemicals' effect on flora and fauna in water (aquatic toxicity) and chemicals' uptake and concentration in living organisms (bioaccumulation). Out of the 11.5 million animals used for experimental purposes in the EU (2011 data), cold blooded animals, namely reptiles, amphibians and fish represent 12.4 percent. In the case of specific testing for toxicological safety assessment, fish represent 18 percent of the one million animals used. More

Rising seas are setting sea turtle conservation back
Nature world News
Experts at the University of Central Florida have recently revealed an alarming discovery. Based on observations and projections about rising sea levels, they have concluded that climate change may have an adverse impact on more than 30 years of conservation efforts focused on keeping endangered sea turtles around for another generation. More

How (and why) chemists figured out how to unboil an egg
The Washington Post
You can't unscramble an egg. But you can unboil it. That's what chemists with University of California, Irvine, and South Australia's Flinders University managed to do, and their findings were published in the journal ChemBioChem. All it took was a chemical solution and a machine that spins at high speeds. No, the study wasn't intended to figure out just how to unboil eggs. These aren't precious commodities. If you accidentally boil one, just grab another. Rather, the eggs were used as a proxy for a much more serious endeavor: making cancer research more time and cost efficient.More

The International Year of Soil is no dirty joke
GOOD Magazine
Outside of farming and gardening circles, soil gets very little love. People don't really seem to want it in the house or on their shoes; you very rarely hear someone say, "Man, I could really go for a good bucket of soil right now." Often, you'll see someone stop and comment on the beauty of a majestic oak or beautiful flower without even registering the earthy, hardworking mass of minerals, decomposing matter and tiny organisms that made it all possible. But soil (or "dirt," as it's known in less couth contingents), is essential to about 95 percent of the world's food supply — for humans it's a pretty necessary part of not being dead. More

As oceans heat up, a race to save world's coral reefs
National Geographic
Early one December morning, Chris Langdon, a biological oceanographer at the University of Miami, zipped up his wet suit and dropped overboard just off Key Largo to inspect a section of Florida's ailing coral reef. His living "laboratory," 15 feet down, is the size of several football fields. Last summer a large bleaching event turned much of the coral white. Bleaching occurs when water temperatures rise or fall. Even a slight fluctuation can set it off. The result is dramatic and often fatal. More