Flying the flag for life: It’s called serendipity. A scientist is investigating one topic and something crops up that opens an entirely new door to discovery. It happened to Ary Hoffmann five years ago and completely changed the direction of his research. He and his team of biologists were comparing the genes of different species of Drosophila, the so-called vinegar fly, when they stumbled across a species in the Queensland rainforest that appeared to lack the genetic ability of its cousins to adapt to changing environmental circumstances. Professor Hoffmann wondered what the effect of climate change might be on other animals and plants that lacked genetic variations and so were poorly adapted. If they could not evolve to cope with a warmer climate, or follow the retreating rainforest, they would face extinction. The Age

The ‘French Chernobyl’ that has poisoned the Rhône’s fish: From a wooden jetty, Cédric Giroud gazed out over the wide bend of the river Rhône, a picturesque, dark blue expanse dotted with swans. “At midnight on summer nights, when I’d finished fishing and boxed up my catch, I’d slip into the water and swim in the moonlight,” he said. The swell in the Rhône at the Grand Large just outside Lyon draws tens of thousands of French tourists on holiday weekends. It is a haven for rowers, sailors, fishermen and children feeding ducks. But under the crystal clear water lurks an environmental disaster the conservation group WWF is calling “a French Chernobyl”. Guardian

Britain’s year zero: UK to leap from ‘laggard to leader’ on carbon dioxide emissions: Every new building put up in Britain will have to be zero carbon, emitting none of the pollution that is the main cause of global warming, the Government will announce this week. Caroline Flint, the new housing minister, will commit herself on Wednesday to setting an “ambitious target” for eliminating carbon dioxide emissions from “non-domestic” buildings, ranging from schools to supermarkets, health centres to hotels, and from libraries to  light manufacturing industry. Taken with a year-old government commitment to make all new housing zero carbon by 2016 – the most exacting target anywhere in the world – the move will set Britain on the road to a new energy age, with conservation measures and renewable sources replacing the wasteful burning of fossil fuels. Independent

Move over, oil, there’s money in Texas wind: The wind turbines that recently went up on Louis Brooks’s ranch are twice as high as the Statue of Liberty, with blades that span as wide as the wingspan of a jumbo jet. More important from his point of view, he is paid $500 a month apiece to permit 78 of them on his land, with 76 more on the way. “That’s just money you’re hearing,” he said as they hummed in a brisk breeze recently. Texas, once the oil capital of North America, is rapidly turning into the capital of wind power. After breakneck growth the last three years, Texas has reached the point that more than 3% of its electricity, enough to supply power to one million homes, comes from wind turbines. New York Times

Climate change shrinking Carib fish stocks: The United Nations has warned that the supply of fish stocks will plummet as the world heats up, impacting millions of people in the Caribbean and other developing nations who depend on fishing for their economic success. According to a new report released Friday by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), rising greenhouse gas emissions threaten at least three quarters of key fishing grounds, which could affect the 2.6 billion people who derive their protein from seafood. Jamaica Gleaner

Peter Fray

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