Asian Giant Hornets

The Asian Giant Hornet, also known as ‘murder hornets’, arrived in the U.S in late 2019 when the beekeeper, Custer Wash, found an entire hive of bees destroyed in Washington state.

These giant hornets can grow up to two inches long. Their diets consist of large insects, colonies of insects, tree sap, and honey from honeybee colonies. 

The Asian Giant Hornets can be hostile if aggravated. If irritated, its venom is injected by its 6.25 mm long stinger and it attacks the human body’s nervous system and breaks the tissue of its victims.

These hornets originated from Japan, China, and many more Asian countries. Their nests are mostly made in forests and low mountains. They avoid higher elevations and flatlands along with tropical environments. 

The way honey bees eliminate these much larger creatures is by attracting them into the honeybee hive. Once the giant hornet is inside the hive, it will strike one of the honeybees, this is a clue to the rest of the honeybees to charge at it. While the Asian Giant Hornets are bigger than honeybees, the honeybees outnumber the hornet by a large quantity. They will then start to vibrate and make heats of 114 F°. By doing this, they basically cook the hornet alive and kill it. 

As I mentioned before, these giant hornets can be harmful when provoked. The stings can be so bad they can cause kidney failure. In the year 2013, the Asian Giant Hornets killed 41 people and injured more than 1,600 people in China. The venom from these hornets can even cause anaphylactic shock or cardiac arrest.

As of right now, the Asian Giant Hornet is the most dangerous hornet that causes 30-50 human deaths annually in Japan. 

Good things happening in the world

Coronavirus came to the U.S. in late January. The first confirmed case in the U.S. was on January 21st. Ever since, the news has been filled with new information about the virus. How to stay safe, how to prevent it, etc.

Along with the negativity, there have been many more positive things happening in both the environment and the world. 

Disneyland is donating excess food to food banks. Even though Disneyland closed temporarily due to the safety concerns, their oversupply of snacks will be donated to Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County. The food donated was dairy, fruit, and vegetables.

Walt Disney, and Disneyland resorts, have a continuing commitment to reducing any food waste. Each year they donate over 1.2 meals to their local Second Harvest Food Bank. There are also cast members volunteering to collect, sort, and distribute food donations. 

Specialists say that there is still hope in conserving marine life. Although the process will take three decades; it’s all due to human activity. According to Mongabay, 8 million tons of plastic pollute the ocean every year. If humans can pollute less, then the ocean could be fully re-established by 2050.

Humans can strive to help by attempting to decrease carbon emissions that accelerate climate change. While some parts of the ocean are easy to restore, some aren’t. For example the coral reefs. Coral reefs are bleaching because of climate change.

If the ocean is going to be saved, action must be taken within a short amount of time.

Oil companies are collapsing during these times but the wind and solar energy are the opposite of collapsing, they are growing. Industry executives and analysts expect renewable businesses to grow in 2020, while oil, coal, and gas companies struggle.

In California and Texas, for example, solar panels and wind turbines now produce more electricity, in a more economical way, than coal and natural gas. The good thing about solar and wind energy is that it’s sustainable and clean for humankind. 

While the world has been having a problem with polluted air and non-clear skies, during the time of self-quarantining and not leaving the house, carbon dioxide emissions have been reduced. According to VICE, air travel has dropped by over half in late March. Which accounts for 2.5% global carbon dioxide emissions. This is a good thing because when we do need to go outside for some fresh air or take a walk, we will smell pure and clean air. 

Asteroid

By: Linda Tellez-Ruiz

In the morning, at 4:46AM, on April 29, an asteroid that goes by the name of ‘1998 OR2’ safely passed by earth. The asteroid was discovered in 1988. The asteroid was an estimated 1.2 miles wide and was moving at 19,461mph.

The asteroid was 16 times farther than the distance between the earth and the moon. So we were pretty safe and sure that it wasn’t going to hit us. Even though it wasn’t going to hit us, it was still labeled as potentially hazardous. Scientists label that dangerous because the asteroid came within 5,000,000 miles of the earth’s orbit.

We’re safe now but in 2079, the same asteroid will pass by us again 3.5 times closer than it did this year, and that is why scientists are monitoring its orbit to know where it is exactly. Scientists have been tracking it for the past two decades, and they know its orbital trajectory very precisely. With this information they know that there is no possibility that the asteroid will hit us in the next 200 years.

The worst thing that could happen is the asteroid changing its orbit, which is also changing its path, causing it to maybe pass by earth a lot closer. Close approaches like these are very very rare especially with the size of this asteroid.

Another thing that we know for sure is that astronomers have already discovered almost all asteroids about the size of 1998 or larger: 98% of them to be exact. And those are just the ones that will have a close encounter with earth, although it is very unlikely that they would have any impact.

If an asteroid was going to come in contact with the earth, astronomers have researched many techniques to keep that from happening, although that task would be very complicated depending on the size of the asteroid. One of the strategies to knock an asteroid off its course is to attach rockets to one that would steer it away from hitting us.

Another method is to shoot it. This method would not get it off its course.

Another way that is a lot more complicated, is capturing it inside an inflatable bag that would re-directed somewhere else.

What is Seasonal Depression?

As the seasons are changing, people are able to do more outside and are less confined to their houses. Many people also find that they have more energy than they did in the winter months.

This could be because of Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. It is a type of depression that, according to the Mayo Clinic, is related to changes in seasons. They also say that most symptoms, in people with SAD, start in the fall and continue through the long winter months. In some less common cases, people have been known to be affected in the spring and early summer.

SAD is very common in the United States, according to the Cleveland Clinic, with approximately half a million people suffering from it each year. This is more likely to start in young adulthood, but children and teens could also experience SAD. People who live far north and south of the equator are also found to be more likely to be affected. 

Most of the symptoms are the same as depression. The most common symptoms, according to Cleveland Clinic, are:

  • Sadness
  • Anxiety
  • Increased need for sleep
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Withdrawal from social activities
  • Loss of interest in usual activities 

The treatment for SAD varies depending on the severity of the case. Anti-depressants work in some cases but the most recommended treatment is light therapy and spending more time outside. Light therapy is when a device containing white fluorescent light is placed at a distance of 2-3 feet away from the patient. It is used as a substitute for sunlight, which has been shown to improve the patient’s moods. 

If you have diagnosed with SAD there are multiple things to do to keep your symptoms from returning. One thing to do is to try and spend time outside, even when it’s cloudy, the sunlight will still help. A second thing that is helpful is to eat well-balanced meals with lots of vitamins, even though you body might be craving starchy and sweet foods. Another thing that would help with SAD is exercising for thirty minutes a day, at least three times a week. 

Animal cloning in recent years

I know cloning sounds like a fictional plot from a sci-fi movie, but in 2020, this is a real practice.

There are ways we can help animals to become healthier through this. An example of this is when goats were cloned to produce more of a protein called antithrombin. The protein antithrombin goes through the bloodstream and reduces blood clots. They were bred now having more quantities of this protein. The research can be found by clicking this link.

When an organism is cloned, cells from that organism are harvested. They are then placed into the reproductive system of another, in attempt to grow the cells. Here is a more specific glance into the process of cloning.

A somatic cell is taken from the being that is going to be cloned. Then the nucleus of that cell is extracted. Why do we need to remove the nucleus? Well because that is what holds the organism’s DNA, which is what we need in order to clone it. The rest of the cell is discarded. After that, the nucleus of an egg cell is taken out from a donor organism, and replaced with the somatic cell nucleus. In hopes of the transfer working, they stimulate cell division in the new egg. With success, the egg divides. After division, the egg will be fertilized and transferred to a surrogate animal, which will carry the egg to term. The transfer has a high chance of failure, which is what makes the process an expensive one.

Human cloning is not yet possible. There is no federal US law that strictly prohibits it, though in 13 states it isn’t permitted.

Scientists are working on better ways of animal cloning. Animals that are cloned are known to have problems and mutations. There are health risks as well. The focus is to adjust the cloning process in order to produce healthy animals. Pushing forward in these sciences gives us hope that in the future we will have healthy animal clones, and we will continue to advance forward.

Lab-grown alternatives to meat

Lab-grown meat is meat that is not from a living organism. It is made by taking a muscle sample from an animal. Then they take stem cells from the tissue, and replicate those and grow them. These cells are able to renew and grow themselves, that’s why it is important to the process of making the meat. The cells then generate into different tissues and are able to grow, forming muscle tissues. The meat grows onto itself in a cultivator. It’s ready to harvest in 4-6 weeks. That is fast!

There is a reason why this is being practiced. This type of meat can put an end to cruel and unethical treatment of many animals that are raised for food. Many of these animals have bad living conditions that consist of little space, and their diet is foods meant to bulk them up, sometimes with abusive caretakers.

Many animals used for food now are genetically mutated for the purpose of getting more meat off of them. Most baby bulls are killed for meat. The female cows are needed for breeding and milking, so why waste funds on a male that produces less product? The same is thought for chickens; hens lay the eggs.

Along with better relationships with cattle, there are also good impacts this meat brings to the environment. The production of livestock products is one of the huge industries contributing to extreme amounts of deforestation, water pollution, and greenhouse-gas emissions. Less land usage, less ingredients, and an overall smaller impact is a result of synthetic meats. Synthetically growing the meat does not need as many resources as sustaining and growing animals from birth. One simple tissue sample is used and is able to make thousands of quarter pounders. We are able to reduce the pollution agriculture causes as well as the amount of land we have dedicated towards it.

The meat is not yet on the market, it is still being tested, but it is hoped to be coming very soon. The purpose of this advancement isn’t to get rid of traditional agriculture, it’s about finding a safer, less cruel alternative to factory farming. The cost of production is high right now, that is because it’s not yet perfected. There is a focus on bringing the cost down, but it still utilizes fewer resources. There are a lot of different names for the food produced, but we know one thing for sure, it’s a nearly perfect alternative for real meat.

Plastic in the ocean

Ever wonder how plastic gets in our ocean? Plastic makes its way into the ocean due to human activity. Instead of recycling plastic as we are supposed to, it ends up in the trash can. From the trash can, that plastic goes to a landfill. Because the plastic is so light, it will often fly off and that’s when it starts going into bodies of water and streets. 

Plastic affects the ocean because it can kill wildlife, fish, seabirds, and marine mammals. Because of the plastic floating in the ocean, often times animals tend to get tangled in it and die. They also mistake it for food. Sea turtles mistake plastic bags for jellyfish and often end up choking on them and dying. 

Plastic in the ocean has a negative impact on the environment. According to the United Nations Environment, plastic can release toxic effects. Chlorinated plastic can release harmful chemicals into the surrounding soil, which can seep into groundwater or any other surrounding water sources, and also the ecosystem. This is dangerous because it can cause harmful effects to the species who drink water.

There are long term effects of having plastic in the ocean. Some of them can be toxic wastes. This can then affect marine wildlife along with the food chain and any reproductive system failures. It can interrupt the cycle of the coral reefs. And it can also affect human health. 

Some of the more short term effects of having plastic in the ocean. Plastic in the ocean can pollute the ocean and any waterways, which then has harmful impacts on the environment and the economy. Many sea life creatures eat plastic and die from choking, blockage in the intestines and starvation. 

There are many things the human species can do to help stop plastic from getting into the ocean, or any other body of water. We can reduce our use of Single-Use plastics (think like plastic straws, Saran Wrap, or plastic cups, etc.). We can start to recycle properly or participate in a beach or river cleanup. You can also support any organizations that address plastic pollution problems. 

Animals going extinct

There are a couple of explanations behind why an animal or creature can become endangered. One explanation is loss of environment. To become familiar with why creatures have become terminated previously, we utilized data from National Geographic.

Creatures might be compelled to move because of an adjustment in their condition, this can be common, natural change, or by human causes. The dinosaurs, for instance, passed on because of natural disasters.

Animal populaces have diminished by 60% since 1970; it’s thought to be because of rigorous cultivating of land. The rainforests that are being chopped down have many species in them. From the plants, to creepy crawlies, to the feathered creatures, and common mammals. These creatures utilize this condition as their home; it gives shelter and nourishment to them. 

Species that endure their natural surroundings being cleared need to relocate. With an absence of land, there is an expanded possibility of human-animal interactions. Introduction to wild creatures can be possibly hazardous to both parties. Potentially dangerous plants, growths, or insects, might be nearer to society because of their territory being crushed. They begin to grow and thrive in communities which is unwanted.

The loss of species we are seeing today is evaluated to be somewhere in the range of 1,000 and 10,000 times higher than the common eradication rate. People have pursued a significant number of the bigger animals from pretty much every occupied landmass in the course of 125,000 years. 

The International Union for Conservation of Nature evaluated how likely it is for specific bird species to go extinct. This depends on characteristics they saw from them. What they found was that the little and versatile creatures have a superior possibility of endurance. Huge creatures are progressively powerless against people since they are targeted and need more space. The loss of these creatures has tumbling impacts. They support their biological system, for instance, elephants disperse huge seeds around the land.

Creatures coincide with their condition; removing their environment carries dangers to them. The West African Black rhinoceros was a subspecies of the black rhino that was proclaimed to be wiped out in 2011. This creature’s end was due to excessive poaching and demands for rhino horn. 

There is an informational article to help you learn more about larger animals becoming extinct from the New York Times

This article was intended to shine light to everyone on how their environment has been changing. Earth is the home for millions of species of animals. People have been cutting down and taking down the habitats of these animals for years. After such a long time of destruction and hunting, animals are becoming endangered.

We want to preserve these animals of the past and keep them alive, but because of sport hunting and exotic demands it’s only becoming harder. We lose animal and plant species because of agriculture pushes, whether it’s building homes, or farming.

I’d recommend visiting the Wildlife Conservation Society’s site if you would like to donate to that cause or learn more about it.

What is the Coronavirus? How can I protect myself?

As we all know, sickness and disease are very common parts of our lives. Everybody knows that eventually they will get sick, most of the time it’s no big deal and all you need to do is ride it out. We know how diseases like the common cold are spread and what we can do to prevent ourselves from getting sick. But even with these precautions, people still get very sick each year.

 One virus that has been in the news recently is known as The 2019 Novel Coronavirus or simply just the coronavirus, it is part of the corona family which houses other viruses such as the common cold, or influenza.

The outbreak started in a town that has been identified as Wuhan, China. Wuhan has since been quarantined, but not before hundreds of people fled the village and surrounding towns.

This virus is spread through airborne particles and is very contagious, it is passed from person-to-person. But unlike influenza, the coronavirus currently has no vaccine.

In the US, there are 5 states with confirmed cases of the coronavirus. According to the CDC, there have also been 29 countries with confirmed cases of the virus. China has reported 28,000 confirmed cases with more than 560 coronavirus deaths, according to The Washington Post

There are more viruses that belong in the coronavirus family, such as the common cold, which was mentioned earlier, and the viruses that caused the global outbreaks of Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) in 2015, and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003.

It is believed that this virus spread to humans from animals, like the MERS and SARS viruses did but they are still unsure about what the specific cause of this outbreak was and when they will be able to find a cure.

People are being warned not to travel to China and returning travelers are being tested and detained for 14 days to check for the virus.

The best way to avoid getting sick is to avoid anybody who has been diagnosed with the virus, and your wash hands frequently while avoiding any unnecessary trips into crowded areas.

Bee puns really sting

Bees are very interesting insects. In one way they are defying the natural law of weight compared to flight and in other ways they are very efficient and precise little creatures. 

They are built very large and have very small wings. Strangely, they can fly which is interesting because they don’t have the large wings that would be needed for its size.

They are very strong and have an interesting life system. There are many different types of bees like the: bumblebee, hornet, honey bee, western honey bee, etc. Each type has its own features. A bee has a standard defense system but has a complicated outcome. 

Queen and worker bumblebees can sting. Unlike in honeybees, the bee can sting repeatedly without injuring itself; by the same token, the stinger is not left in the wound. Bumblebee species are not normally aggressive, but may sting in defence of their nest, or if it feels endangered itself. 

There are many bees that have a complication. If a bee feels like it is in danger it will sting, but the stinger will be left behind. The bee needs its stinger or it will die. 

Certain bees are in danger of going extinct and many have been put on the endangered list. 

The main causes for the extinction of bees is pesticides and parasites. Ever since WWII the use of pesticides has increased by extreme amounts.

One third of the world’s food supply is made by bees. If all bees go extinct we would be left with no crops, flowers, or plants. If bees disappeared off the earth mankind would estimatedly only have four years or so to live. We wouldn’t be able to regrow any plants to make more food. If bees don’t have food then we don’t have food. 

Easy ways to help protect them is to plant more flowers and plants in your yard, try to eat bee friendly foods that don’t contain too much honey and things, and most importantly, don’t kill them. You can easily find a safe way to move their home somewhere new or just let them stay where they set up camp. Always remember that if you don’t bother them, then they won’t bother you.