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Weekly Environmental Updates
Fruit trees grown under drought conditions produce smaller and more shriveled fruit, but the nutrient value is unaffected and can even be higher than fruit grown under normal conditions, says a recent study. Grapes and pomegranates had the same antioxidant levels as non drought-stressed trees. The challenge for marketers is consumer reluctance to buy fruit that cosmetically appears less than perfect.
Beware the bears if you plan to visit Yosemite National Park, where bear encounters are reportedly up 35 percent this year. Drought conditions are cited as a possible reason for the increase as supplies of berries and other wild food foraged by bears disappears, causing the bears to raid cars and tents. A "bear management team" is employed at Yosemite and the bears are being outfitted with GPS collars to better track their movements.
Plants produce their own sunscreen, say researchers at Purdue University. Plants, which suffer from sun damage to their DNA without protection, make special molecules and send them to the outer layers of their leaves. The molecules prevent damage by ultraviolet-B radiation via absorption.
About a third of all U.S. shrimp was found to be mislabeled in a study conducted by Oceana, the world's largest marine conservation group. The shrimp products were mislabeled as different species, tagged as being wild caught when they were farmed, and some had no information at all as to species or origin. Some of the shrimp were even described as "genetically unknown to science". New York City was the worst offender with 43 percent of the shrimp vaguely labeled.
Rooftop solar panels are an option for some owners of plug-in and electric vehicles, but the investment isn't for everyone. The solar panels are expensive, the rooftop of the garage or house has to face the south or south-east, and there can't be shady trees near the site. Consumers have to do the math to decide whether charging their car via solar power makes long-term sense for them.
Comets might be visually stunning, but they stink, at least the one recently sampled by the Rosetta space probe. An analysis of the gases contained around the comet's nucleus revealed flowery scents such as hydrogen sulphide, hydrogen cyanide, methanol, and sulfur dioxide. Scientists will hopefully know more about the comet's composition after a robotic lander probes its surface next month.
Roman Hills