Sharks notes: Erik Karlsson’s status for NHL All Star Game in doubt

first_imgSUNRISE, Fla. — With just two games remaining before All Star Weekend, the Sharks are opting to shut Erik Karlsson down for the remainder of the first half, giving him extra time to recover from a lower-body injury for the stretch run.If Karlsson also chooses to skip next weekend’s All Star festivities in San Jose, he’ll receive 16 full days to recover from the injury that kept him out of Saturday’s 6-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. After the All Star Game, the Sharks will enter their …last_img read more

The search for what is killing the beech trees

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest American beech trees are dying in northeast Ohio and beyond. An Ohio State University study aims to figure out why.The study is looking into the cause of beech leaf disease, which was first found in Lake County in 2012 and has since spread to nine other counties in Ohio, eight in Pennsylvania, one in New York and five in Ontario.Young trees seem to be particularly susceptible to the disease, which initially causes dark stripes to appear on leaves, then deforms the leaves. Eventually the disease can kill the trees.“There’s no similar forest tree disease that we are aware of anywhere,” said Enrico Bonello, a professor of plant pathology in Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES), who oversees the study. “It’s really a black box.”Working under Bonello’s supervision, doctoral graduate student Carrie Ewing is comparing the genes of microorganisms present in leaves that have symptoms of beech tree disease and those that do not, hoping to identify the microorganisms that are uniquely associated with beech leaf disease. She’s trying to determine whether the mystery microorganisms causing the disease are viruses, fungi, bacteria, phytoplasmas or nematodes. Phytoplasmas are bacteria without cell walls. Nematodes are microscopic worms.“We are comparing huge amounts of data, kind of a shotgun approach,” Bonello said. “It’s like trying to find a needle in a haystack by comparing various haystacks.”If the infected plants have genetic material from a specific microorganism that the uninfected plants don’t have, Ewing then can zero in on the suspected pathogen and inoculate healthy trees with it in an attempt to prove that the pathogen is the cause of beech leaf disease. Ewing expects to have study results by this summer.Meanwhile, the U.S. Forest Service and researchers with Lake County’s Holden Arboretum in Kirtland are conducting a separate study on potential causes of the disease. They are looking into whether nematodes found two years ago on infected beech leaves are causing the disease or if they were just present on infected leaves.Ohio has 17 million American beech trees, and many of them in northeast Ohio, particularly along or near Lake Erie, are afflicted with the disease, Bonello said.The disease was first reported on American beech trees, the only beech trees native to North America, but similar symptoms have been found on European beech and Oriental beech trees in nurseries in Lake County, where beech leaf disease was first found.“That suggests other species are susceptible,” Bonello said. “So there’s potential for the disease to spread worldwide in the northern hemisphere.”last_img read more

Corn ethanol production has minimal effect on cropland use, study shows

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Ethanol production has increased sharply in the United States in the past 10 years, leading to concerns about the expansion of demand for corn resulting in conversion of non-cropland to crop production and the environmental effects of this. However, a new study co-authored by a University of Illinois researcher shows that the overall effects of ethanol production on land-use have been minimal.The research, published in the American Journal of Agricultural Economics, looks at the effects of ethanol production capacity and crop prices on land use in the U. S. from 2007 to 2014.The increase in corn ethanol production has led to concerns that it would raise the price of corn and the demand for cropland; thus making it worthwhile to bring land that was not previously cultivated (such as grasslands) into production, says Madhu Khanna, a professor of agricultural and consumer economics at U of I.“Studies have simulated the crop price effects of producing 15 billion gallons of corn ethanol and shown that they could lead to large expansion in crop acres,” Khanna said. “We now have actual data on land-use change that has occurred since the ethanol expansion began in 2007 and can test whether the predictions of these models have held up. Interestingly, the raw data shows that although corn ethanol production more than doubled between 2007 and 2014, total cropland acres in 2014 were very similar to those in 2007 and the crop price index was lower in 2014 than in 2007.”Khanna and her co-authors, including Yijia Li, a graduate student at U of I and Ruiqing Miao from Auburn University, analyzed cropland data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service to explain the extent to which changes in cropland acres could be causally attributed to changes in crop prices and proximity to ethanol plants.“Establishment of an ethanol plant in a county can increase corn acres and total cropland acres by reducing grain transportation costs and increasing the net revenue from corn production, creating an incentive to plant more corn,” Khanna said. “Additionally, higher crop prices that accompany the expansion in ethanol production can also create incentives for increasing crop acres even in locations that do not have an ethanol plant in their vicinity.”Khanna adds that in examining the causes of changes in cropland acres that have taken place it is important to consider both of these effects. Previous studies have looked at one of the other, but not simultaneously at both.“Corn ethanol capacity went up from about 6 to 14 billion gallons between 2007 and 2014 and the number of plants doubled, from about 100 to about 200, so it’s a pretty dramatic increase,” Khanna said.There was also a sharp upturn in corn prices between 2008 and 2012, but by 2014 the prices were almost down to 2007 levels again. Khanna and her co-authors found that while crop prices had a greater effect than plant proximity, overall changes in land use were minimal over the seven years included in the study.And while the higher corn prices did lead to an 8.5% increase in corn production, most of that increase came from conversion of other crops rather than non-cropland.Total cropland increased by 2% between 2008 and 2012, so in the aggregate it was relatively small, Khanna said. “In fact, by 2014 a lot of the land which did convert into crops actually went back into non-crop, so the change in cropland, if you look at 2008 to 2014, was only by half a percent. We find that land use does respond to prices, but not by a lot.”Studies using satellite images of cropland to compare acres in 2008 and 2012 have suggested that there was a significant and irreversible increase in those acres, all attributed to corn ethanol. But a careful analysis of the data all the way to 2014 shows that the overall impact of corn ethanol production on increasing total crop acreage was very negligible.Moreover, the impact of crop price varied over time; it was a bit higher up to 2012 but then reverted almost back to previous levels in 2007-2008 by 2014 as crop prices dropped.“Our study shows that changes in land use should not be considered irreversible; as prices dropped after 2012, land reverted back to non-crop uses close to levels in 2007 and 2008,” Khanna said.The paper, “Effects of Ethanol Plant Proximity and Crop Prices on Land-Use Change in the United States,” was published in the American Journal of Agricultural Economics and is available online. Authors include Yijia Li and Madhu Khanna, Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences and the Center for Advanced Bioenergy and Bioproducts Innovation, University of Illinois, and Ruiqing Miao, Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology, Auburn University.last_img read more

Book review: ‘Tenzing and the Sherpas of the Everest’ by Judy and Tashi Tenzing

first_imgTenzing and the Sherpas of the EverestBy Judy and Tashi Tenzing Harper CollinsTrying to get a grip on why men climb mountains is an exercise in extremes: the public is either told “because they are there” or is hit with tomes full of raging blizzards, frostbitten fingers and the meaning,Tenzing and the Sherpas of the EverestBy Judy and Tashi Tenzing Harper CollinsTrying to get a grip on why men climb mountains is an exercise in extremes: the public is either told “because they are there” or is hit with tomes full of raging blizzards, frostbitten fingers and the meaning of life.There are a rare handful who can turn the activity into artistic and commercial success – no airport bookshop or pavement book vendor is complete without Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air.MOUNTAIN COUPLE: Norgay with his wife Ang Lhamu in Rosenlaui, Switzerland, in 1953But for the most part, writing about climbing is easier than climbing itself; which means unlike the exercise itself, there is enough room for many who do it badly. Like the commercialisation of the Everest climb, the mountaineering-writing industry too has led to its own pile of unwieldy debris.For most part also, the industry has remained Euro-centric and concerned itself with the agonies and ecstasies of the foreigner who arrives at the foot of the world’s mightiest mountains with a view to “conquering” them, before being humbled into realising the errors of his ways.In this trauma-ridden genre, Judy and Tashi Tenzing’s book is a breath of clean air. It is part biography of Tenzing Norgay and part social history of the Sherpas whose links with the Himalayas lie deeper than those who stomp up and down its slopes for sport.Click here to EnlargeThe book, written by Tenzing’s grandson and his wife, places Tenzing as the man who was able to bridge two cultures and embrace both views of the mountains: the eastern, which worshipped the lofty peaks because they considered them the homes of the gods, and the western, for which the mountains were physical and mental challenges.The book is timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the first ascent of the Everest in 1953. Jan Morris described it as “the last innocent adventure”. Today, the Everest is an industry that spins in the dollars; but Nepal has begun to spin out an environmental crisis.advertisementAs fascinating as the story of Tenzing and what the Everest climb did to his life is the book’s compassionate account of the Sherpa people.The 20th century has transformed them from a rural community that provided load carriers to the “sahibs” to one that has an opportunity, through mountaineering and tourism, to empower their future. The mountains remain, after all, the abode of benign gods.last_img read more