Tuesday, September 18, 2012

fyi vets in Australia do not earn as much money as most people think due to the 'expensive' fees clients encounter. yes, i have to agree the fees are high, but compared to other health services they are way lower. most services are undercharged and practices have to pay to buy the equipment, drugs and pay to maintain the property and pay employees etc etc etc. they are basically a small business with no subsidies from the govt.

here is a picture of a newspaper article comparing the costs of human v's veterinary vet care. 
(click for a larger picture)

most people don't realise how much things cost cos their health insurance takes care of it, but it's ridiculously expensive! i was also surprised the first time i heard about the consultation fee for my cousin's paediatrician - it was $300! most vet practices i know charge $60-90, and though they may not have the specialist title, they also do their own procedures like dermatologists, surgeons, radiographers, radiologists, etc etc etc do..

Monday, September 17, 2012

Providing food and filling a water bottle does not constitute "caring" for an animal. I hate it that nobody else in my family seems to understand that you can't simply just not pay attention to the actual animal - nobody notices or can notice if anything is out of the ordinary. Currently, it is literally as if the bunnies are not even there. I don't understand - how can you not care.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

seemingly obvious facts raised in the past few weeks:
- if u hv more than one child (or two between a partnership), you are increasing the world's population.
- the human population is no longer limited to the environment's carrying capacity. now resources are made available to suit the number of individuals present, instead of the other way around.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Monday, September 3, 2012

Sunday, September 2, 2012

from silent spring to silent night

**this video should be watched by everybody. because everybody who's drinking water is affected and you should know why.

would you treat a disease but not get rid of the cause?

analogy derived from the video: would you treat people for broken bones and internal organ damage, and then leave them to walk across highways amongst speeding motor vehicles?
watch this video and you will change the way you think about chemicals in our environment and what they are doing to us.

This is taken from a presentation given by Dr. Tyrone Hayes on the effects of Atrazine (a herbicide) on frogs.  But don't forget (also pointed out in the video), these effects have been demonstrated in other animals too: birds, rodents, fish, reptiles and ALSO MAMMALS (humans are mammals). 

Why are there so many different types of cancers affecting people, at such greater numbers today than before? Why are people getting fatter? Why is there a mass depletion of amphibians occurring in the world (Clue: it's not Chytrid fungus. It's another primary cause, leading to the secondary Chytrid infection)? I don't want to spoil too much, cos the video is seriously enlightening - i didn't plan on watching the entire 58 minutes (i'm supposed to be studying T__T), but it went by so quickly.

what the video enlightens: the general public not involved in the science industry cannot easily access scientific information. you can't go into a bookstore and read leading journals like "Nature", or "Science". there is no easy way to assess whether pharmaceutical companies and government agencies are telling the truth or not, because where you find the information - the scientific articles - are not easily accessible. 

for Corn and Money, generations of human health are being compromised. why don't they care? Europe, the manufacturer of this chemical has banned it. If you are in a position of power to change things, why risk your own life too and ignore what facts are telling you?

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Gladstone Harbour Dredging

[Source: The Economist]

A short and generalised summary of what's happening at the Gladstone Harbour (Queensland, Australia).

Interview with Dr. Matt Landos - an independent researcher (a veterinary scientist) who will soon release a report on data collected from the Harbour - if you don't have time to watch it all, probably start from 13-14 minutes to get the more generalised explanation.

To prepare the harbour for coal seam gas (methane) export (money) -  e.g. boats/equipment entering/leaving, the sediments are being dredged (dug up) and the material acquired dumped in the Great Barrier Reef. Yes, that Great Barrier Reef (link 1, 2). Excavation waste is being dumped into a UNESCO World Heritage site, a biodiverse and complex ecosystem (UNESCO wasn't notified when the project started). In addition, you'd think the government would consult experts before potentially disrupting an ecosystem - e.g. a vet in regards to animals, a coral expert, a water quality expert. Let's release the cane toad.

But the more immediate concern, is that as a result of all the digging, the water is being contaminated and to no surprise, the animals living in the water are now diseased and dying. Water to sea creatures (or anything living underwater, for that matter) is everything - how it gets its oxygen, how it gets its food, minerals, nutrients, essential ions, its toilet... it's everything. It's surrounded by its environment all the time and it cannot get away from it. The dredging is releasing materials into the water that is not usually there e.g. metals (such as aluminium) and nutrients from stirred up soil. Now, nutrients are good, but anything in excess can be toxic (seriously) - organisms like algae which produce toxins flourish in excess nutrients. This is kinda why you don't pour garden fertiliser into your backyard pool, or you don't wanna administer insecticides/fly-spray into your home aquarium. 

The government has collected some data to say that levels of some toxins (eg. some metals) are not above the levels considered to be 'toxic'/harmful. But what wasn't mentioned was the data was collected from a large body of water - ie. samples collected from where the toxins were coming from, and also further (and further and further) away from that site - where the water is only slightly contaminated. Then they combined all the numbers together and produced an average. So instead of revealing that: yes, the water is contaminated (eg. 20 times toxic levels) - the results were figuratively diluted out. Also, we/people don't entirely understand how chemicals (e.g. toxins / other substances in the water) interact with each other - even though the measurement of a certain substance may be "under" the harmful level, it may interact with something else and cause harm.

You've heard of lead poisoning and how it affects the brain, nerves and basically how the body functions. If the body cannot function well, well.. the animal cannot survive. The coral, fish, turtles, dugongs, crabs, dolphins and everything else living in or using the water - even people working in the area (such as fishermen) - are all being affected by the contaminated water (by affected, I mean getting ill and/or dying). 

When you get sick, you are more susceptible to getting more disease - the body's immune system becomes compromised (immunocompromised). Some of the authorities (govt, dredging company) are attributing some of the disease and mortalities to secondary diseases that the animals are getting, which are highly likely due to the contaminated water in the first place. (In short: contaminated water > unwell/sick fish > get secondary diseases eg. because they are less able to fight off 'the usual' load of diseases such as parasites). And the Queensland Government (their Environment department) are saying fish caught from these are still fit for human consumption. I don't think many people would want to eat emaciated fish with heart disease, fluid leaking into their body cavities, inflamed guts, brain disease; crabs with holes in their shells.  

A report that will soon be released collected data to see what the situation is actually like. Mortalities have increased, coinciding with the start of dredging. (nothing else besides that have changed - "what about the recent Queensland floods?" you ask? Well, as was mentioned in the video above by Dr. Landos, ever since that Harbour ecosystem existed (e.g. hundreds/thousands of years), there has probably been flood events - and monitoring has not seen deaths like current levels. 

(Personally, when I first heard of the situation, which was only yesterday. I naively was surprised and thought back to when I first saw the Asia Pulp and Paper 
(the destroyers of rainforest in Indonesia and Malaysia and probably leading to its inhabitants' (eg. orangutans) extinction) TV advertisement being played in Australia  - how bluntly the public was being misled.)

Some web links (plenty more out there to research, as well - Google Scholar effects of contaminated water / heavy metal poisoning on fauna/flora, coral health etc etc etc - everything in the environment is interconnected, there is no way affecting one thing will not affect something else). Ok, enough of my rant. Spread this topic and raise awareness if you'd like.

- Courier Mail
- Weekly Times Now
- The Economist
for less objective links (not news articles):
- GreatBarrierReef.org - related blog posts
- GetUp! campaign page

*update: here's a link to the abc 7:30 queensland report news segment (the site won't let me embed the video elsewhere) - there's also a transcript of the video as well

some points to clear up (mentioned in the above news report and/or by Leo Zussino, from Gladstone Ports Corporation (working for the Port / the dredging project))
1. Overflow of barramundi, that came with the overflowing dam water (due to the floods) are increasing competition for food, and this is why the other fish are getting sick and dying - due to starvation.
No. Independent scientists (soon to be released report), not ones working for the government who approved this situation, found that there were plenty of fish for the barramundi (and other fish-eating fish) to eat, right next to where the barramundi were swimming. 

Also, it's not just fish competing with barramundi who are getting sick; dugongs, crabs, people, sharks - they're all affected and they're not competing with the barramundi for fish to eat. So this argument is moot.

2. Leo Zussino said: "We are causing an impact upon commercial fishermen's harvest in Gladstone harbour while we are dredging. But we're not causing in our view and all the scientific evidence we've seen any impact upon fish that's causing disease in fish."
Key words to take note here: "...all the scientific evidence we've seen...". I don't think "all the scientific evidence" that him and his Corporation has seen, can be compared to "all the scientific evidence" that scientists producing a peer-reviewed scientific report have seen (and to that add: and probably read and understood). 
It's like saying, 'there is no evidence' - when you didn't look in the right place!

3. the Gladstone Ports Corporation also said that diseased fish were there before the dredging started, so dredging could not be responsible for disease and deaths seen now.
Who do you believe: Fishermen who are working in the water and experiencing the problem first hand, or a Corporate Businessman who probably has not stepped foot in the actual waters or seen and touched the animals affected?

One of the fishermen interviewed said, "I caught 15 tonne of barra before the dredging started and not one of them had any sign of disease and about a month after the dredging started they started getting diseased."

You've probably now gotten a sense that the Gladstone Ports Corporation, and some  representatives of the government backing this project are willing to say things that's not backed by a lot of scientific evidence (i.e. untrue things, a.k.a lies). I really hope that someone high up gets their head screwed on right and realise what precious things they are destroying.