THEY GROW UP SO FAST: Humans are speeding up evolution in animals we hunt, and not for the better, according to a new study. It has long been established that prey animals evolve in response to predation, but not at this scale or pace. Animals that people regularly hunt or harvest are evolving 300 percent faster than in natural systems, and now reach their sexual maturity 25 percent sooner, at a size that has shrunk 20 percent in 30 years. This allows the animals to reproduce at younger ages and smaller sizes, before they're hunted. But evolving to be smaller can put them at greater risk in the wild, where natural predators tend to take the recently born or nearly dead, rather than the largest and healthiest, as human big-game hunters do. (Sources: The New York Times, ScienceDaily)
BALLAST FROM THE PAST: Environmental groups sued the U.S. EPA Monday, arguing that new rules won't stop invasive species from infiltrating American waterways. The new EPA rules require oceangoing ships to exchange their ballast water or rinse out their tanks before entering U.S. coastal waters or the Great Lakes. Plaintiffs in the case say more extensive measures to clean out the ballast tanks are needed to prevent another infestation like that of the zebra mussels, which hitched a ride into the Great Lakes and devastated the ecosystem there. Others have pointed out that invaders may cling to hulls or other parts of the ships. The lawsuit follows a federal report last week warning of increased Great Lake invasions. (Sources: The Associated Press, Detroit Free Press, AP)
FINE MOTOR SKILLS: MSNBC reports on the electrical storm at the Detroit auto show, where companies are clamoring to strut out hybrids and electric "science projects," some of which may be more buzz fodder than practical substance. The 2010 Toyota Prius has been the show-stealer so far, but other hybrids such as the new Honda Insight and Ford Fusion are carving out their own niches in the "bridge technology" — so-called because hybrids will inevitably one day be pushed aside by fully electric cars. (Source: MSNBC)
THROWN FOR A LOOPHOLE: A new EPA rule issued Monday will make it easier for about 3,500 U.S. industrial plants, mills and refineries to expand their operations without applying for new pollution permits under the Clean Air Act, the result of a two-year battle from the Bush administration. The agency and industry representatives say the rule will streamline operations; an environmental group calls it "a classic loophole." (Source: The Washington Post)
SPOKE UP: Bicyclist and U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer is profiled in the NY Times today for the growing mainstream acceptance of his enthusiasm for two-wheeled transit and all things sustainable. Blumeanauer founded the Congressional Bicycle Caucus shortly after taking office in 1996, which some congressmen say helped soothe partisan tensions at the time, and supports cycling in his home base of Portland, Ore. (Source: NY Times)
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