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Book Project Final: Overpopulation

 

Impacts of Overpopulation Seen in Both Humans and Animals:

Diana Lopez

Overpopulation is a large worry to many environmentalists. With a current world population of over 7 billion people, and even larger estimates in the decades to come, issues surrounding limited amounts of food, land and a clean water supply are rising. How is the planet going to feed future populations? With estimations of over 9 billion people by 2050,1 and even more extreme numbers by others, where is the sustainable food supply going to come from? How can people create and use sustainable and renewable resources to minimize the adverse effects on the planet?

In China and India, there are well over 1 billion people respectively. In fact, in China they have implemented the One Child Policy to counteract the large population growth that was occurring going into the 1970s. This policy, however, is only really strictly applied to the Han Chinese living in the overpopulated urban areas and not the ethnic minorities. “Han Chinese represent more than 91% of the Chinese population. Just over 51% of China's population lives in urban areas. In rural areas, Han Chinese families can apply to have a second child if the first child is a girl.”2 Because of their culture, males are highly prized in Chinese society. Often times, couples get pregnant multiple times and elect for selective abortion if the baby is a female, many times of course, female children are abandoned or infanticide is committed. For those who do not follow the rules, there are many unfortunate consequences. Many forced abortions are performed, and families are fined thousands and thousands of dollars. In fact, if a family happens to be rich, the government finds their opportunity to charge them with a larger fine than a middle class family would receive, for example. There was one case where an upper class couple were fined over 200,000 US Dollars.

Although in recent years China has not been contributing to the dramatic population growth, in many parts of the world, contraception has been a real issue for over population. Contraception, such as condoms, the birth control pill, or the shot, and many others, can all be used to prevent unwanted pregnancy. In rural or very Catholic countries, contraception is hard to come by or is looked down upon. Every year, hundreds of volunteers go out to these mostly third world countries, like Africa, and attempt to educate and provide contraceptives. One country in particular, Nigeria, has grown to be the most populous country in Africa, and according to the United Nations, it can grow to reach 240 million people by 2050. The president recognizes that his country’s people are religious and are “not expected to reject God’s gifts.”3; however, this sensitive issue makes it difficult for the president to push contraceptives on its residents, more so for women, which could ultimately “elevate the quality of life” without the burden of an extra child.

The effects that humans impose on the planet through the rapidly growing population is devastating not only to us with poverty and an overall lower quality of life, but to the environment (both plants and animals). With more people contributing to a larger ecological footprint - using up precious resources and adding to the existing pollution -  by damaging the earth, habitats of many species of animals, as well as plants, are threatened accommodate our need for fertile land for food or housing. In efforts to combat this problem, the Center for Biological Diversity distributed 100,000 free “Endangered Species Condoms” around the country in honor of Earth Day 2012.4 The Center for Biological Diversity collaborated with artist Roger Peet to create colorful condom packages featuring endangered species - from dwarf seahorses and burying beetles to panthers and polar bears - adversely affected by human’s growing population. A few of these cleverly generated phrases include: “Don’t go bare...panthers are rare,” “Safe intercourse saves the dwarf seahorse,” “Wrap with care...save the polar bear,” and “Wear a condom now...save a spotted owl.” Polar bears have been put on the U.S. endangered species in 2008, due to the global warming caused by the greenhouse gases of the 7 billion people, and counting, on this planet. These emissions have caused the Arctic Sea ice, habitat of the polar bear, to melt. And with the Florida Panther, a rise in the state’s population has nearly doubled in 30 years, inhabiting and driving the panthers out of their natural habitat,and causing the number of Florida Panthers to dwindle.5 With over 3000 animals classified as endangered worldwide (over 2000 plants), this art being utilized for the campaign can be useful. Although it reaches only a small demographic of people, primarily young men and women, these people are the future and control the outcome of future population numbers. Various small efforts, like these, is better and more informative than nothing at all. Afterall, the use of contraceptives is a great limiter of population growth.

In fact, without tracking and suppressing the world’s population growth, many new ideas about sustainable resources, such as food and land need to be created and considered. One group called After Agri, a collaboration between Michiko Nitta and Michael Burton, looks at the future possibilities of our food system with effects of overpopulation and limited resources. They want to answer questions as to “What new cultural revolution will replace agriculture? How will our species and civilization be transformed?”6  In their latest projects,at one of their exhibitions, they explored two possible scenarios of our future food cultures. The first one was “Algaculture which proposed a greater symbiosis between algae and the human body and the Republic of salivation, a dark scenario that sees governments enforcing restricted food policies where the type of food a citizen receives responds to the emotional, intellectual and physical demands of their job.”7 After Agri answers questions as to how our future agricultural systems will change with the rise in population.  With the use of synthetic biology and geo-engineering nutrigenomics, and other sources of biotech, they have come up with a few good ideas. One idea  predicts algae as a major food source in the future – they call it Algaculture. In one of their exhibits, called ‘Algae Opera’, they use opera singers, which expel lots of carbon dioxide when they sing. They use this production of carbon dioxide to grow the algae. They believe that in the future, individual people will be able to grow their own food source. This idea would be beneficial to the planet because it is rather environmentally friendly by reducing a person’s ecological footprint. Instead of having to disrupt pristine land for more fertile rounds to grow food for a massively growing population, one could be able to use their existence, their carbon dioxide emissions to feed themselves.

Image may be copyrighted (http://www.stroom.nl/paginas/pagina.php?pa_id=8877670)

 

Opera singer wearing mask to produce algae. Mask is similar to the one above.

Images may be copyrighted  (http://we-make-money-not-art.com/archives/bioart/)

In After Agri’s second project, called the Republic of Salivation, their idea revolves around a scenario in which the government will have to start rationing  food through restricted food policies because of future food shortages and famine. These policies will make sure everyone is fed and will also ensure that cities do not rebel against authority. Depending on  an individuals employment, they will be fed according to the amount of energy they need to stay alive and finish a day’s work. Hard laborers will be fed higher calorie foods than people holding office jobs, for example, because more energy is required lifting heavy objects than sitting around at a computer desk.  “The exhibited piece explores an industrial worker’s diet that is largely designed on modified starch, enabling the body to work for longer on fewer nutrients.”8 This project also considers the types of food that can be grown in various parts of the world, and hope to limit food distribution to only that territory or part of the world. In this way, the land is not disturbed or altered to accommodate crops not native to the land reducing competition and cross breeding between species - both cause plants and local animals to become endangered. The various ways in which both Nitta and Burton look at future overpopulation and food resources is very intriguing, but although not very realistic, there is a small possibility in the far future.

Not only is overpopulation in the human population a huge concern, but overpopulation for animals is starting to become worrisome as well. In the U.S. alone, about 8 million stray or unwanted animals are taken to shelters every year. Out of those 8 million, 3.9 million of them are euthanized because no one wants to adopt them - space, resources, and funding is limited.9 Animal breeders are adding to this problem, because those pets that are not sold end up in shelters. Out of the 163 million cats and dogs in the U.S., 1 out of 20 of these animals end up at a shelter.10 There are plenty of homes for these poor animals to go to, but many people (only 20 percent choose to adopt a new pet)  are not looking to adopt or want puppies or purebred dogs. Unfortunately, the pet cloning business is not helping reduce the overpopulation of animals;  it is only adding to the case. After Dolly the sheep, the first cloned animal from an adult cell, many businesses lept to the opportunity to exploit this biotechnology. Many pet owners look to have a loved one “revived” or have their top show dogs cloned to replicate their former dog’s success. Cloning is useful, like in the areas of GFP (green fluorescent protein) to track pathways of diseases in animal models. Many organizations ,like the Humane Society, do not approve of animal cloning by pet owners because of the high incidence of overpopulation as well as the probability of increased animal suffering of the clones.

Image may be copyrighted (http://members.petfinder.com/~NY190/services.htm)

Overpopulation is seen in both animals and humans on the planet, and much is needed to reduce the environmental impacts that occur from this unfortunate, but inevitable future. With the ideas mentioned above, there is so much potential of future populations to sustain themselves.  

References

1. "The 9 Billion-people Question." The Economist. The Economist Newspaper Limited, 24 Feb. 2011. Web. 22 Mar. 2013. <http://www.economist.com/node/18200618>.

2. Rosenberg, Matt. "China One Child Policy Facts." About.com Geography. About.com, 14 Aug. 2012. Web. 23 Mar. 2013. <http://geography.about.com/od/chinamaps/a/China-One-Child-Policy-Facts.htm>.

3. "The Battle over Birth Control for Developing Nations | Globalization101." Globalization101. The Levin Institute, 6 Aug. 2012. Web. 22 Mar. 2013. <http://www.globalization101.org/the-battle-over-birth-control-for-developing-nations/>.

4. Harwood, Amy. "100,000 Endangered Species Condoms to Be Given Away for Earth Day."100,000 Endangered Species Condoms to Be Given Away for Earth Day. Center for Biological Diversity, 23 Mar. 2012. Web. 22 Mar. 2013. <http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/news/press_releases/2012/endangered-species-condoms-03-23-2012.html>.

5. Harwood, Amy. "100,000 Endangered Species Condoms to Be Given Away for Earth Day."100,000 Endangered Species Condoms to Be Given Away for Earth Day. Center for Biological Diversity, 23 Mar. 2012. Web. 23 Mar. 2013. <http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/news/press_releases/2012/endangered-species-condoms-03-23-2012.html>.

6. Regine. "Bioart - We Make Money Not Art." Bioart - We Make Money Not Art. N.p., 18 Oct. 2012. Web. 23 Mar. 2013. <http://we-make-money-not-art.com/archives/bioart/>.

7. Regine. "Bioart - We Make Money Not Art." Bioart - We Make Money Not Art. N.p., 18 Oct. 2012. Web. 23 Mar. 2013. <http://we-make-money-not-art.com/archives/bioart/>.

8. Nitta, Michiko, and Michael Burton. "Food Forward: Michael Burton & Michiko Nitta."Food Foward. Stroom Den Haag, 15 Jan. 2012. Web. 23 Mar. 2013. <http://www.stroom.nl/paginas/pagina.php?pa_id=8877670>.

9. "Pet Overpopulation." Pet Overpopulation. American Humane Association, n.d. Web. 22 Mar. 2013. <http://www.americanhumane.org/animals/adoption-pet-care/issues-information/pet-overpopulation.html>.

10. "Pet Overpopulation." Pet Overpopulation. American Humane Association, n.d. Web. 22 Mar. 2013. <http://www.americanhumane.org/animals/adoption-pet-care/issues-information/pet-overpopulation.html>.

Bibliography

"10 Billion Plus: Why World Population Projections Were Too Low." - ScienceInsider. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Mar. 2013. <http://news.sciencemag.org/scienceinsider/2011/05/10-billion-plus-why-world-population.html>.

"The 9 Billion-people Question." The Economist. The Economist Newspaper Limited, 24 Feb. 2011. Web. 22 Mar. 2013. <http://www.economist.com/node/18200618>.

"The Battle over Birth Control for Developing Nations | Globalization101." Globalization101. The Levin Institute, 6 Aug. 2012. Web. 22 Mar. 2013. <http://www.globalization101.org/the-battle-over-birth-control-for-developing-nations/>.

Dileo, Dan. "Alternatives to Condoms: The Catholic Church and Contraceptives | The Cornell Daily Sun." Alternatives to Condoms: The Catholic Church and Contraceptives | The Cornell Daily Sun. N.p., 01 Apr. 2009. Web. 22 Mar. 2013. <http://cornellsun.com/node/36425>.

Harwood, Amy. "100,000 Endangered Species Condoms to Be Given Away for Earth Day." 100,000 Endangered Species Condoms to Be Given Away for Earth Day. Center for Biological Diversity, 23 Mar. 2012. Web. 22 Mar. 2013. <http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/news/press_releases/2012/endangered-species-condoms-03-23-2012.html>.

Li, Le, and Alastair Jamieson. "China: One-child Policy Is Here to Stay." NBC News. N.p., 16 Jan. 2013. Web. 22 Mar. 2013. <http://behindthewall.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/01/16/16544706-china-one-child-policy-is-here-to-stay?lite>.

Moore, Malcolm. "Chinese Couple Pay £130,000 to Have a Second Child to Avoid One-child Policy." The Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group Limited, 01 June 2012. Web. 22 Mar. 2013. <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/9305700/Chinese-couple-pay-130000-to-have-a-second-child-to-avoid-one-child-policy.html>.

Nitta, Michiko, and Michael Burton. "Food Forward: Michael Burton & Michiko Nitta." Food Foward. Stroom Den Haag, 15 Jan. 2012. Web. 22 Mar. 2013. <http://www.stroom.nl/paginas/pagina.php?pa_id=8877670>.

Oak, Manali. "Causes of Overpopulation." Buzzle.com. Buzzle.com, 11 July 2012. Web. 22 Mar. 2013. <http://www.buzzle.com/articles/causes-of-overpopulation.html>.

"Pet Overpopulation." Pet Overpopulation. American Humane Association, n.d. Web. 22 Mar. 2013. <http://www.americanhumane.org/animals/adoption-pet-care/issues-information/pet-overpopulation.html>.

Regine. "Bioart - We Make Money Not Art." Bioart - We Make Money Not Art. N.p., 18 Oct. 2012. Web. 22 Mar. 2013. <http://we-make-money-not-art.com/archives/bioart/>.

Rosenberg, Matt. "China One Child Policy Facts." About.com Geography. About.com, 14 Aug. 2012. Web. 22 Mar. 2013. <http://geography.about.com/od/chinamaps/a/China-One-Child-Policy-Facts.htm>.

Pictures (in order of apparition):

Rosenberg, Matt. "China One Child Policy Facts." About.com Geography. About.com, 14 Aug. 2012. Web. 22 Mar. 2013. <http://geography.about.com/od/chinamaps/a/China-One-Child-Policy-Facts.htm>.

"P.L.U.T.O. Spay/Neuter." P.L.U.T.O. Spay/Neuter. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Mar. 2013.

Nitta, Michiko, and Michael Burton. "Food Forward: Michael Burton & Michiko Nitta."Food

Foward. Stroom Den Haag, 15 Jan. 2012. Web. 23 Mar. 2013. <http://www.stroom.nl/paginas/pagina.php?pa_id=8877670>.

Regine. "Bioart - We Make Money Not Art." Bioart - We Make Money Not Art. N.p., 18

Oct. 2012. Web. 23 Mar. 2013. <http://we-make-money-not-art.com/archives/bioart/>.

Book Project Final: Bioluminescence Background

 

Background on Bioluminescence:

Diana Lopez

With continuing research in bioluminescent technology, future applications could be revolutionary in not only medical, but also in environmental fields. The source of bioluminescence is derived from living organisms. Bioluminescent species make their own light through chemical reactions that occur within their own bodies to produce a glow. This method is far more efficient – because it generates less heat – than the light produced from an ordinary light bulb, and the ability to harness this is a great interest to many scientists. Various life forms on the planet are bioluminescent like a glowing species of fungus, insects, centipedes, millipedes, worms, jellyfish, and oceanic microorganisms. Scientists have yet to find out the various reasons for why all bioluminescent species glow. There are earthworms that secrete a luminescent mucus and the reasons for which some species of mushrooms glow is unclear; however, they believe the bioluminescent spores assist in attracting insects in order for them to help spread the spores throughout the forest. Though in a variety of other species of animals, scientists have found an explanation through their research as to their primary uses for bioluminescence in both land and water organisms - communication, locating food, attracting prey, camouflage, mimicry, and self-defense.

Actually, a vast majority of these bioluminescent species are a culmination of marine life; it is mostly a marine phenomenon, not commonly observed in a wide array of fresh water or land species. Furthermore, researchers have found that up to 80 to 90 percent of deep-dwelling sea organisms have luminescent properties.1 These marinous, glowing creatures  usually emit green or blue light because this wavelength of light travels faster in water than any other wavelength, allowing it to be easily visible at far distances in the dark depths of the ocean. “A notable exception is the Malacosteid family of fishes, also known as Loosejaws. These fish can produce red light and can see it when others cannot. This gives them an advantage by allowing them to see their prey while without making their presence known.”2 Because such organisms live thousands of meters below the surface of the ocean, researchers have a hard time learning about them. This has made it difficult to understand the purpose of having such bioluminescent properties; however, they have noticed a few uses. Marine biologists have found that some species keep their lights on all the time, or some species turn them on and off selectively. In some, their lights are used as a “night light” to illuminate their path in the pitch black ocean depths, as well as utilized for camouflage, communication, and mating. With anglerfish, for example, they lure their prey using an illuminated “bulb” located on top of their head. Anything that is attracted by the anglerfish’s light becomes its victim, as it quickly attacks its unsuspecting prey with its powerful jaws. These magnificent adaptations, all arising from the luciferase-luciferin system, has caught the attention of a wide range of scientists that want to harness this energy for uses in medical and environmental applications.             

Bioluminescence of jellyfish.                           A sea pen in a dark environment. Image courtesy of

        Bioluminescence Team 2009, $NOAA-OER.

Nearly 200 years ago, French pharmacologist Raphael Dubois was one of the first scientist to discover the fascinating natural phenomenon of bioluminescence. In 1887, he conducted experiments on a species bioluminescent clam tissue called the common piddock. He ground its tissue in order to extract the unknown properties that caused the glowing to occur. When the ground tissue was mixed in cold water, it glowed for only a few minutes. In hot water alone, there was no glow; however, when the hot water extract was added to the cold water containing the clam tissue, it started to glow again. From these results, he partially discovered the mechanism in which the light-producing chemicals use. The hot water extract, he called luciferase, and the cold water extract he named luciferin. After his discovery, future scientists found that the reason the cold water extract (luciferin) reactivated and glowed again after the hot water extract (luciferase) was added was because luciferase is the catalyst of the luminescence chemical reaction; so, when added to luciferin (the light producing substance) a glow is emitted.3 Years after Raphael Dubois had identified the luminescent properties in the common piddock, an American biologist Edmund Newton Harvey spent time exploring a myriad of diverse organisms to find their unique luciferases and luciferins. He found that the luciferases and luciferins from different species were not interchangeable - the reason being, as he hypothesized, was that every organisms’ luminescent pathways had evolved to suit their individual needs.     

                       

Image courtesy Edie Widder.

At its most basic level, understanding luminescence pathways, in its production, is not very difficult. The way in which luminescence works requires two substances called luciferin and luciferase. “In bioluminescence, a luciferin produces light, and a luciferase allows the light-producing chemical reaction to take place. In this reaction, the luciferase acts as a catalyst. The luciferase allows oxygen to combine with the luciferin. This reaction produces photons of light and the oxidized luciferin becomes inactive oxyluciferin.”4 This reaction also requires ATP (adenosine triphosphate) to use as an energy to carry out the reaction. At the end of the luciferin-luciferase reaction, byproducts such as water and oxyluciferin are produced.

image is coprighted (http://science.howstuffworks.com/zoology/all-about-animals/bioluminescence3.htm)

In the following sections of this chapter, an assortment of uses for bioluminescence will be examined as well as problems and criticisms (also artistic representations) for utilizing such technology. There are many promising uses of this biotechnology in the medical world than in any other field. Specifically with bioluminescent imaging (BLI) where it “uses the light given off of bioluminescent organisms to spot abnormalities and other infectious diseases. Current research has found success in identifying eye cancer and even breast cancer with this technique. BLI also offers researchers a chance to study the structure of cancer itself, which could lead to a cure down the road.” 5 In medicine they have also used bioluminescent bacterium, called Vibrio fischeri, through its use of “quorum sensing.” “Quorum sensing” is the bacteria’s ability to find, sense, and communicate with other bacteria it is surrounded with. The possibility of utilizing something like this to combat infectious diseases would be very beneficial, from finding the source of food poisoning to being infected with cholera. In later sections, this will be examined in detail, but as for other applications of bioluminescence, it has been used in labs for FISH (Fluorescent in situ hybridization), immunohistochemistry, in the context of GFP (green fluorescent protein), and in DNA microarrays.

As of now, bioluminescence has being explored as a source of green energy. In fact, before safety lamps were invented, during the early days of mining, the curious power of bioluminescence was somewhat harnessed to light up dark mines all throughout the UK and Europe. Dried fish skins were frequently utilized to bring light into the darkness since it was discovered that certain species of fish glowed through bioluminescence - the luciferin-luciferase system. However, since Thomas Edison’s invention of the electric incandescent light bulb, just over 200 years ago, its use has uncovered many environmental issues that have raised many questions about sustainable and renewable energy. With an entire city lit up every night and inside dark rooms, more damage than good is being done to the environment. Over 70% of the incandescent light bulb’s energy produces heat rather than actual light, and these light bulbs also give off carbon dioxide.6 Although there are alternatives that use much less electricity, and therefore uses less nonrenewable resources, for example, compact fluorescent lights (CFLSs), it is not the greatest substitute in lowering electricity’s negative environmental impact. However, in recent years, much work has been invested in discovering new ways to create light through the use of bioluminescence.

In 2010, in a worldwide synthetic biology competition called iGEM (International Genetically Engineered Machine), a group of scientists and engineers from Cambridge took magnificent steps towards harnessing the light created by various bioluminescent species. The team consisted of scientists and engineers from diverse backgrounds in order to apply the knowledge of their field into the project as a unique perspective. The group of nine students inserted genes from both fireflies and bioluminescent bacteria into E.coli. They inserted the luciferase genes into E. coli to make them grow brightly. “Codon optimisation and single amino acid mutagenesis allowed us to generate bright light output in a range of different colours. Future applications include and quantitative biosensors and biological alternatives to conventional lighting.”7

(Image: Theo Sanderson) may be copyrighted

In addition, this chapter will include ideas and criticisms of creating a transgenic tree species (inserting the luminescence gene from glowing animal species into trees) to light up urban life. Scientists want to use luminescence as an alternative to our current light source. In a very science fiction type of idea, researchers have explored ways to potentially create bioluminescent trees. These trees would be able to replace current street lamps and help light roadways and signs. If the luciferase gene could be inserted into trees to light up dark streets during the night instead of using our current lamp posts, massive amounts of energy could be saved reducing street lights’ adverse environmental impacts.  In a competition, called iGEM, as previously mentioned, researchers took the first step towards engineering the first bioluminescent trees. If this gene could be successfully transplanted into another organism, then future attempts towards these bioluminescent trees are possible. Ideas like these, and various other applications of the use of bioluminescence will be explored, as its use could be very beneficial in most aspects of technology.

References

1. Venton, Danielle. "8 Beautiful Bioluminescent Creatures From the Sea." Wired.com. Conde Nast Digital, 19 Jan. 0011. Web. 22 Mar. 2013.

2. "Deep Sea Bioluminescence." Bioluminescence. Sea and Sky, n.d. Web. 22 Mar. 2013.

3.  Soniak, Matt. "How Do Fireflies Glow?" Mental Floss. N.p., 12 Mar. 2011. Web. 22 Mar. 2013.

4. Wilson, Tracy V..  "How Bioluminescence Works"  10 July 2007.  HowStuffWorks.com.<http://science.howstuffworks.com/zoology/all-about-animals/bioluminescence.htm>  22 March 2013.

5. Fong, Lu. "How Do Scientists Use Bioluminescence in Research? - Curiosity." Curiosity. Discovery, n.d. Web. 22 Mar. 2013.

6. Belzer, Les. "Why Are Incandescent Light Bulbs Bad?" EHow. Demand Media, 26 May 2010. Web. 22 Mar. 2013.

7. "Team:Cambridge/TheTeam." Main Page. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Mar. 2013.

Bibliography

Belzer, Les. "Why Are Incandescent Light Bulbs Bad?" EHow. Demand Media, 26 May 2010. Web. 22 Mar. 2013.

"Deep Sea Bioluminescence." Bioluminescence. Sea and Sky, n.d. Web. 22 Mar. 2013.

Firth, Niall. "How 'bioluminescent' Trees That Glow like Fireflies Could One Day Replace Our Streetlights." Mail Online. N.p., 26 Nov. 2010. Web. 22 Mar. 2013.

Fong, Lu. "How Do Scientists Use Bioluminescence in Research? - Curiosity." Curiosity. Discovery, n.d. Web. 22 Mar. 2013.

Olins, Heather. "Science BlogHeathrs." We Beasties. N.p., 29 Nov. 2010. Web. 22 Mar. 2013.

Soniak, Matt. "How Do Fireflies Glow?" Mental Floss. N.p., 12 Mar. 2011. Web. 22 Mar. 2013.

"Team:Cambridge/TheTeam." Main Page. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Mar. 2013.

Venton, Danielle. "8 Beautiful Bioluminescent Creatures From the Sea." Wired.com. Conde Nast Digital, 19 Jan. 0011. Web. 22 Mar. 2013.

Wood, James B., and Kim Zeeh. "Marine Animal Bioluminescence." And Aquarium Fish. Coast Tropicals, n.d. Web. 22 Mar. 2013.

Pictures (in order of apparition):

Bioluminescence of a jellyfish seen with the lights off. Digital image. NOAA Ocean

Explorer: Operations Deep Scope 2004. U.S. Department of Commerce, n.d. Web. 22 Mar. 2013. <http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/biolum.html>.

Bioluminescence Team 2009, NOAA-OER. A sea pen in a dark environment. Digital

image.NOAA Ocean Explorer: Operations Deep Scope 2004. U.S. Department of Commerce, 2009. Web. 22 Mar. 2013.

Widder, Edie. Note the green fluorescence of the eyes of this short-nose greeneye fish.

The submersible team collected the specimen for optical studies in the ship’s onboard laboratory. Digital image. NOAA Ocean Explorer: Operations Deep Scope 2004. U.S. Department of Commerce, n.d. Web. 22 Mar. 2013.

"How Bioluminescence Works." HowStuffWorks. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Mar. 2013.

Sanderson, Theo. Street lamps with a difference. Digital image. Glowing Tree Could Light

up City Streets. New Scientist, 25 Nov. 2010. Web. 21 Mar. 2013.

Event: Museum of Jurassic Technology

 

Last weekend I visited the Museum of Jurassic Technology (MJT). In fact, earlier that day I had also gone to the Natural History Museum. Over my summer English class, I had read an article published in Harper’s Magazine called “Inhaling the Spore,” by Lawrence Weschler, where he invites the reader into a small, eccentric museum with a collection of odd natural and man-made thought-provoking objects. This rare find is owned and managed by David Wilson; his own curiosity and enthusiasm for nature’s creations continually inspires him to maintain his museum open to the public because he wants to create and instill wonder in all his visitors. This museum is unique in its field and purpose. Wilson explains why he opened the quaint place and why he displays such curious, incredible natural phenomena - for example a species of fungus whose spores infects a species of stink ant so the ant can help spread its progeny, or the deprong mori, a bat an incredible use of sonar. He believes that the museum helps “…in providing people a situation…in fostering an environment in which people can change. And it happens. I’ve seen it happen” (Weschler, 11). This is the basis of the MJT, and through this philosophy he is able to instill the idea of Wonder though his exhibits. After reading the article, I was curious and wanted to visit; I finally did.

 

While my friend and I were in the museum, we could not help but repeat to each other how “trippy” and ultimately confused we felt by many of the displays; probably caused by the ambiance of the rooms. The lights were very dim throughout the museum, and to us, many of the displays felt out of place and did not know how any of the art pieces, or artifacts, fit together.

 

A couple of the pieces there that I actually could understand and  thought could relate to this class were the micromosaics by Henry Dalton, “The Eye of the Needle” by Hagor Sandaldjian, and the portraits of the dogs from the Soviet Space Program. In one of the rooms on the first floor, there was a line of microscopes, and upon looking into one, you could see various mosaics made up of beautifully colored gems.- the one I took a picture of was of plants in a vase. Near the display, there is a list of dates, starting from the late 1500s, about the history of the microscope and its uses. To think of all the wonderful advances that have come with the invention of the microscope, like the creation of the electron microscope which can view organelles within a living cell, for example. Microscopes in general have been important in the understanding and discovery of the microscopic world. And this piece in particular, along with “The Eye of the Needle” (small figures are sculpted to fit within an eye of a needle created using a microscope) demonstrates to us the beauty that can come from this technology.

 

Event: The Natural History Museum

 

Last weekend I went museum hopping in order to complete my blogs. I have to admit, it was fun. My first stop was The Natural History Museum. I had not been there since middle school with my Magnet program. Everything appeared to look the same; however, it felt a whole lot smaller than I had remembered. In fact, I was only there for an hour and during our field trips, we would spend the whole day at the museum. I noticed that on the second floor, they added a new exhibit since I was last there - the Dino Lab.

 

 

In the Dino Lab, paleontologists work on fossils they have uncovered from various sites in the country and around the world. They attempt to clean the fossils and rid them from the rock that has solidified around the millions-of-year-old bones. Cleaning the fossils is a delicate process, they do not want to chip away at any of the actual bone, only the debris. They do this by softening and blowing away the loose particles with a light stream of air. The purpose of separating the bones from the rock is to eventually put all the pieces of the fossils together to reconstruct the skeleton of the massive Dinosaurs. Sometimes, the bones they do find in one site belong to various species of dinosaurs or animals and their job is to sort out which ones belong to which, and to fit the bones together and guess what the skeleton of the dinosaur was. Many times, bones from the skeleton are missing and they have to create that missing piece from various molding materials. This technology is fascinating because it is helping people learn about the Earth’s history; only its preservation is going to help future generations learn and appreciate this and many other displays in the museum - like the preservation of the Megamouth or the Oarfish through the liquid case it is kept in. What paleontologists do is not only science, but it is an art.

 

Event: Female Competition and Dispersal Patterns

 

On Monday, February 25, I attended the Female Competition and Dispersal Patterns in Chimpanzees seminar in Haines Hall. Anne Pussey, the Professor of Evolutionary Anthropology at Duke University, presented the effects of a mother chimpanzee’s diet on her and her offspring’s social behavior. Three different diets - a high fiber diet, a normal diet, and a low fiber diet - were fed to three separate groups of lactating/breast feeding mothers. Those fed the high fiber diet lost 10 percent of their body weight which most often caused adverse effects for their offspring. A lower mother’s weight was found to correlate with more rejection. Mothers would refuse their child milk and lessen the interaction with them. Infants compensated this reaction by trying to get closer and counteract their mothers actions. Through her study, Anner found that adverse early life experiences impaired a young chimpanzee’s development emotionally (felt more stressed) and socially. Oddly enough, infants at their prime, because their mothers were on a normal  to low fiber diet, were found to play less than the deprived chimps. It would have seemed that they would play more because they had the energy and the positive social interactions with their mothers.

 

 

Although I am not very interested in this kind of research, it was interesting to hear her findings. For the most part, the correlations she had found had made common sense, but there were a few aspects that were surprising; like chimps that had less social contact with their mothers and a worse diet than mothers at their prime, they liked to play more. I would have thought they would play less because they would not know how to interact normally or have the energy to play with the other chimps. I believe this event relates to this class because I have always believed science to be an art. You have to manipulate things you find in nature to find answers. An artist does this as well. They manipulate various materials in order to create their art piece.

Book Project Overpopulation (draft 2)

Overpopulation is a large worry to many environmentalists. With a current world population of over 7 billion people, and even larger estimates in the decades to come, issues surrounding limited amounts of food, land and a clean water supply are rising. How is the planet going to feed future populations? With estimations of over 9 billion people by 2050, and even more extreme numbers by others, where is the sustainable food supply going to come from? How can people create and use sustainable and renewable resources to minimize the adverse effects on the planet?

In China and India, there are well over 1 billion people respectively. In fact, in China they have implemented the One Child Policy to counteract the large population growth that was occurring going into the 1970s. This policy, however, is only really strictly applied to the Han Chinese living in the overpopulated urban areas and not the ethnic minorities. “Han Chinese represent more than 91% of the Chinese population. Just over 51% of China's population lives in urban areas. In rural areas, Han Chinese families can apply to have a second child if the first child is a girl” (http://geography.about.com/od/chinamaps/a/China-One-Child-Policy-Facts.htm).  Because of their culture, males are highly prized in Chinese society. Often times, couples get pregnant multiple times and elect for selective abortion if the baby is a female, many times of course, female children are abandoned or infanticide is committed. For those who do not follow the rules, there are many unfortunate consequences. Many forced abortions are performed, and families are fined thousands and thousands of dollars. In fact, if a family happens to be rich, the government finds their opportunity to charge them with a larger fine than a middle class family would receive, for example. There was one case where an upper class couple were fined over 200,000 US Dollars.

Although in recent years China has not been contributing to the dramatic population growth, in many parts of the world, contraception has been a real issue for over population. Contraception, such as condoms, the birth control pill, or the shot, and many others, can all be used to prevent unwanted pregnancy. In rural or very Catholic countries, contraception is hard to come by or is looked down upon. Every year, hundreds of volunteers go out to these mostly third world countries, like Africa, and attempt to educate and provide contraceptives. One country in particular, Nigeria, has grown to be the most populous country in Africa, and according to the United Nations, it can grow to reach 240 million people by 2050. (reference 2) The president recognizes that his country’s people are religious and are “not expected to reject God’s gifts” (http://www.globalization101.org/the-battle-over-birth-control-for-developing-nations/); however, this sensitive issue makes it difficult for the president to push contraceptives on its residents, more so for women, which could ultimately “elevate the quality of life” without the burden of an extra child.

The effects that humans impose on the planet through the rapidly growing population is devastating not only to us with poverty and an overall lower quality of life, but to the environment (both plants and animals). With more people contributing to a larger ecological footprint - using up precious resources and adding to the existing pollution -  by damaging the earth, habitats of many species of animals, as well as plants, are threatened accommodate our need for fertile land for food or housing. In efforts to combat this problem, the Center for Biological Diversity distributed 100,000 free “Endangered Species Condoms” around the country in honor of Earth Day 2012. (refernce 3http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/news/press_releases/2012/endangered-species-condoms-03-23-2012.html). The Center for Biological Diversity collaborated with artist Roger Peet to create colorful condom packages featuring endangered species - from dwarf seahorses and burying beetles to panthers and polar bears - adversely affected by human’s growing population. A few of these cleverly generated phrases include: “Don’t go bare...panthers are rare,” “Safe intercourse saves the dwarf seahorse,” “Wrap with care...save the polar bear,” and “Wear a condom now...save a spotted owl.” Polar bears have been put on the U.S. endangered species in 2008, due to the global warming caused by the greenhouse gases of the 7 billion people, and counting, on this planet. These emissions have caused the Arctic Sea ice, habitat of the polar bear, to melt. And with the Florida Panther, a rise in the state’s population has nearly doubled in 30 years, inhabiting and driving the panthers out of their natural habitat,and causing the number of Florida Panthers to dwindle. With over 3000 animals classified as endangered worldwide (over 2000 plants), this art being utilized for the campaign can be useful. Although it reaches only a small demographic of people, primarily young men and women, these people are the future and control the outcome of future population numbers. Various small efforts, like these, is better and more informative than nothing at all. Afterall, the use of contraceptives is a great limiter of population growth. (reference http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/news/press_releases/2012/endangered-species-condoms-03-23-2012.html)

In fact, without tracking and suppressing the world’s population growth, many new ideas about sustainable resources, such as food and land need to be created and considered. One group called After Agri, a collaboration between Michiko Nitta and Michael Burton, looks at the future possibilities of our food system with effects of overpopulation and limited resources. They want to answer questions as to “What new cultural revolution will replace agriculture? How will our species and civilization be transformed?” (http://we-make-money-not-art.com/archives/bioart/).  In their latest projects,at one of their exhibitions, they explored two possible scenarios of our future food cultures. The first one was “Algaculture which proposed a greater symbiosis between algae and the human body and the Republic of salivation, a dark scenario that sees govenrments enforcing restricted food policies where the type of food a citizen recieves responds to the emotional, intellectual abd physical demands of their job” (http://we-make-money-not-art.com/archives/bioart/). After Agri answers questions as to how our future agricultural systems will change with the rise in population.  With the use of synthetic biology and geo-engineering nutrigenomics, and other sources of biotech, they have come up with a few good ideas. One idea  predicts algae as a major food source in the future – they call it Algaculture. In one of their exhibits, called ‘Algae Opera’, they use opera singers, which expel lots of carbon dioxide when they sing. They use this production of carbon dioxide to grow the algae. They believe that in the future, individual people will be able to grow their own food source. This idea would be beneficial to the planet because it is rather environmentally friendly by reducing a person’s ecological footprint. Instead of having to disrupt pristine land for more fertile rounds to grow food for a massively growing population, one could be able to use their existence, their carbon dioxide emissions to feed themselves.

In After Agri’s second project, called the Republic of Salivation, their idea revolves around a scenario in which the government will have to start rationing  food through restricted food policies because of future food shortages and famine. These policies will make sure everyone is fed and will also ensure that cities do not rebel against authority. Depending on  an individuals employment, they will be fed according to the amount of energy they need to stay alive and finish a day’s work. Hard laborers will be fed higher calorie foods than people holding office jobs, for example, because more energy is required lifting heavy objects than sitting around at a computer desk.  “The exhibited piece explores an industrial worker’s diet that is largely designed on modified starch, enabling the body to work for longer on fewer nutrients” (http://www.stroom.nl/paginas/pagina.php?pa_id=8877670). This project also considers the types of food that can be grown in various parts of the world, and hope to limit food distribution to only that territory or part of the world. In this way, the land is not disturbed or altered to accommodate crops not native to the land reducing competition and cross breeding between species - both cause plants and local animals to become endangered. The various ways in which both Nitta and Burton look at future overpopulation and food resources is very intriguing, but although not very realistic, there is a small possibility in the far future.

Not only is overpopulation in the human population a huge concern, but overpopulation for animals is starting to become worrisome as well. In the U.S. alone, about 8 million stray or unwanted animals are taken to shelters every year. Out of those 8 million, 3.9 million of them are euthanized because no one wants to adopt them - space, resources, and funding is limited. (reference ) Animal breeders are adding to this problem, because those pets that are not sold end up in shelters. Out of the 163 million cats and dogs in the U.S., 1 out of 20 of these animals end up at a shelter. There are plenty of homes for these poor animals to go to, but many people (only 20 percent choose to adopt a new pet)  are not looking to adopt or want puppies or purebred dogs. Unfortunately, the pet cloning business is not helping reduce the overpopulation of animals;  it is only adding to the case. After Dolly the sheep, the first cloned animal from an adult cell, many businesses lept to the opportunity to exploit this biotechnology. Many pet owners look to have a loved one “revived” or have their top show dogs cloned to replicate their former dog’s success. Cloning is useful, like in the areas of GFP (green fluorescent protein) to track pathways of diseases in animal models. Many organizations ,like the Humane Society, do not approve of animal cloning by pet owners because of the high incidence of overpopulation as well as the probability of increased animal suffering of the clones. (http://www.americanhumane.org/animals/adoption-pet-care/issues-information/pet-overpopulation.html).

Overpopulation is seen in both animals and humans on the planet, and much is needed to reduce the environmental impacts that occur from this unfortunate, but inevitable future. With the ideas mention above, there is so much potential of future populations to sustain themselves.  

 

Bibliography

 

"10 Billion Plus: Why World Population Projections Were Too Low." - ScienceInsider. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Mar. 2013.
"Alternatives to Condoms: The Catholic Church and Contraceptives | The Cornell Daily Sun." Alternatives to Condoms: The Catholic Church and Contraceptives | The Cornell Daily Sun. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Mar. 2013.
"The Battle over Birth Control for Developing Nations | Globalization101." Globalization101. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Mar. 2013.
"Bioart - We Make Money Not Art." Bioart - We Make Money Not Art. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Mar. 2013.
"China One Child Policy Facts." About.com Geography. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Mar. 2013.
"China: One-child Policy Is Here to Stay." NBC News. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Mar. 2013.
"Food Forward: Michael Burton & Michiko Nitta." Stroom Den Haag -. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Mar. 2013.
Moore, Malcolm. "Chinese Couple Pay £130,000 to Have a Second Child to Avoid One-child Policy." The Telegraph. N.p., 1 June 2012. Web. 2013.
Oak, Manali. Buzzle.com. Buzzle.com, 11 July 2012. Web. 06 Mar. 2013.
"Pet Overpopulation." Pet Overpopulation. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Mar. 2013.

Book Project Bioluminescence: Background (draft 2)

Bioluminescent species make their own light through chemical reactions that occur within their own bodies to produce a glow. This method is far more efficient – because it generates less heat – than the light produced from an ordinary light bulb, and the ability to harness this ability is a great interest to many scientists. Various life forms on the planet are bioluminescent like a glowing species of fungus, insects, centipedes, millipedes, worms, jellyfish, and oceanic microorganisms. Scientists have yet to find out the various reasons for why all bioluminescent species glow. There are earthworms that secret a luminescent mucus and the reasons for which some species of mushrooms glow is unclear; however, they believe the bioluminescent spores assist in attracting insects in order for them to help spread the spores throughout the forest. Though in a variety of other species of animals, scientists have found an explanation in evidence as to their primary uses for bioluminescence in both land and water organisms - communication, locating food, attracting prey, camouflage, mimicry, and self-defense.

At its most basic level, understanding luminescence pathways, in its production, is not very difficult. The way in which luminescence works requires two substances called luciferin and luciferase. “In bioluminescence, a luciferin produces light, and a luciferase allows the light-producing chemical reaction to take place. In this reaction, the luciferase acts as a catalyst. The luciferase allows oxygen to combine with the luciferin. This reaction produces photons of light and the oxidized luciferin becomes inactive oxyluciferin” (http://science.howstuffworks.com/zoology/all-about-animals/bioluminescence3.htm). This reaction also requires ATP (adenosine triphosphate) to use as an energy to carry out the reaction. At the end of the luciferin-luciferase reaction, byproducts such as water and oxyluciferin.

In 2010, in a worldwide synthetic biology competition called iGEM (International Genetically Engineered Machine), a group of scientists and engineers from Cambridge took magnificent steps towards harnessing the light created by various bioluminescent species. The team consisted of scientists and engineers from diverse backgrounds in order to apply the knowledge of their field into the project as a unique perspective. The group of nine students inserted genes from both fireflies and bioluminescent bacteria into E.coli. They inserted the luciferase genes into E. coli to make them grow brightly. “Codon optimisation and single amino acid mutagenesis allowed us to generate bright light output in a range of different colours. Future applications include and quantitative biosensors and biological alternatives to conventional lighting” (http://2010.igem.org/Team:Cambridge/TheTeam).

Since Thomas Edison’s invention of the electric incandescent light bulb, just over 200 years ago, its use has uncovered many environmental issues that have raised many questions about sustainable and renewable energy. With an entire city lit up every night and inside dark rooms, more damage than good is being done to the environment. Over 70%of the incandescent light bulb’s energy produces heat rather than actual light and these light bulbs also give off carbon dioxide. Although there are alternatives that use much less electricity, and therefore uses less nonrenewable resources, for example, compact fluorescent lights (CFLSs), it is not the greatest substitute in lowering electricity’s negative environmental impact. However, in recent years, much work has been invested in discovering new ways to create light through the use of bioluminescence.

Scientists want to use luminescence as an alternative to or current light source. If the luciferase gene could be inserted into trees to lit up dark streets during the night in place of lamp posts, massive amounts of energy could be saved reducing its adverse environmental impacts.  In a competition, called iGEM, researchers took the first step towards engineering the first bioluminescent trees. If this gene could be successfully transplanted into another organism than future attempts towards these bioluminescent trees are possible

.

Bibliography

"How Bioluminescence Works." HowStuffWorks. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Mar. 2013.

"Team:Cambridge/TheTeam." Main Page. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Mar. 2013.

"Thomas Edison - The Inventions of Thomas Edison." Thomas Edison - The Inventions of Thomas Edison. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Mar. 2013.

Water Out of Thin Air

I thought this was pretty cool. 

utec_billboard_water

"Lima’s University of Engineering & Technology (UTEC) recently erected this water-producing billboard along the Panamericana Sur, or Panamerican Highway, in the village of Bujama. While the coasts of Peru have humidity levels averaging around 98 percent, the region receives only 1″-2″ of rainfallannually. Looking for ways to bring safe, potable drinking water to residents, as well as inspiring future generations of engineers, this billboard has already produced over 2,400 gallons of water in a three month period."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=35yeVwigQcc&feature=player_embedded

http://blog.makezine.com/2013/03/07/in-peru-engineers-make-water-out-of-...

 

 

Oops! I forgot to post my references...

 

Works Cited
"10 Billion Plus: Why World Population Projections Were Too Low." - ScienceInsider. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Mar. 2013.
"Alternatives to Condoms: The Catholic Church and Contraceptives | The Cornell Daily Sun." Alternatives to Condoms: The Catholic Church and Contraceptives | The Cornell Daily Sun. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Mar. 2013.
"The Battle over Birth Control for Developing Nations | Globalization101." Globalization101. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Mar. 2013.
"Bioart - We Make Money Not Art." Bioart - We Make Money Not Art. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Mar. 2013.
"China One Child Policy Facts." About.com Geography. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Mar. 2013.
"China: One-child Policy Is Here to Stay." NBC News. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Mar. 2013.
"Food Forward: Michael Burton & Michiko Nitta." Stroom Den Haag -. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Mar. 2013.
Moore, Malcolm. "Chinese Couple Pay £130,000 to Have a Second Child to Avoid One-child Policy." The Telegraph. N.p., 1 June 2012. Web. 2013.
Oak, Manali. Buzzle.com. Buzzle.com, 11 July 2012. Web. 05 Mar. 2013.
"Pet Overpopulation." Pet Overpopulation. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Mar. 2013.

book project rough draft

Overpopulation is a large worry to many environmentalists. With a current world population of over 7 billion people, and even larger estimates in the decades to come, issues surrounding limited amounts of food, land and a clean water supply are rising. How is the planet going to feed future populations? With estimations of over 9 billion people by 2050, and even more extreme numbers by others, where is the sustainable food supply going to come from? How can people create and use sustainable and renewable resources to minimize the adverse effects on the planet?

In China and India, there are well over 1 billion people respectively. In fact, in China they have implemented the One Child Policy to counteract the large population growth that was occurring going into the 1970s. This policy, however, is only really strictly applied to the Han Chinese living in the overpopulated urban areas and not the ethnic minorities. “Han Chinese represent more than 91% of the Chinese population. Just over 51% of China's population lives in urban areas. In rural areas, Han Chinese families can apply to have a second child if the first child is a girl” (http://geography.about.com/od/chinamaps/a/China-One-Child-Policy-Facts.htm). For those who do not follow the rules, there are many unfortunate consequences. Many forced abortions are performed, and fines worth thousands and thousands of dollars. In fact, if a family happened to be rich, the government finds their opportunity to charge them with a larger fine than a middle class family, for example. There was one case where an upper class couple were fined over 200,000 US Dollars. Because of their culture, males are highly prized in Chinese society. Often times, couples get pregnant multiple times and elect for selective abortion if the baby is a female, many times of course, female children are abandoned or infanticide is committed.    

Although in recent years China has not been contributing to the dramatic population growth, in many parts of the world, contraception has been a real issue for over population. Contraception, such as condoms, the birth control pill, or the shot, and many others, can all be used to prevent unwanted pregnancy. In rural or very Catholic countries, contraception is hard to come by or looked down upon. Every year hundreds of volunteers go out to these, mostly third world countries, like Africa, and attempt to educate and provide contraceptives. “Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa and the United Nations has estimated that the population could grow by as many as 240 million by the year 2050. So, the president’s decision to back birth control is based on his desire to elevate the quality of life of his people. However, he recognizes the sensitive nature of the issue in regards to religious practice. ‘We are extremely religious people...It is a very sensitive thing,’ Jonathan stated. ‘It is difficult for you to tell any Nigerian to number their children because...it is not expected to reject God’s gifts’” (http://www.globalization101.org/the-battle-over-birth-control-for-developing-nations/). Without tracking and suppressing the world’s population growth, many new ideas about sustainable resources, such as food and land need to be created and considered.

One group called After Agri, a collaboration between Michiko Nitta and Michael Burton, looks at the future possibilities of our food system with overpopulation and limited resources. They want to answer questions as to “What new cultural revolution will replace agriculture? How will our species and civilization be transformed?” (http://we-make-money-not-art.com/archives/bioart/).  In their latest projects, at one of their exhibitions they explored two possible scenarios of our future food cultures. The first one was “Algaculture which proposed a greater symbiosis between algae and the human body and the Republic of salivation, a dark scenario that sees govenrments enforcing restricted food policies where the type of food a citizen recieves responds to the emotional, intellectual abd physical demands of their job” (http://we-make-money-not-art.com/archives/bioart/). Algae as a new food source is very reminiscent of the 1970s movie Soylent Green. In the movie, in New York City alone, the cities were overcrowded in both houses and out in the streets. Food had to be rationed for the survival of its inhabitants. Because most of the food on the planet was gone, people were fed a green wafer that was said to contain “high-energy plankton”.  This product was called Soylent Green. In the end, we find out that in fact the wafers were made out of the remains of the dead people because even the plankton had run out! Although future generations would not be eating the remains of strangers, family, and friends in the near future, this movie is relevant to this topic on finding new sources of food.

In fact, After Agri answers questions as to how our future agricultural systems will change with the rise in population.  With the use of synthetic biology and geo-engineering nutrigenomics, and other sources of biotech, they have come up with a few good ideas. One idea, like in the movie Soylent Green, predicts algae as a major food source in the future – they call it Algaculture. In one of their exhibits, called ‘Algae Opera’, they use opera singers, which expel lots of carbon dioxide when they sing. They use this production of carbon dioxide to grow the algae. They believe that in the future, individual people will be able to grow their own food source.

In After Agri’s second project, called the Republic of Salivation, their idea is brought up around the thought that the government will have to start to ration food through restricted to food policies because of future food shortages and famine. These policies will make sure everyone is fed and to ensure that cities do not rebel against authority. Depending on the types of jobs different individuals have, they will be fed according to the amount of energy they need to stay alive and finish their work. Hard laborers will be fed higher calorie foods than people holding office jobs, for example. “The exhibited piece explores an industrial worker’s diet that is largely designed on modified starch, enabling the body to work for longer on fewer nutrients. Alongside exploring the possibility of a government controlled food supply, the Republic of Salivation also investigates the biological reaction to a mono-diet. the scientific study of nutrigenomics has found that the more starch we eat (such as through bread or potatoes), the more enzyme called Amylase to convert starch to sugar, is found in saliva” (http://www.stroom.nl/paginas/pagina.php?pa_id=8877670). Through the use of a high starch diet, After Agri, created a scenario in which the worker was able to make alcohol illegally. The various ways in which both Nitta and Burton look at future overpopulation and food resources is very intriguing and a possibility in the far future.

Not only is overpopulation in the human population a huge concern, but overpopulation for animals is starting to become worrisome as well. In the US alone, about 8 million stray or unwanted animals are taken to shelters every year. Out of those 8 million, 3.9 million of them are euthanized because no one wants to adopt them - space, resources, and funding is limited. Animal breeders are adding to this problem, because those pets that are not sold end up in shelters. Out of the 163 million cats and dogs in the U.S., 1 out of 20 of these animals end up at a shelter. “It is a common myth that pet overpopulation means that there are ‘not enough’ homes for all the shelter animals. In reality, there are more than enough homes, but not enough people are choosing to adopt from a shelter. Seventeen million Americans acquire a new pet each year--that is more than double the number of shelter animals! Sadly, only 3.5 million people, or about 20 percent, choose to adopt their new pet. The rest choose to buy their pets from pet stores or breeders, or they choose a variety of other cheap or free sources, such as friends, neighbors or Internet ads” (http://www.americanhumane.org/animals/adoption-pet-care/issues-information/pet-overpopulation.html). Most pets people buy from pet stores come from puppy mills which is a miserable start to their relatively long lives. they are held in small, unsanitary cages where often many puppies die. Adopting from a shelter helps fighting against puppy mills which make so much profit. Overpopulation is seen in both animals and humans on the planet, and much is needed to reduce the environmental impacts that occurs from this unfortunate but inevitable future. With the ideas mention above, there is so much potential of future populations to sustain themselves.